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Finding Balance Through Ayurveda

Ayurveda is the "science of life" and is considered to be one of the oldest healing sciences with roots originating in India over 5000 years ago! Ayurveda places great emphasis on dis-ease prevention and paying attention to the balance in ones life. So looking at the diet, herbal remidies, daily practices, and patterns of thought. Each person has a specific constitution which favours certain foods and practices. This explains why one persons diet doesn't work necessarily work for someone else. We are all so unique and the energetic patterns that make up a person include the physical, mental, and emotional bodies. These all play a part in determining our health. By bringing balance to these areas with lifestyle changes, we can start to feel better inside and out!

Ayurveda uses these terms to label the energies in our everyone and everything called Dosha's; Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. People have all these qualities within them, but usually one is more dominant. Food, seasonal changes, lifestyle habits, and mental patterns all shift these dosha's within our cells. We may experience physical symptoms or mental disturbances while out of balance. Over time these disturbances add up causing more discomfort and toxins. The cause of disease in Ayurveda is viewed as a lack of proper cellular function due to an excess or deficiency of vata, pitta or kapha. Disease can also be caused by the presence of toxins.

Lets dive into what the energy around these Dosha's are! When a dosha is elevated or prominent in your constitution there are practices and lifestyle adjustments you can may to bring your body back into balance.

Can you guess which one is dominant for you?

Vata is the energy of MOVEMENT.

Element: AIR and SPACE

Season: Late Fall to Early Winter

It governs breathing, blinking, muscle and tissue movement, pulsation of the heart, and all movements in the cytoplasm and cell membranes. In balance, vata promotes creativity and flexibility. Out of balance, vata produces fear and anxiety. Vata is easily stimulated. A vata dominate person may dislike loud noises, feel spacey and have excessive thinking and anxious tendencies. Vata's are extremely creative with a quick mind and flexibility, they are not tied down to one idea or thought. Alert, restless, and very active. They tend to have less confidence, will power, boldness and tolerance for fluctuations than other types. The skin may tend to get dry or cracked. Increased Vata may also create bloating, gas, and constipation. All of these symptoms are especially aggravated during the seasonal changes.

Balancing Vata

When vata is elevated in your constitution there are some things you can practice to bring your body back into balance.

  • Establish a routine, be consistent with your meal times and sleep schedule

  • ensure your environment is warm and serene

  • Have enough nourishment, don't skip meals. Keep the portions same at all meals.

  • eat naturally sweet, sour and salty foods

  • warm foods and drinks

  • tea or soup before food

  • eat in a peaceful environment, never eat standing up!

  • sit for 15 minutes after eating

  • Avoid bitter, pungent, astringent foods; dry foods like crackers and chips, canned foods, hard alcohol, sugar

  • self massage with oil, sesame is great for Vata types.

  • calm, quiet, gentle exercise. Chi-gong, yoga, walking.

  • Steam baths and humidifiers for added moisture

  • one pot soups, casseroles, and stews. Vata's may also have a little more oil than the other dosha's. Limit raw foods and legumes for better digestion.

  • Relaxation and mediation practices

  • well cooked oats and rice are very nice

  • sweet ripe juicy fruits

  • drink lots of water!

  • may use butter or ghee in foods for extra lubrication

  • avoid nightshades, spinach, cranberries and raw apples

  • Cooking food with turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, ginger, garlic and hing (asafoetida), will help keep vata in check.

Pitta is the Energy of Digestion, Metabolism, and Transformation

Element: Fire

Season: late spring to early fall

Pitta governs digestion, absorption, assimilation, nutrition, metabolism and body temperature. In balance, pitta promotes understanding and intelligence. Out of balance, pitta arouses anger, hatred and jealousy. Pitta dominant people have that fire like energy; sharp intelligence, penetrating ideas and warm bodies. They may have strong digestion and big appetites. They may like or crave spicy foods, however, their constitution is balanced conversely by sweet, astringent and cooling foods. They sleep soundly and moderately. Pittas have low tolerance for the heat and hard physical work that causes them to sweat more profusely. Pittas may develop physical problems if they are imbalanced such as; skin rashes, sore throats, burning sensations, fevers, inflammatory diseases, colitis, acne and conjunctivitis. Anything that causes excess heat will cause an increase in the pitta dosha.

