Posts tagged kapha dateOctober 29, 2012

The Kapha Connection

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One of the basic tenets of the world’s oldest system of healing, Ayurveda, is  that we are all made up of the 5 elements- ether, air, fire, water and earth.  These elements combine to form the three doshas or vital energies, vata, pitta and kapha. Each individual is born with all the three doshas in a unique ratio that makes his or her constitution. One of the doshas is usually the primary one, and good health depends on maintaining the balance of doshas in our body. Those who have kapha as the primary doshas are ‘kapha’ personalities.

 What are the qualities of kapha  and how is kapha connected to your constitution? Earth and Water are the main elements of kapha. They give kapha its definitive qualities. Kapha is found in all our cells, tissues and organs, and forms muscle, fat, bone and sinew.  It is the force that holds cells together, and its primary purpose is that of protection.

The ‘Kapha’ Person

For a correct assessment of your body type, you should consult a good Ayurvedic physician. There are many such legendary physicians in Kerala, the southernmost state of India. This beautiful land, called “God’s Own Country”, is the home of the purest form of Ayurveda, and it is believed that its ‘Ashtavaidya’ families are the eight families that have been divinely appointed to   practice this ancient science. However, to some extent, you yourself can recognize whether or not you are a kapha type of person. If you are sturdy, strong and well built with lots of stamina, and have large, soft eyes, smooth skin and thick hair, you are likely to be one. If kapha is your predominant dosha, you are a slow eater and your digestion is good.  You sleep well, speak carefully and slowly, and are naturally calm and thoughtful, loyal, patient and supportive.  Kapha people earn well- but they are careful with their money, and save well too. They are rather possessive by nature and tend to be stubborn and lazy sometimes. Did you know that Oprah Winfrey and Arnold  Schwarzenegger are ‘kapha’ people?

Restoring Equilibrium

When the kapha in the system goes out of balance, a kapha person will exhibit many warning signs. He or she will become overweight, sleep excessively, and become depressed. Cold, allergies, diabetes and asthma may flare up. Sluggishness, water retention and headaches are also common. Imbalance of kapha occurs mainly when the weather is cloudy, cold and wet and when the moon is full. This is time to take remedial steps, or else this imbalance can lead to disease.

So, what should you do if you notice these warning signs, and are a kapha-type of person?  First you should follow a regular routine. Try to get up before 6 am every morning, take regular exercise and avoid napping during the day time.  Stay warm, and avoid dampness. Take plenty of foods that are light or warm. These include foods that are pungent, bitter or tart. Reduce foods that sweet or salty and cut back on the use of dairy products. Honey is very good to reduce the balance of kapha in your body, but avoid other sweeteners.  A good Ayurvedic physician or vaidyar can suggest herbal remedies that have been made up especially to suit your constitution. So do consult one, and enjoy the feeling of wellness that follows when the balance of the doshas is restored, and your mind, body and spirit are in harmony again.

When Pitta Prevails

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The ancient science of Ayurveda teaches us that there are three vital energies –or doshas-  in our bodies known as vata, pitta and kapha. Each of these in turn is composed of the five elements-spaces, air, fire, water and earth – that made up the entire universe, including humans.  The elements are not present in equal proportion in the doshas- some doshas have more of one or two elements than the others. Similarly, the doshas are not present equally in our bodies. One dosha will prevail over the others, in a delicate balance that ensures perfect health. Your body type depends on your prevalent dosha.  If you are a disciplined and logical person, you are likely to be a ‘pitta’ personality, and you are in good company for John Kennedy was a pitta personality too!

The Pitta Person

Pitta is associated with the elements of fire and water. It is an expression of the radiant energy that is within us- and present in the Universe as well. Pitta is   vitality, enthusiasm and intensity.  Pitta regulates our appetite, and digestion, our metabolism and intellect.  If you are a pitta person, you are likely to be of medium height and slender.  You have a strong metabolism, healthy appetite and good digestion. You enjoy eating and your sleep is generally peaceful and uninterrupted.  You enjoy sweet, bitter and tart foods, as well as cold drinks rather than hot ones.  Pitta people are intelligent, sharp and good orators, but judgmental and critical of others. They cannot tolerate disorder- they love to clean. They are ambitious and very capable, but prone to jealousy. A pitta person enjoys material benefits and displaying his or her wealth. If you are a pitta personality, take heart- you are a born leader!

 When the balance of pitta to the other doshas in your body is affected, you will start feeling increasingly irritated, frustrated and angry.  You may suffer from inflammation of the joints, ulcers, heartburn, and rashes. These are all warning signs that there is an imbalance of doshas in your body that can lead illness, and it is important to restore the equilibrium of pitta in your constitution. To do this, cut down on the consumption of butter, fat and red meat. Go vegetarian, and drink lots of milk.  Avoid hot, salty, heavy foods and eat more of vegetables, grains and beans.   Give a wide berth to processed foods and pungent spices and opt for cooling herbs and spices like coriander, cilantro, fennel and cardamom.   Eat slowly and go to bed early- the idea is to get your doshas back to their unique ratio, for when the doshas are perfectly balanced, the body itself is capable of fighting any disease and restoring good health.

