To restore energy and equilibrium, traditional Indian Ayurvedic medicine recommends choosing foods and activities that reflect our essential nature or “dosha”. Here are some tips to help you start the new year in excellent form from Ayurveda therapist and yoga teacher Armanda Dos Santos.
In Ayurvedic medicine, practitioners establish a diagnosis and a treatment on the basis of your dominant dosha. The three main doshas, “vata”, “pitta” and “kapha”, correspond to the elements of air, fire, and earth and water respectively. This principal energy that regulates your physical, mental and emotional health can be identified with a test, Ayurveda therapist Armanda Dos Santos explains.
Vata: Frail, dry, nervous and unsettled
The vata personality type, which corresponds to the element air, is identified with mobility, physical and mental hyperactivity, a taste for adventure and creativity, and enthusiasm. Slim and dry in their physical aspect, vata personalities tend to suffer from stress and digestive complaints (constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and gas).
Diet: Vata personalities should prioritize nourishing foods (rice, quinoa, fatty acids, oils, pork) cooked in small quantities, and soups and hot drinks before and after meals to help a lack of digestive fire. With regard to fruit, opt for sweet fruits such as bananas, persimmons and mangoes. Infusions of ginger, cinnamon, cumin and cardamom are recommended to aid digestion.
Treatments: Massages with sesame oil can help relieve dry skin which is often a problem for vatas. Colonic irrigation is also recommended.
Activities: Sleep is vitally important to sustain balance in the nervous system. Ideally, vatas should eat a light dinner around 7pm and be in bed by 10:30pm. Gentle yoga and controlled breathing are well-suited to counteract the nervousness and stress associated with this personality type.
Pitta: Athletic, dominant, rational, judicious, fast-acting
Pitta, which is characterized by fire, is considered to be the most well-balanced dosha. Pitta personalities are charismatic, stable, thoughtful and good at making decisions. However, they are also vulnerable to anger, skin complaints, premature gray hair, and gastric reflux.
Diet: Pittas have excellent digestion and can eat everything. But they should take care to limit their intake of stimulating spices like pepper, ginger and chilli, and avoid alcohol, especially at lunchtime.
Treatments: Coconut oil, which has refreshing properties, is recommended for this personality type.
Activities: Meditation, relaxation, non-competitive team sports, non-strenuous hiking, and walking barefoot in the grass. Ideally, this personality type should engage in activities without goals or measures of performance. Vinyasa yoga can help pitta personalities recenter themselves.
Kapha: Slow, stable and routine oriented
Kapha is linked to the elements of earth and water. This personality type is very prevalent among portly individuals, who relish routine, and speak and think slowly. They are often at risk from diabetes, high cholesterol, water retention and obesity.
Diet: Two meals a day are sufficient; kaphas can even skip breakfast if they like. To compensate for their slow metabolism, they should choose bitter, astringent and spicy flavors, opt for lean meats and steer clear of pork and beef. As a rule, they should avoid foods containing refined sugar and opt for soups, bell peppers, pepper and ginger.
Treatments: Massage with a mixture of sesame and mustard oil to counteract the excess of water associated with personality type. The massage should be vigorous, and the oil should be used sparingly.
Activities: Any kind of cardio training that encourages perspiration. Walking is also excellent, as are artistic activities.