“No matter how much it gets abused, the body can restore balance. The first rule is to stop interfering with nature.”
– Deepak Chopra
What if we could heal our bodies without chemical medications, strict diets and forced willpower? Ayurveda says that we can. Literally translated into “life science”, Ayurveda is India’s traditional holistic medical system that enables us to gain awareness about our bodies as a way of healing.
Ayurveda teaches that health is a state of physical, emotional, and spiritual balance. When we fall out of balance and into any type of ‘dis-ease’, the body has the capacity to heal itself. Balance is regained by understanding how the body works, internally and with relation to the outside world.
We use nature as a way of understanding the body as a mini universe; the five elements, (earth, fire, water, air, ether) are present in the body just as in the natural world. Our energetic consitution is made up of three ‘doshas’, “Vata, pitta, kapha”, that correlate to specific elements, bodily organs and functions, characteristics. These characteristics are found in nature, and heightened in specific seasons and times of day.
So we are each a result of all three doshas working together, but one or two of them are usually predominant – you’ll get an idea of which that is for you below. Here’s a brief overview of how are bodies are composed:
Elements: Air + ether. Qualities: Cold, dry, and light.
Season: Fall, early winter. Time of Day: 2-6 am/pm. Stage in Life: Post menopause (Age 60+).
Functions: Movement, circulation, elimination, breathing, digestion, metabolism, pulse.
Physical: Very tall or very short, thin, small frame, dry/brittle hair, nails, darker skin.
Psychological: Creativity, energy, alertness, joy, speech, fleeting, multi-tasking, quick to understand, quick to forget.
Excess: Ungroundedness, fear, anxiety, insomnia, impulsivity, cold intolerance, poor circulation, weight loss, arthritis.
General Vata Pacifying Guidelines: Eat warm, heavier foods and spices with naturally sweet, salty, sour tastes. Keep warm, calm and rested, avoid extremities. Avoid cold, raw food. Eat fermeted foods. Add generous amounts of high quality fats and oils to diet. Strength/resistence training and gentle exercise. Stay grounded and serene through a regular routine and mindfulness based practices.
Elements: Fire + water. Qualities: Hot, oily, light.
Season: Summer, late spring. Time of Day: 10-2 am/pm. Stage in Life: Puberty > menopause (Age 18-60).
Functions: Body heat, temperature, digestion, absorption, assimilation, metabolism, nutrition.
Physical: Medium height, moderate muscle tone, pale/reddish complexion, red/brownish hair, sharp eyes, soft skin.
Psychological: Sharp perception, intelligence, understanding, ambitious, strong/excessive appetite, perfectionistic.
Excess: Anger, hate, jealousy, heat intolerance, excessive body heat, aggressiveness, hormone imbalance, acne, nausea.
General Pitta Pacifying Guidelines: Favor cooling, foods with naturally astringent, bitter, sweet tastes. Keep mind and body cool, avoid working in hot environments, and exercising at midday. Avoid caffeine, nicotine and stimulants. Add coconut oil, coconut water and aloe vera to diet. Eat in a peaceful environment, at routine times. Moderate exercise, yoga. Practice surrendering and relaxation, avoid overworking.
Elements: Earth + water. Qualities: Cold, heavy, damp.
Season: Late winter, early spring. Time of Day: 6-10 am/pm. Stage in Life: Childhood > puberty (Age 0-18).
Functions: Stability, immunity, energy, lubrication of joints and skin, wound healing, biological strength, vigor.
Physical: Well developed, broad frame, thick skin, fair complexion, soft oily skin, thick dark soft hair, large dense eyes.
Psychological: Forgiveness, calmness, love, steady appetite, slow movement, deep sleeping, tolerant, good memory.
Excess: Attachment, greed, lethargy, weight gain, slow metabolism, weak immunity, sinus congestion, allergies.
General Kapha Pacifying Guidelines: Favor warming, light, dry, stimulating foods with naturally pungent, bitter, astringent tastes. Start day with hot water and lemon. Get active from 6-10am. Eat small quantity meals. Get regular exercise. Add plenty of warming spices to meals/teas, especially ginger. Use honey as only sweetener. Stimulate your mind with new experiences, avoid clinging to routine.
When an energy is predominant in our minds, bodies or in a season, we make choices that have an opposite effect. Ayurveda gives us a model of how to live in tune with our own nature simply by expanding our awareness of ourselves. We are liberated from trying to figure out what’s “healthy”; our mind-body nutrition is personalised.
We need awareness to strengthen our connection to our bodies and to the outside world. We need to align with nature to let the body function with ease. Then we can stop struggling to fix things, and it becomes effortless to make the best choices for ourselves…
We learn to find center again.
And our bodies thank us!