To celebrate International Yoga day this Thursday I wanted to talk a little bit about it’s sister science – Ayurveda. It’s all about getting to know your personality and body type and which foods keep you in balance.
The five elements
If you’re a fan of the film the film The Fifth Element (yes I am and I’m not ashamed to admit it) you’ll be familiar with the five key elements: earth, air, fire, water and the more mysterious fifth element which is ether in Ayurveda.
If you start to think about what you associate with these elements you’ll be able to connect these traits to personalities – either your own or people you know.
- Earth – grounding, stable, sturdy
- Air – light, weightless, swift
- Fire – hot, powerful, dangerous
- Water – fluid, cool, moving
- Ether (or space) – vast, open, infinite
In Ayurveda it’s believed that we’re all born with a certain amount of these elements and you’ve probably met people who either have a ‘fiery’ temperament or ‘calming’ aura. This could explain their ‘mind/body type’ or their ‘Dosha’.
The three Doshas
When you combine these elements in Ayurveda you get three ‘Doshas’ which are energies used to describe your food, body, mind and environment.
The ‘wind’ Dosha which is air + water is in charge of the movement in the body (e.g. the heartbeat). Below are some examples of issues it could cause in excess. In the body: poor blood circulation, heart palpitations or feeling cold
In the digestive system: constipation or bloating
In the mind: anxiety or forgetfulness
The ‘fire’ Dosha which is fire + water is in charge of the transformation in the body (e.g. digestion). Below are some examples of issues it could cause in excess.
In the body: feeling hot all of the time, liver malfunctions or excessively sweaty
In the digestive system: diarrhoea or heartburn
In the mind: anger or narcissism
The ‘earth’ Dosha which is earth + water is in charge of the structure in the body (e.g bone density). Below are some examples of issues it could cause in excess.
In the body: feeling cold all of the time, weight gain or asthma
In the digestive system: slow metabolism or heaviness after meals
In the mind: laziness or loneliness
The belief is that we’re all born with a certain ratio of Doshas in our DNA, but throughout life we create our own through our lifestyle changes.
So you may have been born mainly Kapha and felt heavy during childhood, but you’ve since started regular exercise and eating light meals so you’re now more Vata.
Your Dosha is always changing depending on the stresses in your life and even the weather, but what you eat can help balance you out.
Eating your way to balance
In Ayurveda digestion of your food is incredibly important – you aren’t what you eat but you are what you digest. Poor digestion can lead to a lot of issues depending on your Dosha.
Here are some examples of the issues you may be having and the food qualities that help, plus an example recipe for breakfasts as this is the meal that gets your internal fire going in the morning.
Issues: bloating, gas, constipation, anxiety
Food qualities: warming, grounding, energizing, building
Ideal breakfast example: quinoa porridge with non-dairy milk, maple syrup, cinnamon, cardamom, Himalayan salt, chopped dates and nuts
Issues: heartburn, diarrhoea, sharp hunger, feeling too hot
Food qualities: cooling, calming, lightening, detoxifying
Ideal breakfast example: gluten free overnight oats with goji berries, non-dairy milk, chia seeds, cinnamon, Himalayan salt, vanilla, pumpkin puree and maca
Issues: weight-gain, lethargy, slow metabolism, water-retention, emotional eating
Food qualities: light, stimulating, easy-to-digest
Ideal breakfast example: stewed apples with star anise, cardamom, cinnamon, coconut yoghurt, clove and nutmeg
This post has been a very brief introduction to the Vedic science of Ayurveda. If you’re interested in this kind of thing I took all of this information from a course I did online at Daily OM – Sacred self-care and Ayurvedic nutrition by Sahara Rose.
You pay £10, £20 or £30 depending on what you can afford and if you’re not satisfied you’ll get a refund.