31 Days of Ayurveda - Week 1
Updated: May 17, 2020
Ayurveda - One of the most glorious words to cross these lips in a long time. I fell in love with it at the beginning of this year. And how most love stories begin, I wasn’t even searching for it and POOF! it appeared.
And so what is Ayurveda? Glad you asked. For the next 31 days of January, I’ll be diving further into and sharing the meaning behind this beautiful healing practice, its many facets and how it has affected my everyday life & health. I’ll break down a part of Ayurvedic study each day as best I can. Some of the topics will include :
How to uncover what your Dosha is and begin to dive deeper to regain some balance of health in your life - mind/body/spirit
How incorporating daily routines provide advantage over those who don’t, how awesome you can make them, and how powerful they can make you feel
How food is medicine through the lens of Ayurveda and how flavourful it can actually be
The importance of daily movement and meditation
The 24 Hour Ayurvedic Clock and more
You see, Ayurveda allows for the individual to look at all areas of their life and lifestyle, and make corrections based upon uncovered imbalances. Over time, you will begin to notice these imbalances within yourself as you’ll start to really listen and feel into your body. It doesn’t lie; take YOUR health into YOUR own hands - it‘s no ones else’s responsibility but your own. No more blaming, no more victimizing.
What am I offering myself and whoever else is interested in these 31 days is Ayurvedic insight & knowledge. I am only just scratching the surface into this myself, so the messages will be the elemental basic. So why am I doing this? Well, Ayurveda opened my eyes to the platform I am going to utilize to serve others in my community. It’s become my life’s purpose to help those struggling within the realm of alcohol dependency, and the only way I was able to overcome mine was through a complete overhaul of my life - body/mind/spirit. So I’d love to have you follow me on this 31 day adventure if you’re up for it. Who knows, it may just encourage some transformation within yourself too.
NOTE: I'll be adding the days one by one as I post them on Instagram. If I feel as though I need to add more information from what is allowed on insta due to space restrictions, I will add them here.
Day 1 - What is Ayurveda?
The term ‘Ayurveda’ could be completely foreign to you. It was to me only a year ago. Since then, it has become one of the most important staples in my life, and the purpose with which I will serve my community ✨
The name ‘Ayurveda’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘ayus’, meaning ‘life’ and ‘veda’ meaning ‘science’ or ‘knowledge’. It literally translates to the ‘Science of Life’. It’s an all encompassing healing practice. Ayurveda addresses diet, lifestyle, daily routines, self-care, seasonal shifts, herbal medicine, massage, energy work, spiritual practice through meditation & yoga, and also surgery.
This magical traditional healing system has been around for more than 5,000 years. It’s origins are from India, and it’s modality is based upon preventative medicine first. By listening to your body, mind & spirit, you should be able to recognize where you are out of balance and correct those issues before disease sets in.
My interest in Ayurveda stems from a @lukestorey podcast episode. I was only about 2 months into living alcohol free, and I had already begun to make other major shifts to my lifestyle. I had kicked off a new intense workout routine, restarted my meditation practice and deleted as much processed sugar, gluten & dairy as I could from my diet. The thing is, for a while, I felt much better - but then I hit a wall. I couldn’t figure out why my body was aching and tight even though I was training more consistently than I had before. I couldn’t figure out why I was still feeling bloated even after switching to healthy smoothies and raw salads. And I couldn’t understand why my head was still spinning and anxiety still had such a hold over me even though my meditation game was strong. Then I heard this podcast and a fucking lightbulb went off. Sure I was incorporating mainstream ‘healthy’ aspects to my life, but in such a generalized way. I had no idea that I as an individual didn’t fit into the square peg or round hole. I fit into me. I fit into my Dosha. Once I took the Dosha quiz and discovered my constitution, the game changed. And that’s where I’ll begin tomorrow’s lesson - The Doshas 🌱
DAY 2 - THE DOSHAS
The Ancient Sages of India believed that all material forms, including our bodies, are made up of the 5 elements - Space, Air, Fire, Water, Earth. Maintaining cohesion among these 5 elements is the key to well balanced physical, mental & spiritual health. These elements exist in every living organism on our planet, eco-system and universe in different quantities. It only makes sense that since we are also part of this planet & universe that each element should exist within us too. And they do, within our Dosha, or mind-body type.
