WHAT’S GOING ON
Everyone is unique, we look different, sound different, walk differently; have different tendencies and goals and different ways of achieving them. We digest foods, liquids, emotions and events differently and uniquely.
We observe other people and we notice that some people seem to flow through life, ebbing and flowing, assimilating and releasing what needs to be released easier moving onwards achieving what would take most of us several life times to achieve – we are in awe of their ‘star like qualities’. Then there are those who have a tendency to be constipated, unable to fully digest certain foods, emotions, events and information - life; they feel stalled at every turn are doubtful, fearful and anxious, and yet still manage to keep their head above water and manage ‘to get along’. And then there are those with the tendency to over heat, they get ticked off quickly and fly into angry tirades when confronted - with seemingly village idiot manifestations; with a tendency towards discrimination and intolerance.
Everyone manifests some of these tendencies at some stage in their lives, but when it becomes a way of being… what is happening - and why? Or as ‘Linda Perry’ so poignantly cried out it in 1993 hey ‘what’s going on?’ Fortunately, this old age question has old age answers. Read on…
To answer this question, we turn Eastwards, to see what the ancients that understood nature, had to say. When we do, we discover the ancient science of Ayurveda (Sanskrit Ayur = Life, Veda = Science ‘the Science of Life), the sister science of Yoga, the worlds oldest holistic medical system.
In Ayurveda, the tendencies that we mentioned above can be better understood accordingly to ones mind-body types, their constitution/doshic type. There are three basic doshic types Vata, Kapha and Pitta, and then there are the combination types Vata/Kapha, Kapha/Pitta, Vata/Pitta and Vata/Pitta/Kapha (Sama dosha) types; those who have all three of the doshas more or less evenly dominate. Most people are a combination of two, but for simplicity we will just look at the three main types for now, Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Ayurveda recognizes that the human form is microcosm of the macrocosm; everything that the universe is made of is present within our own bodies – so above, so below, so without, so within. The cosmos is made up of the five elements; space, air, fire, water and earth. Everyone has varying quantities of these elements within them, manifesting and expressing in various ways.
First we have the Vata type which has all the five elements present (space, air, fire, water and earth), but predominantly the qualities of space and air (wind) dominate. So this type of persons nature reflects the same qualities of space and air; they think and move quickly, they’re here one moment, gone the next. They learn fast, forget fast, are flexible, free flowing, imaginative, creative and unpredictable. These are our creative department - the artists, poets and the dreamers. As air is dry, they have tendency to have dry skin and hair, less bone density, are cold most of the time not able to tolerate the winter months well. Changeable and difficulties committing in love moving on to the next quickly. Too much of anything creates imbalance, too much wind, movement, irregularity increases uncertainty and anxiousness. They tend to suffer from nervousness, shakiness, and stress related diseases, wind, bloating and gas. These are Vata type qualities.
The Pitta types, also have all the elements present but fire and water qualities are dominant. Their tendencies are of a fiery nature and with the water an acidic quality. Pittas are of medium build, medium muscle tone are hot, driven and have sharp intellects. They are articulate, have good judgment and critical skills, are decisive, organized and efficient. They make good managers, CEOs, they are thorough, accurate and know what to do because they are driven and anticipate possible probabilities – wow hero like qualities! They make the best lovers -at least - in their minds! Because of their existing heat, they prefer the cooler weather. Their tendency is to have red in their appearance – in their hair or on their face - red splotchy areas, or the heat can just manifest in hair loss, as they can literally burn their hair off from excess heat. Imbalances are of a fire/watery nature; heartburn, skin rashes and inflammatory conditions, including burn-out.
Kapha types also possess the qualities of earth and water above others. Kaphas are solidly built, stable and grounded. They have large joints and bones, are down to earth, easy going, loyal and true. Like a Bentley they are heavy, graceful, reliable and solid - they can do the mileage as they can draw on their stored energy – stamina is best out of the three doshic types and they do make the best lovers. Slow to learn but once learned, its very hard for them to forget. Knowledge is synthesized and embodied as they understand things deeply. They are steady, loving and devotional types with a tendency to gather and hold on to weight and water. When out of balance they suffer from conditions to do with congestion, water retention, weight gain, allergies, lethargy and obesity.
AIM OF AYURVEDA
The principle aim of Ayurveda is to harmoniously maintain the human body/mind balance, cultivating a way of life that is in harmony with ones unique constitution and the world around us thus increasing the chances of achieving our life goals, and reaching our highest human potential. As Ayurveda is a very firm believer in ‘prevention is better than the cure’, it looks at food, cleansing practices, body tissue rejuvenation practices, and lifestyle as key contributors to maintaining this unique harmony and balance.
What should Vata people eat to keep them grounded and steady? How should Pitta people keep their cool and how often should they eat? When should Kapha people exercise and how long should they sleep? All these questions are answered by Ayurveda; which has over time accumulated a wealth of knowledge and wisdom that Western medicine is just beginning to explore and appreciate. So what now? ‘What is going on’ in your own body/mind right now?
A WAY TO GET BACK
As we come back to nature for healing, back to understanding what plants really are, what food really is, and understanding that the other part of our lungs are hanging on the trees outside – we begin to realize our deep connection with the earth and we understand that we are not separate, that we are one. We feel better when there is warm sun on our faces. We feel refreshed when we drink clean water. We feel grounded when our feet touch the earth. We all have a unique constitution to honor and maintain. It is not useful that media and cultural fads tell us that we should ALL look a certain ways at certain times throughout our life.
Kapha people are healthier and happier when they have extra body tissue. Vata people are healthier and happier when they don’t over extend themselves lifting weights at the gym to gain more muscle tone to be more like Pitta. Pitta people are happier and healthier when they eat well and on time as their fire is strong and will incinerate their surrounds if not used wisely! If in time we do not respond to body and mind imbalances the risk of health issues increase, leading to discomfort, ultimately disease and suffering for ourselves and our loved ones. So to keep our vitality and ‘joie de vivre’ we first try to understand ourselves ‘know thyself’; determining our constitutional type our doshic type directs our awareness to what is happening within. There are many tools to do this and one of them is by observation, and asking questions.
TAKE THE QUIZ
To find out your constitution/doshic type, you can take a quiz taken from the Banyan Botanical site, (https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/prakriti-quiz/). This is a very informative site, providing information on diet for each doshic types, daily cleansing practices, and tips for enhancing ones life style. So, the next step in determining what doshic type you are is to decrease, eliminate or incorporate a few dietary items or similarly some practical life style enhancements.
If you have any questions you can always direct them to me via email, firstname.lastname@example.org I will be very happy to answer your questions or direct you to other sources of information. In February 2019, as part of a yoga class, I will give an introductory talk on Ayurveda, so if you are interested in attending let me know.
PS> Lastly, when incorporating diet and lifestyle aspects take your time, and go slowly. There are many resources on the web but stick to only a couple that appeal to you; try to conserve your energy and choose wisely; make small changes slowly as these tend to be longer lasting.