Balance your Dosha

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.

 

Eating for the Season: Recipes to keep Kapha in Balance!

Eating for the Season

Coming out of November and into December we are moving from the Vata season to Kapha season. As the cold and wetness of winter settle in, the effects of the winter climates are obvious, but even in more temperate climates, you can still notice the subtler changes that come with winter. With any shift in season, there are steps you can take to stay balanced through your diet. During this time Kahpa and Vata are both vulnerable so its best to approach a diet that concentrates on herbs and foods that carry dual tastes in order to avoid aggravating your Vata while balancing Kapha.

In general avoid refined sweets, excessively cold, dry,  unctuous, salty and fatty foods. I know it seems hard with the holidays, but if you keep this in mind you may notice the ease that it creates in your health during this time. It’s best to slightly increase the pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes in your meals during Kapha season. However, as it is also important for Vata to pay attention to your sensitivity to these tastes, and learn to adjust your diet according to the daily conditions. For example, if it’s a strongly Vata day (i.e. dry and windy) despite being Kapha season, focus on more Vata-balancing foods and tastes. Otherwise, eat to balance Kapha and Vata with warming meals. Also be mindful of your agni or digestive fire. Since Kapha season can contribute to sluggish digestion, eat at regularly scheduled times without skipping meals or overeating. As always, eat your largest meal at lunch, when the digestive fires of Pitta are strongest.

Here are some simple recipes that can support you in balancing your diet this time of year.

Creamy Butternut Squash Soup (serves 4)

  • 1/2 gallon of water

  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats

  • 1 tablespoon of finally chopped fresh cilantro

  • 1 tablespoon cumin powder

  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon of grated fresh ginger

  • juice of 1 fresh lemon

  • 1 tablespoon rock salt

  • 1 tablespoon soya oil

  • 2 scallions chopped

  • parsley

  • landcress

Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add squash, oats, cilantro, spices including black pepper and salt, fresh ginger, lemon juice. Cover and simmer on medium heat for 35 minutes. Use a flat bottom ladle and puree the squash. Heat oil in a small skillet and saute scallions for about 2 minutes, then add to the creamed soup. Cover and simmer 5 minutes. Serve hot and garnish with fresh parsley and landcress.

Seven-Grain Bread (serves 4)

  • 1 Tablespoon of natural yeast

  • 1/2 cup warm water

  • 2 tablespoons of sesame butter

  • 1/2 spelt flour

  • 1/2 cup unbleached whole wheat flour

  • 1/2 cup soya flour

  • 1/2 cup millet flour

  • 1/2 cup of oat bran

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats

  • 1/2 cup cracked wheat

  • 1 tablespoon of Sucanat

  • 1/2 teaspoon of rock salt

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water

Dissolve the yeast in warm water, then dilute the sesame butter in the yeast solution. Combine the flours, bran rolled oats, cracked wheat, Sucanat, salt and remaining water together, then add the yeast-sesame butter mixture. Kneed into a sticky dough. Transfer dough to a large oiled bowl. Cover securely and let rise in a warm place for 40 minutes. Punch down the dough, cover, and let rise again for 40 minutes, until it doubles in size. Form dough into four rolls and place on oiled backing trays. Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Whole Mung Dhal (serves 4)

  • 1 Cup whole mung dhal

  • 2 1/4 cups water

  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1 pinch of sea salt

  • 1 tablespoon ghee

  • 1 minced green chili pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon grated ginger

  • 1 tablespoon Masala

  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Wash mung dhal until water runs clear. Soak in 3 coups of cold water overnight. Drain. Boil 2 cups of water and add dhal, turmeric, and salt. Cover and simmer over medium heat for 50 minutes. In a small skillet, heat ghee, green chili pepper, and ginger for a few minutes. Add the Masala toward the end of browning. Add to dhal with lemon juice and remaining water. Cover and continue to simmer for an additional 30 minutes over low heat.

Sauteed Golden beets with Masala (serves 4)

  • 4 golden beets

  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil

  • 1 tablespoon masala

  • 2 yellow onions of shallots, half moon slices

  • 1 teaspoon rock salt

  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

Scrub the beets and cut into bite-size pieces. Heat cast-iron skillet with sunflower oil. Stir in masala until slightly browned. Add shallots, beets, and salt. Stir and add two tablespoons of water. Cover and allow to cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, garnish with fresh parsley and serve hot.

Caraway Brown Rice (serves 4)

  • 2 cups long-grain brown rice

  • 3 1/2 cups boiling water

  • 1 pinch of sea salt

  • 2 teaspoons of caraway seeds

Wash rice until water runs clear and add to boiling water. Add salt. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 25 minutes. Dry roast caraway seeds in a small cast-iron pan until golden. Add to rice mixture and cook and additional 5 minutes. Serve warm.

