The Making of ISHTA. A is for Ayurveda.
Ayurveda (the A in ISHTA) is the traditional Indian system of medicine whose origins date back at least two thousand years. The objective of Ayurveda—the name comes from the Sanskrit words “ayu” (life) and “veda” (knowledge)—is to help a person live a long, healthy life by balancing the constitution (with the emphasis on prevention of disease rather than cure). The treatment involves diagnosis of the patient’s personality as well as body, the prescribing of herbal remedies, breathing exercises, and meditation. Every step in an Ayurvedic treatment is accompanied by observation, inquiry, direct examination, and knowledge derived from the ancient texts; it is a truly holistic discipline.
According to Ayurvedic theory, the universe is made up of the Five Great Elements (Pancha Maha Bhutas): Air (Vayu), Space (Akasha), Fire (Tejas), Water (Jala) and Earth (Prithvi). These elements are contained within each of us in different proportions, together making up the individual’s constitution, or prakriti, which in turn consists of three sub-elements called the doshas: Vata (air and space), Pitta (fire and water), and Kapha (earth and water).
Once the Ayurvedic doctor has diagnosed a person’s prakriti, it is compared with that person’s vikriti (current condition), and recommendations can be made in order to bring the two states into balance (imbalances being conducive to ill health).
ISHTA uses the elements of Ayurvedic theory to arrive at the most suitable style of yoga for each student. Once the student has an understanding of her prakriti, the teacher can assist her in tailoring a physical and spiritual practice to address any imbalance in the doshas. This may mean avoiding certain asanas or cultivating a deeper and slower practice that includes more meditation. On the other hand, it might mean speeding up the sequence and working harder! Everyone’s dosha is unique, and your ISHTA practice will reflect that.