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April 27, 2015
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By Jennifer Beckman
I am sure most of you reading this either go to a yoga class once or twice a week or know of someone who ds. It's the new fad, there is a yoga studio on every corner. But, did you know that Yoga has a sister called Ayurveda. Not as dynamic and in your face as Yoga, Ayurveda, the quieter and more reserved sister has been waiting her turn for the limelight and now that time has come.
Ayurveda and Yoga are essential parts of an ancient system from India called the Vedas. Ayur or ayus translates from the Sanskrit to mean "life", and Veda is knowledge or science. Literally 'The Science of Life', Ayurveda is now emerging as one of the most important preventative forms of holistic medicine in today's modern world. Ayurveda, like yoga, is concerned with balance. It offers a unique system of treatment, explaining true health of the mind, body, senses and spirit and their proper alignment. Ayurvedic practitioners offer lifestyle adjustments that include diet, herbal formulas, color and gem therapy, massage, Yoga and meditation. They prescribe specific asanas or postures that help balance the energies in the body and mind. Our environment, our relationships, the food we eat, our work, the climate we live in, our faith and how we function within our own small universe is of great importance as this will determine our state of physical, mental and spiritual happiness and fulfillment.
Energy and vibration are the basis of Ayurveda. The universe is made up of pulsating energies, cosmic elements that together, make all material creations. Everything around us, ourselves included are made up of these elements; earth, water, fire, air and ether that are constantly changing and transforming. Ayurveda categories these five elements into three doshas or metabolic types.
Vata is the combination of ether and air and has the same characteristic of these elements: dry, flighty and irregular. When fire and water combine it is called Pitta, its main characteristics are hot, quick and decisive. Kapha is the combination of earth and water: strong, slow and methodical. These three doshas are present in every living cell. They not only affect us on a physical level, but also on subtle mental and emotional levels as harmony, energy and inertia. They influence all that we are and do. The choices we make and have made since the time we were born. In fact they make us who we are, unique individuals.
Every one of us has a dosha that is more predominant or stronger than the other two, one secondary and a third, which is much less prominent. This combination of the three doshas is determined when we are in the womb.
Four principal causes are responsible for an individual's metabolic type:
1. The fathers metabolic type.
2. The mothers metabolic type.
3. The condition of the womb.
4. The food and drink the mother takes before and during pregnancy.
Our metabolic type should stay the same, but of course ds not. Without knowing our particular type, inadvertently we cause disharmony by eating the wrong things, doing the wrong exercise, even living in the wrong environment.
In Ayurveda, nine types of combinations can manifest:
Famous people and their metabolic type:
Vata-Pitta - Gwyneth Paltrow, Celine Dion
Pitta-Kapha - Drew Barrymore, Princess Diana, Nick Hucknall
Kapha-Pitta - Oprah Winfrey, Michael Moore
Pitta-Vata - Prince Harry, Tom Cruise
Vata-Kapha - Bono, Lulu
Vata displays itself as a light, slim physical body, very tall or very short. The muscle tissue is not strong and the veins often protrude through the skin, which in turn is dry and thin, as is the hair. The hands and feet tend to be cold and there is intolerance for cold foods, weather etc. The digestion is not good and the appetite is not strong, consequently nutrients are not absorbed properly and constipation is often a problem. The nails and the teeth may be irregular and protruding. The joints are often unstable and a cracking of the joints can occur. The voice is hoarse and dry. Vata, when aggravated, often causes insomnia and confusion. Vata is mobile and produces the need for constant change, vigorous exercise and talkativeness. Vata produces a quick, alert and creative mind. The swiftness of Vata manifests in restlessness moving from one place to another, changing things and friends frequently. It causes a subtle feeling of insecurity, fear, loneliness and worry. Dreams may often be fearful. The memory is not long-term, but the capability to do many things at once is good.
TOO MUCH VATA?
To keep that Vata energy balanced and happy:
Get into a daily routine.
Eat cooked foods, stay away from raw foods.
Treat yourself to a massage using warm oils.
Have long baths with lavender oil, dim the lights and light the candles.
Stay away from ice cold drinks.
Try not to consume too much alcohol.
Go to a relaxing yoga class that includes breathing and meditation.
