Many students of yoga have been trained under Jen (Ryan) Engstrom at the Yoga Loft just north of Boston in Massachusetts. An intensive 200-hour teacher training program includes a day-long workshop on the Ayurveda module. Understanding the teachings of Ayurveda is not only important for yoga teachers, but for those who want the benefits of holistic medicines that can keep the mind, body, and spirit in balance.
I had the opportunity to attend this year’s workshop with esteemed Dr. Pratibha Shah, BAMS, Masters in Ayurveda, MPH. Dr. Shah is a senior faculty member of Kerala Ayurveda Academy, is a founder and director of the Council for Ayurveda Research with the Wholistic Health Alliance, and an Ayurveda consultant at Well Life.
As the seasons change, so too do the best modalities for living in good health. Depending on which of the different doshas (Kapha, Vita, or Pitta) is more dominant for each unique individual, the ways that you welcome spring into your life will differ because spring is the season of the Kapha.
For those who are unfamiliar with the ancient traditions of Ayurveda, understanding the Sanskrit might help you to know yourself and your partner a little better.
The very word “Ayurveda” is itself the pursuit of understanding the ways that science and life are intertwined. Ayu means life. Veda means science, making Ayurveda a life science.
It is believed that the goals of life are:
“You need health at the basis of all of these goals,” said Shah. In order to achieve health, one must first know, respect, and love the self, which is why one of the most beautiful Sanskrit mantras taught in Ayurveda is “Swasthasya swasthya rakshanam.” Swa means self. Asthasya means to be established. To be established in self.
“Maintenance of the health of the healthy requires that you respect and love who you are. If you are comfortably established in who you are, you will be health,” said Shah.
A second Sanskrit mantra she shared with the room full of soon to be yoga teachers was, “Aturasya vikaar prashamanamch.” Alleviation of the pathology in the diseased.
“Knowing who you are, loving yourself, respecting yourself, and living aligned with that knowledge will lead to health. If you have a Honda and you want to run it like a Mercedes, something is wrong,” said Shah.
According to Sushrauta Samhita, health can be achieved for those who are in physical and physiological equilibrium. Those who are in a joyous state of body, mind, and soul. Shah said, “The body is a microcosm of the universe, made up of the five primordial elements of ether, air, fire, water, earth. These are the basis for the doshas.”
Vatas are made of up of the elements of ether and air while pitta is full of fire and water, but kapha are the elements of earth and water.
“If an individual follows the diet, regimen, and lifestyle according to one’s body type, with an awareness of the daily and seasonal variations, disease can be kept at bay. And if diseased, one can manage it in the most optimal manner,” said Shah.
The concept that body types are the hardware of our natural being and affect how we interact with each other was one of the most important messages that Shah impressed upon the group.
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About the Author
Kacy Zurkus is a regular contributor with MeetMindful and a Mompreneur. In addition to being a writer, she owns a successful virtual franchise and is a high school teacher of English. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University, a Master’s in Education from the University of Massachusetts at Boston, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Regis College. She has written several personal essays, poems, and short works of fiction. Her self-published memoir, Finding My Way Home: A Memoir of Life, Love, and Happiness (under the psuedomyn C.K. O'Neil) is available in print and e-book on Amazon. She continues to work as a freelance writer in MA. One of her essays is included in the self-published anthology, Loving for Crumbs, by Jonah Ivan. Kacy has an adoring husband of five years and two gorgeous little girls. You can follow her on twitter or 'like' her Facebook page.