AYURVEDA IN PREGNANCY
The word ‘Ayurveda’ means ‘Knowledge of Life’ in Sanskrit and is a system of holistic medicine which originated in India around 6,000 years ago. Monks created Ayurveda to improve their physical wellbeing, to allow them to meditate more effectively, which is also the reason that the practice of yoga asana (postures) were introduced. Ayurveda’s basic principles can apply to everybody, so don’t stress if you’re not a monk, or have never even heard of it. I’m going to introduce you to some key concepts that will help you have a healthy pregnancy.
According to Ayurveda, everything consists of just five elements: earth, water, fire, air, and space (including us.) Every person has an entirely unique combination of these elements known as their ‘Dosha’, loosely translated as body type.
The Doshas are:
A predominantly Vata constitution will have physical and mental qualities that reflect the elemental qualities of Space and Air. Vata types are often quick thinking, thin, and fast moving.
A Pitta type will have qualities of Fire and Water, such as a fiery personality and oily skin.
A Kappa type will typically have a solid bodily frame and calm temperament, reflecting the underlying elements of Earth and Water.
Everyone consists of varying amounts of each Dosha, with one or two being more prevalent. The Dosha we are more focused on during pregnancy is Vata Dosha, as it is high in pregnant women and must be balanced.
During pregnancy, we are not so focused on just our own personal body type (or Dosha ) as there’s also someone else residing in our body. We can’t be just focused on what our body needs. This guide does not explore the Doshas (that’s a huge topic in itself), but simply draws of the general Ayurvedic guidelines for pregnant women.
During pregnancy, a downward-moving energy, called apana vata, supports baby’s development. If you are looking after yourself and feel balanced and well, then there will be enough apana vata for you and baby. If you’ve been continuing at your pre-pregnancy pace, eating poorly and have become run down, the upward-moving vata – called prana vata – has to step in and is redirected downward to support the needs of your baby. Without prana (energy) which allows you to embrace and revel in pregnancy, you can be left feeling tired, run down and even depressed. For a healthy pregnancy, the apana and prana vata should be in balance and that can be achieved only through living by the guidelines set out.