Once winter rolls around, do you ever feel like you fall into an instant fog? Or maybe you notice that when you eat certain foods you feel more sluggish than usual? Chances are we’ve all experienced these feelings at one point in our life, but if you find yourself stuck in a particular rut you may want to consider Ayurveda to help bring the pep back into your life.
Ayurveda is the world’s oldest form of medicine. In Sanskrit, Aryuveda means “the science of life” and its practice focuses on balancing the forces of wind (vata), fire (pitta), and Earth (kapha) that make up the human form. In contrast to Western medicine, Ayurveda is a holistic practice that takes into account not only your physical health, but other factors like disposition or character traits to determine how the elements (or doshas) of wind, fire, and Earth are balanced in your body and impact your health. For example, a person who has a strong vata constitution might be very high energy and creative in the summer months but, in the winter months this airy disposition is likely to feel the negative impact of the cold and become unbalanced.
How Ayurveda Works to Restore Balance
According to The Chopra Institute, basic Ayurvedic principles give you “guidelines on ideal daily and seasonal routines, diet and behavior” all of these guidelines works to “remind us that health is the balanced dynamic integration between environment, body, mind, and spirit.”
Recognizing the fluid nature of our bodies in time with changes in the seasons and other variables of life, Ayurveda provides simple exercise techniques and diet modifications that will help to restore harmony to your body.
Determining Your Constitution
The first step of Ayurveda is determining the balance of your elemental constitutions. Follow the quiz below to find which balance suits you (place a mental check mark next to which phrase best describes you).
1. Lively, friendly and carefree
2. Strong leader but tends to be easily irritate
3. Sweet, supportive, and stable
1. Delicate build with little muscle
2. Average, not fat with good muscle
3. Strong build, good muscle and endurance
1. Tends to be dry
2. Tends to be reddish and freckled
3. Soft as a baby
1. You just pick all day
2. Three square meals, few snacks
3. Not a big eater, but LOVE sweets
1. Very anxious
2. Highly compulsive
Mostly 1’s — Vata
If Vata is dominant in your system, you tend to be thin, light, enthusiastic, energetic, and changeable. When Vata is balanced, a person is lively and creative, but when there is too much movement in the system, a person tends to experience anxiety, insomnia, dry skin, constipation, and difficulty focusing. (Courtesy of The Chopra Institute)
Mostly 2’s — Pitta
If Pitta predominates in your nature, you tend to be intense, intelligent, and goal-oriented and have a strong appetite for life. When Pitta is functioning in a balanced manner, a person is warm, friendly, disciplined, a good leader, and a good speaker. When Pitta is out of balance, a person tends to be compulsive and irritable and may suffer from indigestion or an inflammatory condition. (Courtesy of The Chopra Institute)
Mostly 3’s — Kapha
When Kapha prevails, you tend to be easy-going, methodical, and nurturing. When Kapha is balanced, a person is sweet, supportive, and stable but when Kapha is out of balance, a person may experience sluggishness, weight gain, and sinus congestion. (Courtesy of The Chopra Institute)
There is likely to be one number that you picked more frequently than the others, and that number determines your dominant constitution. While the balance between these three tend to shift over time, you will find there is one type you relate to more than others.
By adjusting your diet and exercise routine to suit your dominant constitution, you can help to right an imbalance of the other constitutions that may be causing some trouble for your health.
Here are some simple suggestions that are sure to help restore you to normal. When you feel balanced, it seems all other aspects of life seem to balance themselves in toe. Try it out and see what works for you!
Diet: Include more cooked, warm foods into your diet to balance out your cool, whispy constitution. Avoid icy drinks and add warming spices like cinnamon and ginger to your food. Diets rich with sweet berries, small beans, rice and lots of fruit will prove to be grounding.
Exercise: Since you tend to be blown about, following your every whim, routines are very important. Maintain regular eating and sleeping habits and exercise in moderation. Yoga, tai chi, and walking are recommended.
Diet: Pittas tend to air on the hot side, so avoid fried and spicy foods as well as alcohol and tobacco. Instead try a diet filled with fresh vegetables and fruits that are sweet and hydrating like watermelon and cucumbers. Dark greens are especially beneficial to pittas.
Exercise: Winter sports are particularly appealing to pittas, and the cold is less likely to keep you from hitting the slopes. Swimming is the ideal form of exercise for pittas. It is important to feel challenged when working out, but avoid competition because it will bring out your aggression.
Diet: Kaphas tend to be couch potatoes so a diet of light, warm and spicy foods will help to keep you from feeling sluggish. Avoid processed sugars as kaphas are slaves to their sweet tooths! Instead make your meals exciting by adding spices like black pepper, cumin, and chili to get your metabolism moving.
Exercise: Known for their endurance, kaphas benefit from aerobic activities. While getting motivated to go out for a long run might be difficult, once you get moving the sluggishness will quickly disappear allowing you to run for miles.