Ayurveda’s core principle, bringing union between mind, body and spirit, mirrors that of yoga. This ancient science is a holistic approach, offering health and well-being to the practitioner. Ayurveda helps you consider how the food you eat, activities you perform, and thoughts you have can benefit (or harm) your mind, body and spirit. Once you find the ideal balance through your lifestyle choices you will feel happier, improve your ability to fight off illness, and increase your energy levels!
Learning about the doshas, the heart of the teachings, is a great place to start. Doshas represent the elements of nature and because you are part of nature you are composed of these doshas.
Veda- either and air
Pitta- fire and water
Kapha- water and earth
Most people are “dual doshic”, with two doshas sharing a higher percentage proportionally. More rare is the “tri-doshic” person, which means their constitution, or prakruti, is vata-pitta-kapha.
Traits of Vata:
Talk quickly and often.
Often feel anxious.
More comfortable seeing the big picture rather than small details.
Easily feel connected to spiritual and energetic existence.
Traits of Pitta:
Effectively and efficiently complete tasks.
Quick to anger.
Highly critical of yourself and others.
Usually hot, even when others are comfortable.
May be fanatical in your spiritual, religious, or nonreligious stance.
Traits of Kapha:
Gain weight easily.
Inclined to be sedentary.
Prone to depression.
Sleep heavy and long.
Loyal to friends and loved ones.
This quiz will help you identify your unique balance of Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Armed with this information you can now follow the routine and food guidelines prescribed by Ayurveda to maintain the ideal balance of doshas. From moment to moment, day to day and throughout the various stages of life your dosha balance will naturally shift. As you become more in tune with the subtleties of the doshas you will recognize these changes and be able to make slight adjustments to your lifestyle to reinstate harmony.
As an example, I am predominantly Vata with a little bit of Pitta thrown in for good measure. When I sense that my Vata dosha is becoming too strong, causing me to feel jittery, ungrounded and anxious, I know I need to take a few preemptive steps to bring it back in line. First I cut back on coffee (way back), I eat more comfort foods versus light airy food like salads (i.e. grains and soups), and lastly I increase the time spent meditating and doing yoga. On the other hand, if my Pitta dosha starts getting unruly (likely to happen during the days of 100 degree temps in Austin), causing me to feel a bit short tempered and edgy, I add cooling foods such as smoothies and salads to my diet and spend more time swimming for exercise versus running.
As you can see from my example, much of Ayurveda’s basic teachings fall into the commonsense category. The trick is learning to pay attention to your body and mind and allowing your intuitive nature to guide you in the healthiest choices. If you’d like to dive deeper into the teaching, The Everything Guide to Ayurveda, by Heidi E. Spear, is a great place to start. It’s a quick and easy read and will serve as a valuable resource.
With light and love,