Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space are the five elements that make up all that exists in our universe according to Ayurveda, the ancient Indian science of life.
Look around you and feel inside of yourself. Notice the elements.
Can you find anything that is not a combination of the five elements?
Each one of us has a unique mind and body constitution made up of these elements combined to make our own Ayurvedic fingerprint. This distinctive constitution is called our prakriti, or mind-body type. In Ayurveda, many people colloquially call our unique type our dosha.
The doshas are made up of the five elements and are called vata, pitta and kapha. Vata is composed of air and space elements and we feel it when we move or breathe. Pitta is fire and water and we experience it in quick insights or our burning digestive fire. Kapha is water and earth elements and we experience it when we are hydrated, fluid and content.
Every one of us has all three doshic types in varying degrees. Most of us tend to have one dosha which is more dominant than the others, others are dual-doshic, having two dominant doshas, and some of us are tri-doshic, or have equal parts of all three doshas. Whatever one's exclusive body constitution, knowing ones dosha can greatly assist in finding optimal well-being, repairing imbalance, and living out ones highest purpose.
Vata, Pitta and Kapha, connect not only to each individual, but also to the seasons of the year. Understanding which dosha is strong during the present time shows us how to be in harmony with the seasons. Reflect for a minute- which dosha do you think is dominant in each season?
As you would imagine, vata, a cold, light, mobile energy, governs fall and winter. Pitta, a hot, sharp, bright energy, governs summer. Spring, with its cool, moist and heavy qualities, belongs to kapha. So paying attention to this, we can avoid the seasonal colds and use our knowledge to benefit us!
Kaphas qualities are moist, cold, heavy, dull, soft, sticky and static. We experience many of these qualities in excess if we get a seasonal cold! There are ways to stay balanced and avoid unhealthy kapha illnesses as the season eases out of winter and into spring. In following these suggestions remember that Ayurvedic wisdom is always a suggestion; use only what your own body wisdom tells you is true for you.
During the Kapha season the following suggestions may help you to maintain balance and health within and without:
- Notice the weather changing with the seasons and how our bodies react.
- As the weather pattern changes, make changes in lifestyle that are subtly attuned to the shifts in nature.
- As spring approaches enjoy vigorous exercise at least 3-4 X per week. Walking, running, dancing are all good ways to burn off kaphas lethargic, slumping energy.
- Notice any places where we are withholding or experiencing stubborn energy and instead, lean into them, when we are ready to burst into spring changes.
- Wear bright, warm colors like oranges, reds,and golds to stimulate positive energy
- Our diet should consist of hot, light, dry foods to counteract kapha's heavy qualities. For example, eat warm, baked, broiled or grilled foods fresh from the stove or oven. Avoid cold, heavy, sticky foods such as yogurt, cheeses and ice creams.
- Add more vegetables to your diet and cut down on cold, sweet, salty or sour food.
- Avoid cold drinks and enjoy warm ones
- Add more spices, such as turmeric, paprika, ginger, cayenne (if you can take it!) and black pepper to your food.
Following just some of these suggestions will facilitate a smooth transition from winter into the full flowering of spring. We give thanks to the ancestors for Ayurveda's 5,000 year old science of health and healing that helps balance the body and mind to create marvelous health and well being.
By Susanna Barkataki,
Certified Ayurvedic Wellness Counselor, Yoga Teacher, Writer, Nature Lover