Summer is the time when pitta is easily thrown out of balance. So be extra careful during this season.  Everything you do- your diet and your lifestyle- should have coolness as its aim.  Ayurvedic physicians will prescribe herbal remedies which are very effective in restoring the balance of pitta. Kerala, the home of Ayurveda, has a rich tradition of legendary vaidyars or Ayurvedic physicians.  They will customize herbal formulas to suit your individual constitution, and ensure that once again, pitta prevails and your total well being is restored.

Are you a ‘Vata’ Person?

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Are you a person who loves excitement and new experiences, quick to anger and quick to forgive? Are you prone to worry and anxiety? Do you love sweet, sour and salty foods? Do you make money quickly but spend it as quickly too? Are you underweight and prone to dry skin and constipation? If the answer is “yes” to all these questions, you are a “vata” person! You are in good company too, for many great personalities, like Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn were vata people as well.

So what exactly does vata mean? Vata is one of three vital energies or doshas in our body, the other two being pita and kapha. Vata spends energy, pita manages it. Kapha stores it. According to Ayurveda, the world’s oldest system of healing, every individual has all these three doshas in his or her constitution. However, one of the doshas will predominate over the others, in a finely balanced equation that ensures physical and mental good health. Your body type and emotional make up are determined by which dosha is the key player in your body and whether you are a Vata, Pitta or Kapha type of person.

Tips for the Vata Person

To ensure perfect harmony among the three doshas, a vata person should take care to take care to lead an orderly life, sleeping and eating on schedule. It is also important to eat foods that have a balancing effect on vata. These include foods that are warm and heavy. Ghee and virgin olive oil are especially good. Avocados, mangoes, apricots and plums are the best fruits while rice and wheat are the best grains for balancing vata. Cooked vegetables and nuts are good for you if you are a vata person while the best spices are cardamom, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, salt, cloves, mustard seed, basil, asafetida, cilantro, fennel, oregano, sage, tarragon, thyme, and black pepper. If you must eat non vegetarian food, be sure it is fresh, organic chicken, turkey, seafood, and eggs.

Any imbalance in your vata will make you feel out of control. Your mind may race, leading to anxiety and insomnia. You may start skipping meals, as a result of which you may lose weight and your digestion will be upset. These are the early symptoms of vata imbalance that may lead to an illness. They are warning signals telling you to slow down, meditate, keep regular mealtimes and go to bed early so as to get adequate rest. Drinking plenty of fluids and having regular oil baths will help you too.

Only a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner can accurately assess the exact balance of vata, pitta, and kapha energies in your physical constitution. The finest Ayurvedic physicians and the purest form of Ayurveda itself are to be found in Kerala, where this ancient system has been a way of life for thousands of years. So if you think you are a vata person, but would like confirmation and guidance on how best to ensure perfect harmony of body and mind, come to Kerala … as thousands have for centuries before you, to experience the wonder of Ayurveda.

Ayurveda- God’s Own System of Healing

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Ayurveda- God’s Own System of Healing

Today, when everything is “instant”, the world is discovering the wonder of the accumulated wisdom of thousands of years, in Ayurveda.  Ayurveda or the Science of Life is perhaps the most complete system of living, embracing not only medicine and philosophy, but also psychology, lifestyle, and preventive health care. Ayurveda was first recorded in the Vedas, which are believed to be the world’s oldest existing literature.  Even before being recorded, the principles of Ayurveda were handed down orally for thousands of years from teacher to student.  Thus Ayurveda can rightly claim to be the oldest system of medicine that evolved in India and is as relevant today as it was 5000 years ago. Rooted in Nature, Ayurveda is truly God’s Own System of Healing… and the purest form of Ayurveda has been practiced for thousands of years in God’s Own Country, Kerala

Oneness in the Universe

Ayurveda is first and foremost, a holistic system that aims to integrate and balance the body, mind, and spirit. According to Ayurveda, all things in this Universe, both living and nonliving, are made of the same five natural elements- prithvi or earth, apa or water, tejas or fire, vayu or air and akash or space.  The human body too is made up of these elements- plus the soul. These five elements are manifested in our bodies as the three primary life forces or ‘doshas’.  The three doshas are Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vata is compared to air and controls movement, pita is compared to fire and controls the metabolism and kapha is compared to water and controls structure. Together, they are known as the “Tridoshas.” In addition to the three doshas, three types of psychic energies also affect each of us and are known as the three ‘gunas.’

Prakriti and Balance

 Ayurvedic philosophy maintains that people are born with a specific constitution, which is called the prakriti. Prakriti is a unique combination of physical and psychological characteristics that affect the way each person thinks, acts and lives. The three doshas are important constituents of prakriti and each and every one of us has an individual balance of the three doshas in our prakriti.

 Prakriti can be influenced by internal, external and environmental factors and this can cause an imbalance among the doshas, which causes health problems.   According to the philosophy of Ayurveda, health is a state of balance and imbalance is disease. We are healthy and happy when our doshas and our gunas are properly balanced. However, our initial balance is often disrupted by our lifestyles. Imbalance causes a lack of harmony, and makes us more susceptible to disease. Ayurvedic medicines and protocols focus on everything from diet and exercise to herbal therapies, massage, meditation, social behavior and positive relationships. They work to restore the balance and the balanced body then heals itself… and that is the beauty and wonder of Ayurveda.

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