Ayurveda is a powerful ancient mind-body health system that was developed in India thousands of years ago. Ayurveda could be translated as a science of life. In the Sanskrit language Ayur means life, and Veda means science or knowledge.
This beautiful science offers a set of guiding principles that we can use to better understand our constitution, and steps we can take to make sure we live in harmony with our environment, and stay healthy and balanced.
In short, Ayurveda helps people choose a lifestyle that is best suited for their constitution. If one lives out of harmony, disease and emotional imbalance can occur.
In Ayurveda there are three primary energies that govern us. These energies are referred to as doshas, and include: Vata, pittta, and kapha.
How do you know what dosha you are?
Depending on what energies are most predominant in your system, you are either a vata, pitta, or kapha. There are some people who have a combination or two or three doshas. Most of the time though, there is one dosha that is predominant.
The vata dosha resonates with the air element, and can be described like the wind – it’s light, cool, dry and flowing. A Vata easily feels cold. Physically, a vata body type tends to be lean and light, with long limbs, thin bones, and have dry skin and hair. Emotionally they speak fast, are lively, creative, jump from one project to the next, and move around quickly. They embrace change!
Balanced: Talkative, creative, enthusiastic, energetic. Physically a balanced vata has good blood circulation, healthy breathing, and regular bowel movement.
Out of balance: Emotionally: An unbalanced Vata often worries, experiences anxiety and fear, easily becomes weak, restless and confused, has a hard time making decisions, and can also have insomnia. Physically: An unbalanced Vata may loose weight, experience constipation, and have a weak immune system.
How to balance Vata:
Food: Cooked foods, including cooked heavy vegetables, such as beets, carrots and sweet potatoes, and warm drinks, such as boiled milk and hot ginger tea. Spices can be very beneficial, such as ginger, cardamom and cinnamon. Vata is drying, cooling and light – and therefore benefits from foods that counterbalance these elements – such as oily, warm and heavy foods. Sweet, salty and sour foods are good. Avoid bitter or astringent foods. Cooked rice is very good for Vata. Avoid barley and beans though – as they can aggravate Vata. Good fruits include heavy fruits such as bananas, avocados, cherries, mangos, papaya, and berries.
Music: Soothing and calm
Yoga poses: Gentle yoga, at a slow, smooth and steady pace. Good poses include mountain pose, sun salutations, cat-cow, tree pose and savasana.
Lifestyle: Regular sleeping habit. Good sleep is vital for Vata. Go to bed early, and wake up shortly after the sun goes up. Avoid becoming cold. Only do light exercise.
Colors: Warm colors
I happen to be a classic Vata myself! When I’m balanced I’m full of exuberance, and radiate with creativity, intelligence, and joy, and enthusiastically flow from project to project.
When unbalanced, I easily get overwhelmed, exhausted and weak from too much physical activity, and if I don’t sleep well, it’s really hard for me to think – without proper sleep I get brain fog and forget things. Ideally I like to be asleep by no later than 10PM and up around 6-6.30AM.
I grew up in Sweden, and have been cold most of my life. I love living in warmer climates, and order hot tea even in the summer! I love heavy fruit and vegetables such as mangoes, berries, avocados, beets and sweet potatoes!
The pitas dosha is governed by energies that control metabolic systems, including digestion and nutrition. Pitta is made up of fire elements – and also some water elements, but fire is the predominant quality. Pitta tends to be hot, intelligent, and oily. They easily feel warm, and have a moderate body structure.
Balanced: Highly focused, competitive, energetic, and clear communicators.
Unbalanced: Diarrhea, skin rashes, infections, weakness in blood. Emotionally they can become intense and make enemies, with heated emotions of anger, resentment and jealousy.
How to balance Pitta:
Food: Pittas benefit from raw vegetables, and beans, and cold drinks.
Yoga poses: Cooling in nature, such as yin yoga, good poses include cobra, bridge, and cat-cow.
Lifestyle: Regular eating habits, and scheduling some free time everyday.
I have a girlfriend who is a strong Pitta. She is a hard worker, full of fiery energy and amazing at manifesting money into her life, as well as dynamic projects, and she is also a very successful business woman. Emotionally she easily gets angry, and sometimes gets herself into arguments with co-workers, can sometimes make enemies, and easily gets herself filled with jealousy from top to toe.
The kapha dosha has a combination of water and earth elements. Kapha tends to be cool, moist, stable and heavy with heavy bones, low metabolism, and milky skin.
Balanced: Great at handling stress, have a conservative energy and don’t like change.
Unbalanced: Lack of motivation and depression. Physically an unbalance can manifest as weight gain, weak lungs and problems relating to diabetes.
How to balance Kapha:
Food: Quinoa, hot spices, vegetables, but no nuts or dairy.
Yoga poses: Vigorous intense practice, such as hot yoga. Beneficial poses include sun salutations, chair pose and warrior.
Lifestyle: Stimulation and new experiences, regular exercise, and no clutter in the home.
Colors: Bold and vibrant
One of my girlfriends is a classic Kapha. Her skin is milky and lustruous. She exercises a lot, but still has a heavy built figure, and easily puts on weight. She loves doing something new in the weekend, such as exploring a new restaurant for lunch, or driving for a weekend getaway. She easily gets depressed and down, and tend to blame people around her.
Even though we have one primary energy or dosha in our constitution, it is important to remember that we have all elements within us. If we look at the energies from a broad perspective, vata is our creativity and flowing motion, pitta is our metabolism, and kapha is our structure. So you see, it’s very helpful knowing about all of them!
Also, by knowing not only our own dosha but also those of loved ones – we become more compassionate and understanding all around!
A balanced life is a happy life!
Love and Gratitude,
Disclaimer: The sole purpose of this article is providing information and inspiration. The information shared is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. Please consult a licensed health care professional if you should experience any health concerns.
Anna-Karin Bjorklund is a writer and dream expert based in Newport Beach, California. An intrepid world traveler, she has lived in five countries and loves exploring different cultures and connecting with people. Her latest book: a memoir based on a spiritual journey to India and the philosophical remnants of stepping into her power and finding the path of self-love, comes out in November, 2017. She is also the author of Dream Guidance: Interpret Your Dreams and Create the Life You Desire! Anna-Karin loves sharing her passion for dreams and personal growth with audiences near and far, and has made media expert appearances on Fox & Friends, and the Steve Harvey TV Show on NBC, and been interviewed by Women’s Running Magazine, Money Magazine, Daily Worth, Marie Claire UK and other media outlets.