Vata

VATA is made up of air and space/ether and relates to ‘all that moves’ in the body and mind.  Breathing, secretions and excretions,  natural urges, sensory and motor functions all relate to air. Love, enmity, shyness and fear relate to space or ether. Vata is referred to as the queen of the doshas as she is responsible for all movement within the body and mind, thus enabling Pitta and Kapha to express themselves in the physiology of the body. The characteristics of Vata would include a small body frame, someone who is mentally and/or physically active, someone who moves fast  and talks a lot. Vata people tend to have restless minds, dislike the cold, have dry bodies and thin hair. They are creative people and enthusiastic, are quick to learn but also quick to forget. Out of balance Vata can show as anxiety, worry, fear and agitation. There may be coldness and muscles spasms. There is a tendency for constipation. Hair and skin may be dry and rough.   Vata Lifestyle Vata needs warmth especially when out of balance along with lifestyle of structure and routine. Meditation is a great way to slow down the active Vata mind – in fact meditation pacifies all the doshas. Warm food and teas, substantial breakfast and lunch and root vegetables are all good for the Vata diet.  Vata needs to avoid stimulants and have lots of rest.  Warming spices are good for example cumin, ginger or black pepper.   Rose and geranium are soothing scents for Vata. Abhyanga massage with warm sesame oil is very grounding for Vata, the skin is the first organ to experience Vata imbalance,  and will show as dryness.  A daily self massage done at home with warm sesame oil would also be very beneficial, especially with attention on the feet. Read more on the other two doshas pitta and kapha.

Kapha

Being kapha Kapha is made up of earth and water. Kapha means ‘embrace’  or ‘to stick’ and governs structure and lubrication. The qualities of kapha are heavy, dense, fertile, stable, soft, oily and moist. Characteristics of the Kapha dosha include strength  and endurance in body and mind. Kapha has a curvy heavier body frame. They have good skin and nails with healthy thick hair, they are slow moving, and have a slower metabolism. Kapha may take longer to grasp a concept, but will never forget it. When balanced Kapha is compassionate, patient, nurturing, affectionate and grounded When out of balance Kapha shows as overweight, depressed, possessive, lethargic.  There may be painful or swollen joints, frequent congestion or sinus  problems. Kapha lifestyle High impact exercise to increase the metabolism is great for Kapha, avoid a sluggish lifestyle, keeping moving, eat less and steer clear of oversleeping and daytime naps!  Meditation in nature is good for kapha, allowing time for meditation and exercise at the same time.  Pranayama (controlled breathing) will help with avoiding excessive mucus production.  Brisk walking, strong Yoga – and hot yoga are a good choices for kapha. Avoid plain water – add a couple of slices of ginger or lemon as plain water can add to the production of mucus.   Kapha will warm to uplifting scents like camphor or earthy scents like sandalwood.   Daily body exfoliation or scrub is a good way to energise the Kapha body, along with a monthly Pindasweda or a stimulating Abhyanga massage. Read more on the other two doshas vata and pitta.

The Power of Relaxation

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Most people find it quite difficult to relax. With all the demands being placed on us by work, family, and things we think we ought to be doing or to have done, our mind tends to constantly shoot “stuff” at us – mostly at times when we cannot do anything about it anyway! Various pieces of new research indicate that, in addition to the obvious psychological effects of relieving stress and mental tension, deep relaxation can moreover strengthen the immune system and produce a multitude of other benefits. These include widening of respiratory passages (good for asthmatics), reducing the need for insulin for diabetics, relieving chronic pain, reducing susceptibility to viruses, as well as lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Any form of deep relaxation seems to bring these benefits, be it meditation, massage, praying, or any other intensive techniques that evoke a specific physiological state and triggers the “relaxation response”. Having some quiet time in front of the TV, doing a bit of gardening or such like is unfortunately not enough to produce the physiological changes required to have these effects, according to Harvard Medical School (Boston, USA). ”You need to use a relaxation technique that will break the train of everyday thought, and decrease the activity of the sympathetic nervous system.” That’s exactly what massage is good for! Read more in this New York Times article. Also check out our resources section which contains some more information about the stress response, ie the opposite to the relaxation response : Your body is in either mode, ie either in Fight/Flight/Freeze mode (stress response), which activates the sympathetic nervous system, or it is in Rest and Digest mode, which in turn activates the parasympathetic nervous system. Balance is key, as it holds true for everything in life…