Learning about Ayurveda as a system of healing has been powerfully transformative for my overall wellbeing. Nearly four years ago, I started suffering from having excessively dry skin and lips. And though normally a light sleeper, I started tossing and turning excessively, waking up every few hours and often unable to go back to sleep. I also felt more rushed, anxious and ungrounded than usual. Despite all the yoga and qigong I did as well as seeing my acupuncturist, I still felt terrible.
I’d had some exposure to Ayurveda from spending some time in India, but for 13 years before moving to London I lived in Beijing, where there were no Ayurvedic doctors anywhere. I decided to explore Ayurveda and met with a practitioner (Jono Condous, I highly recommend him!). Jono suggested that I had an excess of vata dosha – or wind and air – that was causing my symptoms to appear. He suggested some basic changes in my diet such as not eating tomatoes and raw vegetables, wrote up a prescription of herbs, and some new daily routines. After a few weeks, I no longer had dry skin and lips and I started sleeping soundly again. I also felt happier, less scattered and more grounded. These immediate results delighted and intrigued me, and I’ve been a convert ever since. Since then, I’ve found that Ayurveda works in a beautifully complimentary way with Chinese medicine as well as other alternative medicines. Now, I see my acupuncturist as well as Ayurvedic practitioner regularly – and I’m still sleeping well!
Here are 10 reasons for exploring your dosha, and why Ayurveda can foster greater health and wellbeing in your life:
1 – Enable the body start healing itself. When we work to balance the doshas, we start to work toward eliminating what caused the imbalance in the first place. Once the culprit is out of the picture, the body starts to heal itself. For example, if your dosha is kapha or vata and you have a tendency toward blocked sinuses, using a neti pot or sesame oil (both Ayurvedic practices) in the nasal passages can help clear the sinuses. Before you know it, the body starts regulating itself and you can breathe better.
2 – Understand what you need to feel healthier and balanced. In Ayurveda, it’s important to know that each individual has a unique constitution; there is no “one-size-fits-all.” Learning to choose a diet and lifestyle that is appropriate to your dosha is essential for learning how to bring your body and mind into a state of greater balance and health.
3 – Get better rest and sleep. Depending on which dosha you are, you may be inclined to restlessness or agitation – things that often keep us up at night. In Ayurveda, busy thoughts, physical tension or undigested food and emotions can be signs of an out of balance dosha. By learning what your dosha is you can discover ways to mitigate these tendencies if they arise as well as create conditions to help you get a better night’s sleep.
4 – Feel warm throughout the winter months. Particularly if you have a vata or kapha constitution, you may suffer from feeling damp and cold no matter how many layers you put on this winter. Knowing your dosha can give you a better sense of what you can do to keep warm through London’s cold winter months.
5 – Improve your digestion. Each dosha can be positively or negatively affected by digestion. Learn what dosha you are so you can eat the right foods and make your belly happy and content.
6 – Boost your immune system. Often our immune system can be compromised when our body’s defences are weakened. When we are tired, stressed, anxious or emotionally challenged, fewer resources are available to fight off bacteria and viruses. Understanding your dosha can help support your body’s defences, and stay healthy and sniffle-free.
7 – Reduce inflammation and discomfort in the muscles and joints. In Ayurveda, each dosha can have a tendency toward inflammation, fluid retention, or arthritis. Learning what your dosha is can help you work toward keeping the muscles joints in a healthier state. You can also learn what postures (Äsanas) are most beneficial for your dosha.
8 – Mitigate sluggishness, impatience or restlessness. Each dosha has one of these characteristics when out of balance. Learning which dosha you are can help you discover ways in which these tendencies can be pacified through intentions, diet, postures and lifestyle changes.
9 – Feel less reactive. We all know what it’s like when we say things we don’t mean or feel overly sensitive. In Ayurveda, these tendencies are triggered when emotional states such as frustration, anger, stubbornness and anxiety are out of balance. When we work toward balancing these states, we can meet our experiences with a clearer heart and more room for understanding.
10 – Honour yourself and honour your natural, balanced state. The underlying principles in Ayurveda emphasise that an understanding of your basic nature and constitution foster an understanding of your natural, balanced state. Knowing your dosha helps this! Also, remember that balance is not about always being healthy and having everything under control. Rather, balance can be understood as the ability to recover quickly after getting sick, or standing back on your feet after feeling knocked down by the winds of life.