According to Ayurveda, we are all born with parts of the 3 Doshas that make up our constitution, which is determined at time of conception. Most of us hold a primary Dosha, which is stronger than the others. Typically followed by a secondary Dosha, and then a third, less prominent. There are a few ppl however who are closely balanced in all three. Rare, but possible.
These Doshas determine our physical, mental & emotional tendencies and if we listen, warn us of our imbalances & health issues before they become too extreme. When our Doshas are in balance, we can hope to maintain optimized health & well-being. It is when we are imbalanced that we become ill.
The Doshas and the Elements included in each are:
Vata - Of Air & Space
Pitta - Of Fire & Water
Kapha - Of Earth & Water •
In the following days, I will break down each Dosha - Vata, Pitta, Kapha - and at the end, will provide you with a quiz to take to determine your mind-body type 🌱
DAY 3 - VATA
The first of the Doshas I will speak to is Vata. The elements composed of Vata are Air & Space 🌬 Just imagine the qualities of Air & Space for a moment - Quick/always moving, dry, unpredictable, rough. The very same qualities Vatas possess, according to Ayurveda.
The body of a Vata is typically thin and tall, with light structures. They have small, dark eyes & thin lips with rough/dry skin. They also have thinner hair, and it too is typically dry. They suffer from bloating & constipation, and also loss of appetite & weight loss when out of balance. • The mind of a Vata is very active, quick thinking & restless. They suffer more from anxiety, worry, depression and fear. Vatas can be light sleepers and suffer from insomnia. They are highly creative & artistic, whose imagination holds no edges. They are quick to act and typically have multiple projects on the go, however find it difficult to stay on task and follow through with these projects. Vatas are sensitive in nature and can retreat when anxious.
In Balance, Vatas are :
Imaginative, artistic & creative
Full of ideas & mentally quick
Idea & project thinkers & initiators
A clear, clean elimination machine
Out of Balance, Vatas can have :
Digestive issues - erratic appetite, irregular digestion & constipation
Bouts of depression, anxiety & restlessness
Trouble falling & staying asleep
Extreme dryness of body/hair and sensitivity to dry/cold weather
Suffer from cold extremities such as feet, hands & nose
Movement of air in/out of lungs
Movement of nerve impulses through the nervous system
Digestion & metabolism
Circulation of blood & lymph nods
Discovering my dominant dosha was Vata was the moment the lightbulb went off in my head. I aligned with so many of the Vata mind-body characteristics that it made my head spin. It finally made sense to me why I was always cold, why my mind seemed to be racing all.the.time., why I had these bouts with bloating & constipation. Now came the difficult part - Adjusting my lifestyle bit by bit in order to balance out my imbalances. That comes further into the days of Ayurveda. Tomorrow, we learn more about Pitta 🔥
DAY 4 - PITTA
The elements of Pitta are Fire & Water. The body of a Pitta is typically of medium build with beautiful eyes & penetrating gaze. They are prone to inflammation of muscles, especially in shoulders and mid back where they tend to carry their stress. Pittas have healthy appetites and can actually get agitated when they skip a meal. They commonly have freckles & moles with somewhat fair skin. Pittas are FULL of fire, leaving them with vigorous circulation & digestion, however resting their bodies in an almost constant state of overheating 🔥
The mind of a Pitta is very strong. They are natural leaders and capable of laser focused attention. They are charmers to the nth degree with quick witted & charming personalities. Competitive in nature, they are expeditious in blaming others & quick tempered, expecting the very best out of themselves and others.
