I wanted to share a few golden nuggets of information that I boiled down from the recent Ayurvedic Retreat I attended. I believe in the power of Ayurveda because it’s a simple and intuitive way to understand our mind and body and how to care for them. It’s a great guide for how to achieve balance when we feel out of whack.
Ayurveda, known as the “Sister Science” to yoga, is an ancient science that is holistic in nature and has been around for over 5,000 years. Ayurveda encourages self love and compassion for yourself instead of comparing yourself to others or following diet or lifestyle recommendations that may work great for someone else, but not you. It wants you to understand that you are truly unique, and is designed so that you approach your individual life in the most tailored way possible. It encourages you to discover your individual needs, so you can THRIVE in your life.
• Ayurveda means the science of life - it's a holistic health system to heal the body.
• Traditionally, Ayurveda and Yoga go hand in hand.
• Yoga was/is seen as the practice of spiritual enlightenment. But we can’t go chasing enlightenment if our bodies are out of whack, right? That’s where Ayurveda comes in.
• Fun fact: It’s the first ever recorded health system! It’s over 5,000 years old.
DOSHA MEANS ENERGY.
There are three doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha). Each dosha embodies energies of different elements. Vata embodies the qualities of space and air, Pitta embodies the elements of fire and water, and Kapha embodies earth and water. (more details on this in a bit)
If I am highly Vata, which means I encompass the qualities of space and air. So what would the personality of someone who encompasses space and air look like? Kind of all over the place, moving like the wind, and head in the clouds. But at the same time, creative, and able to go with the flow. Makes sense, right?
Each of us embody these doshas (energies) in differing amounts. For example, I’m mostly Vata but have quite a bit of Pitta qualities as well.
You’re dosha constitution doesn’t have to be fixed either! Your dosha constitution can evolve over the years, but there will always be core elements that are inherently YOU.
MAIN POINTS FROM ABOVE:
• There are 3 doshas : Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
• Our “Dosha” is our energy constitution that is made up differing amounts of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
• Our Dosha constitution is NOT fixed and can evolve throughout our lifetime.
Prakriti- is the Dosha constitution that each of us are born with. Kind of like our Dosha blueprint. Vikriti- is our condition or dosha constitution presently. Think of your Dosha as your baseline. When we are out of balance, we can use food, lifestyle changes, and herbs to help bring us back to baseline.
Now let’s dive into each Dosha
AIR AND SPACE-WIND.
Body: Tall with thin frames. Other characteristics: dry skin and joints that crack easily, etc.
Vatas are creative, intuitive, bubbly, eccentric, enthusiastic, visionary, and social. Creative, quick to learn and grasp new knowledge, but also quick to forget. Slender, tall and a fast-walker, tendency toward cold hands and feet and discomfort in cold climates. Excitable, lively, fun personality. Irregular daily routine, experiences high energy in short bursts with a tendency to tire easily and to overexert.
Vata imbalance: anxiety, insomnia, flaky, forgetful, spacey. Think of qualities of wind: dry, cold, and always moving. In the body that can look like bloating (being filled with air), always feeling cold, dry skin/ hair, and hormonal imbalance.
Vata imbalance is most common with health conscious women. “Vata foods” are what we traditionally think of when we think of health foods because they leave us feeling “light and airy”. Stuff like granola, raw veggies, salads, smoothies, kale chips. When someone with vata imbalance eats these vata foods it makes them even more imbalanced. Think about it. If I’m imbalanced (feeling dry, bloated, and cold) and I eat a cold smoothie with a bunch of dry granola that’s hard for my body to digest- it’s going to perpetuate the imbalance. Vatas need to eat more warming and GROUNDING foods- like root vegetables, warm protein, and spices.
FIRE AND WATER
Body: Pittas put on muscle and have an easily defined face.
Pittas are goal oriented, ambitious, hard working, decisive. They run on schedule and have strong leadership potential. Pittas are the type of people that you go to for help.
Imbalance/shadow side of Pitta: tend to overreact, have a fiery temper, and are impatient. There is right or wrong, there is no grey area for Pittas. Pitta imbalance in the body can look like rosacea (because heat rises), heartburn (from too much digestive “fire”), and pungent sweat (from the body trying to release toxins). Pitta aggravating foods are things that are stimulating, or overly acidic. Things like: alcohol, spicy foods, garlic +onion, tomatoes + other nightshades. Pittas need to eat more neutral foods that don’t aggravate their digestive fire.
EARTH AND WATER
Body: Kaphas tend to put on weight easier and tend to be more pear shaped. Kaphas are usually grounded, calm, and will move mountains to make you feel taken care of and at home. Women are traditionally taught to be more Kapha- to have that mothering energy.
Kaphas are mothering, giving, empathetic, grounded, and hold the space for those around them. Kaphas always feel like they need to make everyone happy. Because of this they have a hard time saying no. As well, because Kaphas are always giving, it can be emotionally draining for them and they can become depressed easily.
Kapha shadow side/imbalance: depression, resistance to change, and lethargy. In the body that can look like weight gain, increased mucus, and susceptibility to colds and allergies. Kaphas need stimulating exercise the MOST to keep them in balance. Kapha foods are your traditional comfort food. In the same way that Vatas should eat more grounding foods, Kaphas should eat more stimulating and light foods.
VATA, PITTA, AND KAPHA WALK INTO A YOGA CLASS...
Pitta is at the front of the class, in handstand the whole time because they are SO HARDCORE. Vata is always moving but are doing their own thing, using the teacher’s sequence as more of a “suggestion”. Kapha is in child’s pose for the whole class.
Just a fun metaphor for understanding the Doshas.
Having an understanding of our Dosha constitution can be instrumental in keeping our body and mind in balance. Ayurveda is a great and intuitive guide for getting back to baseline when we are out of balance. I would know!
Since opening the studio, I have been struggling with a Vata imbalance. It’s a major transition in my life, the schedule of a new studio owner makes for long days without any time off, and an erratic schedule. Both of which are a major source of Vata imbalance. The Ayurveda Retreat I recently attended could not have come at a better time! I discovered what I needed to do in order to get all this Vata under control! I was reminded that as a Vata, with a Vata imbalance, that I must take time to relax and get grounded. I was reminded how much nature heals and that I should try to spend more time outside in nature, and to make some space and time to just be. If you know me, I am always creating, always exploring, always learning and I am ALWAYS moving. But it’s important for me to take time and make space to relax and recuperation. You can't pour from an empty cup- I have to take care of myself first!