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What’s my Dosha?

What’s my dosha? is a rather complex question, because every living creature is composed of all five elements and all three doshas– vata, pitta and kapha.  Each of the ayurvedic constitutions (doshas) have distinct attributes and responsibilities in the body. You cannot survive without them. This said, we are not one-third vata, one-third pitta and one-third kapha. There is an infinite number of doshic combinations and no two individuals are exactly the same.  We all have a unique balance that makes me, me and you, you. One’s essential nature is inherited from our parents and does not change.  This is Prakruti.

When we are healthy and balanced, we experience the favorable qualities of the doshas and our Prakruti is revealed. When we are imbalanced or sick, we experience Vikruti, the shadow or unfavourable qualities of the doshas.  Vikruti (imbalance state) can also be inherited from our parents and grandparents. Since we only treat vikurti in Ayurveda, what’s important to determine are what doshas are out of balance. Why? Because we don’t fix what ain’t broke!

Here’s how to tell when a dosha is out of balance:

VATA (air & space)

Vata character when balanced

•  Vibrant, lively, enthusiastic
•  Clear and alert mind – fast learner
•  Flexible
•  Adaptability
•  Imaginative, creative, artistic
•  Sensitive/ clairvoyant
•  Talkative, energetic, quick to respond
•  Social butterfly

What aggravates Vata 

•  Irregular routine – irregular meals & sleep
•  Staying up late
•  Multi-tasking & excessive mental work
•  Cold, dry weather
•  Bitter, astringent, pungent or cold food
•  Traveling, injury, trauma
* Bitter emotions like grief or astringent emotions like fear, aggravate Vata. 

When out of balance – Symptom –> Pain

•  Restless, unsettled, forgetfulness
•  Light interrupted sleep, insomnia
•  Tendency to overexert then crash
•  Fatigued, stiff, dryness
•  Anxious, worried, lonely, depressed, unstable
•  Underweight, malnutrition
•  Poor digestion, gas, bloating, constipation

Conditions: arthritis, dehydration, mental illness, anorexia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease

To balance Vata – Calm & soothe

•  Create routine for meals, work & sleep
•  Favour warmth & rest
•  Reduce stress, travel, disturbing sounds & loud music
•  Favour warm lubricating, nourishing food
•  Favour soft colors, calming music
•  Gentle flowing yoga & restorative poses
•  Guided meditation & rest

PITTA (Fire & water)

 Pitta character when balanced

•  Warm, loving, passionate, contented
•  Enjoys challenges, motivated
•  Strong digestion & immunity
•  Lustrous complexion
•  Good concentration
•  Articulate and precise speech
•  Courageous, bold
•  Sharp wit, intelligent, focused

What aggravates Pitta 

•  Excessive heat or exposure to the sun
•  Alcohol, smoking, drugs
•  Time pressure, deadlines, competition
•  Excessive activity – physical or mental
•  Too much spicy, sour or salty food
•  Skipping meals
* Sour emotions like envy or pungent emotions like anger, aggravate Pitta

When out of balance – Symptom à Inflammation

•  Demanding, aggressive, perfectionist
•  Tendency towards frustration, anger
•  Tendency towards skin irritation & infection
•  Extreme hunger, allergies
•  Prematurely gray hair /early hair loss

Conditions: ulcers, heart burn, IBS, OCD, high blood pressure, acne, liver issues, addiction, hypoglycaemia, auto-immune diseases
To balance Pitta – Refresh & release tension
 •  Reduce stimulants, spicy foods and pressure
•  Favour coolness, leisure, natural beauty, rest  & moderation
•  Favour sweet, bitter & astringent taste
•  Work on letting go of anger & cleanse blood
•  Gentle yoga in nature with some challenge
•  Mantra meditation & rest

KAPHA (earth & water) 

Kapha character when balanced 

•  Affectionate, compassionate
•  Nurturing, calm, relaxed
•  Forgiving, loyal, Emotionally steady
•  Good listener & good memory
•  Slow, methodical, reliable
•  Strong stamina
•  Natural resistance to sickness
•  Soft skin, melodious voice

What aggravates Kapha

•  Oversleeping
•  Overeating
•  Insufficient exercise
•  Too little variety in life
•  Heavy, unctuous foods
•  Too much sweet, sour or salty food
•  Cold, wet weather
* Sweet emotions like desire, or salty emotions like greed, aggravate Kapha.

