Ayurveda, known as the “science of life and longevity”, is a traditional system of natural healing that has been practiced in India for over 5,000 years. It provides us with the tools for living a life of balance; through nutrition, herbs, adequate lifestyle, right thinking, seasonal detoxification, along with the practice of Yoga and meditation.
Ayurveda works with the individual. By discovering your unique mind-body constitution, or doshic balance, you will be presented with a set of guidelines that will allow you to begin your journey to balanced, conscious living.
Ayurveda describes the entire physical world in terms of five elements: Air, Ether, Fire, Water, and Earth. Each element has their own particular qualities:
Air: dry, cold, rough, and full of motion
Ether: vast, cold, light, and clear
Fire: hot, subtle, mobile, dry, and sharp
Water: cold, mobile, heavy, soft, and liquid
Earth: cold, heavy, solid, stable, and dry
These five elements clearly manifest individually in the natural world, but they also all exist at all times in all things - including the body - and each has its particular role to play.
According to Ayurveda there are three doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. We are all born with our own unique combination of these three energies, with one or two predominating. This is known as our prakriti. Determining your prakriti requires an assessment of your most natural state. Consider your physical structure, as well as your mental and emotional tendencies.
Vata is comprised of the elements Air and Ether. Vata is dry, cold, light, mobile, rough, subtle and clear. Vata regulates the principal of movement.
A Vata predominant person usually displays the following traits:
Physique: A light, trim build, often delicate in nature. The features (facial, fingers, limbs) are long, slim or narrow. Hair is thin, wiry, or curly.
Digestion: The appetite and digestion are variable, going up and down, yet often lean more towards “eating like a bird” and constipation.
Personality: A Vata person tends to be creative, thinks abstractly, and often has rapid speech with a thin, raspy, high-pitched or crackly voice. Vata predominant people are also prone to fear and anxiety, and have trouble focusing on one thing at a time.
Pitta is comprised of the elements Fire and Water. Pitta is sharp, penetrating, hot, liquid, mobile, and oily. Pitta regulates the principal of transformation.
A Pitta predominant person usually displays the following traits:
Physique: A medium build with average height and weight. The features can be sharp and fiery, precise and well-defined.
Digestion: A ferocious appetite and strong digestion.
Personality: A Pitta nature makes one passionate, an initiator, directed and focused. Pittas can also be easily irritated, fussy, angry, judgemental, and critical.
Kapha is comprised of the elements Earth and Water. Kapha is heavy, cold, dull, oily, smooth, dense, soft, static, liquid, cloudy, and hard. Kapha regulates the principal of stability and structure.
A Kapha predominant person usually displays the following traits:
Physique: A large, stout frame, features are rounder, larger, thicker, and often smoother than those of Vata or Pitta.
Digestion: Appetite is consistent and regulated but metabolism is slow, so may gain weight more readily and have difficulty losing it.
Personality: Kaphas are “down to earth”; grounded, stable, patient, compassionate and nurturing. They have a strong memory and firm beliefs. This may make them prone to inflexibility, possessiveness, jealousy, hesitant towards change, and inertia.
What is your constitution?
What are your qualities and tendencies - physically, mentally, emotionally? Do you have a predominance of one of these doshas? Or can you see yourself in all three?
You can take an online quiz to help determine your prakriti. Try this one from Joyful Belly:
The more you observe the subtle qualities in your body, the more flexibility you’ll have in your day to day choices. We are continually changing and renewing, and the body’s capacity to regenerate itself is what allows healing to happen. By tuning in and feeling what is happening inside your body on a daily basis, you can make changes to your diet and lifestyle to encourage your own unique state of balance.
Embracing seasonal change
Each season has its associated dosha, with that particular doshas qualities being more dominant at that time. Late Winter/early Spring is Kapha, late Spring/Summer is Pitta, and Fall/early Winter is Vata. As we are entering Fall here in the Northern Hemisphere, let’s take a look at how Vata is influencing us and how we can work with this particular energy to keep us grounded and move through this transition with ease.
As the seasons shift from summer to fall we can feel that the nights are getting colder, we see the leaves on the trees drying up and falling to the ground, and we can feel the wind gathering its strength, whispering that winter is on its way. These are signs of Vata in nature, but similar signs may also be appearing in our minds and bodies, such as dry skin and hair, cracking joints, wandering thoughts, and restless sleep.
Remembering that Vata is composed of cold, dry, and rough, with lots of movement, we want to bring in the opposite qualities to help us feel stable and grounded.
Try incorporating some (or all!) of the following tips to maintain a sense of balance over the coming weeks:
Eat foods that are warm, well-cooked, well-spiced, and oily
Having a regular, daily routine can make all the difference in keeping Vata balanced. Getting up and going to bed at the same time each day, eating your meals on the same schedule with lunch being the biggest meal of the day, and planning time for exercise, rest, and relaxation. Taking the time to nourish your mind, body, and spirit, will help you to feel more energized and centred, ready to embrace this shift in seasons.
Hi! I'm a Mama of 3, an Ayurveda Spa Specialist, Pre and Post Natal Yoga Teacher, Postpartum Facilitator, and Postpartum Doula. I am passionate about caring for new mamas during the Sacred Window of postpartum, and educating others on how to care for the new Mamas in their lives.