23 April 2015 -   Grace Millsap in Kannapolis, NC. (Christa L Thomas)

What The Heck Is Ayurveda?

What the heck is Ayurveda? In recent years, Ayurveda has gained popularity, and at times is used as a buzz-word to pique the interest of health-conscious individuals to drive sales of products. While this may seem like just another health trend, it’s actually the oldest of sciences with roots during the fifth century BC through the fourteenth century AD, there’s even an ancient word for cellular metabolism!! For myself, learning about Ayurveda in my 200 hour yoga teacher training was a lightbulb moment, more like a lightning strike of the colliding of my science and yoga worlds! I had a brand new understanding of myself, my natural tendencies, and the ways in which I was sending myself out of balance.

At its core, Ayurveda is simple and logical. Then it gets super complicated. Then the complex intricacies are woven back together in simple patterns. Ayurveda breaks down all the pieces of the universe into 5 elements: earth, water, fire, air, and ether. There is a complicated backstory to the creation of the elements, but that is another post entirely. Back to the building blocks of life, these 5 basic elements, each with their own qualities, come together to form the entire universe as we know it. Each individual is born with the perfect amount of each element in order to fulfill their life’s purpose; note this does NOT at all mean a perfect balance of the 5 elements. These elements come together to form 3 sub-types, or doshas. Air and ether come
together to form vata or “that which is moved”; fire and water come together to form pitta or “that which is transformed”, and earth and water come together to form kapha, or “that which is held together”. We all have all 5 elements, and all 3 doshas, but in varying amounts and these varied amounts are PERFECT for the individual.

So if we are all born perfect, what happens? Life! Seasons change, we age, and we experience trauma. All of these events send us out of balance, which is also called dosha! Confused yet? I will use myself as an example to hopefully make it all a little more clear. I am naturally a fiery person! If we haven’t officially met, know that my spoken language is punctuated with as many !! as my writing, and I’m most likely bouncing while speaking or moving in some other way to my own rhythm. When I have an idea, I will passionately defend it and give it everything I’ve got…until the next big exciting thing sweeps me away. When I first started doing yoga, it was 90-minute hot power flow or bust! I would pride myself on not having to take any breaks, or sips of water. More times than not after class, I would end up collapsed on my living room floor unable to move or shower, and feeling all sorts of awful. I was working 3 jobs, and any days off were spent either on vacation, which I usually would get sick afterwards, or filled with multiple naps on the couch. I started having major skin issues, which resulted in multiple doctors visits with no clear diagnosis as to why my skin felt so inflamed and itchy, and many medications. Luckily, my yoga teacher training came right on time and provided me with awareness about how to shift my daily life to allow my body to right itself. I scheduled time for slower practices, ate more cooling and grounding foods, and learned the amazing power of oiling my body before showering to protect my skin and keep other systems flowing. These shifts weren’t an overnight solution, but they did provide me with a path to controlling my own health.

My story above is the one-layered version, in reality it’s much more complex. For starters, my sub-type is Pitta-Vata, which means I have a lot of both of those qualities in my constitution, and that is pretty common for most people. There are even special unicorns who are tri-doshic and have pretty much equal qualities of all three! Also, Ayurveda divides the seasons in the different doshas, which have cumulative effects on our doshic sub-type and imbalance. Now before you feel the rabbit hole opening and your brain exploding as it topples down, we can back it up to the simplistic structure and become aware of the ways in which we experience cravings. For myself, I need to be super aware of cravings for spicy foods, especially in the summer. Helpful cravings do actually include the occasional scoop of ice cream! The opposite would be true if I was experiencing lethargy, or depression, in the damp spring time. Hopefully, I’ve added a little clarity, and maybe even sparked your interest!

There are 2 opportunities in the month of September to learn a little more, and to prepare ourselves for the upcoming shift in seasons! Or email me directly to set up a FREE 15 minute consultation to see
if we would be a good fit to work together.

Self-Love Tune-Up
Sacred Grove Retreat Center – Gold Hill, NC
September 13th – 15th
A chance to experience a weekend away, eat nourishing foods, connect with others, and reveal the truest nature of yourself. The moon will be full, the air will be crisp(er), and the good vibes plentiful. www.gracemillsap.com/retreats

AYURVEDA BASICS + how to navigate the season of change
Charlotte Athletic Club – Trade Location
September 16th 7pm
FREE EVENT – Open to all. Accepting donations for Amplify & Activate.
Does the end of summer make you dread the coming cold? Do the changes in season totally throw you for a loop? Are you feeling like you are lacking the energy you need for your daily life? Join me for a 60 min discussion to learn simple ways to stay grounded during a season of change.