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This post looks at the Ayurvedic approach to understanding your constitution and the importance of keeping this in balance, if you want a healthy digestion and the good health that follows on from that. This approach to life ensured the chronic gut problems I experienced, did not return.
The simple approach to living that Ayurveda offers us, allowed me to heal 15 years of gut problems and related symptoms in just 3 months. Along the way I discovered how to support my body to do what it does best – regenerate.
To understand your constitution, you need to become familiar with the Ayurvedic view of the world, which is different to the one most people in the West have grown up with. We have been educated to think western civilisation is more advanced than civilisations that existed in the past, and so it can be easy to switch off when we hear about different ways of understanding things, described in words that are foreign to us – our brains are wired to think in a specific way. I flag this up because it can be an obstacle that gets in the way of people discovering the wonders of Ayurveda, which has come to us from the Rishis of ancient India, who were able to perceive the subtle workings of the world.
The Rishis of Ancient India
The Rishis of ancient India explained that the world is essentially energy, which manifests certain attributes that allow our material existence to come into being. They describe how these attributes of energy form the elements of Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether, and that everything in our material universe is made up of these elements – that includes us and the food we eat, as well as the things we consume through all our senses.
Ayurveda explains how the elements combine within our body as the Doshas, there are 3 of them – Vata, Pitta, Kapha – we have all the doshas making up our constitution in varying amounts, and this is what gives us our specific constitution. The elements manifest on both subtle (cannot be seen with the human eye) and material levels. This is the reason doshas are not substances you can see with your eyes; they are forces that allow your body to function.
Each dosha enables specific processes in the body to take place: Vata controls movement in the body and the nervous system; Pitta controls metabolism; Kapha controls structure and lubrication, the production of the tissues and the wastes of urine, sweat, faeces.
And so, your Ayurvedic constitution is made up of the doshas of Vata, Pitta and Kapha, in varying amounts. The aim is to keep the balance you were born with, in balance. Balance is key for good health.
The dosha/s that you have in a larger quantity within your constitution are more likely to go out of balance. There are quizzes you can do to get an idea of your constitutional balance, but if you are feeling unwell it is good to have a well-practiced Ayurvedic professional diagnose you with pulse diagnosis (it takes years of clinical practice to be able to do this well).
When I was ill with all the gut problems and related symptoms, I went through one of these quizzes and came out as a Vata type, but when I was well again, I came out as a Vata/Pitta type. This is because when I was unwell Vata dosha was very out of balance, once it became balanced again, I answered the questions differently. I discovered that I am quite an evenly balanced Vata/Pitta type with a little Kapha in my constitution. And so, the key is to answer the questions from across the whole of your life, rather than more recently.
Quantum science supports what the rishis of ancient India were able to perceive – our material experience comes into being due to subtle energy that expresses itself in different ways. Imbalance occurs because we are essentially an energetic being in constant flux, and everything we take into our system through all our senses can impact our balance, on both subtle (not perceivable with the human eye – doshas) and gross levels (seen with the human eye).
The doshas reside in the digestive tract, when there is a dosha imbalance it creates the conditions for other things to go out of balance, if it is not corrected you start to create the conditions where disease will thrive – digestion and immunity become weak, a toxic substance called Ama forms from undigested food and experiences, the body becomes stressed and chronic inflammation kicks in. When these things happen the intelligence of your cells and the tissues of your body start to break down, this is when illness and opportunistic unhealthy (for us) bacteria and viruses can start to take over – normally they would be kept in check by a balanced microbiome.
To recap, the aim is not to have an even balance of each dosha, it is simply to keep the balance you were born with, in balance. Keeping your mix of the doshas in balance is important for creating the ground from which good health can naturally flow.