I was speaking with a woman today who was struggling with trying to balance out her dosha. In Ayurveda, the dosha is the current balance of the elements in the body that show up in the form of air and ether(vata) water and earth (kapha) and fire and water (pitta). The woman was experiencing elevated pitta, elevated Vata imbalance, and slightly elevated kapha. She wanted to know where she was supposed to start in terms of implementing practices to find balance. She was feeling incredibly distraught because she just wanted to find comfort. Her initial thought was that because she had two highly elevated doshas, she needed to work on balancing out those two simultaneously. What worried her was that the two doshas contradicted each other, and she would have had to try to figure out how to balance out one without further aggravating the other. She felt stumped, as I’m sure you might just reading this post so far, especially if you are new to the whole concept of Ayurveda.
The first question I asked was, which one was the most out of balance. For her, it was pitta. She was experiencing all of the effects of having excess heat in her body. She was aggravated, experiencing nausea and acidic indigestion among other symptoms.
I pointed out to her that to the root of health begins in the gut and when we can find balance in the gut, we can find balance in all of the doshas, The advice I gave was to start by taking baby steps. Take one or two herbs, to begin with, that will address the pitta in the body and see what happens. I also suggested maybe implementing a cooling meditation practice into her daily routine. That was it. The most important key to the advice I gave her had to do with taking those baby steps.
While the concepts of Ayurveda can sometimes be daunting and a lot to take in, the treatments don’t always have to be as grandiose. There is such a gentle energy to this science. It’s all about allowing our bodies to align with the rhythms of nature. After all, we come from nature, the way our bodies are put together allows us to literally mirror all of the elements that combine in an intricate dance to make nature what it is. If one takes a moment to sit outside and observe, it’s not hard to see the effortless flow embedded in it all. The plants don’t struggle to grow unless they are in a harsh environment, and typically that can be remedied by making slight changes and adding or taking away a particular element such as air, water, or the fire that the light of the sun holds. Our bodies work the same way. The wind is never forced, it flows as it pleases. The rain falls when it falls, or it doesn’t. It’s all very simple. Our human minds try to make it all much more complicated than it has to be. Don’t get me wrong. Our intelligence is a gift, and its essence is the energy of fire. Without it, we wouldn’t even be able to comprehend or cognize the beautiful Vedic sciences that brought us the gift of yoga and Ayurveda. However, it is also a habit of the brain to solve problems and when something is out of balance, our mind will go crazy trying to find a solution.
When we bite off more than we can chew, it can be hard to make things stick. I am learning this lesson in many parts of my life. A great example would be when looking at one of my favorite hobbies, music. I have this deep desire to be able to sing and play my ukulele freely, and when I hear a song in my head, I want to immediately bring it to life, but my musical abilities need to catch up to my brain. I’m finding the I have to take baby steps. A friend of mine gave the advice of going slow and breaking down every note I sing with every chord I play. It hasn’t been easy. My quick creative vata mind wants to run, but the kapha side of me is begging me to slow down. So, I have had to tap into patience and take it one note at a time.
With all of this considered, I started to take a look at what I have created up to this point through taking small steps. I was inspired to share my experience and cultivate some tips that may help you in your own journey as you gradually work towards implementing Ayurveda into your lifestyle.
Find your constitution and your imbalances
The first thing you will want to know is what your body looks like when it is naturally in balance and what your current imbalances look like. The thing is, it is not normal to ever truly be in balance. So there will always be differences in your constitution and your current state of balance. Still, it is helpful to have this information because it will point you in the direction you need to go in when implementing different practices and into your routine. This is a self-empowering step in the right direction. You can take many online quizzes that will help you find out what your constitution and current imbalances are, or you can see an Ayurvedic practitioner or ayurvedic lifestyle coach to help you determine this as well.
