Ayurveda is made up of two Sanskrit words: Ayu, which means life, and Veda, which means the knowledge of. To know Ayurveda is to know about life. According to the ancient Ayurvedic scholar Charaka, “Ayu” is comprised of four essential parts: mind, body, the senses, and the soul. Ayurveda is considered to be the oldest healing science. Rooted in the ancient Indian body of knowledge known as the Vedas, Ayurveda dates back to about 1500 BC.
Ayurvedic medicine is holistic, meaning it is based on the intrinsic law of nature that states that the whole person is made up of many interdependent parts and that when one part of the body is malfunctioning, it disrupts all other parts. Therefore, by concentrating on the source of imbalance, Ayurveda uses natural treatments to eliminate the root cause and promote the person’s immunity. Ayurveda not only treats physical complaints, but it also changes lifestyle practices to help maintain and improve health, wellness, beauty and optimal living.
Dr. Raichur is an international lecturer, bestselling author, ABSOLUTE BEAUTY and owner of PRATIMA spa & clinic. Her PRATIMA skincare line, which she still makes by hand to this day, has captured the hearts of editors at leading beauty and wellness publications across the world.
Visionary pioneer of the Ayurvedic Skincare field, Dr. Pratima Raichur combines the wisdom of Ayurveda with her expertise as a chemist, botanist and Ayurvedic doctor to compose a holistic system for skin wellness that combines profound Ayurvedic therapies and a remarkable line of pure, organic products.
AGB: Is there a simple way to categorize the different doshas for Westerners who have not grown up with this healing practice?
Dr.R: Ayurveda is a holistic medical science over 5,000 year old that states the entire universe and everything in it—including us—is comprised of the five elements: Space, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. There are 3 doshas that are derived from these five elements: Vata (Air & Space), Pitta (Fire & Water) and Kapha (Water & Earth). These primary forces are responsible for our physical, physiological and psychological traits or our “mind-body” types. Each of us has a unique proportion or combination of these three forces that shapes our nature, much like a fingerprint. The elements all have the ability to come in and out of balance that in turns shows through the doshas with specific characteristics. Therefore, understanding your dosha can help you make the best choices for balanced, healthy living.
Vata Dosha is known as the force of movement, because it is governed by the elements of Space and Air. Thus, Vata-predominant people are prone to living life at a faster pace, love change and tend to be energetic and creative, with many thoughts running through their mind at once. Physically, they tend to have a thin frame, with dry skin and hair and are sensitive to colder temperatures. For balance, Vatas require warm and nourishing diets, as well as exercises such as grounding yoga and pilates. Meditation is especially helpful for Vatas to help focus and ‘quiet’ the mind.
Pitta Dosha is the force of transformation and is governed by the elements of Fire and Water. Like fire, Pitta-predominant people tend to have higher levels of heat in the body and a fiery, passionate temperament with a sharp intellect. Physically, Pittas tend to have combination and/or sensitive skin with a medium body type that builds muscle easily with exercise. In order for Pittas to maintain balance, they require foods with cooling and soothing properties, as well as a regular but moderate exercise routine that is balanced with rest each day.
Kapha Dosha, governed by Earth and Water, is known as the force of cohesion. Kaphas naturally tend to be calm in nature, with a patient, steady and loyal temperament. Physically, Kaphas tend to have oilier skin and have a soft solidity with a strong build, as well as large, oceanic eyes and fuller features. To maintain balance, Kaphas require stimulation in their daily routines. Balancing foods are light, warm and dry and daily exercise that helps build endurance is best, such as running or cycling.
AGB: You have various products on your site for the different doshas, but is there a questionnaire that can guide a person to get to know their dosha?
Dr. R: We do offer a simple dosha quiz on our website to help determine your dominant dosha, which then helps to determine the best skincare products for your needs: http://www.pratimaskincare.com/skin-analysis-quiz/index.html.
There are also many great online tools and quizzes that will assist you in getting to know your own dosha and constitution. However, keep in mind that each of us contains a unique combination of all three doshas. Knowing your dominant dosha is a key tool in Ayurveda, as well as achieving ultimate health & wellness in life. We do recommend seeking professional guidance, if needed, to establish not only skincare but lifestyle needs to maximize your general health & wellness.
AGB: Do individual doshas change with the seasons?
Dr. R: While the change in seasons does play a prominent role in an individual’s current condition, it does not change a person’s constitution or make up of doshas. It may affect how balanced an individual is, which may require an adjustment in certain lifestyle practices, but each individual’s dosha is something that is constant and unchanging. In Ayurveda, each season contains characteristics that relate to the doshas, so from season to season it is common to experience subtle fluctuations that may work to throw off or enhance your equilibrium. Because of this, each season has a tendency or likelihood to heighten the characteristics of the corresponding dosha. For example, a Pitta-predominant individual may be more susceptible to imbalance during the summer or Pitta season, due to the increase in heat and humidity, as those are characteristics that Pitta types are already prone to. Overall, while individuals may be prone to fluctuations in their current condition due to seasonal changes, their dosha or constitution remains intact.