Ayurveda is very specific about the different classifications of people. There are three main categories, each representative of the 5 elements and their combinations. These are Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vata dosha is comprised of the Air and Space element. Hence people with predominance of these two elements tend to be rather airy and spacey! Lets talk about some of their characteristics. They tend to be on either side of the spectrum in terms of height - either rather short, or unusually tall. They're typically frail and thin, and have a hard time putting on any weight. The planet Saturn, and North node Rahu rule over Vata Dosha dominated people. There is however, Mercurial influence because the planet Mercury is Airy in nature. This Mercurial energy makes them excellent communicators. Their energy is best utilized in fields such as teachers, consultants, computer programmers as well as in media. They also tend to have changing and often unpredictable emotions. Their memory is often short term or erratic. Vata dominated people are however, very talkative and sociable. They mix easily with others, especially if Mercury and Rahu are well placed in their birth chart. When Vata is too high, due to an ill-placed Saturn and Rahu, Vata's suffer from alienation and find themselves unable to relate to anyone. They do tend to be rather intellectual and communicative, but often times restless and changable. Often influenced by the behaviour of others, Vatas are sometimes regarded as fickle and unstable. This is a characteristic that can be modified with Yoga and meditation, which are two practices extremely beneficial to Vata predominant persons in particular. Vata dominated individuals should avoid dry and light foods, cold climates and sleeping late. Once they get into the habit of sleeping late, it is usually difficult to break the habit, and their naturally high Vata dosha, gets further aggravated, resulting in fatigue, insomnia and body ache. On the flip side, it is advised to keep warm, indulge in somewhat oily foods (preferably cooked in Ghee) and try to get into bed earlier. Indulge yourself in hot oil massages every now and then (daily if possible) and get plenty of sunlight. Spend a few minutes everyday to meditate and practice Yoga. Vata dosha, is said to be the King of Doshas, without which, neither Pitta nor Kapha can be fully expressed. Vata dominated individuals make life interesting, adventurous and evolutionary. Their sense of adventure and thrill, makes them exciting to be around. They do however, need to be aware of getting burnt out due to over-exertion and hyperactivity.
Ojas is the essence or nectar of the 7 bodily tissues (Plasma - Blood - Muscle - Fat - Bone - Marrow - Reproductive Fluid.) In Western terms, it is referred to as the body's immunity. It is far more than this however. Ojas is the binding fluid that exists in every cell of our body, protecting us continuously as we interact with other people and nature. It is often described as our body's ability to fight disease. Without this protective shield, our body is prone to rapid and severe aging, both physically and mentally. Apart from not having energy to function and perform daily tasks, we may become forgetful, absent-minded and unmotivated. Ojas is called our vital force, because it does just that - it gives us vitality, strength, enthusiasm and courage.
Fairly new to the western world, the Ayurvedic herb known as Ashwaghanda (Withania somnifera), is slowly but surely gaining popularity. It is affectionately known in Sanskrit by a variety of names, each of which denoting its powerful properties. Some of the more popular names are Vajinama, Balada, Vrusha - all of which express the strengthening and sexual vigor-promoting qualities of Ashwaghanda. It provides the strength and vitality of a horse, and smells like one too! It is a fairly light herb to digest, and is nourishing because it promotes moisturization and lubrication within the body. It has 3 primary tastes - sweet, astringent and bitter. It's potency is hot, therefore it is used to treat conditions such as Constipation, Paralysis, Asthma, Fatigue, Insomnia and Pain. In combination with other drugs, Ashwaghanda has also been used in effectively treating Rheumatoid Arthritis. A mixture of 5gms of Ashwaghanda powder + 10gms of Ghee in a glass of hot milk with a dash of sugar acts an excellent tonic, is nutritious and induces peaceful deep sleep. It should be taken atleast 1 hour before sleeping. Ashwaghanda has also proven to work effectively in treating nervine conditions such as Alzheimer's Disease, ADHD, Parkinson's and other degenerative disorders. It strengthens the heart, muscles, brain and reproductive fluid of both males and females. It is used as the drug of choice to promote the body's natural Immunity, known as Ojas. It helps to build tissue quickly and is often used by body builders and athletes. If taken in capsule form, it is best taken under the guidance of an Ayurvedic Physician. If taken incorrectly, it can promote excessive growth and developmental abnormalities, as well as lethargy, indigestion, bloating etc.
Pippali, one of the most commonly used Ayurvedic herbs, is warm in nature. It is not too hot, nor too cold. It is used to pacify diseases and disorders primary stemming from an imbalance of Vata or Kapha Dosha. It's main taste is Katu or Pungent, so in excess, it may be harmful to Pitta Dosha conditions, such as Ulcers, Burning sensations throughout the body, Stomatitis etc. However, due to its warm, unctuous nature, it is used very often as an appetizer. It improves the function of the digestive system and helps to break down toxic matter known in Ayurveda as Ama. It is used in combination with Black Pepper, Cinnamon, Cardamom, Ginger and Cumin, to boost the appetite. Pippali when applied locally, acts as an analgesic. It also alleviates Constipation, Loss of Appetite, Indigestion, Colic, Pain, and Liver or Splenic conditions, such as Hepatomegaly and Splenomegaly. It's blood purifying qualities, help the circulatory system function to its optimum, and though it is warm in nature, it is often used with Ginger to treat bleeding. For the respiratory system, Pippali is often the drug of choice when treating coughs, hiccups and asthma. It helps melt Kapha Dosha, and expel it from the channels, thereby relieving dyspnoea. Pippali, a great rejuvenator, helps to restore the proper functioning of the male reproductive system. It reduces seminal debility and acts as a natural aphrodisiac. Pippali, though vastly beneficial, can be harmful if taken in too large quantity. It is always recommended that one takes this herb under the guidance of an Ayurvedic Physician.