Every day in our lives we are affected by external changes of the weather, seasons, relationships, foods and routines. No day is exactly like the next, just like no one else’s mind and body is exactly like yours, and no one’s unique combination of doshas is exactly like yours. Every day is unique, your body is unique, and the way you digest and respond to the environment around you is unique.
Our mind and body are intricately connected. The mind will fluctuate with the body just like the tides of the ocean fluctuate and respond to each new moon phase. Calming and soothing the mind starts with harmonising the inner energies and qualities of the body. When our body is in a state of healthy balance, the mind will follow.
Ayurveda seeks to bring elemental harmony back into the organism so it can function optimally and enjoy the fruits of lasting health and longevity. To create balance, we first need to be able to identify and understand the causes of imbalance. This is where understanding the doshas (the ‘elemental imbalances’) comes in.
The five elements: earth, air, fire, water and ether make up the three doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha), in Ayurvedic medicine. When one or more of these elemental combinations gets out of whack (and stays this way over a period of time through incompatible food and lifestyle choices), imbalance and disease can start to manifest in the body. When vata is out of balance—typically in excess—we are prone to diseases of the large intestines, like constipation and gas, along with diseases of the nervous system, immune system, and joints. When pitta is in excess, we are prone to diseases of the small intestines, like diarrhea, along with diseases of the liver, spleen, thyroid, blood, skin, and eyes. When kapha is in excess, we are prone to diseases of the stomach and lungs, most notably mucous conditions, along with diseases of water metabolism, such as swelling. Through knowing your unique body constitution and how to balance your own elemental makeup, harmony and balance can be maintained and sustained leading to health, healing and a sense of peace, purpose and harmony.
Simple tips for balancing your doshas
For Vata prone yogis
Vata: Air + Ether
Qualities: light, dry, rough, cold and irregular
- Slowing things down to nurture a healthy amount of physical and mental space.
- Creating a regular routine for sleep, eating, creative expression, work and socialising/having fun.
- Eating warming, grounding foods like soups, porridge, baked root veggies and fresh spices like ginger, cumin, cardamon, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, fennel and fenugreek.
- Eating and drinking warm and slightly oily food to stabilise the erratic energy of the air element, and to warm the cool quality of the space/ether element.
- Avoiding dry, rough, cold, raw and tasteless foods.
- Regularly oiling your body with warm oils and sipping warm water throughout the day to stay hydrated.
For Pitta prone yogis
Pitta: fire + water
Qualities: oily, hot, intense, light, liquid, fluid and sharp
- Spending time outdoors in fresh air and nature.
- Walking barefoot on dewy morning grass to cool the body.
- Eating meals on time.
- Going to sleep by 10pm.
- Eating plenty of fresh leafy greens and herbs such as coriander
- Surrounding yourself with natural beauty in the home like fresh flowers, plants and art.
- Avoiding spicy, greasy and excessively sugary foods.
- Avoiding excess screen time – especially in the evening.
- Regularly writing in a journal and and meditating to release excess mental heat.
For Kapha prone yogis
Kapha: earth + water
Qualities: oily, cold, heavy, stable, viscous, dense and smooth.
- Waking up early (by 6am) and moving the body first thing before eating breakfast.
- Eating at regular meal times.
- Eating warm, freshly cooked foods such as soups, porridge, fresh steamed vegetables, herbal tea and including spices such as fresh ginger, black pepper and turmeric in your cooking.
- Mentally challenging yourself to learn new things and make new connections with others.
- Keeping your home and office tidy and clear, and ensuring there is plenty of natural sunlight if working indoors.
- Spending ten to 20 minutes in the morning and afternoon sun to warm and lighten mind and body, allowing for fresh clarity and inspiration.
- Avoiding cold, damp, heavy and excessively sweet foods such as ice cream, cheese, yoghurt and other forms of cold dairy. Eat dairy in moderation if at all and always warmed to avoid congestion.
- Surrounding yourself with inspiring, creative and warm people.
- Having regular warm oil massage to promote healthy circulation and clear open channels.
It is important to remember that we are all made up of the five elements, and therefore each of us has Vata, Pitta and Kapha in our constitutional makeup – just in different degrees. Each of the three doshas require love, a regular routine, wholesome healthy clean food, daily stillness via meditation, care, attention and moderation in order to stay healthy and balanced.
Author: Lorien Waldron is an Ayurvedic consultant and founder of www.wholesomelovinggoodness.com You can purchase her e-book full of healthy, Ayurvedic inspired recipes from the website.