Ayurveda 101: For your most BALANCED life
Okay, so I know that I went to Sahara Rose's Ayurveda workshop forever and a day ago. But NOW after digesting this information (and maybe letting procrastination get the best of me, forgive me) I am HERE to share with y’all a few golden nuggets of information that I boiled down from the workshop. If you all don’t know who Sahara Rose is, she is an Ayurveda KWEEN and author of Idiots Guide to Ayurveda, so be sure to check her out. I like Ayurveda because I feel like it’s an easy and intuitive way to understand our body and how to care of it. It’s great guide for how to achieve balance when we feel out of whack.
- Ayurveda means the science of life - it's a holistic health system to heal the body.
- Traditionally, Ayurveda and Yoga go hand in hand.
- Yoga was/is seen as the practice of spiritual enlightenment. But we can’t go chasing enlightenment if our bodies are out of whack, right? That’s where Ayurveda comes in.
- Fun fact: It’s the first ever recorded health system!
Dosha means energy.
There are three doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha). Each dosha embodies energies of different elements. Vata embodies the qualities of space and air, Pitta embodies the elements of fire and water, and Kapha embodies earth and water. (more details on this in a bit)
If I am very Vata (which I am) that means I encompass the qualities of space and air. So what would the personality of someone who encompasses space and air look like? Kind of all over the place, moving like the wind, and head in the clouds. But at the same time, creative, and able to go with the flow. Makes sense, right?
Each of us embody these doshas (energies) in differing amounts. For example, I’m mostly Vata but have some Pitta qualities as well.
You’re dosha constitution doesn’t have to be fixed either! Your dosha constitution in college could have been more Vata. But since having moved to New York City, that’s known for it’s vivacious energy, you could now be more Pitta.
main points from above:
There are 3 doshas : Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
Our “Dosha” is our energy constitution that is made up differing amounts of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
Our Dosha constitution is NOT fixed and can change throughout our lifetime
Prakriti- is the Dosha constitution that each of us are born with. Kind of like our Dosha blueprint. Vikriti- is our condition or dosha constitution presently. Think of your Dosha as your baseline. When we are out of balance, we can use food, lifestyle changes, and herbs to help bring us back to baseline.
Now let’s dive into each Dosha
Air and space-wind.
Body: Very tall or short with thin frames. A lot of women tend to be Vata in our society because we idealize that waifish light vata body type. The examples that Sahara used was Natalie Portman and Steve Jobs. Other characteristics: scrawny, have cold hands and feet, dry joints that crack easily, etc.
Vatas are creative, intuitive, bubbly, eccentric, enthusiastic, visionary, and social.
Vata imbalance: anxiety, insomnia, flaky, forgetful, spacey. Think of qualities of wind: dry, cold, and always moving. In the body that can look like bloating (being filled with air), always feeling cold, dry skin/ hair, and hormonal imbalance.
Vata imbalance is most common with health conscious women. “Vata foods” are what we traditionally think of when we think of health foods because they leave us feeling “light and airy”. Stuff like granola, raw veggies, salads, smoothies, kale chips. When someone with vata imbalance eats these vata foods it makes them even more imbalanced. Think about it. If I’m imbalanced (feeling dry, bloated, and cold) and I eat a cold smoothie with a bunch of dry granola that’s hard for my body to digest- it’s going to perpetuate the imbalance. Vatas need to eat more warming and GROUNDING foods- like root vegetables, warm protein, and spices.
Fire and water
Body: Pittas put on muscle and have an easily defined face. A lot of guys tend to be Pitta because of the tendency for a muscular build and competitive spirit. You see a lot of Pitta women in Latin American culture because they value that vivacious fiery type of energy. Some examples that Sahara gave were Sofia Vergara and Jennifer Lopez. They have this “boss” like energy to them are always up for a challenge.
Pittas are goal oriented, ambitious, hard working, decisive. They run on schedule and have strong leadership potential. Pittas are the type of people that you go to for help.
Imbalance/shadow side of Pitta: tend to overreact, have a fiery temper, and are impatient. The example for Pitta imbalance is Donald Trump. There is right or wrong, there is no grey area for Pittas. Pitta imbalance in the body can look like rosacea (because heat rises), heartburn (from too much digestive “fire”), and pungent sweat (from the body trying to release toxins). Pitta aggravating foods are things that are stimulating, or overly acidic. Things like: alcohol, spicy foods, garlic +onion, tomatoes + other nightshades. Pittas need to eat more neutral foods that don’t aggravate their digestive fire.
Earth and water
Body: Kaphas tend to put on weight easier and tend to be more pear shaped. Kaphas are usually grounded, calm, and will move mountains to make you make you taken care of and at home. Women are traditionally taught to be more Kapha- to have that mothering energy.
Kaphas are mothering, giving, empathetic, grounded, and hold the space for those around them. Kaphas always feel like they need to make everyone happy. Because of this they have a hard time saying no. As well, because Kaphas are always giving, it can be emotionally draining for them and they can become depressed easily. Examples of Kaphas: Robin Williams and Oprah.
Kapha shadow side/imbalance: depression, resistance to change, and lethargy. In the body that can look like weight gain, increased mucus, and susceptibility to colds and allergies. Kaphas need stimulating exercise the MOST to keep them in balance. Kapha foods are your traditional comfort food like mac n’ cheese. In the same way that Vatas should eat more grounding foods, Kaphas should eat more stimulating and light foods.
Vata, Pitta, and Kapha walk into a yoga class...
Pitta is at the front of the class, in handstand the whole time because they are SO HARDCORE. Vata is always moving but are doing their own thing, using the teacher’s sequence as more of a “suggestion”. Kapha is in child’s pose for the whole class.
Just a fun metaphor that Sahara gave to understand the Doshas.
I think that having an understanding of our Dosha constitution can be instrumental in keeping our body and mind in balance. Ayurveda is a great and intuitive guide for getting back to baseline when we are out of balance. I would know!
Recently I have been struggling with a Vata imbalance. I’m currently going through a big transition in my life and have been very anxious and haven't been able to sleep worth a damn. BOY did this workshop come at a good time. I asked Sahara what I could do in order to get all this Vata under control! She suggested that I take time to relax and get grounded. Sounds simple right? She said that I should try to spend more time outside in nature (earthing), and to make some space and time to just be. You all know me, I am ALWAYS moving. I have such a hard time relaxing because I'd rather spend my spare moments with friends or exploring. But it’s important for me to take time and make space to relax and recuperate. You can't pour from an empty cup- I have to take care of myself first! Progress, not perfection right?
Not sure what your dosha is? Take this quiz on Sahara’s website.
What has been your experience with Ayurveda? Does any of this hit home for you?