Pitta displays itself as a medium physical body of average height. Throughout life, the weight of the individual remains pretty much the same. The hair may be reddish or blonde, and the individual may show signs of premature graying and a receding hairline or hair loss in men. The skin has a reddish hue, and is warm and oily. The eyes are bright, often green or gray. There is intolerance for heat, the face often looks flushed and there are many freckles and moles on the skin, with perhaps a port-wine mark on the skin. Pitta exhibits good physical strength and digestive power. The appetite is strong, as is the thirst, copious amounts of food and drink are consumed and elimination is good. Overheating means pitta is aggrevated and perspiration is prevalent, which emanates a sulfuric odor. Pitta individuals can have a short fuse, and get angry quickly, but have a keen and alert mind. Their memories are sharp and they enjoy solving problems. The sexual desire is low in general, and the semen count is also often low. Pitta is perfection, competitive and controlling.
TOO MUCH PITTA?
To keep the Pitta energy balanced and in harmony:
Stay away from hot spicy foods, less of that Vindaloo!
Don't sit and bake in the sun.
Try to turn the temperature down in the shower or bath.
Eat your food slowly.
Go for long walks in the country.
Try not to be so controlling, believe it or not they can make decisions without you!
Remember nothing is perfect in this world, find the beauty in imperfection.
Join a yoga class that includes breathing and meditation (not a studio that is heated to a 100 degrees!)
Kapha manifests as strength, with a well-developed body. The bones are large with a tendency to be overweight. The metabolism is slow, as is the digestion. There is slow talking and slowness of actions. Sinus congestion, coughs and colds are all manifestations of aggravated kapha. The skin is thick, smooth, cold, oily and clammy, with a dense padding of fat underneath the skin. The hair is thick and curly and the eyes are large and beautiful with an overall pleasing appearance. The voice and complexion are soft with facial expressions of happiness. Hunger, thirst and perspiration are minimal. The joints are firm and compact, the organs plump and compact. Although kapha individuals are blessed with constitutional strength, they shun exercise and would rather be sitting and daydreaming. They have a tendency to feel sleepy after a large meal and would love to nap in the afternoon, if they could. In fact, kapha induces long and deep sleep, often-sleeping 8 hours and more at night. Kapha people make wonderful parents, nurses and teachers. They are patient, compassionate, peaceful and forgiving and they love to hug! Their minds are calm and stable and they are generally well grounded. Their faith is strong and consistent.
TOO MUCH KAPHA?
To keep that Kapha energy balanced and happy:
Get up early in the mornings and go for a brisk walk.
Eat before 6pm in the evenings and try to have your main meal at lunchtime.
Be spontaneous sometimes and do something completely different. Eat more raw foods, salads and fruits.
Remember the world is not always a beautiful place, but you are a beautiful person and can help to make it better.
Join a yoga class that offers power yoga.
Used in conjunction with one another, Ayurveda and Yoga, culminate into the art of balancing the subtle energies within us. This allows our physical, mental and emotional selves to perform at their best. We feel good, see the world in a different light and can go on, if we wish, to develop and experience a deeper inner understanding.
Remember that most individuals are a combination of doshas, with two predominating. So the manifestations would be some of one dosha and perhaps a little more of another.
Jennifer Beckman (Yogamaya) is a director of the Vedic Cultural Fellowship and Pecos Valley Yoga and Ayurveda Center. She was born in North Africa, and raised in the UK, where at a very young age was introduced to yoga asana and pranayama by her aunt. During the 1990's she studied homeopathy, massage, reflexology, nutrition and became a certified instructor by the British Wheel of Yoga. Inevitably, with her knowledge of yoga, she was drawn to the sister science of Ayurveda and has studied under Doctors Vasant Lad and David Frawley. In 1998 she returned to the US with her husband Howard Beckman, to establish the Vedic Cultural Fellowship and in 1999 they moved to their present location, New Rishikesh, in Pecos, New Mexico. In 2003, she was certified as a Planetary Gem Advisor, by the Planetary Gemologist Association in Bangkok Thailand due to her advanced working knowledge of using gemstones in accordance with Vedic astrological principles. Today she and her husband, together with Dr. David Frawley, are developing the VCF's New Rishikesh as a major teaching and retreat center.
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