Let go of being something you're not!
I love the doshas, because once you get a good idea of your type, you can let go of being something you’re not.
For example, if you are primarily kapha, you probably aren’t going to be thin as a rail. You can, however, learn how to bring yourself into balance.
Not only that, but by learning about the other doshas you can see that the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side.
Also, like I wrote about in my last post, it helps to understand the doshas of those closest to you.
Usually you have a primary dosha and a secondary dosha.
There are good tests on the internet that can help you figure out your doshas. The recommendation is usually to think of yourself as you were when you were a child when you answer the questions. Life and circumstances can skew you away from your true doshas. Also, an experienced ayurvedic practitioner can tell your doshas by reading your pulse.
When we studied the doshas in my yoga teacher training with Kofi Busia, it helped me to be more comfortable in my own body and my own mind. I became more patient with my yoga practice.
For example, I’m not generally very flexible. I've that while I should, of course, work on my flexibility, some people are almost too flexible. They have to work more on developing strength and not over stretching, which is difficult for them.
Knowledge about different body types associated with the doshas helps to build compassion and patience for yourself and others.
I mentioned last week that vata’s element is air. Vatas tend to be thin and shorter than average or taller than average. They often have thin, ropy muscles. They can be spiritual, sensitive, and flighty and not present.
When balanced vatas are sharp, quick thinking, creative and can tend towards arts, writing, poetry and music.
When unbalanced they can be spacey, unfocused, have dry skin, nails and hair, and be cold with chills.
If you are a Vata, you should eat more warming, lubricating, grounding, and heavier foods with good quality fats to calm down and counteract coldness. You should limit low fat and cold or raw foods. If you want to be vegan or vegetarian, you need to plan carefully to stay grounded and focused.
You will benefit from weight lifting, pilates, and yoga if you are a Vata.
Pitta’s element is fire and water.
Pitta is my main dosha and is the primary or secondary dosha of the other members of my family. Fire with a capital F, which can make getting along tricky.
We all like water, as well, which tends to cool us off (a good thing).
Pittas tend to have a medium body frame, be prone toward muscularity and be easily overheated. I can be easily overheated in a stuffy room. One of my main memories from Cooktown, in northern Queensland, is walking to town midday and being so, so hot and dripping with sweat that we made sure not to walk in the midday sun again! On the other hand, I felt my skin benefitted like it would from a sauna. Really! It was that hot.
Pitta’s can be driven to accomplishment, focused, and organized.
We tend to get cranky if we miss a meal, and can create problems that don’t exist if we feel too balanced. Hmm.
When we are balanced, we are productive, organized, energized, enthusiastic and sharp.
When we are unbalanced, we are easily agitated under stress, irritable, and overly competitive.
Physically we may have diarrhea, skin rashes, increased appetitive and perspiration.
We should reduce spices that are too heating and red meat, while increasing sweet and bitter foods, cooling and astringent foods, sweet tasting spices and protein. Lighter proteins are best along with dark leafy greens and sweet vegetables.
Pittas benefit from calming and relaxing physical exercise.
I’ve noticed many pittas gravitate towards vinyasa yoga, but I’ve always thought that they would benefit more from Iyengar yoga.
If you tend to be on the move a lot, then it is beneficial to have a place where you are still.
Kapha’s elements are earth and water. This is my secondary dosha.
If you are a Kapha, you tend to have a larger body type. You are a strong, powerful athlete when in shape, but can also hold onto fat and water, gaining weight easily.
You tend to be grounded, stable and solid. You have a steady appetite, but not as strong as Pitta. You have a slower metabolism, are slower moving and can resist exercise.
I love to exercise, but the pull of a good book can easily compete!
When you are in balance they are dependable, cam, even-tempered, loving and affectionate peacekeepers.
When you are out of balance, they can hold on to emotions and become lethargic, depressed and overweight.
If you are a Kapha, you should reduce high fat foods, heavy and fatty proteins, dairy, gluten based grains, red meat and starchy vegetable. Ironically, these foods are exactly what you probably crave when you are out of balance.
You should increase drying and heating foods, heating and pungent spices, lighter grains, light proteins, and vegetables. You probably benefit from self-acceptance and body image affirmations and cardiovascular exercise.
Even if you don't think you need it!
If you're interested in finding out what your doshas are, Deepak Chopra's website has a decent quiz. You'll have to give out your email, but you can unsubscribe later.
Ayurveda is all about understanding your doshas so that you can recognize the signs of imbalance and use the principles to bring yourself into balance.
How has learning about the doshas changed your outlook? If you've figured out what your doshas are, has your self-acceptance increased? How about the way you view those closest to you?
Please share in the comments below!
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