News

Balancing a Kapha Dosha: Suggested Diet and Lifestyle

Ayurvedic texts recommend the principle of opposites for reducing the level of a dosha that has become aggravated. Since the characteristics of Kapha include heaviness, softness, sweetness, cold, stability and unctuousness, qualities that are opposite to these in diet and lifestyle help restore balance to Kapha dosha.

Dietary recommendations- Kapha Dosha

Include a few dry foods in your daily diet to balance the oily nature of Kapha, foods that are nourishing but light to counter the heaviness of Kapha and warm foods with a zing to them to balance the sweet, cold quality of Kapha. So what exactly does this mean in terms of foods you should choose and foods you should stay away from? Here are some specific dietary tips:

  1. If you need to balance Kapha, choose ghee, in very small quantities, as your cooking medium. Ghee can be heated to high temperatures without affecting its nourishing, healing qualities, so use ghee to sauté vegetables, spices or other foods. Steaming foods and then adding a mixture of spices sautéed in very little ghee is best. In general, avoid too many oily foods.
  2. Light, warming foods help balance Kapha. Clear vegetable soups with beans and diced vegetables, stews made with Kapha-balancing vegetables, bean casseroles, dhal soups and light grain/vegetable combinations are ideal for balancing Kapha, especially when combined with Kapha balancing spices. Stay away from too much salt and instead infuse dishes with fresh herbs and spices for flavor.
  3. The three ayurvedic tastes that help balance Kapha are pungent, bitter and astringent, so include more of these tastes in your daily diet. Apples, garbanzo beans cooked with Kapha-balancing spices or steamed broccoli or cauliflower with a light olive oil and spice mixture make healthy Kapha-pacifying snacks. Eat less of the salty, sweet and sour tastes.
  4. Dry cereal, salt-free crackers and rice cakes balance the liquid nature of Kapha dosha and make good snacks. However, eat snacks in moderation if you are trying to balance Kapha, and avoid sugary snacks. Honey in small quantities is the recommended sweetener.
  5. Carrots, asparagus, okra, bitter leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts, daikon radish and bitter gourd are good vegetable choices. They become more digestible when chopped and cooked with Kapha-pacifying spices. Vegetables can be combined with lighter grains or mung beans for satisfying one-dish meals. Avoid nightshades. Fresh green chili peppers and fresh ginger root add flavor while balancing Kapha.
  6. Choose lighter whole grains, and eat grains in moderation. Barley, buckwheat, millet and couscous are good choices. If you choose heavier grains, such as rice or wheat, eat very small quantities.
  7. Zesty warming spices are wonderful for balancing Kapha. Ayurvedic spices such as turmeric, cumin, coriander, cayenne, black pepper, dried ginger, asafetida (hing), cloves and fenugreek offer flavor, aroma and healing wisdom.
  8. Drink lassi infused with digestion-enhancing spices and herbs with lunch and lots of warm water through the day to help flush toxins from the body.

Suggested Food Choices for Kapha Dosha

The following list of suggested foods is by no means all-inclusive, but offers starting guidelines if you are new to ayurvedic dietary principles. We will add to this list regularly, so please check back often!

Grains: Buckwheat, quinoa, barley, millet, oats, amaranth, sago, small portions of Basmati rice, all cooked until tender

Vegetables: Asparagus, all kinds of greens, bitter gourd, green beans, lauki squash, artichoke, celery, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, kohlrabi, daikon, radish, cabbage, all cooked

Fruits: Apricots, prunes, peaches, pears, cherries, berries, apples, lemons, limes, pomegranates, dried figs, raisins

Lentils: Mung beans, mung dhal, toor dhal, red or brown lentils, small portions of garbanzos, lima beans, black beans, all cooked until butter-soft

Dairy: Whole milk diluted with water, lassi, small portions of cottage cheese or fresh paneer cheese

Oils: Small portions of ghee and olive oil

Herbs: Cilantro, curry leaves, parsley, fresh basil, fresh mint, fresh oregano, fresh thyme, sage, neem leaves

