Balance your Dosha

What is Kapha Dosha?

What is Kapha Dosha

According to Ayurvedic philosophy, there are three doshas (a.k.a. humors) present in every cell, tissue, and organ of our body that govern our psychobiological functioning. These doshas—vata, pitta, and kapha—comprise the five potential states of matter (i.e., space (or ether), air, fire, earth, and water). All five of these elements are present in each dosha, but the two predominant elements in a dosha determine its defining qualities. When in balance, the three doshas create health; when out of balance, they cause disease. They are also responsible for the vast variety of differences and preferences that exist among individuals, and they influence all we are and all we do, from our food choices to the ways we relate to others.

As the forces that govern our physiology, the doshas regulate the creation, maintenance, and destruction of body tissue, as well as the elimination of waste products. They also act as psychological drivers, governing our emotions and mental state. When in balance, the doshas generate understanding, compassion, and love and sustain mental health. When their balance is disturbed by stress, improper diet, and environmental conditions, they give rise to disturbances such as anger, fear, anxiety, confusion, depression, and disease.

The kapha dosha combines the prithvi(earth) and apa(water) elements. In ancient Sanskrit texts, kapha is conceptualized “that which holds things together, embraces, and provides coherence.” It is slow, heavy, cool, dense, soft, greasy, unctuous, sticky, cloudy, liquid, and sweet. Kapha holds the body together, giving it shape, form, and stability. The combined elements of kapha are responsible for the gross structure of the body and for its solid and liquid components including phlegm, mucus, synovial fluid, and plasma. Kapha also fills the intercellular spaces of the body as connective tissues such as tendons.

Kapha occurs mainly in the chest, throat, head, pancreas, lymph, fat, nose, and tongue, but its primary site is the stomach, where much of our immune system resides. As the dosha that regulates body’s protective and immune functions, kapha  is related to ojas(our innate reserves of strength, vigor, and resistance to disease). In addition to building immunity, kapha promotes growth. 

The water element of kapha softens the earthen structures of the tissues, moistening and lubricating the skin, joints, and respiratory system. These watery qualities also help heal wounds and support our sense of smell and taste.  

Psychologically, excess kapha is responsible for the emotions of attachment, greed, lust, and envy. When kapha is in the balance, it expresses love, calmness, and forgiveness; when out of balance it gives rise to heaviness, slowness, coolness, oiliness, dampness, and stasis.

 

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. 

What is Pitta Dosha?

What is pitta Dosha

According to Ayurvedic philosophy, there are three doshas (a.k.a. humors) present in every cell, tissue, and organ of our body that govern our psychobiological functioning. These doshas—vata, pitta, and kapha—comprise the five potential states of matter (i.e., space, air, fire, earth, and water). All five of these elements are present in each dosha, but the two predominant elements in a dosha determine its defining qualities. When in balance, the three doshas create health; when out of balance, they cause disease. They are also responsible for the vast variety of differences and preferences that exist among individuals, and they influence all we are and all we do, from our food choices to the ways we relate to others.

As the forces that govern our physiology, the doshas regulate the creation, maintenance, and destruction of body tissue, as well as the elimination of waste products. They also act as psychological drivers, governing our emotions and mental state. When in balance, the doshas generate the understanding, compassion, and love that sustain mental health. When their balance is disturbed by stress, improper diet, and environmental conditions, they give rise to disturbances such as anger, fear, anxiety, confusion, depression, and disease.

The pitta dosha governs all the various forms of digestion and transformation that manifest in our mind and body—from digesting sensory impressions and emotional responses to transforming chyle (lymph and fatty matter from partially digested food) into protoplasmic substances like sperm and ova. Pitta is closely related to agni(digestive fire). Its qualities are pungent, hot, penetrating, greasy, oily, sharp, liquid, spreading and sour. The main locus of pitta is the small intestine, where most chemical digestion takes place, but it also resides in the eyes, blood, sweat glands, stomach, and lymph. 

Made up of tejas (fire) and apa(water), pitta seems like a contradiction in terms, but its two constituents are actually complementary. The liquid nature of pitta protects the tissues from the destructive aspects of fire and enables pitta’s metabolic properties to flow through the body in fluids such as bile, digestive enzymes, and hormones. In additional to playing an important role in the digestive and endocrine systems, pitta affects body temperature, visual perception, hunger, thirst, and skin quality.

Mentally and emotionally, pitta promotes sound judgment, discipline, responsibility, and joyfulness when in balance. If out of balance, it generates restlessness, anger and irritability, obsessiveness, jealousy, resentment, or deep negativity.

 

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. 