When out of balance – Symptom –> Swelling

•  Complacent, dull, boring
•  Sluggish, lethargic, lazy, no ambition
•  Oily hair & skin
•  Coughing, phlegm, congestion
•  Slow digestion & metabolism
•  Heavy, overweight, emotional eater
•  Possessive, over attached, needy
•  Tendency to oversleep

Conditions: obesity, chronic fatigue, kidney issues, blocked arteries, diabetes, growths (tumors)

To balance Kapha – Motivate & encourage

•  Reduce sweets & heavy food
•  Regular exercise – daily
•  Favour stimulation, new experiences, variety
•  Sleep less, eat small meals & let go
•  Favour pungent, bitter & astringent taste.
•  Active, invigorating & stimulating yoga
•  Mantra meditation or walking meditation

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10 Ways to Improve Digestion

In Ayurveda, yoga’s sister science, proper digestion is paramount to health. When digestion is optimal, we say that agni or the digestive fire is balanced. Our metabolic and immunity systems become stronger, we are energetic, we sleep well, we eliminate properly and we maintain a steady weight. When digestion is weak, we can experience any or all of the following:  gas, bloating, mood swings, weight gain, fatigue, constipation, diarrhea, congestion, sleeplessness, low libido, inflammation, emancipation, heart burn and in serious cases, anemia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), crohn’s disease or diabetes.

Here are some tips on how to improve your digestion, increase your metabolism and strengthen your immunity system:

  1. Start your morning with a glass of warm water. It helps to get the system going.
  2. Eat only when you are hungry. If you aren’t hungry,  your body isn’t ready for food and you will have difficulty digesting.
  3. Don’t wait to eat. Hunger is sign that there are enough digestive juices (acid) in the body to assimilate food. The body will hold this acid in the small intestine for approximately 30 minutes, after which it will be transferred to the colon and reabsorbed into the blood stream. Overtime, this can increase our general acidity.
  4. Create a routine for meals. This may seem to contradict #2 & #3, but if you make a point of eating at the same time everyday, your body will adjust and thrive with the regularity. (This is particularly important for Vata & Pitta doshas.)
  5. Take time to digest. Avoid eating until the previous meal has been digested. Allow approximately three to six hours between meals.
  6. Snacking should be reserved for when you are very hungry between meals. Constant ‘mindless munching’ strains the digestive system.
  7. Fruit is best eaten at room temperature and alone. It digests quickly and therefore, eating fruit with other foods slows its assimilation and causes it to ferment in the gut, creating gas and bloating.  (For these reasons, fruit should never be eaten with a meal or for dessert.)
  8. Avoid iced beverages or food. Cold food amd drinks decreases the strength of our agni (digestive fire) and interferes with digestion.
  9. Eat until you are three-quarters full. You don’t want to leave the table very hungry or very full. Too much food overwhelms our agni.
  10. Practice food sadhana or mindfulness when eating. Enjoy your meals in a settled, quiet atmosphere. Always sit to eat and take time for gratitude. This helps you relax and digest better. Working, reading, watching TV or excessive talking during meals create distractions for your mind and body. This hinders your ability to know when your hunger is satisfied.

BONUS:  We are each a unique composition of elements. Understanding what the best foods are for your individual constitution or dosha will help you achieve your specific health goals and stick to your New Year’s resolutions. Whether you want to loose weight, improve digestion or increase your energy level, an ayurvedic practitioner can assist you in addressing your needs.

 

Yasmin_BIOpic_web_squareMy ayurvedic practice
As an ayurvedic practitioner, I work with people simply wanting to enhance their health as well as with doctors and their patients with serious conditions like cancer, diabetes and heart disease. I design tailored food and lifestyle programs for each client. These programs may also include herbs, yoga, breathing, meditation and other exercises. Although my practice is based in Montreal, I have a satellite office in the West Island and I give consultations online via Skype.

Click here for more information about my ayurvedic services.

