In the post preceding this one, What’s my Dosha?; I wrote, that in order to live more in FLOW with Life, to be truly healthy and vital, it is essential to balance our Doshas. And since you now have an understanding of the energetic qualities of the 3 doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha I know we can talk about how to balance them.
An Ayurvedic principle says that generally, like increases like, while opposites balance. To balance a particular dosha, our work is to cultivate the qualities opposite to the dosha(s) we are trying to balance. E.g. if we have too much air (Vata) in us, we need more fire (Pitta) and earth (Kapha). We do this by qualitatively assessing everything we do in life from the food we eat, our daily routine and other lifestyle choices, through the lens of the doshas.
Some questions you can ask yourself:
If I have much Pitta in my constitution, am I living a Pitta aggravating lifestyle? If I am highly Vata, is my life too fast paced and airy? And if I am very Kapha predominant, am I averse to change and hold on to attachments? Chances are, you probably answered yes, as the doshas want to heighten themselves and like usually increases like.
It takes much self-awareness, mindfulness and discipline to start to make the shifts that help us to experience more balance. But we have to start somewhere!
And sometimes we’re working on only balancing one, while at others we are working with all the doshas – something I experienced today!
This morning, I went to a step class at the local gym here in Canggu, Bali, even though my morning practice of choice is generally yoga. It wasn’t an entirely spontaneous decision.
I went because I awoke feeling a little scattered and overwhelmed this morning. I also realized that my body felt a little slow, but my mind felt intense. My way of seeking balance, was to choose a stronger, physical workout, instead of a more gentle yoga practice. I felt, intuitively that by moving in a way that channelled the intensity I felt in my mind, it would allow me to move excess intensity out through my body. At the same time, I also knew that I needed to move this morning in a focused, structured way to calm the scattered-ness in my mind and that feeling of slowness in my limbs.
And so I went to an interval fitness class. We squatted and lunged systematically in rhythm to music and I sweated buckets, something I don’t always do in yoga, even here in Bali. The post workout effect? I was relaxed, peaceful and cool in my mind. My body felt spent in a happy way and even locking my scooter keys in my scooter and thus being late for a meeting – did not ruffle my wellbeing.
In Ayurvedic terms, I released some excess Vata, Pitta and Kapha doshas out from my body, in a healthy way.
It may have been that we ate lunch way too late yesterday (this would provoke Vata), or the heat in Bali (pitta provoking) or that I slept in a little later than I normally do (increasing kapha), but I could feel that all my doshas were a little out of whack and I knew I needed to move them through me, which would then allow me to feel more in balance with myself.
I was careful during the class to be relaxed, allowing my fingertips be soft and not getting competitive with myself in doing the movements. I tried to move from a place of joy and lightness and felt relaxed even when it got intense. And after the class, I took some time to stretch and breathe slowly, softening the body and mind even more.
To offer more insight into how we can balance the doshas in our lives, I’ve created a list of lifestyle suggestions that are both practical and intuitive and I hope, highlight the vast wisdom of Ayurveda in a tangible, accessible way.
To balance Vata:
Remember: Vata represents Air + Ether, the lightest of the doshas. It is the bio-energy of mobility.
- Practice a routine. Vata loves spontaneity which can further throw it out of balance. Create a disciplined routine around waking up, sleeping and eating your meals. Eat meals at the same time daily, awake early, before sunrise and sleep by 10 p.m. to balance your hormones and endocrine system.
- Minimize time spent on your tech devices. Turn everything off 1 hour before bedtime. This will help to calm the nervous system which is impacted by Vata.
- Eat seasonally. In the winter, abstain from eating raw veggies and smoothies as they increase vata. Favor warm spiced soups and stews, cooked fruits and warm grains for breakfast and spiced, warm milks.
- Slow down the pace of your life. Avoid multi-tasking and create boundaries regarding answering emails. Choose one thing and do it slowly. This will increase your focus and productivity.
- Practice slower yoga. Avoid too many quick sports such as running. Instead, go for a sustained, longer walk out in nature.
To balance Pitta:
Remember: Pitta represents Fire + Water and is the bio-energy of heat and transformation.
- Minimize too much coffee. Coffee is a pitta aggravating drink. If you do drink coffee drink it with milk, which helps to cool the acidic heat of coffee.
- Eat grains such as cream of wheat and oats to bring some coolness and sustenance to your fire. Eat cool, leafy green salads and avoid too much red meat, which is also pitta provoking.
- Practice sports without a competitive mindset. Challenge yourself physically but look at the entire practice as a journey, not a destination, so you can stay calm and still enjoy yourself. Stay away from hot yoga or any activities in a heated environment. Instead trying swimming and surfing but with a more relaxed mindset.
- Dedicate your work to a higher cause, which will help you to ease your affliction of perfectionism and ego.
- Enjoy a bath with lavender and rose oils to soothe your soul.
To balance Kapha:
Remember: Kapha represents Earth + Water and is the bio-energy of stability.
- Commit to daily exercise. Kapha needs to sweat to move out excess Kapha out and can endure stronger exercise such as long distance running, weights and vigorous yoga. You can also sustain some heat as Kapha tends to run cold.
- Create more spontaneity in your life. Commit to trying one new thing every month, so you step outside your comfort zone and don’t spend too many nights on your couch.
- Minimize dairy and carbs such as wheat in your diet. Instead eat grains such as quinoa, millet and barley which are lighter on the body. Eat lots of vegetables, less meat. Add warming spices such as ginger, cinnamon and black pepper to your food and use only raw honey as a sweetener to your foods and tea.
- Include dry brushing after you shower to your daily routine to stimulate the lymphatic system and keep Kapha in balance.
Ultimately, says Ayurveda, we inhabit this lifetime to carry out a specific purpose. If we are able to stay healthy, we are able to fulfill our calling with more ease, vitality and bliss. And the more we can do to balance our constitution, the easier it is for us to stay truly healthy from the inside out.