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Ayurvedic wisdom

Ayurveda. The elements and the doshas

In the last blog I was talking about 3 doshas, kapha, pitta and vata, and some of the lifestyle choices that will knock them off balance, along with some of the signs and symptoms that a dosha is out of kilter. You may well have spotted some of your own habits, so let’s have a look now at ways to bring a dosha back into line.

As always, Ayurveda seeks to prevent rather than cure. We can make particular lifestyle and dietary changes to help us keep each dosha balanced.

You may remember then that kapha is damp, cold, heavy, slow and unctuous. To stop this manifesting in us as weight gain, apathy and depression, here are a few things we can focus on :

  • Add warming spices to our food and drinks – ginger, cardamom, cinnamon
  • Choosing foods which are warm, spicy or naturally bitter. Eating plenty of steamed vegetables, and focussing on wholefoods not processed foods.
  • Get up early, avoid snoozing during the day.
  • Get outside. Exercise more. Start your day with an energising, dynamic yoga practice.
  • Push yourself out of your comfort zone.
  • Do some decluttering, let go of things you no longer need.
  • Finish all those projects that are half done or not started.

When pitta is out of balance you might be experiencing health challenges that are itchy, hot and inflamed (eg. allergies, skin complaints, conditions ending in “itis”) or digestive problems such as indigestion, acid reflux and loose stools. Emotionally you are probably feeling irritable too. This is no surprise is Pitta is almost all made up of the fire element. Here are some ways to cool the flames:

  • Focus on foods that are naturally sweet, bitter or astringent, with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Make sure you stay hydrated. Coconut water, linseed tea and peppermint tea are all great cooling drinks.
  • Slow down, take time for daily relaxations and restorative yoga.
  • Get plenty of fresh air, enjoying steady walks.
  • Start a gratitude journal.
  • Treat yourself to a relaxing massage, especially done with coconut oil.

If you have problems with your joints , dry skin, insomnia or are prone to constipation, you might want to consider reducing the Vata dosha:

  • Eat regularly, never skip meals, choosing nourishing foods warm foods. Soups and stews are perfect. Keeping hydrated with warm drinks, but reducing your intake of caffeine.
  • Make sure you get enough sleep, aiming for 8 hours a night.
  • Practice your yoga in the evening to help you wind down.
  • As with the other doshas, get out in the fresh air, but always wrap up warm, don’t let yourself get cold.
  • Practice mindfulness, being present and focussing on the job in hand.

Of course, we are constantly changing depending on what is going on in our lives, but these lists provide a starting point. It’s been my experience that just making a few small lifestyle or diet tweaks, sometimes only needed for a couple of days, makes a surprising amount of difference to my wellbeing.

Hope these tips are helpful. Next time we’ll have a look at some of Ayurveda’s diet tips. Ix

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