First, thank you! Your comments and questions were amazing!
Second, a recap from my last post:
- Ayurveda is an ancient philosophy that honors us as the individuals we are.
- Ayurveda is an ancient philosophy known as the sister science to yoga.
- Ayurveda unifies us with Nature… caring for ourselves will in turn care for Her.
- You don’t have to be an expert to reap amazing benefits.
- To become more in tune with nature, you must become in tune with yourself.
- Ayurveda isn’t a religion, nor is yoga. Chakras, mantras, herbs, food are spiritual practices performed by anyone.
- There are natural cues surrounding us at all times leading us to balance.
Ayurveda and yoga were the tools that brought me from an obese weight of 200 pounds, acid reflux, heart palpitations, and hypothyroidism to a state of optimal health. The breathing practices I’ve learned through these sciences has allowed me to not only curb my own anxiety but also teach others to do the same.
When we first find out about Ayurveda, our first question is “What’s my dosha?” It was the first question I had; several tests later, I finally believed the conclusion (I’m inherently skeptical). Knowing is half the battle…
Your dosha is also known as your constitution and is a combination of elements and qualities in varying degrees from anyone else.
Compare the human population to a forest. From a distance, trees are very similar… they all have trunks, branches and leaves. A closer look tells a different story. Every tree has bark with different shapes, thickness, colors; trunks have a different width, height, and flexibility; branches are different lengths; leaves have different shapes, sizes, smells, tastes. Some trees flower while others are evergreen.
No 2 trees in a forest are the same even if they’re the same species. Each requires different care.
Back to you and your introduction to Ayurveda…
The 3 doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Each dosha uniquely combines the 5 elements and qualities that characterize their effects on our body. Everything in nature individually combines the same 5 elements: earth, water, fire, air, and ether.
Don’t let your dosha create a label for you though. Labels can give us a “get out of jail free card,” allowing us to pass the blame to whatever x, y, z label we’ve placed on ourselves. “You can’t do that, you’re a girl.” “I’m in the 99%… I’ll never have success.” “I can’t focus, I’m a Vata, made of lots of air and ether.”
Labels are great tools when used to solve problems. Maybe a hammer won’t work to install a screw in a brick wall… it helps to know what a drill is and how to use it (it also helps to know which screws will penetrate a brick wall!).
Your dosha is a tool in your toolbox. It builds a community, comradery, sympathy and empathy.
I’m a right-brained introvert, a female, spiritual, and an activist. I don’t let those labels stop me from teaching, lifting heavy objects or getting dirty, teaching mundane courses (as in non-spiritual), or having an open conversation with hunters. I came from poverty yet I have experienced tremendous success in my lifetime. My labels don’t define me.
Labels are precisely what makes DIEts fail.
Knowing my dosha allows me to better care for myself; I can anticipate and understand my reactions to certain situations and foods. Your dosha helps you relate to course material deeper and have an open dialogue with others in our community. “Oh, you’re a Pitta too, doesn’t the summer heat destroy you too!?! How do you stay cool?”
You can’t make a positive change in your life without having a starting point and knowing your destination. How can you get to Z if you don’t know where A is? To create balance, know what creates an imbalance. I didn’t find balance until I understood which foods and exercises were best for ME.
If you look at the dosha quiz I’ve created, you’ll gain an understanding of the traits for each dosha/constitution. It’s important you grasp what makes you unique. It’s even more important to nurture your individuality.
When you took the quiz, did you notice things about yourself you maybe haven’t considered before? Your eye shape perhaps or your hand structure? Maybe you realized you don’t pay attention to your bowel movements; most people don’t until they’ve worked with me on a more intense level.
Line up 3 Pitta’s and you’ll notice few similarities in size or body structure, nor their reactions to heat and hunger. A little more Vata on one of them makes them unusually cold; another has a bit more Kapha, making their eyes bigger and rounder.
The elements and qualities within you differ from everything else in Nature.
We have 3 doshas, 6 tastes, 5 elements, and 20 qualities in this philosophy. I envision a pyramid: qualities make the elements, elements create tastes and its all combines to make the doshas. (I like pyramids… I grew up in the 80s with the ever-famous food pyramid.) Now that you know your dosha, let’s talk about what the hell it means and how to apply it to your life.
- You are made of elements you share with everyone else in a combination exclusive to YOU. Every human being shares 99.9% of the same DNA, yet the .1% of differing DNA is what makes you so beautifully unique. Everything that works for someone else will not work for you, and vice versa.