Nuts and Seeds: Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds

Spices: Turmeric, cumin, cardamom, coriander, fennel, dried ginger, Chinese cinnamon, black pepper, Chinese cinnamon, mint, saffron, dill, lime zest, nutmeg, cayenne, fenugreek, mustard seed, oregano, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, paprika, mace, cloves

Other: Raw honey in moderation, unsalted unbuttered popcorn, crackers in moderation, cooked tofu in small quantities (diced small and cooked with spices)

Lifestyle recommendations: Balancing Kapha Dosha

Ayurvedic texts recommend the principle of opposites for reducing the level of a dosha that has become aggravated. Since the characteristics of Kapha include heaviness, softness, sweetness, cold, stability and unctuousness, qualities that are opposite to these in diet and lifestyle help restore balance to Kapha dosha.

  1. The primary lifestyle recommendation for balancing Kapha is to get moving. Physically, get some exercise every single day. Mentally, challenge yourself with new activities—learn a new skill, solve some puzzles or take a class. Emotionally, welcome new relationships in your life by making it a point to meet people—volunteering comes naturally to the caring Kapha nature and can provide a forum for building nurturing new bonds.
  2. Do not skip meals, and do not fast. The Kapha digestive agni tends to be low, as does appetite, and not eating on time slows down the metabolism even more. Start your day with a light breakfast. Eat a sustaining meal at lunch, and a lighter meal for dinner. The Amalaki Rasayana helps enhance digestion and revs up the metabolism.
  3. Daily elimination is very important to prevent ama from accumulating in the body. Triphala Rasayana helps promote regularity as well as toning the digestive system. Since Triphala is gentle, not habit forming and not depleting, it can be taken indefinitely to maintain regularity.
  4. Deep-cleanse oily skin twice a day with a natural cleanser to rid the skin of surface impurities and grime. Once a week, ex-foliate your skin with a cleansing scrub. Shampoo your hair every other day at least with a gentle natural shampoo. The ayurvedic oil massage, performed each morning before your shower or bath can help dislodge embedded toxins and increase natural energy levels.
  5. Protect yourself from the damp and cold. Drink lots of warm water, infused with warming spices such as turmeric, dried ginger and black pepper. At-home steam therapy can help open clogged channels.
  6. Vigorous activities are ideal exercise for Kapha-dominant people. Exercise everyday for best results, but without overstraining. Racquetball, singles tennis, jogging and aerobics are good activity choices for balancing Kapha. Exercise in the morning if you can to get a good charge for the day ahead.
  7. If Kapha dosha is out of balance, you’ll tend to feel tired even after a solid ten hours of uninterrupted sleep. Go to bed early and wake up really early in the morning, definitely before sunrise, to improve the quality of your rest. Do not indulge in daytime snoozes.
  8. Add zest to your life by consciously incorporating variety and new experiences into your life. Travel, meeting new people and trying new hobbies are ways to embrace change.
  9. Set aside about 30 minutes each day for meditation, to help balance the heart, mind and emotions and to enhance body-mind-spirit coordination.

Tags: , ,

No Comments




Kapha Dosha

What is Kapha?

Elements: Water and Earth – oily and heavy

Kapha is made up of the two elements water and earth.

Characteristics of Kapha dosha: heavy – both water and earth are heavy elements (guru); cold (sheetoha); soft (mridu); unctuous, offering lubrication (snigdha); sweet (madhura); stability, offering immunity (sthira); and slippery (tikshila).

People with more Kapha in their constitutions tend to be of larger proportions, with a robust frame and padded joints, thick smooth skin that may tend towards oiliness, and rich, wavy hair.

They are stable and calm in thought, speech and action, and are easy-going and supportive in relationships.

There is an element of steadiness to their step, a quality of serenity in their smile. Loyalty is usually their second name.

They are long, heavy sleepers and uncomfortable in damp, clammy environments. Calm and sweetness of disposition are hallmarks of balanced Kapha.