 

 

What is Vata Dosha?

What is Vata Dosha

According to Ayurvedic philosophy, there are three doshas (a.k.a. humors) present in every cell, tissue, and organ of our body that govern our psychobiological functioning. These doshas—vata, pitta, and kapha—comprise the five potential states of matter (i.e., space, air, fire, earth, and water). All five of these elements are present in each dosha, but the two predominant elements in a dosha determine its defining qualities. When in balance, the three doshas create health; when out of balance, they cause disease. They are also responsible for the vast variety of differences and preferences that exist among individuals, and they influence all we are and all we do, from our food choices to the ways we relate to others.

As the forces that govern our physiology, the doshas regulate the creation, maintenance, and destruction of body tissue, as well as the elimination of waste products. They also act as psychological drivers, governing our emotions and mental state. When in balance, the doshas generate the understanding, compassion, and love that sustain mental health. When their balance is disturbed by stress, improper diet, and environmental conditions, they give rise to disturbances such as anger, fear, anxiety, confusion, depression, and disease.

Vata dosha is composed of akasa(space, or ether) and vayu(air). The root va, which means “to spread,” suggests vata’s responsibility for all movement in the body and mind. This includes the flow of breath, pumping of blood; waste elimination; movement of the muscles, bones, limbs, and diaphragm, and the gut’s secretor-motor functions, as well as expressions of speech and responses of the intellect, the nervous system, and the five senses. 

Known as the master dosha because without it all the doshas would be inert, vata exerts a powerful influence on our well-being. Its capacity to affect our internal energies both positively and negatively becomes evident when we consider the dynamic between air and space in the external world. When the movement of air is unrestricted by space (as on the open ocean), it can gain enough momentum to become a hurricane  with gale-force winds traveling at speeds of over 150 mph. When air is confined in a box, it can’t move and becomes stale. Whether it’s due to lack of movement or too much movement, a vata imbalance disrupts the harmony of the doshas. 

The primary site of vata is the colon, but it also resides in the thighs, ears, bones, and bladder. The predominant qualities of its elements, or pañcamahābhūtās, are cold, light, rough, mobile, subtle, clear, dry, and astringent. These attributes can manifest as physical traits such as agility and thinness or health conditions like insomnia, as well as finding expression in mental and emotional functions and characteristics such as imagination, sensitivity, spontaneity, intuition, exhilaration, fear, insecurity, and doubt.

 

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease.

 

Healing Music for Your Ayurvedic Type

HealingMusicDosha

Each of us has a unique connection to music. Most of us experience the affects music has on our mind and body daily. Its a joy to think that we are all inherently musicians who can play the rhythms of life and spirit through music, we must only find the rhythm that we most connect with. Ayurveda teaches that using music according to our"type" gives us a deeper ability to impact our balance state of health and wellness. The Ayurvedic types, or doshas govern all the physiological and psychological functions of an individual. Determining your inherent dosha is important in finding the right music for you to play, create or simply enjoy. Once you have determined your particular dosha, you can follow these guidelines to select the kind of music that is best suited for you in healing.

Music for a Vata Type: In general a Vata person or someone who is experiencing a Vata imbalance is good to listen or play instruments with soft, low and mellow tones, such as music with the guitar, mandolin, bass, violin and wind instruments such as chimes and didgeridoo. Learning to play Himalayan singing bowels and the harmonium can be very healing and meditative to a Vata type.

Music for Pitta Type: Focus on rhythmic soft music with a middle tone. This includes instruments such as flute, clarinet, saxophone and mouth organ. String instruments that are balancing for Pitta are the violin, dulcimer and mandolin. All types of percussion that are gentle are also very balancing

Music for Kapha Type: Kapha wants to focus on energizing music with a solid bass and higher tones. All types of drums such as the Indian dholak and tabla, African Congo and water drum. Bells, chimes, Incan panpipes, accordion, electric keyboard and piano are all great instruments for a Kapha person to learn to play.

 

 

 

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease.

 

Balance Kapha

"Snigdhah shita gururmandah shlakshno mritsnah sthirah kaphah".— Ashtanga Hrdayam: Sutrasthana I:12

Kapha is unctuous, cool, heavy, slow, smooth, soft, and static. Understanding this provides you with the keys to understanding how to balance Kapha. Having a Kapha-predominate Prakriti means that these qualities will express themselves throughout your physical, mental and emotional makeup.

