ayurveda healing

Nourish your spirit with Ayurveda healing

To end week 1, we will focus on nourishing your spirit through Ayurveda healing. This is an ancient Indian holistic health practice and system of medicine. At it’s heart, Ayurveda has the principle of understanding your individual constitution. There are then many practices to maintain balance through appropriate diet, exercise and lifestyle choices as well as herbal medicine.

It takes many years of study to become an Ayurveda healing practitioner, however there are some simple principles that I have learnt through yoga teacher training which I will share with you today!

Ayurveda healing and the spirit

I love that Well College Global include an introduction to Ayurveda healing as part of their personal wellness course. Even for those who are not interested in yoga or Eastern philosophy, there is so much to be learned about the world and yourself through the lens of Ayurveda. It helps us to understand that we are part of something greater and that we are all unique expressions of nature. Instead of judging and critisising ourselves, we can learn to self-reflect with curiosity and live in a way that brings out our best self.

Understanding your Ayurveda healing constitution

There are three main life forces or doshas according to the Ayurveda healing system: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. All of us as individuals are made up of a combination of these forces which relate to the five basic elements and their qualities.

a) Vata consists of the elements air and ether

b)Pitta is made up of fire and water

c) Kapha is governed by the elements earth and water.

These combinations give rise to qualities such as cold, hot, dry, oily, quick, slow, sharp, dense and light which are expressed in all of nature, including us as human beings. Typically we have one or two doshas whose qualities clearly dominate our physical, mental and emotional tendencies.

I explained the doshas in more detail as well as how to identify your own constitution in the post What is your Ayurveda body type?. Learning about your true nature helps you to accept who you are and know that you are part of the beautiful tapestry of life! It eliminates comparison with others and helps you to appreciate your own strengths and make the most of them.

Adapting your lifestyle for Ayurveda healing

Once you understand your constitution, you can adapt your lifestyle to restore or maintain balance. This is empowering information as no longer will you listen to external sources telling you exactly what you need. Instead you will be able to tune into your own inner knowing. This is Ayurveda healing at it’s core!

There is simply no one true way to live that supports everyone. People can thrive on many different diets, exercise routines, work styles, family life etc. We all have different needs, personalities, preferences and once we understand these we can work with them rather than against them to increase our energy and vitality.

Understanding your constitution also helps you to observe imbalances as the difference between your natural and your current state. If there are imbalances present, this is the first step on the path to disease. Ayurveda teaches to identify imbalances and remedy through lifestyle changes to avoid more serious illness and to create a state of wellness.

Ayurveda healing practices can be used to:

  1. Maintain a healthy balance of the doshas, as per your natural constitution
  2. Correct any imbalances which could later lead to disease

To understand this, we focus on the idea that like creates like. For example, adopting a lifestyle with vata-like qualities will increase vata dosha in your system. If you naturally experience high vata, you want to make lifestyle choices which balance out this dosha by increasing the qualities of the other doshas. We always want to avoid extremes and maintain a sense of balance.

Lifestyle to support Vata dosha

Vata dominant individuals are spontaneous and creative but tend to experience cold and dryness in their body as well as a chaotic mental state. Therefore, it is best to make lifestyle choices that are warming, grounding and calming.

DIET: Consume warming and easily digestible foods including dairy, oils, salt and sugar and avoid excess raw vegetables

MOVEMENT: Keep a consistent movement routine including calming, grounding practices such as yoga, tai chi and gentle walking

ENVIRONMENT: Avoid excessively cold and dry or windy environments

MINDSET: Practice grounding meditations and body scan techniques to get out of your head and into your body

SLEEP: Focus on a relaxing evening routine to calm an erratic or anxious mind before sleep

Lifestyle to support Pitta dosha

Pitta dominant individuals are energetic and ambitious but can be quick to over heat and anger as well as experience excessive acidity in the body. Therefore, they want to make lifestyle choices which are cooling, calming and promote moderation.

DIET: Choose foods which have a bitter or (natural) sweet tastes and avoid excess spicy, oily or salty foods. Stay hydrated and avoid excess coffee.

