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Aug 18, 2017

Ayurveda and the 3 doshas

Vata represents the biological elements of air and space.  It has the qualities of dry, cold, light, quick, erratic, rough, unstable, and moving.  Vata governs all movement in the mind and body.  It controls blood flow, elimination of wastes, breathing, and movement of thoughts across the mind.  Vata governs the other two doshas (pitta and kapha) and so it’s very important to keep Vata in good balance to ensure the other two doshas are not imbalanced.
Characteristics of Vata Type
-Light, thinner build                                                  -Quick to grasp new information
-Tendency for dry skin                                             -Quick to forget
-Aversion to cold weather                                        -Irregular hunger and digestion
-Tendency toward light and interrupted sleep      -Tendency toward constipation
Imbalanced Vata
Physical Manifestations                                        Psychological Manifestations
-Intolerance to wind and cold                                  -Overactivity of the mind
-Constipation                                                             - Anxiety, inability to relax
-Flatulence, intestinal gas                                         -Inability to concentrate
-Dry skin and chapped lips                                       -Worry
-Menstrual cramps                                                    -Restlessness
-Loss of energy or stamina                                       -Impatience
-Severe and acute pains                                            -Depression  
-Joint aches or arthrtitis                                           -Insomnia
-Back pain, especially low back pain                       -Fatigue
-Muscle spasms                                                         -Loss of appetite

Guidelines for Balancing Vata
-Get plenty of rest and quiet time (this is all-important for any Vata problem)
-Stay warm
-Eat a Vata-pacifying diet and eat regularly
-Drink lots of warm fluids
-Avoid cold food and drinks
-Use herbs and spices that are Vata-reducing
            -Heating spices
            -Ashwagandha, fresh ginger,   
            -Triphala (amla, bibhitaki, haritaki)
-Maintain a regular daily routine (mealtimes, bedtimes, etc.)
-Massage your body with sesame oil each morning
-Take a long, warm shower or bath in the morning
-Perform mild exercises (simple yoga stretches, walking, tai chi)
-Avoid mental strain or over-stimulation (loud music, violent movies, long hours of TV or computer, particularly in the evening)
-Make your surroundings light, bright, and cheerful
-Do not drink alcohol, or caffeine while trying to balance Vata
-Healing mantra: “slow down”

Pitta represents the biological elements of fire and water.  Pitta has the qualities of hot, moist, light, fluid, sour smelling, sharp, intense, and penetrating.  It governs all heat, metabolism, and transformation in the mind and body.  It controls how we digest foods, ideas, and sensory perceptions.  It governs the all-important digestive agni’s or fires in the body.
Characteristics of Pitta Type
-Moderate build/ muscular                                      -Tendency of irritability and anger
-Aversion to hot weather                                         -Good speaker
-Sharp hunger and digestion                                    -Enterprising, sharp in character
-Can’t skip meals                                                       -Tendency for reddish complexion,
                                                                                    hair, moles, and freckles
Imbalanced Pitta
Physical Manifestations                                        Psychological Manifestations
-Sharply increased hunger or thirst                        -Anger
-Increased acidity, heartburn, ulcers                      -Irritability
-Intolerance to heat                                                  -Hostile behavior
-Sunburn, sunstroke                                                 -Rage                                                 
-Skin inflammations and rashes                              -Impatience
-Hot flashes                                                                -Criticism (of self/others)
-Bloodshot eyes                                                         -Arrogant argumentation
-Acne                                                                          -Aggressive, domineering behavior
-Sour body odors
-Bad breath
-Rectal burning, hemorrhoids
-Dark yellow feces and urine

Guidelines for Balancing Pitta
-Seek coolness in all forms (through diet, herbs, being in nature, keeping thermostat below 70 degrees when you sleep, not lingering in the hot bath too long, etc)  
-Eat a Pitta-reducing diet
-Eat whenever hungry
-Use herbs and spices that are Pitta-reducing
            -Cooling spices
            -Gentian root, mint leaves, mild laxatives (psyllium seed or flax seed)
            -Triphala (amla, bibhitaki, haritaki)
-Be attentive to taking in only pure food, water, and air (since Pitta is especially sensitive to impurities of any kind)
 -Avoid alcohol and artificial stimulants (both of which are like throwing kerosene on a fire)
-Avoid strenuous physical exercise or overheating yourself outdoors
-Take time to wind down from activity; alternating rest and activity is the basic rhythm of life
-Try cooling breathing exercises
            1. Open your mouth to form an “O” shape.
2. With your mouth in this position, form a funnel with your tongue and place it between your lips.
3. Slowly inhale through your tongue, swallow the breath, and feel the
breath in your heart.
4. Relax your tongue and mouth, then exhale through your mouth.
5. Repeat this exercise for three minutes, twice daily.
-Healing mantra: “let go”

Kapha represents the biological elements of water and earth.  Kapha has the qualities of heavy, cold, wet, slow, steady, soft, smooth, oily, and sweet.  It governs all structure and lubrication in the mind and body.  It controls weight, growth, lubrication for the joints and lungs, and formation of all seven tissues in the body.
Characteristics of Kapha Type
-Solid, heavier build                                                  -Tranquil, steady personality
-Great strength and endurance                               -Slow to grasp new information
-Slow, methodical in activity                                    -Slow to forget (good memory)
-Oily, smooth skin                                                      -Sleep is heavy and long
Imbalanced Kapha
Physical Manifestations                                        Psychological Manifestations
-Congested sinuses, nose, throat                             -Lethargy
-Cough with mucus                                                   -Dullness
-Sore throat with runny nose                                   -Mental inertia
-Frequent colds                                                         -Oversleeping
-Intolerance to cold and damp                                 -Daytime drowsiness
-Allergies, asthma                                                      -Depression
-Obesity and high cholesterol                                  -Lack of motivation
-Diabetes                                                                    -Procrastination
-Edema and fluid retention                                      -Over-attachment
-Bloating, nausea, indigestion                                  -Greed
-Pale and cold skin                                                    -Possessiveness
-Cysts and other growths

Guidelines for Balancing Kapha
-Stay warm
-Avoid cold and damp (consider using a dry sauna or doing Bikram yoga)
-Eat a Kapha-reducing diet
-favor warm, light, dry, spicy foods
-favor bitter, pungent, astringent tastes
-reduce oily, cold, heavy foods
-reduce sweet, salty, and sour tastes
-it is particularly important to reduce sweetness (irrespective of  calories, Kaphas will gain weight and go out of balance when eating sweet foods)
-prepare fresh meals, avoid leftovers
-avoid eating early in morning  (before 10am) or late at night (after 7pm)
-it is important not to overeat if you are a Kapha type
-Learn the joy of fasting (seasonally or one day per week)
-Use herbs and spices that are Kapha-reducing
            -Heating spices
            -Trikatu (dry ginger, black pepper, pipilli)
            -Triphala (amla, bibhitaki, haritaki)
            -Honey (but no more than 2 tablespoons per day)
            -Stimulants: green tea, yerba mate’, coffee and black tea (all in moderation)
-Drink only warm fluids and warming herbal teas, in moderation
-Perform a full-body dry massage each morning to stimulate circulation (using gloves or dry loofah)
-Try right nostril breathing exercises (close your left nostril with your index and middle fingers, breathe in and out of the right nostril slowly) (this is heating to the body and raises digestive fire and increases metabolism)
-Engage in regular and vigorous exercise, preferably everyday
-Avoid excessive sleeping and napping during the day
-Break free from old habits, seek variety in life, and accept motivating challenges

-Healing Mantra: “move your body”