A basic tenet of Ayurvedic medicine, is that “like increases like”. So if one is Kapha, cold weather, dense foods and those things that are inherently cool and heavy will increase Kapha in your system. For example if a Kapha person who lives in Boston, and drinks a large frozen smoothie in the evening time, may find themselves the next day having a cold. This is because you have increased the heavy and dense qualities through out the body and under these conditions it will be more difficult to move it out, Kapha in nature is stagnant.

With this understanding we use opposites as “medicine.” It is common for our predominant dosha, Kapha in this case to increase more quickly then any other dosha. If the dosha increases in the body, naturally we want to decrease it to restore a healthy balance to our constitution. “Medicines” are substances that decrease the excess Kapha by providing the opposite qualities to it. These qualities are predominatly dry, light, warm and active. Therefore it is best for people with a imbalance of Kapha to seek out enviornments both physical and emotional that possess these opposite qualities. This includes food, diet and routines.

One with increased Kapha will do well with warming, light, freshly cooked foods to maintain balance. Foods and herbs with a bitter, pungent and astringent taste will help to decrease Kapha. These tastes should be predominate in your diet. Bibhitaki, Chitrak and Punarvana or three herbs that can support in removing excess Kapha from the body and maintain balance.

The ideal environment for Kapha to live would be warm and dry. It is good to focus on keeping warm and dry if you are in a cold wet environment and during the winter seasons. Activity can be one of the best medicines for kapha. Try to find something that motivates you, ensure that you exercise regularly, maybe join a race or competition that will give you that extra push.

Daily self-massages with warm sesame oil will help keep kapha from becoming stagnant. Be sure you do the massage with vigor and ensure the oil is warm almost hot. You can use aromatics that are heating in nature such as Juniper, Eucalyptus, Marjoram, and Clove, by apply to your clothing or in a diffuser in your home, car and office.

These are just a few tips. If you would like more information on how to balance Kapha schedule an online appointment here.

Visit the Kapha Yoga tips article to know how to customize your daily yoga practice to balance Kapha.

 

 

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease.

Sex and Your Dosha

Sex is a very individual experience, and each person has unique thoughts, emotions, desires and opinions regarding sex. These things can be influenced by our up bringing, culture or experiences, but most of it depends on the dosha. Understanding your dosha and how it is in regards to sex will help one understand themselves in life and relationships. It is also wise to know and understand your partners dosha, as it will help you meet their needs, know how to stimulate and seduce them and also give you the patience and understanding when things do not go exactly as you hoped. 

The Vata person is creative, responsive, sensual and wary. They naturally have a low interest in sex. Physically this serves them well, as sex can be very unbalancing for them. Don’t miss-understand this, sex is very important for a Vata person, but only as an expression of love. It is a part of their natural need to express themselves. A Vata person may take time to commit in a relationship first, but once they do they are very faithful lovers. Because of this, at first they may be considered cold sexually, but when they meet the right person who can hold them safely, they will be a surprisingly satisfying lover.

A Vata person really appreciates romance, beauty and art, and their partners would be wise to indulge them here, as it will help allay their anxiety and warm their desire for sex. They may not know it, but traditional values and routines are actually very valuable to them. It can be helpful to plan to have sex ahead of time and enjoy all the courtship and foreplay that precedes. 

Vata is the most likely to have problems conceiving due to stress, dryness, low body weight and disturbed Apana Vata. Traveling, too much work and general instability will not help a Vata persons sex drive. So as a Vata partner, one can really help by appealing to their romantic side, cooking them regular meals (the best thing anyone can do for Vata) and encourage them to slow down, rest and nourish themselves. Worry is their greatest enemy, and their sex drive can be switched off all too easily. 

Pitta is fiery, attention seeking, ambitious, and passionate. Pitta people love to think of themselves as fantastic lovers, but their lack of reliability and patience may be frustrating for their partners. Their competitive nature may impede on their sex life by preventing them form ever feeling satisfied. They tend to prefer spontaneity and power. But in the matters of sex, Pitta should take care to channel their enormous energy through the heart, rather than their sex organs or brilliant intellect. This will lead to virility, mobility and compassion in sexual relationships. 

Pitta may want to indulge is sex more often than a Vata person, this is fine for them as they have the natural body reserves to rebuild themselves after the act of sex, but they should go more gently in the summer. Pitta types my suffer from impotency, due to excess heat burning up reproductive tissues or from the upward movement in the body, instead of movement downwards (like a fire). It is important for them to balance the act of sex with cooling, calming and compassionate actions afterwards. 