Red Cabbage and Onion Soup (serves 4)

  • 1/2 gallon of water

  • 1 small red cabbage shredded

  • 2 red onions, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder

  • 1 tablespoon dried dill

  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley

  • 2 cloves of garlic

  • 1 tablespoon of rock salt

  • 1/4 cup cashew butter

  • 1 red onion, thin- half moon slices

Bring water to a boil in a large soup pot. Add the cabbage and onions, along with the coriander and cayenne powders, dried dill, parsley and salt. Lightly crush the garlic cloves with a hand stone and remove the skin. Add the lightly crushed cloves of garlic to the soup mixture. Cover and simmer on medium heat for 35 minutes, until onions are practically dissolved. Add cashew butter and stir the soup until it dissolves. Garnish the hot soup with thinly sliced red onions remove from heat, cover and let sit for 5 minutes. Serve hot with a heaping dollop of Millet Supreme.

Millet Supreme (serves 4)

  • 3 1/2 cups water

  • 2 cups millet

  • 1/4 cup fresh peas

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon ajwain seeds

  • 1 teaspoon rock salt

  • 1 tablespoon sunflower oil

  • 1/4 cup currents

  • 1/2 cup roasted almonds, slivered

  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Bring water to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan. Thoroughly was the millet and add to boiling water, along with the peas, turmeric, cumin powder, ajwain seeds and salt. Cover and simmer on medium heat for 20 minutes. Heat the oil in a small skillet, and add the currants and almonds. Stir for another few minutes until currants begin to swell. Add the lemon juice. Add to the millet, and continue cooking for 10 minutes more. Serve warm.

 

 

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.

 

Easy Summer Pitta Pacifying Recipes

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One of the delights of summer is the joyful abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables tumbling off the grocery shelves. According to Ayurveda, sweet fruits and bitter greens help pacify Pitta dosha.  According to the scientific community (and our own common sense) fruits and veggies also protect us from falling ill.

A recent international research study conducted by the University of Adelaide found that people who consumed a diet high in fruit, vegetables and certain grains had a lower risk of developing not just one but multiple chronic conditions including anemia, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, diabetes, arthritis, hepatitis, coronary heart disease, asthma, stroke, fracture and cancer. The study found that people who eat a higher amount of fruit are less likely to develop any chronic disease, while a high intake of vegetables helps prevent people with one chronic disease from developing a second. Here are some delightful Pitta Pacifying recipes to try this summer!

Cooling Mint Tea
1 cup fresh peppermint leaves
1 quart boiling water
1 quart room temperature water
2 teaspoons sweetener

Pour the quart of boiling water over the mint leaves. Cover and let steep for 20 minutes. Strain the tea into a pitcher or glass jar. Add cool water sweeteners. If you are adding honey, make sure the water has cooled down first. This is a great drink for aiding digestion. Drink at room temperature for maximum assimilation. Remember that iced and chilled drinks dampen our digestive fires, making it difficult to properly digest our food.

Asparagus and /or carrots with lemon-herb sauce
Steam your chosen amounts of asparagus and/or carrots to the point where they are "fork-friendly". This means a bit more than al dente but not soft or mushy. Then pour the following lemon-herb sauce over the vegetables.

Lemon-Herb Sauce: Juice one lemon. Add a pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon of honey (use only unheated honey). Mix together in a blender with a few leaves of fresh basil and mint. Puree until smooth.

Cucumber Raita
This side dish goes well with dal, rice, curries and other Indian dishes.
Combine in a mixing bowl:
1 cup fresh yogurt
1/4 cup cucumber (peel and dice finely_
1 tablespoon ginger root, peeled and grated
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro (the leaves of the coriander plant)
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
salt to taste

Dandelion Salad
If your lawn is full of dandelions, stop complaining and start picking. Dandelions are one of the most nutrient-dense plants you can eat. Their leaves, when young and tender, have a slightly bitter taste like arugula. The older the pant, the more bitter the greens. Before you start picking, be sure that the yard in which the dandelions are growing has not been treated with chemicals.
1 cup dandelion greens, washed and dried
8 large leaves of butter lettuce, washed and dried
1/2 cup feta cheese or goat cheese, chopped or crumbled.

Dressing
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/8 cup olive oil
sweetener to taste (just a bit is needed)
1 tomato chopped
fresh basil
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Boiling the dandelion greens is better for older, larger leaves as it removes their bitterness. Some even recommend boiling the older greens twice: once for 2 minutes, drain and boil again for 2 minutes.