This is partly why western DIEts fail… you can’t apply the same rules for every human being. Some fail simply because they lack simple biological, accurate data.
- You are made of tastes and qualities that appear here and there (we’re all a little bitter or sour at times, aren’t we?). There are moments we feel heavier or lighter, and times we’re a little sharper or duller. Knowing these traits are key to finding balance.
- In Ayurveda, we discover what to decrease whatever element or quality is in excess by using different aspects of our senses. For instance, summer is the season we enjoy a BBQ and being more social. There are 3 Pitta traits at work in this scenario:
- Socializing—Pitta’s are more social by nature
- Summer—this is the season of heat, a Pitta quality
- Ingestion—if you’re drinking, this increases heat. Eating heavy or fattening foods (acidic and heavy), are also heating
Here’s how this is “Ayurvedically unapproved,” as I call it. Adding heat to a fiery situation in a fiery season increases more of the same. Like attracts like.
BBQ + food/alcohol + summer = increased heat (road rage)
Instead, Ayurveda would have us sipping cool yogurt lassi’s, having cucumber, melons, salads, or chilled grilled veggies; avoid over-indulging in alcohol, meats, and other heavy foods such as mayo-based salads.
Cooling qualities + warm outings = creates balance.
Once you understand the qualities, elements, and tastes, you easily balance your dosha and get off the DIEt roller coaster.
We’re currently in the season of Vata, regardless of where you live. January is dry, cool, flowing, and the air can be rather sharp. Where you live would determine HOW MUCH of these qualities you’re getting. Here in Maine, it’s quite a bit colder than in Florida (60 degrees at times), but we all enjoy the lower humidity levels this season brings!
Cool, dry seasons require the opposite foods and activities. Increase foods that are sweet, sour, and salty—fermented foods are excellent right now! Eat less of those salads, smoothies, and dry crackers. Most all grains, nuts, and seeds are excellent for a healthy intestinal tract, as the bacteria would need these food sources.
Our intestinal tract changes with the season which is why it’s important to eat seasonally. This is the season we eat heavier, warmer, moister foods, with a little more fat than usual. No wonder people get bored on most DIEt plans—there’s no variation! Your digestion and health depend on the nutrients found in a variety of foods.
In summer, eat less grains; in spring, leave wheat out of your diet; decrease oily foods in these seasons as well. Our intestinal bacteria change every few months and need different food sources. Feeding them the same foods every season leads to an imbalance and can create dis-ease.
Wanna know what portions of grains, proteins, vegetables, and fruits are best for you? Email me back your dosha quiz and I’ll send you a handout that covers the basics of food portioning and the 6 tastes of foods in Ayurveda (most of us are only familiar with 5: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, umami).
The solution for achieving our ideal weight and health is to live in accordance to our individual constitution.
Forget counting calories or points, eating excess fats and proteins while avoiding 90% of Nature’s crops, eliminating sugar and salt, and constantly Yo-Yo dieting. I’ve got a solution to help you find balance with your food, exercise, senses, and herbs.
My goal is simple: To Empower you to understand your own Body, Mind, and Spirit better, working with Nature, not against her. I challenge you to incorporate some of the pieces of information I’ll share with you over the next few days.
You may not have had that “a-ha!” moment yet, because I have another piece of the puzzle to give you. Stay tuned… I’ll explain how you can treat the body as a sum and not individual parts. Fear not. I’ll be guiding you through the basics I’ve obtained over the last 20 years. I promise it will make your journey much easier and more tangible!
A super important note: PLEASE post questions and comments below! Feel free to share this with your network and see if your friends or family have questions, too. Your questions and comments will help this community grow!
P.S. I’ve never returned to the weight I was in the late 90s… I’ve consistently lost weight as I’ve aged, despite the theory of our “aging metabolism and body.” I’ve relieved every health condition I’ve ever had without staying on medication for longer than a few months. I challenge you to do the same. Change your life. Connect with others on a deeper level. Care for yourself and everything else in Nature. Find health and happiness once and for all.
P.S.S. Nothing I’m sharing is “new” nor is it mainstream. It is however, being proven by research… the more I study DNA and genetics, the more Ayurveda gains validity. Research now proves what Ayurveda has known for over 5,000 years—a low fat, whole food, plant powered lifestyle combined with proper exercise, breathing, meditation, and mindfulness leads to health.