Ayurveda: The Science of Life

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Ayurveda is the fascinating and practical science that studies the world and how we can best come into harmony with this world. It is the sister-science of yoga and is a practical observational science that puts you into the driver seat of your own wellness. What I love about Ayurveda is that while it can heal imbalances and malady, it is most often used as a method of maintaining balance and well-being rather than only treating illness. One of my teachers told me that to truly understand yoga, you must also have a working relationship with Ayurveda.

Ayurveda studies three basic qualities called doshas. In their combination these doshas describe everything in the universe. To simplify, these qualities are: vata, wind quality; pitta, fire quality; and kapha, earth quality. Just like everything in the universe, each person has a unique expression of these qualities called a prakruti. Understanding your prakruti empowers you to negotiate the elements in your life in order to guide yourself toward radiant wellness for body, mind, and spirit. The goal of Ayurveda is to discover how you function best and then to strive to stay in balance, understanding that it may be very different than what your neighbor needs to stay in balance.

Have you ever wondered why you don’t feel fantastic even though it seems like you are doing all the right things that should make you healthy and feeling great? Have you ever followed a popular diet or exercise regimen only to feel worse? Sometimes even the kind of yoga we practice makes us leave feeling off. Understanding your prakruti helps you to guide yourself (sometimes with the help of an Ayurvedic practitioner) toward specific types of life-practices that optimize your unique chemistry. Remember, Ayurveda suggests that each person has a unique pathway to optimal wellness.


Excessive amounts of any dosha causes us imbalance. Understanding this and correcting imbalances, often by simple and practical means, puts us back on the path to balance. Ayurveda acknowledges that what may be health promoting for one person may be diminishing for another. Regarding anything that affects our health, be that medicine or food or yoga, Ayurveda always asks, “For whom, how much, when, and why.”

Sometimes it takes an Ayurvedic practitioner, a trained guide, to help you figure out your prakruti and place yourself on a regimen that will guide you toward optimal wellness. With even a little understanding of Ayurveda and your prakruti, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to keep yourself feeling wonderful. With this understanding you will find the best food choices, sleeping, yoga and exercising patterns, and even scheduling, that will keep you feeling amazing.

For fun, take this online dosha quiz and find out which dosha seems to match you.

This week, perhaps you can choose which yoga classes you attend based on what you feel like would give you the greatest balance. Feeling Kapha, (earth): sluggish, slow, or weighed down, or unclear? Get your bones outta bed and try coming to a morning’s 6 am (you heard me!) Rise and Shine class and give yourself a powerful start to your day and your week. Feeling Vata (wind): ungrounded, flighty, agitated, or nervous? Try coming to Restore Yoga and settle your nervous system. Feeling Pitta (fire): overheated by a project or feeling of expectation or perfection? Try channeling some of that energy into a Power Yoga class, just don’t push it too hard. This week, I invite you to use  Auyrveda to direct your choices in order to direct yourself to your own optimal well-being.

Scott Moore is a senior teacher of yoga and mindfulness in New York City and when he’s not teaching or conducting retreats, he writes for Conscious Life News, Elephant Journal, Mantra Magazine, and his own blog at scottmooreyoga.com. Scott also loves to trail run, play the saxophone, and travel with his wife and son.

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