Ayurveda (The Science of Life)
Ayurveda (The Science of Life) is the traditional Hindu system of medicine, which is based on the idea of balance in the mind, body and spirit using diet, herbal treatments, yogic breathing and daily self-care rituals. Ayur means ‘life’, and veda means ‘science’ or ‘knowledge’.
Okay, tell me if this sounds like you:
I like the cool / cold weather and love to stay home, hunker down, sleep, and snuggle at home. Comfort food is my go to in the winter. I love pasta, cheese, pancakes and yummy warm food. Sometimes I struggle with lethargy and feeling down or stuck. It is challenging for me to get moving or stick to a regimented plan. Hello Kapha Dosha!
Or, perhaps this is you: I feel pretty focused and purposeful. The winter is a time when I feel pretty balanced and settle in to a nice routine. I get a lot accomplished, and enjoy the cold and winter months. The only real annoying part is when I have to shovel snow to get out of my driveway. And, I am amazed that so many people cannot drive in the snow. “What do you mean school is cancelled, the roads are not that bad.” Hey there Pitta Dosha!
Or, maybe this is you: I cannot stand the cold weather. It is freezing; my hands and feet are cold all the time. I feel overwhelmed, scattered and unsettled. I just need a week off to get organized. Any crunchy food is delicious. Salad, nuts, granola and chocolate are some of my favorites. Greetings Vata Dosha!
The science of Ayurveda is based on the premise that we are all made up of the elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether. According to Ayurvedic texts, the human body comprises three body states which include Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
So before we go any further, you might be wondering what my dosha is. Here are two free quick online tests that will give you great insight into your dosha. Both are insightful. The Yoga International Quiz is simple and fast; the Banyan Botanicals takes a bit longer but is more comprehensive:
Now, read on and learn more about how to balance your dosha…
Kapha = earth + water.
Governs the structure and lubrication in the mind and body. It controls weight, growth, lubrication for the joints and lungs, and formation of all the seven tissues — nutritive fluids, blood, fat, muscles, bones, marrow and reproductive tissue
Pitta = fire + water
Is responsible for heat, appetite, digestion, and transformation of the mind and body. It controls how we digest foods, how we metabolize our sensory perceptions, and how we discriminate between right and wrong.
Vata = air + ether
Is in charge of all movement and activity of the mind and body. It controls blood flow, elimination of wastes, breathing and the movement of thoughts across the mind.
“When the three body states are in perfect harmony, the individual enjoys good health, whereas an imbalance in the states causes disease. Ayurveda seeks to address this state of imbalance through a process of holistic healing,” (Himalaya Wellness, 2016).
Our primary doshas are the predominant energy that circulates in the body and governs physiological activity. This state is our natural constitution, the one we are born with. We all have both a physical constitution and a mental / spiritual constitution. The physical doesn’t really change, like it or not, we are kind-of stuck with that one. Our mental / spiritual constitution is subject to change based on the time of day, stage of life or season of the year.
The seasons greatly impact our state of being. So…if you identified with any of the imbalance descriptors in the introduction, then here are a few tips to help you find, restore and maintain balance during the winter months.
Kapha Dosha: To keep from going in the dark cave and stewing in your stuff, create a predictable awareness plan to enliven and nourish. Set up a schedule and stick to it. And, MOST important be kind to yourself if you fall off the wagon. Kaphas have to move their bodies in the winter. It’s not an option. If you stop moving, you will get stuck, and when that happens, you retreat or spiral into your dark cave and it does not feel good. Kaphas should eat lots of cooked vegies, crisp apples and light protein sources. Avoid: dairy, pasta, breads, sweets and simple carbohydrates (it will clog you up and weigh you down). A vegetarian lifestyle in the winter is a great option for you.
Pitta Dosha: This is a great time of the year for you. You get lots of things accomplished; you feel pretty grounded and very productive. The cold weather cools your fiery nature. You can enjoy the spicy, salty, sour, pungent and sweet food choices that you love. Be mindful to practice moderation and eat living food. Living food is anything that’s not processed, packaged and loaded with ingredients you can’t pronounce. Journaling is essential for you to discharge the excess mental activity that might be stirred up from your busy, active lifestyle.
Vata Dosha: This is the hardest season for you so buckle up and be diligent about your self-care and the food you eat. Meditation and breathing (pranayama) practices are a must to settle your energetic body. Eat tons of cooked, well-seasoned root vegetables – sweet potatoes, yams, onions, peppers, carrots, squash, and yes, even meat. You are going to need natural dense food to keep you grounded during this blustery season.
Hope this was helpful. If you are interested in finding out more, just reach out. My contact information is listed below. PS: I am offering a fun Yoga/Ayurveda Weekend Retreat this January in Rehoboth called “Women, Wine and Wellness”. You are welcome to join me and enjoy learning, community, nourishing food, and playful fun with a group of like-minded souls.
Wishing you all great peace and blessings this winter and always,