In Balance, Pittas are:
Highly productive, focused & charming Strong leaders, passionate lovers & masters of public speaking
Blessed with healthy appetites and strong digestion
Highly intelligent with tremendous memory, great conversationalists
Out of Balance, Pittas are:
Perspiring machines due to their bodies overheating
Controlling, blameful and critical of others in their path to success
‘Workaholics’, overly ambitious and quick tempered
Suffer from acid reflux, indigestion & heartburn
Will power & control
Appetite, digestion & metabolism of nutrients
Holy hell, do I ever (unconsciously?) surround myself with Pittas haha. And there are definitely moments where I wish I possessed more mind-like pitta qualities. But alas, I am who I am, I am. And to me, that’s what Ayurveda is about - discovering your constitution, acknowledging your imbalances, and learning how to incorporate Ayurvedic principals to balance those mind-body imbalances. Tomorrow we talk the third & final Dosha - Kapha 🌍
DAY 5 - KAPHA
Any finally, it’s time for the Kaphas. Their Elements are Earth & Water, and are responsible for the body’s structure - bones, muscles, tissues, cells, etc.
The body of a Kapha is generally fuller & more of a robust build than Vatas or Pittas. They have thick, soft, wavy hair, with beautifully large eyes and round faces. They tend to be cold in nature like Vatas, and are actually more prone to colds, congestion and respiratory illnesses. Steady appetites, Kaphas tend to turn to food as comfort in stressful situations, and can also suffer from slow, sluggish digestion. They can have trouble losing weight and experience water retention as well.
The mind of a Kapha is soft & lovely. They are easy going, fun loving and are the most grounded of the constitutions (think earth). Their calming disposition makes them excellent mothers/fathers, teachers, nurses & overall caretakers. They tend to be less judgmental than their other Dosha friends and are very affectionate, forgiving & loyal.
In Balance, Kaphas are:
Super grounded, thoughtful & loving
Loyal, trustworthy and make excellent, long standing friends
Solid foundation for friends & family, excellent listeners
Calm & reliable
Made of stable minds, emotions and strong endurance
Out of Balance, Kaphas are:
Resistant to change, enjoy routine & comfort
Stubborn, slow to act
Susceptible to falling into a ‘rut’
Prone to excessive weight gain
Prone to cold, congestion, allergies & respiratory illnesses
Kapha controls in the body:
Stomach, mouth, tongue
Respitory system, throat, mucous membranes
Again, I’d like to note that I’m scratching the surface here. There’s so much more information to be communicated, but that would pretty much require me writing a book - one day, wait for it... Until then, you’ll have to make due with these ‘coles notes’. Or you can take the reigns and plunge head first into the calm waters of this magical practice on your own.
So, now that we’ve covered the basics of the Doshas, tomorrow I’ll be providing you with a link to a Dosha quiz that you can take to uncover your own doshic mind-body type ✨
Day 6 - What is Your Dosha?
To determine your Dosha, you must first take the mind-body quiz. It was extremely interesting to me to introspectively take a look back and really dive into mind-body-spirit over the course of my life. The journey to find my truest nature came at a time of immense transformation for me. I was only about 4 months into living alcohol-free and the honesty with which I answered these questions, I feel, brought a new level of consciousness to my mind-body awareness I’m not sure I had ever experienced up until that point.
That being said, the internet is full of Doshic quizzes. The ones I have reviewed all seem to ask similar questions, as do the books I have taken my quizzes from. I have found Ayurvedic textbooks to be the most detailed, but either online or from a book works absolutely fine for these purposes. If you have the time, funds & interest however, I highly suggest investing in an Ayurvedic book - I will be listing my go-tos at the end of the 31 days. Until then, perhaps try the quiz from The Ayurveda Experience. Or just Google one that speaks to you. To answer truthfully, you must take into account how the questions apply to you, on average, for the whole of your life.
