Ayurveda 101: 2 Keys to Understanding Ayurveda

By Andrew
June 12, 2015

Prevention and Restoration

In our last article, swastya, or health, is described as the aim of Ayurveda.

Given that health is our goal, Ayurveda has two main purposes:

The first is to assist healthy people to stay well for a long time.

The second use is getting people healthy.

The first supports preventive health and the second is part of an integrative approach to health and wellness.

Being well and getting well…

1. How to Stay Well: Prakruti

Align with Your Nature

Prakruti means your original nature. Each person is born with a distinct natural constitution.

By understanding our nature, we have the foundations to build a healthy lifestyle. An optimum lifestyle supports our specific nature through diet, activity and self-care.


Specific food choices may be positive for one person while irritating for another. This is because the salutary effect of a particular food depends on our nature – so it’s vitally important to understand our nature first.


2. How to Get Well: Vikruti

Due to the influence of climate, stress, lifestyle or nutrition, the body falls ill from time to time.

Ayurveda plays a key role as part of a complete, integrative, approach to health. It can help complement standard medical techniques in reducing complications, invigorating health and restoring balance. “Vikruti” means falling out of line with our nature. It is a state where balance has been lost. Returning to balance is the second goal of Ayurveda.


An Ayurveda consultation starts with the question: what is your nature, your prakruti? Simply by feeling your pulse, a skilled Ayurveda health practitioner (AHP) can tell your nature. Based on this, recommendations can be given for the food, lifestyle habits and supplements that will best support your health.

In the second part of the consultation, an Ayurveda health practitioner assesses where alignment has been lost with your nature.

Stunningly, what has come out of alignment can be described in accurate detail. Often done without any discussion, by merely reading the pulse. Suggestions can then be made for the practices, foods and supplements that should be used as part of a complementary health approach to align you with your nature again.

Being well and getting well, prakruti and vikruti, are the two key concepts for understanding Ayurveda’s amazing, integrative approach to living with vibrant health.


If you’d like to learn how to energize your lifestyle through Ayurveda, check out our free guide, “Ayurveda 101: Vibrant Health through the Science of Life”.




Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.


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TAGS: Ayurveda , Ayurveda 101 , constitution , health , prakruti , vikruti , wellness

From Vata Imbalance to Vata In Balance

By Lokesh Rathuri
February 9, 2015


In our last post, we looked at signs of vata imbalance. Now, I’d like to introduce some practical tips for how to keep vata in balance when it gets out of whack.



1. Some Tips to Warm Up

How to balance vata? Stay warm and stay calm. When you are relaxed, you also feel happy and well. It helps to have a warm, cozy place to be, a warm bed, and a hot water bath. Ayurveda also recommends applying oil and massaging the body as the best way to balance vata. You can have a traditional Ayurvedic body massage, called Abhyanga, or you can do a self-massage. Following that, various steam and heat treatments help to balance vata. You can use electric warming pads, hot stones, or a steam chamber. In ancient times, they would heat a large stone, and a person would lie down on the stone, which would take away the excess vata. So different types of steam and heat treatments are recommended according to the various types of vata imbalance.


2. Nourish Yourself

Food is the major factor that influences vata. Cold food, frozen food, large beans, dried food and foods with bitter, astringent, and pungent flavors aggravate vata. However, sweet, sour, and salty flavors along with sweet dishes, oily foods and rich food help to balance vata. Foods with a heating effect balance vata, while foods with a cooling effect disturb vata. So it’s good to know how foods will affect your constitution.

On the balancing level, take food according to your constitution and what element is out of balance. Let’s say you are a pitta person with a vata imbalance, then it is good to follow a vata diet. However, there are certain foods that balance pitta but aggravate vata. So it’s important to understand food and its effects.


3. Find Stability through Meditation


Along with massage, which is the best method to balance vata, accompanied by steam and heat treatments, meditation helps calm vata. With these life-supporting habits, more or less, vata gets balanced, and small aches and pains disappear. These positive actions more or less balance vata.


What if…my vata’s still flying wild?