MOVEMENT: Get plenty of movement, especially in the morning hours to burn excess energy. Strength training is great for pitta types

ENVIRONMENT: Avoid excessive hot sun or humidity and try to keep the body cool

MINDSET: Practice calming breathing techniques and avoid heated conflict or unnecessary anger

SLEEP: May need less sleep than other doshas but avoid working in the evening hours and minimise stress which can impact sleep

Lifestyle to support Kapha dosha

Kapha dominant individuals are calm, steady and reliable but can fall into the trap of laziness or stagnation. Lifestyle choices which support dynamic energy flow and a feeling of lightness are supportive

DIET: Opt for lighter foods including lot’s of vegetables and raw greens and avoid over-doing it with heavy foods and sweets as these increase kapha qualities

MOVEMENT: Move in a way that increases the flow of energy and reduces stagnation in the body e.g. cardio outdoors in the fresh air

ENVIRONMENT: Keep warm and dry, avoid overly chilly and damp environments

MINDSET: Focus on gratitude, trying new things and challenging your thoughts to avoid getting stuck in a rut

SLEEP: Try to keep a consistent sleep routine and avoid over sleeping or daily napping

Following a lifestyle adapted to your dosha as well as to the changing seasons and environment will support you in connecting your spirit and to nature.

Thank you to Well College Global, My Vinyasa Practice and the Ayurvedic Institute for inspiring this post!

Today’s challenge: Understand with your dosha and Ayurveda healing lifestyle

If you found this concept interesting, you can put it into practice by identifying your constitution. You can then make some simple changes to your lifestyle if you desire to support your being with Ayurveda healing and bring yourself into balance. I recommend taking the dosha quiz by Chopra as a starting point. Books by Vasant Lad and Sahara Rose are also great places to learn more!

If you’re interested in learning more about your constitution and which foods can support your health, I am a training Ayurvedic Nutritionist. I offer online and in person Ayurveda inspired nutrition consultations where you receive a detailed Ayurvedic assessment to identify your natural constitution and any imbalances. I then prepare a tailored program of diet, yoga and lifestyle practices to improve your health.

Over to you…

If you would like to work with me to balance your hormones and improve your health, contact me to set up a free 15 minute discovery call. I am a nutritionist, yoga teacher and women’s wellness coach. We work together using a combination of modalities to support your individual needs and help you to feel your best.

  • Please like this post and share to support my business
  • If you liked this post, follow my blog or subscribe by email to receive updates on new content
  • Follow me on Instagram and Facebook for daily updates and inspiration

ayurveda body type

What is your ayurveda body type?

For the last five years I have been deepening my yoga practice and learning more through my teacher training courses. Alongside this, I began to study and practice Ayurveda, in particular Ayurvedic Nutrition. This is an ancient Indian system of medicine which runs parallel to yoga. Ayurveda body type analysis is used to characterise individuals according to body type and personality traits. Ayurvedic nutrition involves eating to maintain balance for your particular constitution.

Your Ayurveda body type is described in terms of three doshas: vata, pitta and kapha. Each dosha relates to a combination of the elements of air, water, fire, earth and ether. As a result, each dosha has specific qualities. This leads to recognizable characteristics in body and mind. Take a look at the image below for a visual representation of the three doshas.

ayurveda body type

Ayurveda body types in detail

Vata dosha dominant

Qualities: light, dry, erratic, cold, spacey

Physical characteristics: petite frame, struggles to gain weight, drier skin and hair, pointed features, crooked teeth, runs cold and rarely sweats

Mental/emotional characteristics: nervous energy, creative, spontaneous, flighty, distracted

Common imbalances: anxiety, constipation, asthma, restlessness, poor circulation, joint issues

Pitta dosha dominant

Qualities: hot, oily, fiery, sharp, quick, pungent

Physical characteristics: medium frame, muscular, runs hot, strong digestion and metabolism, oily skin and hair, freckles and moles, sweats a lot

Mental/emotional characteristics: ambitious, driven, intelligent, passionate

Common imbalance symptoms: acne, rashes, heartburn, inflammation, excess heat, irritability

Kapha dosha dominant

Qualities: cold, damp, slow, earthy, dense

Physical characteristics: larger frame, gain weight easily, soft skin, thick hair, large eyes, straight teeth

Mental/emotional characteristics: steady, reliable, loyal, caring, compassionate

Common imbalance symptoms: lethargy, depression, loneliness, weight gain, excess mucus, sluggish digestion, emotional eating

We are all made up of all three doshas in different combinations but it is typical to have one or two dominant doshas. Does one particularly stand out for you and describe you to the T? Maybe you relate to one in your physical body and a different one in your mental and emotional bodies? Or perhaps you feel that you have a balance between all three doshas. This is known in Ayurveda is tri-doshic and although it is less common it does sometimes occur.

