• Ayurveda and Your Dosha

    Ayurveda, a Sanskrit word translated into English means "the knowledge of life". It is a 5000 year old holistic healing modality that views people as a unique combination of doshas. These doshas present with different challenges as they become out of balance. As an Ayurvedic practitioner it is my pleasure to decipher that special harmony in a client and brings balance through diet and lifestyle adjustments. We look to the cause of dis-ease not just the symptoms. The following is an outline of the doshas and how they present themselves.

    Vata (air & ether) governs all movement in the mind and body through blood flow, defecation, sexual function, menstrual cycle, breathing and the movement of thoughts in your mind. Vata governs the senses, creative thinking, reasoning, enthusiasm, memory and the sense of touch.

    Since Pitta (fire & water) and Kapha (earth & water) cannot move without it, Vata is considered the leader of the three Ayurvedic doshas. It's very important to keep Vata in good balance. Is your skin dry, rough, thin?  Is your mind constantly in a whirl? Do you worry? Are you restless? Do you experience constipation?  Do you suffer from dryness? Are you forgetful? Do your joints crack and pop? Are you easily fatigued? Then you may need to align Vata.

    Ways to balance Vata:

    • Ahbyanga (oil massage)
    • Consume more oil in your diet. Such as sesame, ghee, almond, avocado, olive & flax. Think about a good balance of omegas to lubricate the joints too.
    • Meditation, gentle yoga, a walk in the woods.
    • Keep yourself warm by layering your clothing.
    • Avoid the wind.
    • Routines are essential to a balanced Vata. Keep a schedule and create regularity.
    • Warmer colors such as red, orange, yellow and green, brown and black to ground.
    • Warm nourishing foods.
    • Focusing on the foods that are sweet, salty and sour.
    • Enjoying quiet places with less visual stimulation.
    • Dairy products pacify Vata. Avoid cold dairy that increases congestion such as ice cream. Heat and spice milk before consuming. Try using oatmeal cookie for a delicious after dinner treat.
    • Grains are good for Vata, especially rice.
    • Fruits that are good for Vata are oranges, bananas, avocados, grapes, cherries, peaches, melons, berries, plums, pineapples, mangos and papayas. Reduce dry or light fruits such as apples, pears, pomegranates, cranberries, and dried fruits. 
    • Vegetables that are preferable for Vata are beets, cucumbers, carrots, asparagus and sweet potatoes are good. They should be cooked, not raw. The following vegetables are acceptable in moderate quantities when cooked: peas, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, zucchini and potatoes. It's better to avoid sprouts and cabbage. 
    • Properly spice your food: cardamom, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, salt, cloves, mustard seed and black pepper. 
    • All nuts are good. 
    • Reduce all beans, except for tofu and mung dahl. These are hard for the variable digestion of Vata and can produce a lot of gas.

     

    Pitta manages all heat, metabolism and transformation in the mind and body. It controls how we digest foods and how we metabolize our sensory perceptions. Pitta governs the important digestive "agnis" or fires of the body, functioning of the eyes, healthy glow of the skin, desire, drive, decisiveness, spirituality and blood.

    Answer these questions to see if you need to balance Pitta. Do you tend to be critical? Are you often frustrated, angry or intense? Is your skin ruddy and prone to rashes and eruptions? Are you often irritable or impatient? Is your hair prematurely gray or thinning? Do you wake up in the early hours and find it difficult to fall asleep again? Do you feel discomfort in hot weather? Are you a perfectionist? Do you experience hot flashes? Do you have excess stomach acid? Do you experience loose bowel movements?

    Tips for Balancing Pitta

    • Keep cool. Avoid hot, arid and windy climates. 
    • Favor cool, heavy, dry foods and sweet, bitter and astringent tastes. 
    • Reduce pungent, sour, salty tastes and warm, oily and light foods. 
    • Moderation is the key to avoiding stress. 
    • Allow time to relax. 
    • Regular mealtimes, especially lunch at noon to avoid that "hangry" eruption. 
    • Abhyanga with a cooling oil such as coconut.
    • Milk, butter and ghee are good for pacifying Pitta. Reduce yogurt, cheese, sour cream and cultured buttermilk which are considered sour in taste and can aggravate Pitta. 
    • Olive, sunflower and coconut oils are best. Reduce sesame and almond oil all of which increase Pitta. 
    • Favor sweet fruits such as grapes, cherries, melons, avocados, coconuts, pomegranates, mangos, and sweet, fully-ripened oranges, pineapples and plums. Reduce sour fruits such as grapefruits, olives, papayas, and unripe pineapples and plums. 
    • Favor asparagus, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables, pumpkins, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, okra, lettuce, green beans and zucchini. Reduce hot peppers, tomatoes, carrots, beets, onions, garlic, radishes and spinach. 
    • Cinnamon, coriander, cardamom, cumin, fresh ginger, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass and fennel are all great. But the following spices strongly increase Pitta and should be taken only in small amounts: dried ginger, black pepper, fenugreek, clove, celery seed, salt and mustard seed. Chili peppers and cayenne should be avoided. 


    Kapha governs all structure and lubrication in the mind and body. It controls weight, growth, lubrication for the joints and lungs and an assortment of the body's fluids such as the moisture for nose, mouth, eyes and brain, the sense of taste, moisture of the stomach lining, lubrication of the joints and soft and supple skin.

    You may need to balance Kapha if you exhibit the following problems: Are you overweight? Do you feel lethargic or stagnant? Do you experience congestion?  Is your skin and hair too oily? Do you feel that you are possessive and are overly attached? Do you feel lazy or complacent? Do you feel bloated?

    Ways to balance Kapha:

    • Vigorous regular exercise. SWEAT!
    • Warm temperatures. 
    • Copious vegetables and less meat, grain and dairy in your diet that increase tissue. 
    • Favor pungent, bitter, astringent tastes and light, dry and warm foods. 
    • Reduce heavy, oily, cold foods and sweet, sour and salty tastes. 
    • Early to bed, early to rise.
    • Lighter fruits such as apples and pears, are better. Reduce heavy or sour fruits such as oranges, bananas, pineapples, figs, dates, avocados, coconuts and melons as these fruits increase Kapha. 
    • Reduce sugar products as these increase Kapha. Honey would be the best for Kapha when sweetness is preferred. Do not cook or heat honey this is said to produce ama, muck in the body.
    • All beans are fine except tofu. 
    • Reduce all nuts. 
    • Barley and millet are best when consuming grains. Do not take too much wheat or rice as they increase Kapha. 
    • Spice your food liberally except for salt. It increases Kapha. 
    • Consume plenty of vegetables. All are fine, except nightshades (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and sweet peppers), cucumbers, sweet potatoes and squash. They all increase Kapha. 
    • Dry friction massage with garshana gloves to increase circulation and invigorate the tissues.

     

     Ayurveda is a fun way to began seeing our relationship to the elements and their influence over the many aspects of who we are. It can be hard for some to see that we live with all three doshas because we become attached to the predominant dosha within us. When all doshas live in balance we can easily recognize the harmony of the elements and appreciate the seasons of the mind, body and soul. 

     

     

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