For information on consultations with Ayurveda experts or to take a dosha quiz and discover your individual mind/body type, visit us at our clinic or online.

 

 

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.

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.

Tips for Vata Yoga

People with Vata derangement typically move quickly, sometimes with little awareness, and often push themselves harder than their bodies can take. Vata dosha is characterized by the qualities cold, mobility, lightness and expansiveness. A yoga practice for a Vata individual should be one creating warmth, serenity and nourishment. Vatas can cultivate this by following some basic guidelines:

  • Practice at a slow, smooth and steady pace.
  • Explore fluidity in your poses. Use gentle movements such as spinal and pelvic undulation, rotation in the joints, counter-poses, and flexion and extension.
  • Hold each posture for a short amount of time, but do multiple repetitions.
  • Draw into and move from your power center or hara. The hara is the area below the navel and above the pubic bone.
  • Focus on the foundation of the pose to create stability.
  • Internally rotate the femurs and press into the outer edges of your legs.
  • As you move, imagine you are moving through a substance like warm water or warm mud.
  • Focus on lengthening your inhalation.
  • Stay connected to the earth. Ground down through your big toes.
  • Fix your gaze below or at the horizon.
  • Engage your entire body by hugging your muscles to the bones.
  • Do not over extend or deplete yourself. Your practice should be strengthening, not draining. Vatas easily exhaust themselves and when the vata imbalance becomes severe, a restorative practice is best.
  • Be present in your practice.
  • Stay warm.
  • Conclude your practice with a long relaxation.

When Vata has gone out of balance, too much air has accumulated in the mind, body, environment. The result is a sense of un-groundedness. The best way to balance excess Vata is to bring more earth and stability into the physiology. Think relaxing.

  • Go to bed and awaken at the same time every day.
  • Meditate twice a day to quiet the mind.
  • Practice yoga to connect with your body.
  • Wear relaxing fragrances.
  • Eat three meals per day and favor, sweet, sour and salty taste.
  • Perform a slow daily self massage with warm Relaxing herbalized oils.
  • Drink Relaxing herbal tea.
  • Look for opportunities to create rhythm and routine in your life.
  • Finish things once you start them.

Ayurvedic Fasting

"The greatest discovery by modern man is the power to rejuvenate himself physically, mentally , and spiritually with rational fasting." 


Fasting is considered to be an important medicine in Ayurveda, as long as it is not a long term fast that would deplete the individual. It is natures ancient, universal "remedy" for numerous ailments. It is a way to expel ama (toxic build up) from our digestive system, thus strengthening the immune system. 

In our modern time, we are bombarded with many new trends of fasting, juice cleansing, lemon fast, water fast, the list goes on. Its hard to know what is right or not. In Ayurveda, there is no "one sizes fits all" approach to fasting, and some of these popular fast, can actually be detrimental to many, as it is not suited to their unique constitution. A fast that may be good for one person, will not be good for the next. It is important to take you constitution into consideration when choosing a fast. 

Fasting in a larger context, means to abstain from that which is toxic to the mind, body, and soul. A way to understand this is that fasting is the elimination of physical, emotional, and mental toxins from our organism, rather then simply cutting down or stopping food intake. Fasting for spiritual purposes usually involves some degree of removal of oneself from worldly responsibilities. It can mean complete silence and social isolation durning the fast which can be a great revival to those of us who have been putting our energy outward.When fasting with a spiritual intent, one withdraws from everything that is toxic to the mind, body and spirit. This allows the mind to become freer, to merge into higher states of spiritual communion and releases ama of the mind and the body. 

Ayurvedic fasting is an effective way to kindle the digestive fire and burn away accumulated toxins from the body and mind. It also eliminates gas, makes the body light, improves mental clarity, and preserves overall health. Ayurveda favors regular, short-term fasting over infrequent, long-term fasting. This could entail fasting on the same day each week or setting a few days aside each month to fast, depending on your constitution and cleansing requirements. Ayurveda suggests that  a more extended fasting is best at the change of each season. According to Ayurveda, fasting for up to a week can cause metabolic disorders that can take months to bring back to balance. 

In determining the appropriate type and length of a fast, it’s important to take into account your constitution, digestive strength, level of ama, and overall vitality. It’s never advised to deplete your energy during a fast. If you’re new to fasting or have a chronic illness, we recommend consulting an Ayurvedic practitioner for specifically tailored guidance.

If you are of vata constitution you should never fast on water or any other severely restricted diet nor should you fast for more then two days. Consuming light foods such as kitchari and kanjee, is a good option for the vata constitution. Vata constitution can fast once a month, or at the change of seasons. 