Note that this is a very simplified description of the three Ayurveda body types. If you are interested, you can take an Ayurveda body type quiz to help you identify which doshas are dominant in your physical and mental characteristics. I also recommend this book as a good introduction to Ayurveda with some practical lifestyle tips and Ayurvedic remedies.

Ayurveda body type imbalances

Ayurveda describes all disease as a state of imbalance between the body, mind, spirit and the natural environment. Living out of sync with your Ayurveda body type can lead to dysfunction or disease. We are born with a particular balance of the doshas which is known as our Prakruti. The lifestyle that we choose and the changing external environment can disrupt this natural balance. The combination of the doshas in your current state is known as your Vikruti. Ideally, you want your current state to match your natural balance.

There are two ways you might fall out balance with your natural state:

1. Imbalance in primary dosha

The first is by following a lifestyle or living in an environment that aggravates your dominant dosha. For example, assume your Ayurveda body type is vata dominant. If the climate you live in is also high in vata qualities (cold, dry, light, erratic) then you might start to experience vata-related symptoms such as anxiety, chills, dry skin and hair.

If your Ayurveda body type is already pitta dominant and you consume a diet high in pitta qualities (hot, oily, fiery), you might suffer from pitta-related conditions such as heartburn or excessive anger. You can avoid this by adopting a lifestyle which pacifies your dominant dosha to maintain balance.

2. Imbalance in non-dominant doshas

The second is if your lifestyle causes an imbalance in any of your non-dominant doshas. For example, my Ayurveda body type at birth was a dominant pitta dosha. I am naturally quite athletic with a medium build, I gain muscle easily and have a strong digestion and metabolism. Typically I am driven, enthusiastic and a logical thinker.

However, at different times in my life, I have experienced imbalances in both vata and kapha doshas due to diet, exercise and other lifestyle factors. In both case I needed to follow a pitta promoting lifestyle to regain my natural balance. Again, this can be avoiding by understanding your natural Ayurveda body type and adopting a lifestyle which supports this balance of the doshas.

Ayurvedic nutrition

Ayurvedic nutrition involves eating a specific diet to regain or maintain a healthy balance. All foods have qualities which relate to the three doshas. Vata foods are those which are cold, rough, dry or light. Pitta foods are hot, oily, spicy or pungent. Kapha foods are dense, heavy cool or moist. The imbalance symptoms described earlier occur when you eat a diet that is out of line with your Ayurveda body type and the environment that you live in.

Instinctively, we already know this. As the seasons change, if we are listening to our bodies we feel inclined to also change our diets accordingly. In the summer we crave light and cooling foods to balance the hot, pitta energy. As the autumn arrives bringing chilly temperatures and vata energy in the form of wind, we crave hearty soups and stews to keep us warm and hydrated. In the late winter and spring, we might notice that too many kapha qualities foods such as dairy or sweets increase mucus and we turn towards pitta stimulating spices to ease congestion.

As part of my nutrition consultations I always consider your Ayurvedic body type and current constitution when creating your personalised nutrition plan. I do not believe in one-size fits all nutrition! I believe in connecting to your intuition, becoming mindful of how the foods you eat impact your body and making conscious food choices to maintain balance. There is something extremely empowering about learning what, when and how to eat to suit your unique constitution.

Awareness and understanding bring power. Ayurveda helps us to realise our connection to the natural world around us and see that we too are made up of the five elements of earth, water, fire, earth and ether. It acknowledges (as in yoga) that we are not just physical beings in a material body but that we also have energetic, mental and spiritual bodies that make up our overall sense of being.

You don’t need to be “spiritual” per se to practice and experience the benefits of Ayurvedic lifestyle and nutrition practices. But in my opinion is does give a much more interesting way to look at food than as an equation of calories and macros.

Over to you…

If you would like to work with me to balance your hormones and improve your health, contact me to set up a free 15 minute discovery call. I am a nutritionist, yoga teacher and women’s wellness coach. We work together using a combination of modalities to support your individual needs and help you to feel your best.

  • Please like this post and share to support my business
  • If you liked this post, follow my blog or subscribe by email to receive updates on new content
  • Follow me on Instagram and Facebook for daily updates and inspiration