Thursday, November 2, 2017

HEALTH COACHING: The Ayurvedic Approach

When asked, most adults would agree they are aware of what changes in their lifestyles would improve their health. So that begs the question, “Why, as a country, are we so unhealthy?” Most adults want to make changes but find changes are hard to make.  As humans, we like familiarity. You may have heard the definition of insanity as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. 

My primary job as a Certified Health Coach and Ayurvedic Practitioner, is to support my clients, with education, tools and techniques that assist them in re-engineering habits to move them in the direction of optimal wellness.

I see people experimenting with current diet and lifestyle trends, then wondering why they still have digestive, sleep, or other health issues and don’t feel well.  And that’s where, like in the old advertisement,  ‘the rubber meets the road.’  “Ayurvedic principles meet health coaching to get you where you want to go.”

There is a sharp increase in the number of people who are becoming consciously aware of their health, yet there is now also evidence that more people are living with chronic conditions and not able to live to their full potential.

With skyrocketing health care costs, people are taking a more proactive attitude and recognize that the investment into prevention, and that there isn't a "one size fits all" method, so personalized medicine such as Ayurveda and Health Coaching is a worthwhile and valuable investment and learning to take care of and properly utilize one's own inner technology to discover and develop ourselves, working with our inner state to produce an outer result, transcending problems and creating the ability to live and know about life, beyond our ordinary and conditioned patterns is the sustainable and smart way to live.

To know or understand life, we can turn to physics; the knowledge of nature, and a natural science that studies matter, its motion and behavior through space and time, along with the related entities of energy and force. 

Prior to physics there was a science of life called Ayurveda.  Ayur” means life and “veda” means to know beyond ordinary perception. So often it is termed “The Wisdom of Life” and understood and applied through the anatomy and structure of the doshas, which describes how the universe behaves to achieve rejuvenation and longevity through self realization, thereby in Ayurvedic Health Coaching, the central tenet is that life is defined as the intelligent integration of body, mind, senses, and spirit/soul or energy, not just a body-mind system, and the root cause of disease is a misuse of our mind and it’s thoughts, making up the way we think life should be, rather than viscerally understanding and knowing how life actually is, including the rules and rhythms of nature, and living in harmony with them.

According to the 5,000 year-old system of Ayurvedic medicine, the physical body and all of matter are composed of elements, that when combined are called doshas. The doshas move in and out of balance while governing all of our biological functions. It was revealed to the ancient seers of Ayurveda, that we, and all matter in nature, are made of these elements that they called ether, air, fire, water, and earth.  Modern science refers to these elements as basic molecules such as hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and carbon, which combine to create our DNA.  

Doshic combinations are determined at conception and this Ayurvedic constitutional type is akin to our genetic makeup. Over the course of time, doshas change, going in and out of balance, and this flux is the process of disease.

Recognizing doshas and understanding their qualities and functions enables an early assessment of imbalances and the opportunity to adjust our choices in diet and lifestyle to restore harmony before a full blown disease state occurs.  Ayurveda teaches us how to understand the function and qualities of doshas in ourselves and in nature and the relationship between diet, lifestyle that includes mind and emotions, and their effects on the doshas. This is akin to the current fascination in the medical field with the study of genetics and epigenetics. Epigenetics is a newer branch of genetic study that, like Ayurveda, recognizes that factors such as the environment, diet and lifestyle, which includes stress responses and conditioned patterns that all effect our gene expression.  

Modern science is catching up to Ayurvedic practices, and new terminology such as epigenetics expresses century old ideas.

Combining elements of the same qualities will increase them, so we often say, "like increases like and the opposite brings balance", so understanding the elements in food, the time of day, the seasons and stages of life can benefit how we plan our daily and seasonal routines and how changing one's diet and lifestyle can restore a person’s true nature.

Knowing your dosha helps to understand your physical nature and subsequently tailor a diet and lifestyle to maintain a doshic balance, which optimizes your health. 

While understanding the doshas is not complicated, it does require skill and knowledge to assess, analyze, problem solve, and understand how the elements combine and change form, like the waxing and waning of the moon and the rising and setting of the sun, they have a natural rhythm, and increase and decrease according to the season, time of day, and stage of life, as well as diet, lifestyle, and attitude. This is why an Ayurvedic Health Coach and Practitioner is a purposeful health service to integrate into your health care team.

Recognizing the root cause of a person’s imbalance is not always simple, especially when the doshas have been altered so much they are unrecognizable. As in life, we think we see one thing, but it's really something else, because it has been altered by wrong diet, lifestyle, and thinking.

The elements of the doshas combine to affect or create conditions as follows:

• Ether and Air combine to form the Vata Dosha.
  -- Qualities: Dry, light, cold, rough, subtle, mobile, and dispersing.
  -- Areas of influence:  Movement, respiration, circulation, elimination, locomotion, movement, speech, creativity, enthusiasm, and the entire nervous system and releases energy (catabolism).
  -- Times of influence:  In the fall, during old age, and between the hours of 2:00-6:00.
  -- Constitutional type: Auditory, kinesthetic, creative, sensitive, and delicate. When out of balance:  Gas, bloating and constipation, osteoporosis, insomnia, anxiety, and worry.

• Fire and Water combine to form the Pitta Dosha.
  -- Qualities: Oily, penetrating, hot, light, mobile, liquid, and malodorous.
  -- Areas of influence:  Digestion and transformation of food or metabolism, thoughts or intellect, discrimination, experiences, vision, complexion, body temperature, courage, and cheerfulness.
  -- Times of influence:  In the summer, during adulthood, and between the hours of 10:00 and 2:00.
  -- Constitutional type: Visual, similar to type A personalities, goal oriented, organized, intense, athletic, competitive, and prone to overdoing things. When out of balance:  Inflammation, skin issues, auto-immune conditions, high blood pressure, heartburn, anger and frustration.

•  Water and Earth combine to form the Kapha Dosha.
  -- Qualities:  Heavy, slow, cold, oily, slimy, dense, soft, and static.
  -- Areas of influence:  Structure, stability, and lubrication, as well as growth (anabolic processes), fluid secretions, binding, potency, heaviness, fluid balance, patience, and compassion.
  -- Times of influence:  In the spring, early life, and between the hours of 6:00 and 10:00.
  -- Constitutional type: Not as bothered by things and turns emotions inwards; larger structures, slow, steady, and grounded. When out of balance:  Obesity, allergies, diabetes, attachment, greed, and depression.

We need all 3 doshas to function, and we are all made of a combination of them in varying amounts. In human physiology, these three doshas interact in a harmonious and compensatory way to govern and sustain life. Their relative expression in a person implies a unique ratio of functioning according to each person's unique DNA (vata-pitta-kapha ratio) determined at conception. This is body or constitutional typing is called prakruti. There are seven types – vata type, pitta type, kapha type, and all combinations of them. Throughout our life, due to improper diet, lifestyle, and thinking, our doshas change in quality, quantity, and location, which creates our current state, conditions or imbalances called vikruti.

These Ayurvedic Coach blogs will provide information that may help readers to recognize personal tendencies and how a few simple changes in diet and lifestyle can go a long way to improve health and vitality.

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