Pitta individuals can fast on liquids, such as, fruit or vegetable juices, broths or lightly cooked vegetables, but never on water alone. Pitta should never skip on quantity. Ideally its good for them to dilute fruit juices, like prunes, grape or pomegranate, or cucumber juice, which is both astringent and bitter in taste, and should avoid strong sour tasting juices. Fast can last 2-3 days and it is best suggested to fast only 4 times a year at the change of the seasons. If you are of vata-pitta constitution please add kitchari to your fast or focus more on grounding vegetable broths. 

Kapha individuals can easily do prolonged water fasts if they so chose. Otherwise, they many use raw juices or warm vegetable broths. For Kapha people to maintain a good strong digestion, it would be healthy for them to do weekly fasts, picking one day each week to fast. Kapha types should avoid strong tasting sweet and sour juices.  

Sipping warm teas throughout the day is also a highly effective way to flush out accumulated toxins from the body. Simply place the ingredients in a medium saucepan with 4 cups filtered water, bring the water to a boil for 5 minutes, and then steep for 2 to 5 minutes. Always add the lemon while the tea is steeping. Strain into a tea pot or thermos.

1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon coriander seeds
1 cinnamon or licorice stick 
10 fresh basil leaves 
Squeeze lemon juice

Simple fresh ginger tea and a squeeze of lemon is a good option as well. 

Note: In juicing, please do not combine fruit and vegetables juices and only use up to 2 different fruits or 2 vegetables at a time. If this is not followed it can cause slow digestion, bloating, and  can reverse the effects of fasting. It’s best to choose a fasting period in which you’ll be able to follow a peaceful, non-stressful routine. We recommend following the daily and nightly routines of Ayurveda. It’s also important always to break your fasts properly. The most important rule to remember is to begin eating again gradually, slowly working your way up to solid foods.
 

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.

6 tastes of Ayurveda

According to Ayurveda, the sense of taste is a natural guide map towards proper nutrition. Ayurveda identifies six taste by which all foods can be categorized: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. By having a balance of the six tastes though out the day, all of your dosha have been given the nutrients needed to function correctly. In addition, including all six tastes in your diet contributes to feeling satisfied at the end of the meal and minimize cravings. Cravings are often caused by not having all of the six tastes in your daily diet. Many people omit the bitter and astringent tastes, but when having these tastes at the end of the meal, it reduces your desire for sweet, thus eat your salad at the end of each meal instead of the beginning.

The six tastes offer us a user-friendly guide map for how to nourish ourselves. Rather than looking at nutritional labels for X amount of protein or Y amount of carbohydrates, the six tastes naturally guide us towards our body’s dietary needs. Each taste feeds our mind, body, senses, and spirit in its unique way. From a modern nutritional perspective, the six Tastes satisfy each of the major nutritional building blocks. 

Sweet foods, for example, are rich in fats, proteins, carbohydrates, and water, whereas Bitter and Astringent foods are high in vitamins and minerals.

The brain sends the body signals when it requires energy in the form of food. By incorporating all six tastes into each meal, we ensure that these signals are adequately met, thus avoiding food cravings or the over-consumption of certain foods.

Including the six tastes in each meal doesn’t need to be a daunting task. Adding a squeeze of lemon to cooked dishes, for example, can quickly satisfy the sour taste, while adding a side salad will fulfill the bitter and astringent tastes. Examples of each tastes responsibility in the body and food sources are listed below:

Sweet (decreases Vata and Pitta, increases Kapha)- Builds tissues, calms nerves: grains, rice, bread, sweet fruit, beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes, milk, oils, meats, nuts.

Sour (decreases Vata, increases Pitta and Kapha)- Cleanses tissues, increases absorption of minerals: citrus fruits, yogurt, alcohol, vinegar, cheese, tomato, raspberries, strawberries.

Salty (decreases Vata, increases Pitta and Kapha)- Improves taste to food, lubricates tissues, stimulates digestion: Natural salts, sea vegetables.

Bitter (increases Vata, decreases Pitta and Kapha)- Detoxifies and lightens tissues: coffee, rhubarb, turmeric, most green and yellow veggies, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, leafy greens, cabbage.

Pungent (increases Vata and Pitta, decreases Kapha) Stimulates digestion and metabolism:  garlic, onion, ginger, wasabi, black pepper, cloves, cayenne pepper, horseradish, salsa, jalapenos.

Astringent (increases Vata, decreases Pitta and Kapha): Absorbs water, tighten tissues, dries fat: fruit peels, unripe banana, leafy greens, blueberries, cranberries, beans, legumes, peas, green tea.