“When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need.”
— AYURVEDIC PROVERB
Ayurveda is a holistic lifestyle science that originated in India over 5,000 years ago. Often called the “sister science” of yoga, vitality and longevity are the key aims of following an Ayurvedic lifestyle. According to Ayurveda, achieving optimal health depends on having a good diet and strong digestion.
In my coaching practice, I apply Ayurvedic principles to support individuals in customizing their diets to suit their unique body constitution. In Ayurveda, there is an overarching idea that we if we work with the natural constitution of our bodies, we’re able to create efficiencies and reduce irritation within our bodily systems. If we ignore our unique body constitution, disease results. For this reason, diet is not only used to increase vitality, but also to foster healing.
The word “ojas” describes the experience of thriving, or being energized by the food you eat and balancing your unique constitutional energy so that your natural bodily rhythms are able to function well. Strong ojas in the body is also linked to immunity.
By viewing individual body constitution, diet, and digestion as the roots of health, Ayurveda provides a path to learn about yourself more deeply. Overall, making small tweaks to your lifestyle that align with your unique biological needs will support the natural systems of your body (the ones designed to keep you healthy in the first place).
The “Doshas” or Bodily Constitutions
If you’re intrigued to know more about the unique rhythm of your own bodily systems, discovering your “doshic make-up” is your next step. In Ayurveda, there are three main bodily constitutions, or doshas. Everyone has all three doshic energies in their body. Each person typically has one dominant dosha, while the two other doshas compliment the main dosha in varying degrees.
Using this information, you can begin to understand what foods, exercises, activities, etc. work best for you. Each dosha has a set of both mental and physical characteristics in addition to methods to find balance (if your doshic energy becomes off-kilter). In today’s society, most of us have something that needs balancing and Ayurveda offers simple ways to meet your unique needs.
Balancing your dosha within Ayurveda is also a way to quiet the overwhelming amount of information around diets, including what you should/shouldn’t be eating and when. Ayurveda focuses on you, personally, so that you decide, with agency, whether a meal will work for you or not.
After taking the dosha questionnaire, if you resonant with what you learn about your body type, let’s chat. I’ll answer any questions you have about your dosha and we can determine if my coaching services are a good fit for you. During an initial coaching session, I provide a full Ayurvedic evaluation so that you can apply the knowledge of your dosha toward improving your lifestyle and well-being right away.
Like wind, you’re a mobile, free-spirited, and light person who moves fast and who doesn’t like to feel too tied down to one thing.
You like to be involved in multiple projects, jobs, and relationships (hey, variety is the spice of life, right?). Freedom is important to you. You also love to share your many creative ideas, and while most of them won’t come to fruition, you’re having a great time dreaming of them. You’re open to trying new things and meeting people regularly. While others struggle to adapt to change, you see it as an opportunity to try something new and fun.
Shadow-Side: When vata dosha is high, or out of balance, you will feel anxious. You’re plagued with worry and can’t seem to find calm. You think through many fears and discomforts and replay them in your mind (even if you know some of them are irrational). You feel stressed and even if you know a solid routine in your lifestyle could reduce some of your stress, you have trouble sticking to your efforts to add structure to your life. You’re forgetful. While you learn quickly, you’re unlikely to retain details.
Physical/Personality Attributes: petit, thin, dry or rough skin, tends to feel cold, appetite is irregular (may forget to eat), trouble gaining weight, light sleeper, moves quickly, tends to be distracted easily, indecisive
Greatest Strength: adaptation
Greatest Challenge: anxiety/constant worry
Common Illnesses: chronic stress, anxiety, insomnia, gas/bloat, constipation or other elimination issues, bone and joint issues, nervous system issues, auto-immune disorders (including type I diabetes)
Key Remedy for Balance: Rest
Like fire, you’re intense, passionate, and transformative.
You’re here to excel, achieve, and out-perform the competition. Accomplishments accompany you during each stage of life (will it ever be enough? No way!). Your sharp sense of clarity allows you to leverage logic and organization in your work and you’re respected for your intelligence and leadership qualities. You’re also social and friendly, and often a magnet for friends and followers. You love to rally a group around a project, a cause, or happy hour. Your memory is keen and you remember all the details (you wouldn’t want to miss something).
Shadow-Side: When pitta is high, or out of balance, you feel angry. Your passion drives you to care about your causes, your profession, your purpose, and your relationships with intensity. When an experience jeopardizes your efforts in these areas, you’re sensitive, hot, and emotional. You may have a “hot head” moment and make outbursts of your concerns (sometimes to the surprise of others who see you as a collected, friendly leader). If you’re not angered by something, an imbalance of pitta also arrives in the form of criticism (of yourself and others) and tends to be on the harsh side.
Physical/Personality Attributes: athletic build, sensitive skin (tends toward redness), tends to feel warm or hot, strong appetite (never forgets to eat), can gain or lose weight easily, sound sleeper, but awakens with ease (needs the least amount of sleep of all doshas), moves with purpose, starts projects and finishes them with focus, decides quickly, open to new ideas if convinced
Greatest Strength: Intelligence
Greatest Challenge: Anger/Criticism
Common Illnesses: Inflammation-related diseases, skin issues of all types (acne, psoriasis, eczema, etc.), heartburn/acidity
Key Remedy for Balance: Freshly cooked meals at regular times
Like Earth, you’re grounded, calm, and still.
Your content with the way things are and prefer to stick to your routine. While others seem to be in a constant state of “busy,” you're realistic when it comes to your commitments and activities. You’re aura of rootedness is attractive to others who enjoy your ability to listen and provide objective, thoughtful advice. You perform your work methodically and may be attached to your processes (high quality is your goal). You learn slowly, but will never forget.
Shadow-Side: When kapha is high, or out of balance, you feel lethargic. Your calm transforms into slowness, dullness, and a desire to do nothing. Oftentimes, being out of balance results in depression and weight gain. You don't have the motivation to participate in activities, or change your routine for the better. Even physical exercise seems unfathomable. While your consistency is often your strength, our ever-evolving world requires an adaptable mindset (something that’s challenging for you to imagine).
Physical/Personality Attributes: large, solid build, lustrous, smooth skin, tends to feel cold, regular appetite (not too weak, not too strong), gains weight easily and has a hard time losing weight, sound sleeper and hard to awaken, moves slowly and methodically, hard to convince, attached, stubborn
Greatest Strength: Calm
Greatest Challenge: Lethargy
Common Illnesses: Respiratory issues (asthma, bronchitis, congestion, etc.), obesity, type II diabetes
Key Remedy for Balance: Regular, vigorous exercise