If your prakriti or original constitution has more Kapha in it, you will exhibit many of the characteristics and qualities of Kapha when you are in balance than people who have more Pitta or Vata in their make-up. And that’s natural. But if the qualities become extreme, or more pronounced than usual at a given time, then the Kapha in you has in all likelihood become aggravated or imbalanced, and needs to be brought back into balance.

Factors that can cause Kapha dosha to increase in the physiology include a diet that contains too many deep-fried, sweet or heavy foods, over-consumption of ice-cold foods or beverages, exposure to cold and damp, daytime sleep, and lack of exercise.

Signs that you need to balance Kapha:

  • Are you gaining weight easily, even though you feel like you don’t really have an appetite?
  • Do you feel tired even though you are not performing any physical activity?
  • Do you find it difficult to awake even after long hours of sleep? Do you wake up feeling un-refreshed, tired?
  • Is your skin feeling oilier than usual, with breakouts?
  • Is your hair oily and streaky even with regular shampooing?
  • Are you heavy and congested in your throat, head and chest?
  • Is your digestion slow? Do you feel heavy and lethargic after a meal?
  • Do you feel like you just want to sit and be a spectator?
  • Do you feel withdrawn? Is it difficult to deal with change? Do you constantly feel the need to “cling”?
  • Do you feel mentally unmotivated?

If you answered yes to many of the questions above, following a Kapha-balancing diet and lifestyle can help restore balance to Kapha.

For information about lifestyle and diet for Kapha Dosha.

Tags: , ,

No Comments




Pitta Dosha

Elements: Fire & Water – Hot & Liquid

What is Pitta?

Pitta is made up of the two elements fire and water.

Characteristics of Pitta dosha: hot and a little unctuous (sahasnehamushnam); sharp, burning (tikshnam); liquid and acidic (dravamlam); always flowing in an unbounded manner (saram); pungent and sharp (katuhu).

Pitta contains fire, but it also contains water. It is the source of the flame, but not the flame itself. Compare Pitta to gasoline–it is not hot to the touch, but it can be the source of flames.

People with more Pitta in their constitutions tend to be of medium proportions, with a frame that is neither petite nor heavy, warm skin that is very fair or ruddy and may be sensitive, and fine hair that tends towards premature graying or thinning.

They are sharp and determined in thought, speech and action. There is an element of purpose to their step, an intensity to their voice. Ambition is usually their second name.

They are moderate sleepers and gravitate towards cooler environments.

Self-confidence and an entrepreneurial spirit are hallmarks of balanced Pitta.

If your prakriti or original constitution has more Pitta in it, you will exhibit many of the characteristics and qualities of Pitta when you are in balance than people who have more Vata or Kapha in their make-up. And that’s natural. But if the qualities become extreme, or more pronounced than usual at a given time, then the Pitta in you has in all likelihood become aggravated or imbalanced, and needs to be brought back into balance. And if a predominantly Kapha or Vata person starts exhibiting many Pitta qualities, that indicates a Pitta imbalance in that Kapha or Vata body type. In both cases, it is then time to follow a Pitta-balancing diet and lifestyle to help restore the level of Pitta in the physiology to its normal proportion.

Factors that can cause Pitta dosha to increase in the physiology include a diet that contains too many hot or spicy foods, fasting or skipping meals, over-exposure to the sun or to hot temperatures, and emotional trauma.

Signs that you need to balance Pitta:

  • Are you constantly critical, impatient, irritable?
  • Do you feel obsessed by work or a project, unable to stop for a break?
  • Do you wake up in the very early hours of the morning and then find it difficult to get back to sleep?
  • Is your skin feeling irritated or more sensitive than usual, breaking out or feeling inflamed?
  • Is your hair falling when you shampoo or comb it?
  • Do you have problems with heartburn or excess stomach acid?
  • Is your tolerance of other people or provoking situations lower than usual? Do you have temper outbursts over minor aggravations? Do you often feel frustrated?
  • Do you feel hot even when you are indoors? Do you feel thirsty all the time? Are your eyes red?
  • Is your speech often biting and sarcastic? Do you find yourself getting into arguments easily?

