…Or in other words, the yogi version of Marcia, Marcia, Marcia. Last weekend we had a crash course in Ayurveda. Not going to lie, it is A LOT of information, but knowing a few small concepts can drastically improve your life.
So what is Ayurveda?
The term “ayurveda” comes from the Sanskrit words Ayur (life) and Veda (science or knowledge). Dating back at least 3,000 years to Ancient India, it is one of the world’s oldest medical/healing systems and is rooted in the belief that health and wellness depend on a balanced mind, body and spirit. When you follow an Ayurvedic lifestyle, you are essentially getting back to your “natural roots” which are dictated by the five elements:
Yes… Earth, Wind and Fire has led you somewhat astray, I’m afraid.
And what the heck is a Dosha?
According to Ayurvedic philosophy, there are three energies that make up all of the cosmos. They manifest themselves in our physical and personality traits. These energies are called doshas and are combinations of the five elements:
- Kapha (water + earth): is a binding energy. It is associated with people with curvier body types, smooth hair and skin, pale skin, sinus issues, excessive saliva. They are generally very grounded, are great listeners, loyal, dependent, and nurturing.
- Pitta (water + fire): is a transformational energy. It is associated with people with a medium build, red hair, freckles, overactive sweat glands and people who run warm. They tend to be passionate in all things, ambitious, detail-oriented, stubborn.
- Vata (air + ether): is a vibrational energy. They tend to be really short or really tall, run cold, have dry skin, have curly hair, are very thin. They are soft-spoken but talkative, generally with their heads in the clouds. For this reason they are smart and creative, philosophical, spiritual.
This is BY NO MEANS an exhaustive list, and you don’t need to have all of the traits to consider yourself one or the other, but just gives you a general idea of where you fall on the spectrum. If you are interested in taking the yogi WebMD route, you can totally take an online quiz to determine your makeup.
Each person in the universe has their own unique dosha combination that never changes, though they can fluctuate with a variety of factors. We each have all three in us, but are dominated by one or two of them (and rarely, all three). If you know your dosha, you can plan your eating habits and daily routine around it to stay balanced all year-round!
Time of day
Each dosha is on the rise at a certain time of day and during a certain season, per the graphic below:
Generally, you will want to be awake before Kapha time starts (6am). This is also the best time to practice yoga and meditation. You will want to be asleep before Pitta time starts (10pm), otherwise your digestive fire, Agni, will “reignite”. In case you think this ish isn’t real, think about the nighttime munchies you get if you stay up too late. You will also want to eat your biggest meal during daytime Pitta time (10am-2pm) for the same reason. You should be asleep during Vata time (2am-6am). Do you ever wonder why you get tired in the late afternoon? Same reason here. Vata rules from 2-6pm. Since you know this, you can plan for it by taking your afternoon tea break to boost your energy.
Eating for your dosha
There are six tastes and they all need to be experienced (at appropriate levels) to keep your doshas in balance:
- Sweet (e.g. – fruits, grains, water, root vegetables, meat, milk honey)
- Sour (e.g. – citrus, some fruits, vinegar, cheese, yogurt)
- Salty (e.g. – fish, sea vegetables, pickled foods)
- Pungent (e.g. – garlic, ginger, spicy herbs, chile peppers)
- Astringent (e.g. – turmeric, legumes, raw fruits and vegetables, blueberries)
- Bitter (e.g. – coffee, leafy greens, chocolate, aloe)
Use the infographic below to help determine what you should be eating more of and what you should be eating less of. This does NOT mean you should cut anything out of your diet, but rather it should inform some of the food choices you make every day.
There are some Ayurvedic best practices that should be observed to help you live your best life. Try to see if you can implement a couple of these into your life this week!
- Always sit down to eat, and generally don’t talk to others at mealtime (UGH. I KNOW).
- Don’t eat processed foods. Self-explanatory.
- Avoid reheating food, but if this is necessary, opt for the stove not the microwave and add new “life” to it perhaps with new spices.
- Always cook in a clean environment.
- Always end with the bitter taste (such as coffee or salad).
- Don’t drink water while you eat. This is essentially putting out your digestive fire. If you feel the need to, this means you are dehydrated.
- Try out the best yoga practice for your dosha (Vata: Yin, Pitta: Restorative, Kapha: Vinyasa).
- In general, opposites balance but like attracts like. This means that if you have too much fire in you, you need to cool it down. You shouldn’t add more fire elements.
- Yoga should be practiced on an empty stomach.
In summary, this has BARELY scratched the surface on Ayurveda but can provide you a little foundation on its practices. While quizzes are great, the best way to determine your dosha is to see an Ayurvedic counselor. They can also design a routine (including diet) that is unique to you. If you have questions I will try my best to accommodate, but just know, dear friend, we are discovering this bright new world together.