Let’s say a part of the body is in pain. Massage, meditation, and heat treatments will help, as will warming food with sweet, sour, and salty. But when there are too many problems, such as continuously hurting joints, it requires further insight into which part is being affected.

The physical makeup is divided into seven substances: blood, muscular tissue, fat tissue, bones, bone marrow, lymph, and the reproductive fluids. Once we know which part is out of balance, then it is easy to balance the affected area. For example, is it affecting the nerves, the joints or the bones? Taken for some time, specific herbs help balance vata. One such herb that pacifies vata is turmeric, which also has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.


Use of Panchakarma


And when vata has grown too far out of balance, when it is beyond the control of modifications in food, lifestyle, massage, and herbal supplements, then we can use panchakarma. Panchakarma, which is an elimination therapy, removes the vitiated vata using various herbal decoctions and oil preparations in combination with specialized treatments to treat the root of vata imbalance. Before disease comes, we are able to correct it.


I invite you to continue your journey by checking out more articles in the blog or visiting with a consultant. We are currently offering free introductory consultations over the phone with one of our Ayurveda Health Counselors.


If you’d like to learn more about how Ayurveda can better help you preserve your health and increase your quality of life, I invite you to check out our ebook, Ayurveda 101: Find Vibrant Health with the Science of Life.


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Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.


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TAGS: Ayurveda , dosha , prakruti , vata

Recognize the Signs of Vata Imbalance

By Lokesh Rathuri
February 9, 2015



In the last post we looked briefly at the three main constitutional types in Ayurveda. Here, I’ll go into more depth about vata, the mover and shaker of the three constitutions.

This information will be especially useful for readers who:

  1. have a vata constitution
  2. have a hectic lifestyle
  3. have a vata imbalance OR
  4. live in a climate that is struck hard by vata weather conditions, in cold, dry climates, or as generally felt in late summer and fall.

Principally associated with the air and space elements, Vata is the main force which controls everything in the body.



In Sanskrit, it is said:

“Just as a cloud cannot move without the help of the wind,

pitta and kapha cannot move without the aid of vata.”

When vata is balanced, everything is fine. When vata is out of balance, this can lead to problems in the body, including pitta and kapha imbalances also.

Vata controls all movements in the body, including but not limited to energy circulation, blood circulation, hormones, joint movement, muscular movement, neuro-muscular coordination and also the flux of thought and emotion. So what are the things that aggravate vata? Only by knowing these can we know how to balance vata. They are:

  • Too much talking
  • Too much traveling
  • Less sleep
  • Not sleeping at the proper times, such as working all night and sleeping during the day also creates imbalance in the system. So proper sleep is also important
  • Too much swimming or other water games
  • Exposure to cold or windy climates
  • Working under pressure creates stress in the system, aggravating vata
  • Worries, emotional imbalance and stress. There are so many emotions that may affect our system.



From an Ayurvedic perspective, in morning time kapha is the dominant principle. Noon is pitta time and evening is vata time. So in Ayurveda, generally leafy greens and salads are not recommended in the evening, though they may be very good earlier in the day. Eating large quantities at night may aggravate vata in the body. Other foods that may disturb vata are cold items, frozen foods and large beans that produce more gas in the system.



When vata is out of balance, it first affects the joints, which can cause joint problems. Actually, most any pain in the body is associated with an imbalance of vata imbalance, such as circulatory disturbance, hypertension, insomnia, cracking joints, contractions or cramps in the body. Vata imbalance may result in a preference for warmer places and an intolerance to cold. A person’s appearance will also change, such that the skin becomes drier and the nails become more brittle. Emotionally, a person will become agitated and restless. His sleep patterns may get disturbed, and there will be less focus in the mind.


What to do to balance vata? We’ll continue in the next post with a description of just that – simple actions you can take to stay focused, balanced and steady. If you’d like to find out more about your constitution or current state of balance, you can schedule an assessment. You can visit us in Boone, meet me during the Ayurveda for Vibrant Health Tour or even schedule a complementary phone consultation with one of our Ayurvedic Lifestyle Counselors.


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Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.


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TAGS: Ayurveda , dosha , prakruti , vata

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