I did mention a couple of weeks ago that during my yoga teacher training course we covered a little bit of Ayurveda, it was only a brief overview but I did promise to share a bit about it with you. The first thing to get to is what Ayurveda is, in its simplest form it is an ancient form of medicine that originated in India. It works on many of the same principles as Chines medicine in that it treats the person rather than the condition and works on how energy flows around the body and how it is blocked.
In terms of treating the whole person Ayurvedic medicine has 3 personality categories called Doshas. It is thought that the balance of the 3 Doshas in each person is determined at conception and based on their parents. Having said that activities during your life can change the balance of the Doshas but at the core you will remain the same as at conception. The 3 Doshas are:
1. Vata Dosha – this Dosha is associated with movement and change and people where this dosha predominates with be full of creativity and the type of person that is always on the go. The people who have their vata dosaha in balance will be lean, lively and enthusiastic. If it become out of balance a person my become over active with little control and have weight loss due to skipping meals. Mentally they may suffer from anxiety and insomnia.
2. Pitta Dosha – this dosha is associated with transformation and metabolism. If this dosha predominates a person will have a healthy appetite and find digesting food and information easy. Pitta people are the competitive type and can easily become irritated and angry when out of balance.
3. Kapha Dosha – this dosha is associated with structure and fluidity and if this dosha is the dominant one the a person with will be reliable and content. However if out of balance people with this as their main dosha may find they easily gain weight and can become sluggish and lazy as well as stubborn and stuck in their ways.
Although we all have bits of these elements in our personality it is also important to know that the day is split into 4 hour segments each of which corresponds to one of the Doshas. This relationship between times of the day and the doshas is why it is important to get a daily routine that will bring you into balance and stop any of them from taking control of you during the day.
Between 6 and 10 the dominant dosha is Kapha and this can leave you feeling quite sluggish and difficult to get started. The later you rise during these hours in the morning the harder it will be. Plus it is also a good idea to do thing that will energise you can get you moving. Between 10 and 2 the dominant dosha is Pitta when you might feel quite energised so doing things that cool and calm can be beneficial. Plus this is when you digestion and metabolism will be working best so it is a great time to eat your main meal. Between the hours of 2 and 6 the Vata dosha is dominant so this is the best time to focus the mind.
This leads us on to a more detailed routine that can help get you through the day. I have to say that this is what was advised to me on my yoga teacher training so my advice would be to try it and see what works for you. I have implemented some of these things into my daily life and some not. The other thing to remember is there will be some days when you cannot stick to them, don’t worry we are all human and do the best we can:
- Rise at 6.00am (or at least as close to this as possible)
- Have a drink of Lemon Water (I like to add a bit of fresh ginger too)
- Practise Jala Neti (this is passing salty water through the nostrils)
- Asana Practise (or exercise of your choice)
- Pranayama/breathing exercise (Lion breath is one of my favourites)
- Meditation (it does not need to be long, 5-10 mins or longer if you want)
- Self Massage (If you are Kapha dominant use no oil, if Pitta dominant use coconut oil or Vata use sesame oil.)
- Breakfast (this should be a light meal that is seasonal, for example vegan yoghurt with fruit and nuts is ideal)
- Eat your main meal at lunch (should be seasonal and substantial)
- Do your mental focused work in the afternoon.
- Eat a light meal in the evening.
- Relax and unwind between 6 and 10.
- Massage hands and feet at bedtime.
- Being in bed and well relaxed at 10pm is a good idea as at 10pm the day goes back into Pitta and you can easily get involved in activities.
All of this was taught to us by Anu who founded Jivita Ayurveda in Kensal Rise, London. She is a highly experienced Ayurveda practitioner with a calming voice and kind heart.