A person of Kapha dosha is enduring, nurturing, hard working, balanced and determined. Kapha is naturally very sensual and considered a very good prospect in marriage and in sex. Their partners need only to watch out for the feeling of being trapped by a Kapha person, as they become very attached and greedy. For Kapha, it may take time to stimulate them or spark their interest in the activity of sex, as their nature is to reserve their resources, but once they are interested they enjoy greatly. Kapha can really benefit from exercise and can be easily persuaded to partake in sex as exercise. It is a balancing act for them and also satisfies their natural nature to be nurtured and loved. 

A Kapha person is unlikely to suffer from reproductive tissues imbalances and will usually bear many children very easily. They have the body structure and endurance to give birth and recover afterwards. On the other hand with the large amount of earth element in their bodies, they may experience enlarged prostate, endometriosis or ovarian cysts. If Kapha has any trouble conceiving they need only to loose a little weight and lighten the body. 

For the best possible sex life with you partner, take in consideration their dosha (natural state). Understand that their body’s natural needs and desires for sex, physically, mentally and emotional may be different from yours. Have patience and compassion to adapt to their desires and provide them with care as you understand each dosha’s biorhythms, and then find the balance that works for you both. 

 

 

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease.

Essential Oils for Your Dosha

Essential oils are a wonderful way to balance the dosha on a daily basis. Understanding essential oils from an Ayurvedic prospective can help you customize your approach to essential oils. Ayurveda recognizes that because of their chemical makeup, all essential oils, will either add heat or will have a cooling effect on the body. Essential oils can be arranged in a vertical line, with the oils that are coolest at the top, the oils that are neutral in the middle , and the oils that are warming at the bottom. All essential oils can be placed somewhere on this line , according to their properties. For example blue chamomile is a cooling oil, lavender exemplifies neutrality, and thyme is a hot essential oil. 

Try taking a chamomile and peppermint bath and feel the coolness when you come out. Experience a drop of thyme or clove rubbed into the skin on the forearm. You should notice a warmth with in 15 min. The oils in the middle range, the neutral oils such as lavender as known as balancers, because if you are feverish, they can help cool you down, and if you are feeling very cold and you apply lavender in a massage oil base to the body, it can warm you up. Lavender is an oil for all seasons. Balancers will always bring you back toward neutral, toward normal function. 

Western chemistry can fit into this arrangement, with the essential oils at the top of chart being very electro-negative. They have extra electrons and take heat away from the body. Those essential oils at the bottom of the chart are elect o-positive. They are missing electrons in their outer rings, and are eager and ready to acquire them, producing heat in the body.

Ayurveda also recognizes that essential oils can be classified as wet or dry. The wet oils have hight polarity and mix well with water. If you put them into a bath they disperse into, and become a part of the water. Another name for this property is hydrophilic (water loving). Oils of low polarity don’t mix with water. They will float on the surface of the bather and form a “ring” on the edge of the tub. They have affinity and mix with vegetable oils and fats , these oils are called lipophilic (fat loving). All of the essential oils can be arranged on a line that runs from left (wet) to the right (dry). Some of the wet essential oils are geranium and rose, having high constituents levels of alcohol and some of the dry, fat loving oils are the terpenes, such as citrus oils and pine. Neutral oils again are oils such as lavender, clary sage Roman chamomile, basil, anise and tarragon.

Vata Balancing
Because Vata is light, dry, mobile and cold, it is treated with oils which are wet, heavy, calming and warming. Vata is reduced by the tastes sweet, sour, and salty, this can be used when determining the oil that is correct for Vata. When understanding Vata, there are two types of imbalances to consider. One is known as obstructed Vata where the channels of the body have become clogged with toxic residues (ama), the result of indigestion, poor diet, and poor elimination in the presence of dosha imbalance. Like Kapha excess, obstructed Vata is treated for a short period of time to remove the blockages. The other type is called Vata-caused deficiency, and this is where excess Vata in the system has caused drying, emaciation and loss of tissues. Vata-caused deficiency resembles the extreme aging process.

The following essential oils are good stimulates for both types of Vata, they increases digestive fire, flushes toxins, increases internal heat and strengthen circulation. They are contraindicated in very high Vata conditions such as dehydration or inflamed mucous membranes. Ginger, oregano, orange, eucalyptus, cumin, cinnamon, clove, celery seed, black pepper, bergamot, bay, calamus, camphor, marjoram, arnica, ajwan, caraway, thyme, sage, rosewood, lemon, nutmeg.

Vata-caused deficiency requires nutritive herbs that will build the tissues. These could relieve menstrual cramping, build the blood, moisten and nourish the sexual immune system, strengthen organ weakness due to disease and alleviate poor nutrition or aging. Angelica, clary sage, myrrh, parsley, tarragon, vanilla, rose and jasmine (but both are cooling so avoid prolonged use).

