If you practice yoga, you might have heard of yoga's sister science, Ayurveda.
The practice of Ayurveda began about 5,000 years ago in India and is based on the belief that each person is unique and should be treated as such. More than that, it is the understanding that everything on earth – including humankind – is made up of a unique mixture of five elements: fire, space, earth, water, and air. Combinations of these elements make up a dosha.
Understanding your personal compilation of elements (or primary dosha) can help you find your ideal diet, mental triggers, physical elements, and best yoga practices. The elements associated with each dosha are: vata is air and space, pitta is fire and water and kapha is water and earth.
While everyone embodies aspects of each dosha, typically one dosha is dominant in an individual. To determine your dominate dosha, note which of the following tendencies are most similar to you, or take this quiz from Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health.
You might be primarily vata if three or more of these tendencies apply to you:
Thin framed, lose weight easily and have difficulty gaining it
Prefer a warm climate and don’t like the wind or cold temperatures
Hair tends to be frizzy and dry
Skin tends to be rough and dry
Are energetic, talkative, restless and active
When you’re under stress, you tend to become anxious and fearful
You might be primarily pitta if three or more of these tendencies apply to you:
Medium build with medium bone structure
Enjoy competitive activities as well as physical and intellectual challenges
Prefer a cool climate to a warm one, and dislike heat (especially humidity)
Your digestion and appetite are strong, and you have a tendency to get “hangry”
Are driven, decisive and sharp, and like planning and organizing
When you’re under stress, you become easily frustrated, impatient or angry
You might be primarily kapha if three or more of these tendencies apply to you:
Large bone structure, easily gain weight and have difficulty losing it
Skin is fair and oily
Hair is thick and wavy
Energy and stamina are consistent
Are calm, stable, grounded and enjoy routine
When under stress, you become withdrawn, unmotivated and resistant to change
In Ayurveda, illnesses are viewed as a dosha imbalance. To treat imbalances, the goal is to re-establish the natural balance of vata, pitta, and kapha. Ayurveda focuses on two key principles: that the body and mind are inextricably connected, and that nothing has more power to heal and transform the body than the mind. According to the practices of Ayurveda, freedom from illness depends upon expanding our own awareness to bring balance.
Vatas are mentally quick, creative, and enjoy movement and variety. Signs of imbalance for them are insomnia, constipation, anxiety, fatigue and headaches. For those who may be experiencing vata imbalance, slow, steady, grounding yoga postures such as standing postures, spinal twists, and deep, calming breaths are recommended. Due to the hyperactivity of a vata’s nature, it is helpful to allow for a long Savasana (ending rest pose in yoga).
Pittas are especially passionate, enthusiastic and courageous. Signs of imbalance are irritability, excessive competitiveness, rashes, diarrhea, stomachaches and increased inflammation. Forward folds, heart openers, and spinal twists can be balancing. When practicing pranayama (breathing exercises), a pitta should focus on cooling, relaxed breathing. Exhaling through the mouth at times is a good way to release excessive heat.
Kaphas are consistent, devoted and emotionally and physically stable and strong. Signs of imbalance for Kapha include procrastination, difficulty paying attention, weight gain, bloating, dullness and congestion. Stimulating movement like sun salutations, backbends and vigorous breathing exercises can help bring enthusiasm, heat and focus.
The most important message to take away from this email is to honor your individuality! Your body isn’t supposed to work the same way as everyone else’s. Every person is made up of their own energetic constitution.
When you’re in balance, you naturally desire that which nourishes you and brings health. You get restful sleep, move around as you should and nourish yourself with positive experiences. When you slip out of tune with nature, you invite imbalance. You may start craving junk food, stop sleeping well, and ignore your need to move and exercise.
Finally, sleep is crucial. During sleep, your body has the best opportunity to repair and rejuvenate itself. A lack of restful sleep disrupts the body’s innate balance, weakens the immune system, and speeds up the aging process. Humans generally need between seven and nine hours of restful sleep each night. Restful sleep means naturally falling asleep, sleeping through the night, and waking up feeling energetic and vibrant.
If you have questions, or are interested in a personalized private yoga class to help bring more balance to your life, contact me so we can get you on my schedule!