Begin a daily routine
The Sanskrit term for a daily routine is dinacharya. Your dinacharya is one of the most important parts of living an Ayurvedic lifestyle. When I started implementing a daily routine, it changed my life! I eased into it slowly. I started with waking up earlier, then added in oil pulling and meditation and on certain days yoga. Over time it has grown into such a juicy and nourishing practice that don’t think I’ll ever be able to properly function without it! When I first started to discover Ayurveda and began working for Banyan botanicals, I thought I had to do it all at once. I took the earliest shift at work so I would be forced to wake up at or before 6 am as the ayurvedic texts suggest. I told myself that every morning I would have to wake up and eliminate, scrape my tongue, oil pull, drink warm water, take my herbs, do yoga, meditate, do abhyanga(self-massage with oils), and shower all before 7 a.m. Needless to say, none of that lasted for very long and I was super unhappy, fatigued and feeling more out of balance than I was when I started.I had to go back to the drawing board and start over by taking tiny steps toward setting up a routine that would stick. Doing this allowed me to find what truly fits makes me feel really good! I started with changing my schedule so that I wasn’t forced to wake up early and found that is was easy for me to naturally rise at 6:30 a.m. After that, I decided to only do tongue scraping for a while. Oil pulling, meditation, and yoga slowly trickled in and now I cover most things effortlessly and I’ve left or what doesn’t serve me.
Healing through changing your diet
Ayurveda relies heavily on what you eat and as I mentioned earlier, your digestion is the root of your health. There are different eating recommendations for different doshas which is why it is so important to know what your constitution is. Nowadays, there are millions of different diets out there, but most of them are pretty general and don’t always take into account the individuals needs to truly be healthy. When observing what food work best for your dosha, you can start to slowly bring those foods into your life and take note of the changes that occur your body. Since I am Vata-Kappa I benefit best from eating warm foods and it is good for me to stay away from a raw diet. This is why I chose to be predominantly vegan but didn’t take the raw vegan route. This was something very important for me to learn. Growing up I was always told to eat fruits and vegetable and when I thought about eating healthy I immediately thought that meant to eat more salads. Knowing what I know now, I see why this never really seemed to work for me, and why I felt more satisfied when I cooked my vegetables.
Work with plants as an ally
When I first started working with herbs I thought that I was going to have to take all kinds of formulas to work towards what I wanted to achieve. I wanted to try all of the formulas that my job offered but quickly realized that this wasn’t the best way to go for a few reasons. First, I wasn’t really cultivating a relationship with a plant when I was trying to take as many formulas as possible. Without a true knowledge of how one herb was relating to my body, it was hard to tell if I really needed to work with that herb. I had a pill sorter for each day of the week that was filled with a plethora of different tablets that I was trying to make sure I took every day. It came to a point where I decided to step back and cut down what I was working with to really build a relationship with the herbs. Right now my go-to herbs are Triphala, as it is great for daily detoxification regulation and is balancing for all dosas in my body and Ashwagandha because it is helping me with adrenal fatigue and proving to be great at calming my nervous system when needed. I also work with bhringaraj for healthy hair and since I started using it, my hair has grown faster than it has in my entire life. It also has the added benefit of making me feel more grounded throughout my day. I implement the use of other herbs through drinking teas and yoni steaming, but I have done so in a way where I am only adding what is needed at any given time and not trying to force myself to use and consume a bunch of herbs because the title of the formula sounds intriguing. This has helped me to truly get to know the plants I’m working with and tap into their individual essence and personalities and how they work with my body to keep me happy healthy and balanced.
Being a yoga teacher, it is easy to get caught up in the question of “Am I practicing enough?” The thing about teaching yoga is that when you are teaching a class, you aren’t really doing yoga, you are guiding others through their practice and creating a container for them to go deep into their experience and keep their body safe from injury at the same time. While I am currently teaching a class a week, I can’t really count that as part of my personal practice. I take small steps to make sure I’m received what I need. I started with 15 minutes of yoga every other day and sometimes every 3 days. On the weekends, I try to do an hour of yoga. This may seem like it isn’t a lot but it is just enough to give me what I need and keep me balanced while also allowing me to practice what I teach.
I am a strong believer in meditation and while I have allowed more closeness in my physical yoga practice, I have become much more disciplined in my mental yoga practice. I started out with 5 minutes of meditation every morning, then 15 and am now up to 30 minutes at the least every morning and around 45 when time allows. Taking these small steps has allowed me to avoid frustration and burn out around my practices.
Taking tiny steps towards my Ayurvedic practice has allowed me to have fun with the well-rounded routine that contributes to the maintenance of my physical mental and spiritual practice. When I look back, it really didn’t take Long to get to where I am and what is truly exciting is that the journey never ends! I can always keep adding in what feels good or making changes and in the process, I am cultivating a deeper connection to myself and learning what being healthy truly looks like for me. I encourage you to take this approach to your health and see where it all leads!
Love and Moonlight!
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