Pitta Balancing
Because Pitta is hot and wet, it is supported with cooling, heat dispelling drying, nutritive and calming oils. The tastes for reducing Pitta are sweet, astringent and bitter. Cooling carminatives are often aromatic spices that improve digestion and elimination by removing blockages and promoting flow of energy. These oils include chamomile, coriander, cumin, dill, fennel, lavender, lemon, lemon balm, lime, neroli, peppermint, spearmint, winter green.

Astringent oils reduce the excretions and discharges and are drying, yet prevent the loss of moisture and have a tightening effect on the tissues, promote wonder healing of the surface tissues and stop bleeding. Calendula, carrot seed, lemon, St. Johns wort, turmeric, wintergreen, yarrow.

Cooling alternatives that purify the blood, fight infections, reduce fevers and promote healing, includes herbs such as, aloevera, coriander, cumin, dill, jasmine, neem, sandalwood, spearmint, taggets, turmeric, yarrow, blue chamomile. Nutritive tonics nourish the tissues of the body, reduce inflammation, restore secretions, build the blood and lymph system. Angelica, carrot seed, cedar wood, neem, neroli, spikenard. Rejuvenates renew the body and mind, increases awareness, change patterns, and creates expansion. Angelica, brahmi, carrot seed, cedar wood, rose, jatamansi.


Cooling diuretics reduce Pitta’s heat and cool the liver. Coriander, fennel, lavender, lemongrass, sandalwood, spearmint. Antipyretics to reduce Pitta’s fire. Jasmine, lime, neem, tagetes, vetiver, neroli are all options.

Kapha Balancing
Kapha is water and earth, it is predominantly cold, moist, slow and heavy in nature. It can be supported with warming, drying, lightening and stimulating therapy. The tastes that improve or balance Kapha are pungent, bitter and astringent. Pungent is the most important because it is exactly opposite from Kapha, being light, hot and dry. Diuretics can be used to reduce water and are an important Kapha therapy. Oils of Ajwan, cinnamon, coriander, fennel, garlic, juniper berry, lemongrass, parsley, spearmint, are effective for this.

Increasing the digestive fire reduces Kapha, so all stimulant and carminative essential oils can be importance therapy, especially the heating carmitive and stimulants. Ajwan, anise, basil, bay, black pepper, calamus, cardamon, cayenne, cinnamon, cloves, garlic, ginger, juniper berry, mustard, nutmeg, orange peel, oregano, parsley, pennyroyal, safforn, thyme turmeric, valerian.

The main areas that hold Kapha in the forms of mucous are the lungs and stomach. Emetic therapy is important for expelling mucous buildups in the stomach and the lungs, but should be only administered by those who have training in Panchakarma. Diaphoretic oils can be helpful for eliminating water through seating. They cleanse the blood and lymphatics. Ajwan, angelica, basil, camphor, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, eucalyptus, ginger, juniper berry, lemongrass, mugwort, oregano, sage, thyme.

 

 

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease.

Vata in the Fall

This time of year, many of us feel out of whack. Fall usually increases the Vata energy in all of us, which in excess can result in anxiety, pain, the urge to travel (which would of course make Vata even stronger), dryness of skin and hair and many other symptoms. We may find it harder to concentrate or focus for any length of time. We may feel compelled to create changes in our lives – when actually steadying the course is just what we need. If you are primarily made up of Vata energy, you will feel this even more keenly than the rest of us!

To keep Vata in balance, there are any number of things we can do. Food is the best medicine. So eat lots of Vata-balancing foods, which are generally hot, well-cooked and wet. Eat seasonal foods such as cooked onion, carrots sweet potatoes, parsley, beets, radish  grapefruit, grape strawberries, raspberries, figs and avocado. Also use whole grains such as whole wheat, basmati rice, brown rice and oats. Increase pecans, walnuts almonds and pine nuts. Drink warm water with ginger and lemon through out the day. 

For reducing Vata, take time before you shower and give yourself a sesame oil massage. Let oil soak in for 20 mins. It is good to calm your mind at this time, practice breathing exercises and meditate. Also, much of our grandmothers’ seasonal advice is well-aligned with what Ayurveda has to say about reducing Vata. For example, bundle up in cooler weather, drink warm (caffeine free) liquids, and protect your head (especially the ears) from the wind.  

The best way to deal with seasonal change is to get ahead of it. If you eat for your Ayurevdic constitution all year, and do a seasonal cleanse/panchakarma program at each junction of the seasons, you can avoid/prevent/lessen the imbalances often caused at these times of year.