Advice for Healthy Living
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If you're looking to achieve and maintain proper balance of your own unique combination of Doshas, you first need to understand the qualities of the three Doshas and how they vary with the cycles of Nature (see Doshas). You also need to have a reasonable idea of your own Prakriti (constitution or essential nature) and Vikriti (imbalances). In general, treatment of digestive disturbances and Ama takes precedence over Dosha balance, even though they are often inter-related. Furthermore, you'll do well to assess your own current habits against the general Ayurvedic guidelines. Good basic health habits are the platform for fine-tuning based on individual differences.
That said, keep in mind the basic concept that like increases like and that balance is achieved by bring opposing qualities to bear. For example, if you are too heavy, you should favor lighter foods in your diet.
In the initial stage of imbalance, our spontaneous desires usually push us in the right direction to restore balance. When imbalance progresses, however, we can crave the things that make us worse.
Any Dosha that gets out of balance can disturb the functions of the other Doshas. Because Kapha is inherently stable, it is uncommon to find it the source of trouble. When Kapha does get out of balance on its own, it will typically present as disturbed digestion and Ama. Vata causes four times as many diseases as Kapha and twice as many as Pitta. I frequently see clients with mixed Vata and Pitta imbalance. Alcohol, caffeine, and late bedtime are common contributory factors. Beyond that, if you have signs of imbalance in more than one Dosha, you'll likely find it helpful to have a consultation to sort out what is primary.
The following table highlights the most common factors that contribute to imbalance.
|Staying awake at night or insufficient sleep||Over-exertion||Sleeping during the day|
|Fear, grief, worry, stress||Excessive talking||Excessive sleep|
|Travel||Hot, spicy, salty and sour food||Lack of exercise|
|Excessive exercise, sex or mental activity||Anger, hatred, jealousy, passion||Lack of mental activity|
|Suppression of natural urges||Fasting||Over-eating|
|Irregular daily routine||Alcohol, tobacco, caffeine||Heavy, oily, cold, sweet, sour and salty food|
|Old age, late fall & winter, injuries, surgery, childbirth||Middle age, summertime, exposure to heat or mid-day sun||Childhood, springtime|
|Excess pungent, bitter and astringent taste; light dry, rough, raw diet; insufficient food; caffeine||Over-work, over-use of eyes especially with computer screens||Cool and damp climates|
Here then are the most important considerations for balancing Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Vata represents movement. When out of balance, Vata causes problems in mind and body related to irregular movement such as variable appetite, constipation, insomnia, poor circulation, etc. Many individuals with a Vata-influenced constitution love variety, but they need the framework of a regular routine to remain stable and grounded while pursuing and enjoying that variety.
Pitta represents metabolism and transformation. When out of balance, Pitta causes problems related to excessive heat and acidity in mind and body such as acid indigestion, anger, fever and rashes. Those with a Pitta-influenced constitution tend to be industrious, ambitious, impatient, critical, and competitive. In seeking to transform their environment, they tend to over-do it. Thus, Pitta often needs moderation.
Kapha represents structure. By nature, Kapha is stable, slow and resistant to change. That is both a blessing and a curse. When out of balance, Kapha causes problems in mind and body related to accumulation and stagnation, such as obesity, slow digestion, respiratory congestion, lethargy and depression. Kapha needs mental stimulation and physical activity to stay in balance.
The following table summarizes the keys to achieving balance by Dosha as discussed above.
|Go to bed before 10 PM||Moderation||Vigorous exercise|
|Regular daily routine||Rest the eyes in evening||Walking|
|Main meal at noon||Main meal at noon||Main meal at noon|
|Yoga, pranayama, meditation||Walk by water, swim, snow ski||Awaken before 6 AM|
|Abhyanga||Avoid mid-day sun||Liquid fast once a week|
|Hearty, warm, unctuous, sweet, sour & salty food, sesame oil||Sweet, bitter & astringent food, ghee, dilute lassi||Light, warm, pungent, bitter & astringent food, honey|
V = Vata Pacifying Diet
P = Pitta Pacifying Diet
K = Kapha Pacifying Diet
B = Balanced Diet