If you answered yes to many of the questions above, following a Pitta-balancing diet and lifestyle can help restore balance to Pitta.

For information about lifestyle and diet for Pitta Dosha.

Tags: , ,

No Comments




Vata Dosha

What is Vata?

ELEMENTS: Space and Air – dry and restless

Vata is made up of the two elements space and air.

Characteristics of Vata dosha: dry and rough (rookshaha); cool (sheetoha); light–lacking weight (laghuhu); very tiny, penetrating molecules (sookhshmaha); always moving (chalota); broad, unlimited, unbounded–akash means unbounded space (vishadaha); and rough (kharaha).

People with more Vata in their constitutions tend to be thin, with a slender frame and prominent joints, delicate skin that is naturally dry, and dry voluminous hair. They are quick and lively in thought, speech and action, and make friends easily. There is an element of airiness to their step, a quality of lightness in their laughter. Change is usually their second name. They are light sleepers and gravitate towards warm environments. Creativity and enthusiasm are hallmarks of balanced Vata.

If your prakriti or original constitution has more Vata in it, you will exhibit many of the characteristics and qualities of Vata when you are in balance than people who have more Pitta or Kapha in their make-up. And that’s natural. But if the qualities become extreme, or more pronounced than usual at a given time, then the Vata in you has in all likelihood become aggravated or imbalanced, and needs to be brought back into balance. And if a predominantly Kapha or Pitta person starts exhibiting many Vata qualities, that indicates a Vata imbalance in that Kapha or Pitta body type. In both cases, it is then time to follow a Vata-balancing diet and lifestyle to help restore the level of Vata in the physiology to its normal proportion.

Factors that can cause Vata dosha to increase in the physiology include a diet that contains too many dry or raw foods, over-consumption of ice-cold beverages, exposure to cold dry winds, a variable daily routine, too much travel, and mental overexertion.

Signs that you need to balance Vata:

  • Are you constantly worried, anxious, overwhelmed, fretful?
  • Do you feel tired but find yourself unable to slow down and relax?
  • Do you find it difficult to settle down and fall asleep at night? Is your sleep restless when you do manage to fall asleep?
  • Is your skin feeling dryer than usual, stretched taut or flaking?
  • Is your hair more brittle, with split ends happening oftener?
  • Are your lips raw and chapped? Is your throat constantly dry?
  • Is your digestion irregular? Do you experience problems with abdominal gas?
  • Do you feel like you cannot sit still, that you need to be constantly moving?
  • Do you feel “spaced out”? Is it harder to remember things for more than a short period of time? Is your attention span shorter than usual? Is it harder to focus?
  • Do your bowel movements occur less than once daily?

If you answered yes to many of the questions above, following a Vata-balancing diet and lifestyle can help restore balance to Vata.

Tags: , ,

No Comments




Understanding the Chakras

Have you eve wondered whether there is something more than the physical, matter world that you can touch, smell and see? In the same vein as electricity – which we cannot touch, smell or see – there is energy flowing all around us. It is from this energy that the physical body is nourished.

When it comes to energy in and around your body, there are three basic components.

  • the subtle bodies or energy bodies
  • the chakras – sometimes referred to an energy centers
  • the nadis – sometimes referred to an energy channels

This post focuses on the chakras which can be seen as as receivers, transformers and distributors of the energy (commonly referred to as prana) that flows around our energy system.

While there are numerous energy centres in the human body, there are seven “main” chakras. These chakras are as follows:

1. Muladhara (Mūlādhāra) Base or Root Chakra (last bone in spinal cord or coxis)
2. Swadhisthana (Svādhiṣṭhāna) Sacral Chakra (ovaries/prostate)
3. Manipura (Maṇipūra) Solar Plexus Chakra (navel area)
4. Anahata (Anāhata) Heart Chakra (heart area)
5. Vishuddha (Viśuddha) Throat Chakra (throat and neck area)
6. Ajna (Ājñā) Brow or Third Eye Chakra (pituary gland)
7. Sahasrara (Sahasrāra) Crown Chakra (pineal gland or third eye)

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

No Comments




Understanding Ayurveda

What is the Goal of Ayureda?

