What is Ayurveda?

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You may be vaguely familiar with the concept of Ayurveda. You might wonder how it applies to health and wellness and how you can apply it to yourself. In this article I am going to break down the basics of Ayurveda for you and help you find ways to access it in your daily life. Ayurveda is an ancient practice from India. It is all about finding balance in the way that we eat, sleep, move and think in an effort to FEEL GOOD. “Oh gee- that’s it?!” you say, but once you understand the practice it becomes ingrained and habitual.

I studied Ayurveda when I did my yoga training. I became enamored with how obvious and relatable it is for us Westerners. I was fortunate to work with an Ayurvedic specialist during a rough patch in my life. She helped me work through it and I continue to use what I learned in my daily rituals as well as in times of internal conflict. What I am offering you in this article is just a scratching of the surface to familiarize you with the basic teachings. Ayurveda’s roots run deep and practitioners study for years upon years. If you wish to delve deeper, I recommend you book a session with Siva Mohan. She is my Ayurveda guru.

Doshas

Discovering your Constitution is the most interesting and first step in the process of incorporating the teachings of Ayurveda into your life. It’s kind of like taking one of those Cosmopolitan Magazine quizzes that reveal your “type” at the end depending on your score, but it’s so much deeper and more relevant than that. There are three Doshas (vata, pitta, kapha) and most of us are made up of two of them, one being more dominant than the other. Your constitution is who you are at your core, your blueprint, the way you came. Environment can play a role if the conditions are severe enough. There are identifying characteristics for each dosha; some physical, some emotional, some expressive... I will cover the most stereotypical ones, but know that there are layers upon layers of indicators for each dosha.

Vata

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We all have that friend (maybe you are this person) who doesn’t keep a calendar, rarely shows up on time (if at all) and always seems to have a lot of chaos in her life. When she does show up, however, she’s exuberant, exciting, fun, in the moment and you are reminded why you continue to nurture this friendship. This is a typical example of a dominant vata personality type. I am totally stereotyping here to give you a clear picture. We are all flawed in many ways and I am exaggerating the characteristics to bring home the point. Vata’s element is air so think of space, lightness, busy movement… Here is a breakdown of what vata energy might look like, whether it is expressed physically, personality-wise or environmentally:

Element: air

Physical Attributes: dry, thin, frail-boned

Personality: short attention span, bubbly, disorganized

Positives: fun, lives in the moment, goes with the flow, easy

Vata Foods: raw veggies, fruit, alcohol

Pitta

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Are you a list person? Would people identify you as “Type A”? Do you get really pissed off when things don’t go as planned or when you feel you have a lack of control? If you answered “yes” to all of the above then you may be Pitta dominant. Pittas are fiery and intense. They work hard and burn the candles from both ends. They can overtake the conversation or the situation as they are all-encompassing, but they get shit done!

Element: fire

Physical Attributes: red, fit, combination skin

Personality: go-getter, intense, overwhelming

Positives: hard worker, organized, leader

Pitta Foods: peppers, ginger, coffee

Kapha

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Ohh Kapha. She’s so ooey gooey. She’s grounded, motherly, soft. She is the one you go to for advice. She’s also sleepy and unmotivated; lazy at times. Kapha is moist like the Earth’s soil (apologies of that word makes you cringe, but its accurate for this one). Perhaps a bit rigid in her thinking and unbending with her plans. She wants to stay put- where it’s safe and predictable.

Element: earth

Physical Attributes: oily, big-boned, thick hair and brows

Personality: lazy, rigid, emotional

Positives: grounded, generous, kind

Pitta Foods: potatoes, beans, dark greens


Finding Balance

By now, perhaps you’ve identified your constitution (which dosha is your dominant as well as your secondary dosha type). Understanding this about yourself is the baseline for figuring out how to find balance and to giving yourself what you need physically and emotionally to FEEL GOOD. Again, there are layers to balancing the doshas and it gets way more complicated than I will explain here, but this is a basic guideline.

If you are feeling off in a certain environment, it could be because it is energetically the opposite of your dominant constitution. For example, a kapha dominant personality may feel quite uneasy I a social setting with lots of people buzzing around drinking alcohol. She will notice the increasingly louder voices and busyness as the evening goes on. Sometimes an “overwhelming” feeling is because your own dominant dosha is taking over and you need to bring in the opposite energy to calm your own tendencies. The basic practice of Ayurveda is bringing in the energy that you need to offset that dis-ease.

Balancing Vata

Kaphic energy is best for balancing vata energy. Below are some ways in which you can offset a feeling of chaos, frantic energy and discombobulation:

Crystal: Garnet. Garnets are grounding and solid. Even the act of sitting still with it in the palm of your hand begins to slow the vata mind.

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Activity: None!! Also, oil massage will moisturize the dry skin and ground the body.

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Food: Soup. With potatoes and leafy greens. Also spices such as cardamom and clover.

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Balancing Pitta

Vata energy is typically best for calming pitta as it can be cooling. Below are some ways in which you can cool and soothe the pitta mind.

Crystal: Clear quartz. It helps access the crown chakra and open you up to seeing the full picture.

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Activity: Meditation. Particularly “Earthing” (touching the natural ground). It helps us to calm and slow down.

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Food: Raw, light vegetables (cucumbers, radish, zucchini) in an alkalized sauce such as apple cider vinegar.

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Balancing Kapha

Bringing in vata energy can help energize kapha. Feelings of depression and isolation are kaphic so we want to balance with light, uplifting energy.

Crystal: Rose Quartz. It represents love. Anyone feeling down or low can benefit from this stone.

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Activity: Lots. But not an overwhelming amount as that is difficult for kapha. A light swim is energizing and low-impact.

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Food: Anything light and airy. A green smoothie made with fruits and vegetables (such as green apples, romaine, lemon and coconut) should do the trick.

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Dosha Balancing Gift Basket

Now you have some semblance of what the doshas are and how to bring in balance with Ayurveda. I want to offer you a way to give the gift of balance to your friends and loved ones. I will curate a specialized vata, pitta or kapha gift basket just for you based on your balancing needs.

Click here to contact me for pricing and item details.



Annalisa Barrett