Again remember, once you get the results of your quiz, you will most likely realize that you are prominent in one Dosha over the others. Generally speaking, most people have a more dominant dosha. Since elements of all 3 Doshas live within us, it makes sense that you would score in all 3 categories. Ayurveda is unique in that it treats each person’s unique combination of the 3 Doshas. I am Vata through & through, with Pitta & Kapha far behind, however very close in point numbers themselves. For example, I can have many anxious thoughts (Vata), which sometimes translate into me becoming impatient and blameful of others (Pitta). Balancing the Doshas is a lifelong process, but understanding your mind-body type and behaviours in accordance to those will help guide you along the way to a more balanced, healthier life.
A question that may pop into your mind is “Can my doshas change throughout my life?” From my understanding, your ‘Prakuti’ or ‘true nature’ does not change, it’s unique to you such as your DNA & fingerprints. Your ‘Vikruti’ or ‘current state’, however, does. Your Prakuti is the hand you were dealt at time of conception, and your Vikruti is what’s in your availability to change. One of the ultimate goals is to balance our vikruti so that it is as close as possible to our Prakuti.
Happy quizzing! Tomorrow we chat the 24 Hour Ayurveda Clock.
Day 7 - The 24 Hour Ayurveda Clock
Just like that, we’re on Day 7, wild. Time (PUN INTENTED) to talk about the 24 Ayurvedic Clock. Just as 24 hour clock is used to discover body function in Chinese Medicine, so too it is used in Ayurveda. It aligns the energies of the external time of day with our internal, biological, energetic bodies. It communicates optimal times when the body should eat, sleep, work and more. Essentially, “Dinacharya” (daily routine) takes into account the relationship between the 3 Doshas and the time of day.
Our 24 hour clock is divided into 6 parts:
2am - 6am - Vata Time
6am - 10am - Kapha Time
10am - 2pm - Pitta Time
2pm - 6pm - Vata Time
6pm - 10pm - Kapha Time
10pm - 2am - Pitta Time
2am - 6am - The early morning hours are ruled by Vata. It is said this is the time we are most involved in our dream state. It is also suggested that we rise during this time, before the sun at around 6am, so we feel more alert. Hitting the snooze button into Kapha time makes for a more draining and sluggish day. There is almost more stillness in the outside world at this time, allowing for a more calming and quiet rise to the day.
6am - 10am - Waking up late in this Kapha period can leave you feeling sluggish and give you a rough start to the day (think heavy, thick, denseness of the Kapha constitution). This is a calming time when it’s best to practice meditation & yoga. Contrary to another popular mainstream belief, breakfast is not the most important meal of the day, and should be light & refreshing.
10am - 2pm - It is best to eat your biggest and most filling meal of the day during the peak time of around noon. This is when your digestive fires are at their strongest, when the sun is high above in the sky. Be sure to try and create a calming atmosphere to eat away from any distractions - ie. At your work desk. It is also suggested to take a brisk walk after eating (100 steps) to aid in breaking down the food you’ve just eaten.
2pm - 6pm - We step back into the second Vata period. If you didn’t overate at lunch but maintained a healthy, balanced meal, you should be at your peak creatively, energetically & mentally. Best to book creative sessions and meetings during this time before heading back into the second slower Kapha time.
6pm - 10pm - During this second Kapha time, our bodies are beginning to prep us for sleep and the heaviness returns. Best to practice your second round of meditation at this time to calm the mind, body & spirit after a long day. Less physically strenuous activities should be carried out at this time, as well as preparation & eating of a lighter meal.
10pm - 2am - And that ties us back to the second Pitta period. It’s important to be ready for bed before this time hits as your digestive fires will re-ignite themselves again. You may risk getting a second “food wind” or the munchies if not. During this time of rest, the Pitta in the body rejuvenates cells, so if you eat prior to going to bed, your body will be concentrting on digesting the food instead of reparing the body.
Offff, lots of info today. I really hope you’re enjoying learning about Ayurveda, and finding awesome tips to incorporate into your daily life. So much more to come including tomorrow when we dive into the importance of creating & maintaining daily routines.