To have a better understanding on my dosha (energetic profile) and explore how to balance my dosha to support me towards health and well-being.

How many of you are familiar with Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is a sister-science of Yoga that deals with health from a perspective of relationships – our relationship to the food we eat, in accordance with our relationship to the earth and the seasons, etc.

The Doshas – read any article on Ayurveda and you are likely to see some mention of the three doshas, Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

What exactly are doshas and what do they have to do with our well-being?

According to ayurveda, the five fundamental elements that make up the universe are:

  1. space (akasha)
  2. air (vayu)
  3. fire (agni)
  4. water (apu), and
  5. earth (prithvi)

These elements also make up the human physiology.

How do these elements work within us?

Look at the elements from the point of view of what they do in the physiology, rather than what they are — ayurveda describes three biological profiles/ constitutions/ or psychophysiological energies called doshas.

There are three doshas, called Vata, Pitta and Kapha, and each is mainly a combination of two elements:

  1. Vata dosha – is made up of space and air
  2. Pitta dosha – is a combination of fire and water
  3. Kapha dosha – is made up of water and earth

Each of these doshas is further divided into five sub-doshas. Together, the doshas create all the activities that occur within us.

The combination of the three doshas that you inherit at conception is called your prakriti or original or birth constitution

While it is not unheard of for people to have nearly equal proportions of the three doshas or just one very predominant dosha as their prakriti, most people have two doshas that are more or less equally dominant, with the remaining one less dominant

Thus, there are ten classic types of prakriti possible:

  1. Vata-Pitta-Kapha, Vata (where Vata is much more dominant than either of the two other doshas
  2. Vata-Pitta-Kapha, Vata-Pitta (where Vata and Pitta are the two major doshas with Vata being slightly more dominant than Pitta)
  3. Pitta-Vata-Kapha, Pitta-Vata (where again Vata and Pitta are the two major doshas, but Pitta is slightly more dominant than Vata)
  4. Vata-Kapha-Pitta, Kapha
  5. Vata-Kapha
  6. Kapha-Vata
  7. Pitta-Vata-Kapha, Pitta
  8. Pitta-Kapha
  9. Kapha-Pitta
  10. Tri-doshic

Of course, each of us has a unique doshic thumbprint, and an ayurvedic healer performs an ayurvedic pulse assessment to discover that unique doshic make-up and the exact nature of imbalances in order to recommend a very individual program (diet & lifestyle) for restoring balance.

For good health and well-being to be maintained, the three doshas within you need to be in balance. That does not mean they need to be equal, unless you were born with equal doshas

It means that you need to maintain your original doshic make-up or prakriti through life as much as possible to maintain good health.

Unfortunately, factors such as the dietary choices you make, the lifestyle you lead, the climate where you live, levels of environmental pollution, the work you do, the nature of your relationships with people and even just the passage of time can cause one of more of the doshas in your prakriti to increase or decrease from its original level in your constitution, creating vikriti or imbalance. If this imbalance is not corrected, you eventually lose your good health. That’s why restoring balance is the central theme of the ayurvedic approach to health.

While it is ideal to follow a personal program of balance laid out by an ayurvedic healer after an ayurvedic pulse assessment and a question-answer session designed to discover your precise needs for balance at a given time, a well-designed questionnaire can help you assess for yourself if you need to balance one or more doshas, and diet and lifestyle tips and herbal formulas can help maintain or restore balance.

Please note: The statements on this web site have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. None of the information or products on this web site is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. For medical concerns, please consult your physician. Before making changes to your diet or lifestyle, please consult your physician.

For more information on each of the three Doshas:

Tags: , , ,

No Comments