Contact me: hello @ yasminyoga.com

 

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Green Juices for Vata, Pitta & Kapha

There’s nothing like a great green juice to help purify your body, rejuvenate your energy and refresh your palate. If you need a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, coffee doesn’t stand a chance next to a glass of swamp water like this!

Here are some of the many benefits of green juices:

• Easier to digest and assimilate that whole vegetables, these juices are rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals;
• High in vitamin K, which plays a significant role in blood clotting, cellular structure, absorption of calcium and the formation of healthy bones;*
• High in magnesium, which maintains the nervous system, supports the heart and regulates calcium, copper, zinc, potassium, and vitamin D;
• Pitta balancing, since green juice is alkaline, thus reducing inflammation by lowering acidity in the body;
• Bitter green veggies like bok choi, collard, dandelion and kale, are great for diabetics and Kapha people, because they lower blood sugar and slow sugar cravings;
• Super high in chlorophyll, which detoxifies the liver, stimulates the production of healthy blood, and increases the immunity system;
• Improves skin by clearing acne, rosacea, and redness on skin;
• Powerful source of antioxidants that helps create an oxygen-rich environment in the body, so cancer cells cannot survive.

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Green juice Recipe for Vata
Handful of Spinach
3-4 branches of rainbow swiss chard
1-2 Lebanese cucumber (without seeds)
Wedge of lemon with peel
1/2″ piece of ginger
1-2 apple or pear
pinch of cinnamon

Vata, being the dosha with the most temperamental digestion, needs to add a few warming ingredients, like ginger and cinnamon, to their green juice. It’s also highly recommended, for vata people especially, to skim the foam off (foam causes gas), and dilute the juice with warm or hot water– 50% juice and 50% water. Only one cup of this blend should be taken at a time. Preserve the rest of the juice in a sealed container in the fridge.

Green juice Recipe for Pitta
3-5 branches of kale, swiss chard or collard
1/2 English cucumber or 2 Lebanese cucumbers
1-2 celery stalks
Fresh mint leaves to taste
Wedge of lemon with peel
1 apple or pear or 1/2 beet
1 tbsp of aloe vera gel (optional)

Pitta people are prone to inflammation, skin irritations and high acidity, so this cooling green juice is amazing for them. Kale, swiss chard, collard and bok choi are better greens than broccoli and spinach, which are slightly warming. Mint and aloe vera are also cooling in nature and are beneficial for pitta as well. Although it changes the color of this recipe from green to murky brown, half a beet is a good alternative to apple or pear, as beets promote the flow of bile, which, in pitta, can get thick and sluggish. Dilute this recipe half juice, half room temperature water. Foam should be discarded.

Green juice Recipe for Kapha
3-4 branches of kale
2-3 branches of swiss chard or dandelion (for the brave)
1-2 celery stalks
1/2″ piece of ginger
1/2 apple
pinch of cayenne

Kapha people benefit from green juice, because its bitter quality reduces their tendency for sugar cravings, lowers blood sugar and can help them with weight management. Kapha has the slowest metabolism of the three doshas, so to help them digest this beverage, we’re adding ginger and a pinch of cayenne. Dilute the juice with a third warm or room temperature water. Only have a small glass at time. Too many liquids aren’t receommeded for kapha.

Notes:
There are many other wonderful green ingredients that can be juiced. Let your creativity flow. Broccoli, parsley, sprouts, lettuce, fennel and wheat grass are also great options. For dosha specific vegetables or fruits, you can ask me or consult your ayurvedic practitioner. There are also lots of online resources you can use. Here’s a good guideline from Vasant Lad: www.ayurveda.com/pdf/food_guidelines.pdf

*Considerations:
People with arteriosclerosis, atherosclerosis and atheroma (conditions that can lead to coronary heart disease and stroke) must be cautious of taking too many vegetables high in vitamin K, as vitamin K promotes blood clotting.

Sources for more information on this topic:
http://www.hungryforchange.tv/sugar-is-a-drug
http://www.livestrong.com/article/271987-what-are-the-benefits-of-green-juice/#ixzz1ulsmzuDG
Crazy Sexy Diet, by Kris Carr