Today we spent four hours in Yoga school about Ayurveda which is really the “science” aspect of yoga. Its based on eastern medicine, which although I have been very skeptical in the past about, I’m beginning to warm up to now.
n Ayurveda we view a person as a unique individual made up of the five primary elements: ether (space), air, fire, water, and earth. Just as in nature, we too have these five elements in us. When any of these elements are present in the environment, they will in turn have an influence on us. The foods we eat and the weather are just two examples of the presence of these elements. While we are a composite of these five primary elements, certain elements are seen to have an ability to combine to create various physiological functions. Ether and air combine to form what is known in Ayurveda as the Vata dosha. Vata governs the principle of movement and therefore can be seen as the force which directs nerve impulses, circulation, respiration, and elimination. Fire and water are the elements that combine to form the Pitta dosha. The Pitta dosha (no, not the delicious, round, flat bread!) is the process of transf ormation or metabolism. The transformation of foods into nutrients that our bodies can assimilate is an example of a pitta function. Pitta is also responsible for metabolism in the organ and tissue systems as well as cellular metabolism. Finally, it is pr edominantly the water and earth elements which combine to form the Kapha dosha. Kapha is what is responsible for growth, adding structure unit by unit. Another function of the Kapha dosha is to offer protection. Cerebral-sp inal fluid protects the brain and spinal column and is a type of Kapha found in the body.
Heres the general characteristics for the doshas when they are balanced (see if maybe you inhibit some of them!):
Vata: energetic, creative, talkative, make friends easily, are quick and sharp, and impulsive
Pitta: Very type “A” personalities, methodical, logical, strong, ambitious, career oriented,
Kapha: Sweet, loving, generous, good memory, thoughtful, loving, etc
You can google these if you would like a longer list of the mental and physical characteristcs. Bear in mind, most people are a combination with one dosha being slight more dominant than the other. Lets explore me, for example:
underweight (always have been, I’m also tiny): Vata
get anxious easily: Vata
-dry (as in my skin tends to be dry): Vata
-have bursts of energy and crashed: Vata
-creative (at least I like to think so): Vata
-humorous (again, I think I’am at least to me!): Vata
-afraid of change: Kapha
Those are just a few, but basically, I’m mainly Vata, although I do have some other dosha charactertics, most people do. Honestly, I dont want to be a Vata, I’d like to be more Pitta and Kapha sometimes. I want to be stronger, and more organized and methodical. I have OCD tendencies, but they dont pertain to cleanliness or organization like Pittas. I would like be more compassionate. I’m not mean, well not ALL the time to ALL people :). But I would like to be kinder and more Kapha. But everyone is different, there is not better or worse dosha. Remember, they are just elements of nature.
I should just “own up” my dosha, accept my Vata-ness and see what I can do to balance this out.
The problem occurs when we get out of balance. That when we may start to get sick, physically and mentally. Ayurveda in centered around the philosophy that opposites cure. So being a Vata that tends to be “dry” and “cold” it would be recommended I skip astringent and cold foods and pick “moist” and “warm food”. To bad I love ice cream and rye bread! For me, its recommended I eat “heavy” and “dense” foods as opposed to air ones. So I’m assuming I won’t be doing fat free diets anytime soon….As far as tastes, I should be eating sweet, salty, and sour foods. So bring on the pickles, chocolate covered pretzels, and almond butter! woo hoo! so some of the stuff I like is on my “ok” list, others, like bitter, astringent, and pungent foods I need to avoid, like radishes, spinach, and actually, its recommended I stay away from most raw veggies. You might find that in your own quest to find that right balance for your dosha, you may not like the recommended foods, but thats probably why you need them. As we all know, sometimes, we do things we dont like in order to get to a good, calm, balanced place.
And this whole dosha thing can change depending on the time of day and the season. For example, the 6-10pm time slot is a Kapha, hence a good time to slow down and get to be before ten which is when the Pitta takes over. Havent you notice you get really tired at night but if you stay up past a certain point and you starting going onilne or reading, it gets much harder to fall asleep. The Pitta times of day are optimal for productivity, so its not a good idea to be awake from that 10pm-2am Pitta time slot. The other pitta time slot is the late morning, hence a good time to be at school/work.
I can go on and on about this, but I won’t because I dont like writing lengthy posts since I’m afraid I’ll loose most of your attention spans. I know I sometimes dont read lengthy blog posts on other blogs. Anyhow, am I gonna follow this to a T, no. Its VERY interesting to me, and I would like to try some of the lifestyle and diet recommendations (like going to bed earlier, waking earlier, eating my biggest meal at lunch, etc). But there is that Kapha part of me, resistant to change.
So what’s you dosha combo? Remember, its very likely your a mixture of two and some are “tri0doshic” which is very hard to balance. Regardless, try taking an online test. Keep in mind, its not entirely accurate and Ayurvedic practitioners often check your pulse and meet with you a couple times to truly get a good analysis. Anyhow, I’m wiped from my yoga filled weekend. Next weekend we are doing inversion,s so I’ll be upside down a lot. Fun stuff pretending I’m a bat.