Ayurveda for Dummies!

Ayurveda for Dummies!

Ayurveda (pronounced aye-your-VAY-duh) is a topic that I could discuss for hours or maybe days...but I won't dive that deep! Think of it as the complex mind-body relationship that brings you back into balance. It reminds me of that blissful feeling you get after a yoga class when your lying in shavasana. It actually is possible to feel like that all of the time! 

Ayurveda is an ancient system of prevention and treatment of illness by maintaining balance in the body, mind, and spirit according to your individual body type. To delve deeper and discover the ideal foods, self-care practices, yoga poses and meditations that are tailored to your unique needs, I highly recommend checking out Sahara Rose’s Idiot’s Guide

Below I have outlined the basic principles of Ayurveda as well as the thee doshas and their qualities. The three doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. 

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Dosha: Vata

Vatas are known to be spacey and anxious, with active minds. They are defined by Air & Space.

QUALITIES OF VATA:

Cold, light, dry, irregular, rough, moving, quick, and always changing. Vatas are always be on the go, with energetic and creative minds. They can be described to be “flighty”.  A balanced Vata is lively and enthusiastic. Defining physical characteristics of a Vata include a thin frame with dry hands and cold feet. Vata’s often suffer from insomnia and digestive issues. Vatas tend to be energetic and lively conversationalists who connect with their living space; however, when out of balance, they are anxious and worry. 

BALANCED VATAS:

  1. Adhere to a consistent daily routine and keep exercise both regulated and gentle. 

  2. Rest and to nurture themselves - think baths, dry brushing, face masks, etc. 

  3. Receive regular massages which encourage grounding.

  4. Avoid very cold and windy conditions, as well as dry climates.

  5. Minimize travel and too much movement.

  6. Keep warm and get enough sleep.

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WHAT TO EAT: 

Vata need warm, nourishing foods with moderately heavy texture. Added butter (ghee) and fat are good for stabilizing Vata. Warm milk, cream, butter, warm soups, stews, hot cereals, fresh baked bread, raw nuts, and nut butters are good for Vatas. Hot or herbal tea with snacks in the late afternoon. All sweet fruits (so long as they are extra-ripe) are OK for Vata. Warm drinks or hot water are best for Vatas.

WHAT NOT TO EAT: 

Cold foods such as salads, iced drinks, raw vegetables and greens are not good for those with Vata imbalance (i.e. where Vata is dominant). Avoid drinks with too much caffeine and candies as they disturb Vata. 

Dosha: Pitta

Pittas are naturally aggressive and impatient, intelligent, and sharp. They have great digestion and are defined by Fire and a little bit of water.

PITTA QUALITIES:

Hot, light, intense, penetrating, pungent, sharp, and acidic. Pittas have excellent digestion and warm body temperatures. They sleep soundly and have a strong appetite. Balanced Pitta’s are great decision makers and speakers because they are sharp-witted, direct and outspoken. Out of balance Pitta’s are short-tempered and argumentative. 

BALANCED PITTAS:

  1. Get outdoors and enjoy fresh air and exercise during cooler times of the day. 

  2. Maintain an attitude of moderation in all things. 

  3. Constantly hydrate and avoid excessive heat or steam. 

  4. Practice patience and gratitude. 

  5. Proactively seek out contemplative activities to enjoy on their own.

  6. Avoid any situations where conflict is due to occur. 

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WHAT TO EAT: 

The best foods for Pittas are cool or warm, with moderately heavy textures—i.e., not steaming hot foods. Salads, milk, and ice cream are great. Herbal teas and cold cereals are encouraged. Most vegetarian foods are the best for Pittas, as consuming red meat tends to heat the body from the fat. Think milk, grains, and vegetables!

WHAT NOT TO EAT: 

Butter and added fat, and vinegar in salad dressing. Reduce coffee and anything fried. Avoid oily, hot, and salty foods.

Dosha: Kapha

Kaphas tend to have heavier, earthier bodies than other types, and tend to be calmed and attached. They speak slowly and are defined by Earth & Water. 

KAPHA QUALITIES:

Heavy, slow, steady, solid, cold, soft, and oily. The primary function of Kapha is protection. They have a strong build and excellent stamina as well as good skin. They sleep soundly and have great digestion. An imbalanced Kapha may gain weight, sleep excessively or develop asthma, diabetes or depression. Kaphas are extremely stubborn and they hate change. They enjoy reading, relaxing, listening to music and are very present. They are the most steady and supportive dosha.

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BALANCED KAPHAS:

  1. Wake early (before dawn), sleep less, and avoid sleeping during the day.

  2. Make it a point to get plenty of exercise each day.

  3. Do things that stimulate and energize the body and mind, and build the metabolic rate.

  4. Make room for excitement, challenge, and variety in life.

  5. Steer away from patterned thinking and behavior.

  6. Remain warm and dry.

WHAT TO EAT:

The best foods for Kaphas are lightly cooked foods or raw fruits and vegetables. Kaphas gravitate toward food that is spicy or very hot like Mexican or Indian food. Kaphas should use dry cooking methods (baking, broiling, grilling, sautéing) and consume foods such as romaine lettuce, endive, and tonic water.

WHAT NOT TO EAT: 

Because Kaphas are generally not as active, they should avoid sweet and fatty foods. Watching salt consumption is important to reduce fluid retention.  Kaphas can overeat and should avoid sugar, fats, and dairy products, skip chilled foods and drinks, and use ghee and oils in small amounts only.

Meghan Ann Martin