One of the modules we studied as part of our Yoga Teacher Training was Ayurveda. Ayurveda is the traditional healing modality of the Vedic culture from India. It is said to be 2000 to 5000 years old. Ayurveda translated from Sanskrit means “the wisdom of life” or “the knowledge of longevity”. In accordance with this definition, Ayurvedic medicine views health as much more than the absence of disease.
Within Ayurveda is the principle of the three Doshas; Vata, Pitta & Kapha. According to the philosophy, universal life force manifests as these three different doshas (or energies). We're all made up of a unique combination of these three forces. People can be strongly one dosha or they can be a combination of two or be a mixture of all three. This unique combination is determined at the moment of conception. As they move into and out of balance, the doshas can affect your health, energy level, and general mood.
If you’re interested in finding out your constitution here is a link to a website that will tell you https://www.naturesformulary.com/test/dosha-test/
Kapha types have strong frames and are naturally athletic as long they are exercising regularly to manage their tendency to gain weight. The influence of the earth and water elements makes them innately stable, compassionate, and loyal. They appreciate doing things in a methodical, step-by-step manner, and prefer a regular routine in their personal and professional lives. When imbalanced they can become unmotivated, stubborn, and complacent even when change is necessary. Their metabolism tends to be slow and their appetite for both food and stimulation is less intense than vata or pitta types. They benefit from exposing themselves to new environments, people, and occasionally fasting.
Pitta types are dominated by the fire element, which makes them innately strong, intense, and irritable. Pitta types are prone to bursts of anger although they do not hold grudges. They tend to have a medium build and endurance with powerful musculature. They often have freckled skin that easily reddens in the sun, during exercise, massage, and when blushing. They are strong willed and good at doing what they think is right. They approach work and play with the same intensity and competitiveness. They are natural leaders and quick learners whose ability to easily comprehend and master new skills and concepts can make them judgmental or impatient toward people they feel are slower or less focused than themselves. They have strong digestion and intense appetites because the burn food quickly. If they miss a meal they are likely to become grumpy and get ‘hangry’. It is common for them to suffer from health conditions such as stomach ulcers, inflammation, rashes and acne. For balance, pittas need to manage their "fiery" tendencies, channeling them in productive ways and learning to recognize their destructive power. Pittas should avoid spicy foods although it is common for them to enjoy the very things they should not have. They should also avoid performing too many backbends in yoga or kalabatti breathing as these produce even more fire.
Vata types tend to be slim and long limbed. They are very mentally and physically active and enjoy creative endeavors, meeting new people, and traveling to new places. When they are balanced, vatas are flexible, have lively imaginations, and are original thinkers. When imbalanced they can get anxious, ungrounded, and can seem "flaky" about fulfilling commitments, sticking to a routine, and completing projects. They tend to be cold so they do much better in warmer climates. It's common for vata types to experience cold hands and feet, dry skin, and cracking joints.
The influence of the air element in their constitution causes their energy, mood, and appetite to fluctuate dramatically. For this reason, vata types often fail to eat and sleep regularly, swinging from eating heavy foods to ground and sedate themselves, or ingesting stimulants like coffee and sugar to sustain intense physical or mental activity. Insomnia and low immunity are very common problem for the sensitive vata person.
I had a private appointment with an Ayurveda doctor and I am pretty much 100% Vata (I have a small amount of Pitta too). He said that my problems stem from the fact the nadis in my head are too open so I think too much. This causes me to suffer with insomnia and then really struggle to get up in the morning. He prescribed the following:
- Do a soup fast twice a week (funnily enough I usually do the 5:2 diet and found my body responds well to it.
- Perform two Svanasanas when I get home from work in the evening to calm my mind.
- Use oil on my skin to protect my joints (either sesame or almond).
- Don’t consume caffeine after 2pm.
- Do not eat late at night.
- Eat hot foods and if consume cold foods then also have a hot ginger tea.
- Use the sauna (or move somewhere hot which I think would be preferable).
- Get up before 7 otherwise you will struggle to wake up properly before 12.
- Perform nadi shodhana in the evening to balanced the nadis.
Since doing these things I do feel so much more balanced. It is all a viscous cycle, I would struggle with sleep then sleep in, use coffee to keep me going which would then cause insomnia. Now I have broken this and finally got control over my sleep, everything has fallen into place.
I also previously suffered from digestive problems but since eating more hot food I haven’t had any issues with my stomach. I think part of this may be from eating mainly vegetarian, I watched an interesting documentary on Netflix at the weekend called ‘What the health’. It is definitely worth a watch as it completely went against everything I thought I knew about diet! The experts stated that eating too many animal products causes inflammation and various health conditions. I have found that since cutting down on my meat consumption I feel much healthier and a lot of people have commented on how good I look (thanks guys 😉). Try cutting down a bit and see how you feel, as the doctors on the program said, ‘no one ever comes in with a protein deficiency’. Food for thought…..