Thousands of years ago, before mainstream medicine recognized the connection between mind and body healing, the sages of India created Ayurveda – a natural and powerful system built to sustain our quality of life. Ayur means life, while veda means knowledge. The two main principles of Ayurveda are 1. that the mind and the body are connected, and 2. that nothing can heal and transform the body more than the power of consciousness.1
Ayurveda is made up of three fundamental energies or seasons, known as the tridoshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These doshas influence our inner and outer environments through movement, transformation and structure, and each is governed by two of the five elements: air, fire, water and earth.
Vata is composed of air and earth, and is most pronounced in the fall through early winter. Its character is cold, dry and light, and controls all movement within the body, such as breathing, blinking and thinking. Healthy Vata promotes creativity and flexibility, and avoids the counter effects of fear and anxiety.2
Pitta is made of fire and water and typically occurs during the hottest days of summer into early fall. It is light, hot and oily, and controls all bodily functions related to digestion, metabolism and energy levels. When balanced, it promotes understanding and intelligence, but when off kilter, it arouses anger, jealousy and inflammation.2
Kapha includes earth and water during the coldest parts of winter and extends all the way to spring. Its qualities are cold, heavy and damp, and it helps maintain everything in our body from bones and muscles, to our cells. When Kapha is stable, we feel calm, loving and forgiving, but when out of sync, we feel attachment and greed.2
To stay healthy and avoid illness, it’s helpful to become attentive and understand the features of each season (which is actually a lot easier than it sounds). We all have a unique combination of the three doshas, one being the strongest during certain times of the year. When we focus on equanimity and meditate, we expand our awareness, quieting the mind and restoring our sense of wellness. This mindfulness also slows down our heart rate and breath, allowing our bodies to release less cortisol and adrenaline (also known as stress hormones) and increase neurotransmitters that naturally enhance serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin and endorphins.1
Currently, we are entering the phase of Pitta. As we transition out of the hottest days of summer and into the beginning of fall, we have the opportunity to adapt our nutrition and lifestyle based upon the new season. Consider activities that are cooling, sweet and stabilizing. Here are 8 ways to help sustain us in Pitta:3
- Find time to rest and be active. Meditate.
- Practice yoga, specifically seated posed and releasing forward bends.
- Don't skip a meal or control portions.
- Eat foods that are sweet and refreshing.
- Spend time in nature.
- Ingest coconut and olive oils.
- Wear lighter colors and keep your body cool.
- Focus on beauty and laughter.
- Surround yourself with fresh aromas.
We can achieve and maintain wellness by identifying and understanding our mind-body types, creating a lifestyle that supports our unique nature. To find out more about your dosha, visit Deepak Chopra’s site here.
"When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need." – Ayurvedic Proverb