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Creating Balance with Ayurveda & the Doshas

BY Heather Zollman

Ayurveda:  The Science of Life.  A natural system of medicine that originated in India more than 3,000 years ago which focuses on balancing the bodily systems through what we put into, on and around our bodies.  

Translation:  It’s paying attention.

I had never heard the term Ayurveda before going to my first year of yoga teacher training in 2013.  My understanding of yoga was that it was a physical practice that felt great and helped the body tone, strengthen and move fluidly.

It quickly became apparent that this was a tiny piece of the world of Yoga.  Alongside and within Yoga is her sister science, Ayurveda. 

I learned things I’d never heard before, such as…
  • The happenings in nature deeply effect how we feel and therefore live.
  • The seasons and the transitions between them affect how our mind and bodies function.
  • Certain food combinations can help or damage our digestive health.
  • Certain spice mixes can be powerful and healing.
  • Regulating our internal body temperature has a massive impact on how we feel.

Intrigued?  Awesome!  Let's begin with the doshas.  Every being has a constitution, physical and psychological make up, unique to them and consists of the natural elements within the doshas…vata, pitta & kapha.  

Vata = Air + Ether      Pitta = Fire + Water   Kapha = Water + Earth

There are all kinds of quizzes you can find online to figure out your dosha.

I agree with Sarah Kucera, the author of  “The Ayurvedic Self-Care Handbook” who mentions that, “There is great value in knowing your dosha or constitution.  However, what is most useful is being able to recognize how a dosha can either support you, or accumulate and block you.”

We all know that balance is not a place to get to and then it holds forever.  It is a daily practice of paying attention.

Let me offer some personal examples form my life…

  • I am naturally a combination of much vata (air) and pitta (fire) qualities with a little bit of earthiness mixed in.  
  • I tend to have very dry skin and achy joints.  To help balance this, I massage coconut oil into my skin and around my joints and massage a bit in my nostrils and ears to prevent cracking morning and night.  (I use different oils in different seasons.)  
  • I find the practice of Earthing or Grounding (getting my bare skin in the earth to soak up the energy she provides through the hands and feet) to also help pacify the airiness.  
  • I know that if I eat dry foods such as bread, chips and pretzels, this will add to the excess level of air in my gut and body as a system.  This does not mean that I never have them, I mostly have them in smaller quantities.  
  • The pitta part of me does not like it when it’s super-hot outside, so I plan ahead with what I wear and what I put in my body to balance my internal temperature.  
  • I love wind energy and find it spiritual and fascinating, but since I have a lot of vata qualities, I need to pacify them and again plan ahead if it’s windy out.  
  • I know that an excess of wind makes me feel disconnected, ungrounded and floaty.  I balance that by wearing headbands to cover my ears and block the wind from entering the body that way.  Wind also adds more dryness to the skin and ears, another reason oiling is important.  
  • When it’s cold out, I eat warm or hot foods and drink hot water to balance the body temperature.  
  • When it’s hotter out, I avoid spicy foods, consume less meat and eat cooler foods.  
  • I don’t combine fruit and dairy for the most part.  
  • I don’t add ice to my drinks, to avoid diminishing my digestive fire and blocking qi (life-force energy).  (Although, an iced coffee on a hot day occasionally is heavenly!)  
  • I know the time I wake up, eat food and go to sleep are very important to how I am setting myself up to feel.  

The beautiful practice of Ayurveda is vast, works with nature and feels incredibly empowering!

Tuning in and paying attention to what our bodily needs are can help in so many areas!

If you deal with anxiety, pain, poor digestion, depression, unbalanced weight, insomnia, etc, and also if you don’t and want to prevent these things…I promise that Ayurveda can be helpful for you!  Possibly even life changing!  

Be curious and learn about yourself on a deeper level through the practice of Ayurveda.

Be Inspired & Enjoy the Journey!  

Here are a few resources I enjoy on the topic of Ayurveda…

*The Ayurvedic Self-Care Handbook by Sarah Kucera

*The Idiot’s Guide to Ayurveda by Sahara Rose

*Ayurveda the Art of Being (Movie) Filmed by Pan Nalin

Love & Peace