It seems that as a society we have all become obsessed with maintaining a healthy weight and with good reason.Our food has been hijacked by big business intent on stimulating our taste buds at any cost. Our food is laced with flavour enhancers, hidden sugars, salt and fat to ensure that we come back for more. The advent of the digital age has ensured that our need to move is minimal. We can now order most of our needs to be brought to us with a few taps on a phone.
In Yogic terms, we are hurtling towards greater and greater tamas; inertia, laziness and an ever-increasing resistance to challenge and discomfort. The solutions seem obvious on the surface: eat less, eat fresh and exercise more and often but Ayurveda has a lot more to say about it than just this.
Ayurveda refers to the three doshas, seven dhatus (bodily tissues) and the strength of agni to assess how efficient the body is at balancing excesses and deficiencies. Obesity (Staulya) in Ayurveda is caused by an overactive agni (digestive fire) in the stomach (relentlessly hungry) coupled with an underactive agni in the dhatus (bodily tissues) resulting in the body’s inability to convert energy into bodily tissues other than fat. We could say that an obese person is overfed but undernourished because the tissues are, in a sense, starving. We know from science that this is partly because we are not consuming enough nutrient rich foods that will help our body maintain its metabolic integrity. Nutrient deficiency is a hidden cause for many illnesses both physical and mental. A nutrient deficient body is unable to fulfil some key functions relating to the consumption and assimilation of food and the subsequent production of energy and wellbeing.
Ayurveda also considers the psychological aspect of our imbalances by assessing our strength of will. Someone with Avara sattva (sattva means mind) is someone who is very weak willed and needs a lot of support with change. Madyama sattva is someone with an average will who needs some encouragement to change. Pravara sattva is someone who is very strong willed and can change by simply deciding to. Some are suggesting that our gene pool is getting progressively weaker with every generation. It seems to more we advance technologically, the weaker we become as individuals. Adopting a Yogic and ayurvedic lifestyle can certainly help us reclaim our mental and physical strength, even with some very simple changes to our daily and seasonal routines.