written by Lydia Willig, owner & director of Earth Walker Yoga
A soft breeze swept through the yard, offering a moment of reprieve from the hot summer sun. I was sitting on the fringes of a small party watching the scene unfold.
One of the hosts was in charge of the music, and danced her way around to greet each of her guests. A group of three sat close together, heads inclined towards each other and hands waving as they discussed the latest world news. Two people swayed lazily on the porch swing, one’s arm around the other’s shoulders.
I couldn’t help but smile to myself as I witnessed Ayurvedic wisdom in action. The vivacious vata, the passionate pittas, and the cuddly kaphas. Each dosha was present and accounted for.
Let’s be clear: the doshas aren’t stereotypes or sets of expectations. Actually, the doshas give us amazing permission to be ourselves! Your dosha is your biological humor. It’s your unique constitution in body and mind, and it plays a major role in making sure you’re taken care of every single day in the right way.
For a quick review:
- Vata dosha is governed by the elements of air and ether, and rules movement and communication. Its dominant qualities are dry and mobile.
- Pitta dosha is governed by the elements of fire and water, and rules transformation and digestion. Its dominant qualities are hot and sharp.
- Kapha dosha is governed by the elements of earth and water, and rules nourishment and support. Its qualities are cold and heavy.
The combination of all three doshas that is present within you creates a blueprint for your health. Dosha literally means “faulty tendency”, so your dosha is the basis for understanding which practices equate to balance for you, and which ones drive you into imbalance. Like at the party, where I was unsurprised to see the pitta-type trio fanning themselves and adding ice to their drinks, or the kapha couple soaking up the sunshine.
You may have already taken a dosha quiz or consulted with a teacher to learn your dosha type. It’s all well and good to know you’re pitta, or vata-kapha, or any of the 7 possible outcomes… but what do you do with that information?
Often we don’t apply this new-found knowledge. Perhaps because we don’t realize the gem we’ve just uncovered, or maybe just from lack of resources to help us dive deeper.
First, it’s important to note that we all contain all of the doshas in some configuration. And, in that way, when you work with one dosha, it affects the other two. For example, a lot of heat from pitta will increase the dry quality of vata and push it out of balance (so if you feel frazzled by summer heat, you’re not alone). When you work with your own particular dosha, it’s important to keep that interplay of the qualities in mind.
Once you’ve learned about and read up on your mind-body type, then it’s time to apply the wisdom.
Before studying Ayurveda, I was lost as to how I could truly nurture my body beyond diet and exercise. I was noticing my skin getting drier, my joints cracking and popping, and my sleep feeling less and less restful. For years I knew I was a vata, but that didn’t mean much to me beyond the label of “flighty”. As I started to apply the practices I was learning from Ayurvedic teachings, I felt a new sense of direction as to how I could support my long-term health.
Knowing your dosha and understanding what that biological tendency means for you is key to choosing what lifestyle and daily practices (or dinacharya, as we say in Ayurveda) will most benefit you. You can also avoid those things that will make you feel especially icky. Luckily, we have Yoga and Ayurveda to pave the path toward better health. There are several practices you may choose to incorporate into your life that are designed with you in mind. Here are just some of the tools you have at your disposal:
- Herbs like Ashwagandha, Shatavari, and Triphala.
- Movement like yoga, dance and walks in nature.
- Meditation like Trataka, also known as candle gazing.
- Breathing exercises, also known as pranayama.
- Deep rest practices, like incorporating an Ayurvedic evening milk into your routine.
- Routine, also known in Ayurveda as dinacharya.
- Aromatherapy as seen with PAAVANI Spritzers.
- Massage, also known in Ayurveda as abhyanga, with a PAAVANI Body Oil.
Knowing your dosha also informs which ingredients are best suited to your body in things like skincare products, teas, and, of course, your meals. That way, everything in your life is customized just for you, and you feel supported in body, mind, and spirit. My self-care was revolutionized once I understood my body’s needs; I started using PAAVANI’s Vata Cleanser & Mask to hydrate my dry skin, practiced self-abhyanga with PAAVANI’s Vata Body Oil to soothe my creaky joints, and followed an Ayurvedic night time routine to improve the quality of my sleep.
There is so much wisdom here to be found on an individual level, as well as interpersonally. I myself use the insight of the doshas in my personal life, in my work with clients, and in day-to-day interactions. I find that when I can pick up on a person’s natural tendencies, I have more compassion and skill in communicating with them. As you get to know your own dosha, you might realize why you gravitate towards certain people, places, and experiences, too.
This ancient knowledge of the doshas helps us all to show up as our best selves in modern life, when we can easily feel overwhelmed, distracted, and plagued by not-enoughness. We try a hundred different things to “hack” our health, when really the simple answer lies in knowing yourself first. Ayurveda empowers us to make wellness personal, and let our own inner wisdom guide us back to balance.
Once you know your dosha, don’t let the journey stop there! Observe how you show up in the world, experiment with oils and herbs, and get to know your true self. Find those Goldilocks practices that feel just right for you, and feel yourself renewed. Health is yours to reclaim if you want it.
For self-care designed specifically to support your dosha, check out PAAVANI’s amazing products!
To learn more about guest blogger, Lydia Willig, and her work at Earth Walker Yoga, click here.
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