Guest Article by Alyssa Kimura (1/15/2017)
Yesterday, Heather Anastos and I co-led a workshop at her studio, The Yoga Community called “Creating and Sustaining Positive Change.”
Heather agreed to let me paraphrase her Ayurveda lesson from yesterday’s workshop so that you can chew on these terms and see how they mesh with your inner and outer worlds.
When I mention dosha, vata, pitta, or kapha, you’ll get where I’m coming from!
We talked about change because around this time, most of us have broken our New Year’s resolutions, if we bothered making them at all.
“People change because there is something they really want (small percentage), or because it is too painful not to change or is very uncomfortable. Many will stay where they are because it is predictable.”
– Therapy Cards by Kelsi Kimura, mental health therapist, my sister
One year ago, I was in the “too painful not to change” category in a few areas.
I wasn’t happy with where I was, and the books, podcasts, the business productivity blogs and self reproach weren’t working. I didn’t have a good system for making decisions.
Then I began to learn about Ayurveda.
This past year, I’ve made changes Ayurvedically and had possibly the best year… ever.
Intro to Ayurveda + Dosha Overview
Ayurveda is an ancient holistic healthcare system for mind/body/spirit that originated in India. Ayurveda is the science, and yoga is the practice.
Ayurveda recognizes five elements:
- Ether (space)
These five elements comprise three doshas: Vata, Pitta, Kapha.
Think of doshas as types of energy that make up all universal energy.
Each dosha has its own flavor and feel.
Dosha: Vata (air + ether)
- Vata is all about change. Vata is airy, light, dry, lots of movement.
- Vata is involved in unconscious processes like breathing, digestion.
- Vata energy tends to be on/off. You have a burst of energy then crash. Energy, crash.
- When imbalanced, vata energy may be spacey, airheaded, anxious, fast talking, and lack routine.
- When balanced, vata brings ideas, creativity, enthusiasm, and expression through language.
- We need vata for ideas and enthusiasm in our change!
- Vata energy is at its peak in the fall.
Dosha: Kapha (earth + water)
- Kapha energy is the most stable. Kapha energy is cold, heavier.
- Balanced kapha energy, is about stamina, strength, consistency.
- Kapha is also about love; of people and things.
- We need kapha energy for follow-through in completing our change
- Kapha imbalanced may manifest as attachment, or falling back into old ruts and habits.
- Kapha dosha is dominant in winter and spring (kapha is dominant right now!)
Dosha: Pitta (fire + water)
- Just like fire transforms matter, releasing energy, pitta is all about transformation.
- Balanced pitta handles logistics and gets us into action, critical thinking, logical thought, planning, and organization
- Imbalanced Pitta may present as anger or agitation. Listen to how pitta shows up in language: “hot temper” and “fiery rage.”
- Pitta dosha peaks in the summertime. Spring is a perfect time to enlist pitta energy to help you make changes for new growth!
How do doshas affect me?
Not only are there seasonal doshas, but you also have a dosha (or two) that primarily reigns over your overall constitution.
What’s your dosha? I’m glad you asked!
Here’s a link to a dosha test on the Eat Taste Heal book website (Eat Taste Heal is on my reading list; recommended during the workshop yesterday)
Knowing this information about yourself and the world around you I think is like having an invisible road map that nobody else can see. It’s like having a chart of the tides when everybody else is guessing.
Your doshas can fluctuate throughout the day, the year, throughout your lifetime, and as your awareness evolves.
How will balancing my doshas help?
Before I knew about vata, I thought that my “Ideastorms” were a superpower, albeit an exhausting one.
I always have a ton of ideas (vata), I do a lot of planning and organization (pitta), but I struggle in follow through and consistency (kapha), especially with a neverending stream of shiny new ideas (vata) which sometimes interfere with my sleep and result in stress because I have no routine (vata).
When I learned about Ayurveda I slowly realized what should have been obvious all along; that mad scribbles at 2am is not irreplaceable brilliance —
it is wildly imbalanced vata.
And don’t get me wrong, it’s fun. I did that very thing last night — stayed up painting UFO’s until I couldn’t see out my eyes anymore! But I did it knowing full well what I was doing, and with a good baseline of sleep, stress management, and generally good health.
The ideas, the creative enthusiasm, are sort of what I want…
But from a healthy state, not from an exhausted anxious sleep deprived state.
My baseline now is concerned with keeping vata energy balanced, and this allows my energy to flow through my life in a much more harmonious way.
I’m A. Kimura, local artist, writer, yogi, volunteer, engineer from Richland, WA
I write every Sunday about art, yoga practice, teaching yoga in prison, and creative living.
Sometimes serious, sometimes strange, always different.
You can find art and life photos on my @yogacactus_art Instagram account.
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