Balancing Pitta

  • avoid sour, salty, pungent foods

  • Vegetarianism is best for pittas, avoid or reduce meat, eggs, & salt.

  • incorporate sweet, cooling and bitter foods

  • Barely, rice, and oats are excellent grains for pittas

  • Tomatoes, radishes, chilis, and raw onions should be avoided

  • Legumes are great protein sources in moderation; chickpeas, black beans and mung beans

  • be mindful of oil intake and foods high is fat (fuel to the fire! We need to cool that Pitta down!). Coconut oil and pumpkin seeds are good in moderation. No deep fried foods.

  • Avoid use of stimulants as they aggravate pitta; caffeine, drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol. Light beer or wine is ok in moderation.

  • If dairy is part of your diet you may incorporate soft cheeses, milk and unsalted butter or ghee.

  • Exercise during the coolest part of the day. Swimming, biking and yoga are wonderful exercises for pitta.

  • protect yourself from the heat

  • stay cool! physically and mentally.

  • Moderation is key

  • green leafy vegetables are like gold for pittas! Pittas may also tolerate more raw vegetables. One exception being root vegetables which are better digested cooked.

  • herbs like fennel, coriander, cumin, turmeric, cardamom are extremely beneficial.

  • Music therapy and nature are beneficial for all types, pitta especially.

  • practice the art of surrender and releasing control.

Kapha is the Energy of Lubrication and Structure

Element: Water and Earth

Season: Late Winter to Early Spring

Kapha governs the lubrication of the body, holding the water like and earth element structures. Governing the bones, muscles, tendons — and providing the “glue” that holds the cells together. Kapha supplies the water for all bodily parts and systems. It lubricates joints, moisturizes the skin, and maintains immunity. In balance, kapha is expressed as love, calmness and forgiveness. Out of balance, it leads to attachment, greed and envy. Kaphas may avoid exercise and become lethargic, however, they do have more stamina and endurance than the other doshas combined. They tend to have sweet, loving and forgiving attitudes, stable and grounded. Skin is oily and smooth, large eyes, with thick lustrous hair. They sleep long and sound, needing more rest than other doshas. Many kaphas are drawn to sweet foods, conversely it is bitter, astringent and pungent flavours which will balance kapha. Kaphas are prone to higher amounts of mucous and may be prone to water like illnesses like flu, colds, water retention and headaches. This could be aggravated at the time of the full moon as well.

Balancing Kapha

  • Avoid dairy products and fats, especially fried or greasy foods

  • encourage bitter, astringent, and pungent flavours and foods

  • Raw, steamed or stir fry vegetables are best and the main portion of your dish. Leafy greens and above ground vegetables are better for kapha, as root vegetables tend to be too sweet.

  • reduce or eliminate animal products, while they don't require as much protein. mung beans, black beans, pinto beans and red lentils are great alternatives.

  • Kaphas don't require as many grains in their diet as the other Dosha's. Buckwheat and Millet are optimal, followed by rice, corn and barley.

  • All spices are good, garlic and ginger being the best

  • Reduce nuts or seeds, occasional pumpkin and sunflower seeds are ok

  • get plenty of exercise and stay active

  • avoid heavy foods

  • Eat light, dry foods

  • Kapha with no other influences of the other doshas may consume stimulants in small amounts like coffee and tea without much detriment

  • Avoid iced food and drinks

  • fasting in beneficial for kapha types and should avoid eating unless they are truly hungry

  • Raw honey in moderation as a sweetener

This is just the beginning of learning about balancing our doshas, working in tune with the seasons of the Earth. I hope you found this helpful in discovering new ways to balance your composition and life. By working together with the seasons and the constitution we were born with, we can begin to find harmony within. Seasonal junctions tend to be the most aggravating, as our physical bodies play catch up with the body Mother Earth, as she changes throughout the year. By incorporating these practices and dietary changes, we are restoring the body, mind and spirit. You are in change of how quickly you change and progress in your healing journey by sticking to the guidelines that are beneficial for your body type and season.

We are in prime pitta season with an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables to soak up and enjoy!

Happy cooking and eating friends!


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