Ayurveda – Understanding Your Constitution
Ayurveda literally means the knowledge of life. It is the worlds oldest holistic healing system still in use today. The ancient principles of Ayurveda originated in India more than 5000 years ago. They have been passed down as a sacred oral tradition and within the Vedas- the oldest scriptures known to humankind. The essence and practices of Ayurveda have no borders or boundaries. It is an art and science for all who wish to return to a state of internal and external harmony.
Prakruti and Vikruti
Each individual has a prakruti or inborn constitution, a unique composition of the three doshas. One’s current state is known as the vikruti or imbalance stemming from deviation from our innate nature. Once we establish our prakruti and vikruti, we can use the wisdom of Ayurveda to consciously make choices regarding food, lifestyle, yoga, exercise, career path, environment and every other aspect of our life to maintain balance, and therefore have the energy to fulfill our highest potential.
How to Establish Your Constitution
Go through the following dosha checklist twice. To establish your prakruti (essential nature/ constitution from conception), initially check the boxes that relate to your long-term tendencies or the way that things have been most of your life. The 2nd time through, check the boxes that relate to your vikruti (current state). The checklist is merely a guide- its accuracy is determined by the objectiveness of the individual. It is best to see an Ayurvedic Consultant or Practitioner to get a clear and accurate assessment of both your prakruti and vikruti.
Spinning the Seven Sacred Centers: Ayurveda And the Chakra
The popular seven chakra system is well known in the West. Chakra, meaning vortex or wheel, are the sacred centers of spiritual transformation. Everything from clothing, home décor, and oracle cards sport the seven subtle centers with their associated rainbow of colors. Popular western literature corresponds each of the chakras with a fundamental human need. The root chakra, or Muladhara, is associated with the need for survival.
The second chakra, Swadisthana, is associated with the need for emotional flow, desire, and sexuality. The third chakra, Manipuri, is associated with self-worth. The fourth chakra, Anahata, is associated with love. The fifth chakra, Vishudhi, is associated with the need for expression. The sixth chakra, Ajna, is associated with insight and intuition. And the 7th or crown chakra, Sahasrara, is associated with connection to the divine.
However, ancient scriptures on the chakras such as the 16th-century text, Sat Chakra Nirupama, do not associate the seven chakras with fundamental human needs. This association was, to my knowledge, first made by Carl Jung in a series of lectures that have been republished as “The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga”(1932).
Likewise, the association of rainbow colors (red for the 1st chakra, orange for the 2nd and so on up to purple at the crown) was made first in the 1970s in a book titled “Nuclear Evolution: Discovery of the Rainbow Body,” by Christopher Hills. Ancient Sanskrit and Tibetan texts on chakras and the subtle energetic body (also known as the Pranamayakosha) have various numbers of chakras and a variety of color schemes that do not follow the “ROYGBIV” rainbow-schema.
For better or worse, the seven chakra system has become reified in yogic culture; the seven chakras system is the “standard” system with which most students and teachers of yoga are familiar with. Many students and teachers of yoga may also have some familiarity with Ayurveda, the “Science of Life.” Ayurveda is a system of earth-based holistic medicine that was originally developed in ancient India but has evolved for contemporary application. Ayurveda uses three archetypal categories, called doshas, to understand balance in the body.
These categories are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Vata is like air and ether. It is light, dry, and cold, and responsible for everything in the body that moves, communicates, and transports. Pitta is like fire. It is hot and slightly damp. Pitta is responsible for digestion, metabolism, and transformation in the body. Finally, Kapha is similar to earth and water. It is slow and stable. Wet and cold. Kapha is responsible for our stability, immunity, and strength.