What is Ayurveda (in a nutshell)
At the core, Ayurveda believes that each of us is born with our own personal master plan for vibrant health. Your constitution in many ways defines who you are. No two humans have the same exact ayurvedic makeup (constitution). Ayurveda recognizes five elements as the fundamental building blocks of nature: earth, water, fire, air, and space. Everything in nature contains all five of these elements.
What might be beneficial to you could be less than beneficial for someone else; one person's nectar is another person's poison. It all depends on who you are, and what patterns are currently functioning in your system. While there are some practices that are beneficial for most everyone, Ayurveda places the focus firmly on you, the individual. This is why an assessment of your constitution, and your current state of balance, can help establish a set of personalized recommendations to support you in your journey through life; mind, body, and soul.
There are seven general constitutional types; from there we break down the imbalances according to which doshas are elevated beyond their normal ratio in your constitution.
Knowing your constitution and your current balance state offers insights that can help you better understand yourself, your normal tendencies, your habits, and your current vulnerabilities. Once you know your constitutional makeup, and your current state of balance, you can adjust components of your day; how you exercise, when you eat, etc, which will support your well-being.
Vata elements of air and space
Ahhh Vata forever moving, never stopping just like the wind. Remember that Lenny Kravitz song "always on the run"? Not running from anyone/anything in particular just always moving. little structure, spontaneous, always running late, the mind is always turned on high, moves from one thing to another no biggie if we didn't finish it. And stop with the salads already! It's the middle of winter for God's sake. You forgot to eat.... how is that even possible? Just having a little fun, Vata is actually the King of the doshas, It governs the body's life force (prana) and gives motion to Pitta and Kapha.
Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
Looking back at the years gone by like so many summer fields
In sixty-five I was seventeen and running up one-on-one
I don't know where I'm running now, I'm just running on
Running on, running on empty
Running on, running blind
Running on, running into the sun
But I'm running behind
A Vata individual will display physical and mental characteristics that reflect the qualities of light, cold, dry, rough, subtle, and mobile.
Many have a thin, bony build. They may have a variable appetite, move quickly, and loves vigorous exercise. prefers warm tropical environments and dislikes cold, windy, or dry environments. Speaks fast. Vata individuals are generally enthusiastic, imaginative, charismatic, adaptable, and alert.
Some common Vata disorders are arthritis, cracking, popping joints, dry skin, insomnia, constipation, gas and bloating, and intolerance of cold and dry. When Vata is imbalanced, an individual can be an overly active thinker, restless, spacey, disorganized, poor planning, moody and emotional, grasps things quickly then forgets really quick, interrupts conversations, or zones out during them.
When Vata does remember to eat.... they should favor foods that are sweet, sour and salty, heavy, moist, and warming. Vata should eat breakfast every day, they should sit down to eat, and don't eat on the run. Avoid caffeine and cold carbonated beverages.
Pitta elements of fire and water
No, I'll stand my ground, Won't be turned around, And I'll keep this world from dragging me down, Gonna stand my ground, And I won't back down, a pitta mantra, Thank you, Tom Petty. Pitta moves with purpose, don't get in the way. When pitta has a goal and is on a mission, they don't stop until the goal is met and the mission is complete. Get a pitta dominant person mad, they turn into Chef Gorgon Ramsey when one of his cooks forgets the lamb sauce--yeah, like that. Would you run somebody over to get to the buffet table? yeah, that's pitta firing up.
It's the eye of the tiger, it's the thrill of the fight
Risin' up to the challenge of our rival
And the last known survivor stalks his prey in the night
And he's watchin' us all with the eye of the tiger
A pitta dominant person will display physical and mental characteristics that reflect the qualities of hot, sharp, light, moving, acidic, liquid, and oily. They may have a medium build, strong appetite, and become irritable when skipping a meal. Moves with purpose and determination, attracted to competitive sports, speech is sharp and direct, and has a low tolerance for heat and humidity, pittas don't retire in Florida. Pittas are highly intelligent, confident, funny, joyful, perform well under pressure, are organized, have a sharp memory, and are natural leaders.
Some common disorders are hyperacidity, hot flashes, skin rashes, ulcers, and heartburn. When pitta is high or imbalanced, they may become manipulative, arrogant, materialistic, hot-headed, loud and aggressive, critical, and judgmental.
When pitta eats (keep your hand and fingers away), they should favor food with sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes. Cool, dry, and slightly heavy foods work best. Balanced breakfast and early lunch, at the same time each day, no working while eating! Pitta put the tablet down! down! Here's a big one Pitta generally has good digestion, your digestive fire (Agni) burns really well, and pittas digestion can handle crappy food. Don't eat it just because you can.
Kapha elements of water and earth
Slow ride, Take it easy... Ahhh, Kapha. Everybody needs a Kapha person in their life, cohesion, and love; don't interrupt their schedule... They like things the way they are, like Sheldon Cooper from the Big Bang Theory, Friday: Chinese food, and Vintage Game Night. Saturday: a bowl of cereal with 1/4 of a cup of 2 % milk for breakfast while watching Doctor Who on BBC America and laundry night, 8:15 pm. Kapha's love to garden, and chill out and are really not that interested in going out on the town. Don't get me wrong, they do go out but, on their terms, of course, they tend to be introverts.
Wild horses couldn't drag me away
Wild, wild horses couldn't drag me away
-The Rolling Stones
A Kapha dominant person will display physical and mental characteristics that reflect the qualities of moist, cold, heavy, soft, dull, sticky, and static. Their build may be more solid, and with moderate appetite, they can skip a meal easily and may not be hungry when they wake up. Kaphas are very capable of vigorous activity, but they avoid physical exertion; movement is slow and graceful. They are compassionate, patient, sweet, forgiving, mild-mannered and calm, nurturing, have excellent long-term memory, and are great listeners.
Some common disorders are; colds and flu, sinus congestion, obesity, excessive sleeping, asthma, low thyroid function, anorexia, and bulimia. When Kapha is high, They may easily attach themselves to people and things, can become greedy and possessive, Give up quickly, become lethargic, overly passive, envious, and easily taken advantage of.
When Kapha eats, they should favor foods with bitter, pungent, and astringent tastes. Light, dry, and warming foods work best, eating less quantity and less frequently. They should avoid snacking and late-night eating and have a light breakfast or even skip it.
Doshas in Life
A Vata, a pitta, and a Kapha walk into a yoga class...... Today we are going to do 108 Sun Salutations.
Vata's response is weeeee, let's go, go, go! So they want to do and will do all 108 in about ten to fifteen minutes and then look at you and say, "what next?" while fixing their hair, fidgeting with their clothes, and maybe even doing a little dance.
Pitta's response is I will be victorious and darn tooten going to do every last salutation AND win every pose! Now pita does move, but they move with purpose; they want to make sure they feel every muscle fiber gaining strength from each move, so they may take about an hour, maybe longer. Then, finally, they will finish the 108 and wait for the round of applause.
Kapha's response is... Kapha? Kapha? Where's Kapha??? I'm over here dude, and here we find Kapha in legs against the wall pose... You two do your thing; I'll be right here when you finish.
Vata - What's that?
Pitta - here is my day planner everything is neatly written out and color-coded, for personal, work and school. If you plan to interrupt my day it had better be for good reason (according to me). I have very important things to do and don't need anybody getting in my way, I am on a mission to win the day.
Kapha - My schedule is set in stone literally, I don't care I will not change it. End of story.