I promised at the beginning of this mini-odyssey that I would address the ancient science of Ayurveda. Ayurveda tells us we should consume no more than 3 meals a day. No snacks. The body needs time to digest each meal before consuming the next. We should only eat when we are hungry. This keeps the digestive fires, known as agni, stoked so the digestive tract works according to plan.
It is a science as old as yoga itself and equally complex. There is so much to know that I couldn’t tell you even all I know, which is a fraction, in an entire book.
I can tell you there are three body constitutions known as doshas. You are born with your dosha and it never changes. You likely have all three body constitutions resident within you to varying degrees and at times they become out of balance. Ayurveda is the science of bringing everything into balance. Over and over again.
Here’s the quick and dirty on the doshas:
Vata: (pronounced Vah-Tah) is associated with Winter. Vata types are typically very small or very tall with a small frame. They are usually thin, but may not be if they’re out of balance. Their personalities are airy and light and they sometimes need help getting grounded. Out of balance they can be very scattered and even forget to eat. (I have no Vata in me.)
Pitta: (pronounced Pit-Ah) is associated with Summer. Pitta is your Type A personality. Their frame is average, height average and weight usually average. They make strong athletes and can become obsessed with exercise or competition. They are get-it-done people sometimes to their detriment. When balanced they are focused and in charge. (Here’s where you’ll find me most of the time.)
Kapha: (pronounced Kah-Fah) is associated with Spring. Everybody loves a Kapha. They are grounded and calm. Kapha body type is usually bigger, not necessarily overweight, but it is easy for them to gain weight. Athletically, they are your long distance runners or swimmers. They have great endurance when they are balanced. Out of balance they can be lazy, overweight and even depressed. (And meet the side of me that convinces the pitta part of me to relax, sit on the couch and have a piece of chocolate.)
I am a Pitta/Kapha. They are nearly equal, pitta edging kapha out by a hair. Herein we find all my challenges. Pitta plans and is focused. We’re gonna get stuff done. Kapha saunters in and says, “What’s your hurry? Let’s look out the window and ponder all this activity for a moment.”
They fight it out. Kapha’s pretty convincing. But Pitta has been going to the gym so she’s gaining strength and able to resist the enticements of Kapha.
If this science interests you, I highly recommend you investigate it for yourself. There are many books on the topic. Deepak Chopra is one of the most familiar. He often uses the Sanskrit words for things so it can be a little daunting.
If you can get past that, or if you’re comfortable with another language, go for it. If you think it might be frustrating for you, my favorite Ayurveda author is Dr. John Douillard. He worked with Deepak for many years. His approach is completely western and easily understood. The 3 Season Diet is the book I like.
It is a vast, vast topic. If you can locate an Ayurveda practitioner in your area, they can tell you your dosha and help you find balance and decipher this healing art whose name literally translates to Science of Life.