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Archive for the ‘Ayurveda’ Category

In the last few posts, we’ve been learning about Vata Dosha, the energy of Air and Space. Today, we dive into the fire of Pitta Dosha.

Pitta – The Energy of Fire and Water

The word Pitta comes from the Sanskrit root tap, meaning fire or heat. This is the same root that the term tapas (discipline) comes from, which refers to the burning passion of commitment and dedication.

Pitta is predominantly the energy of the element Fire, although there is also a little bit of Water energy in Pitta as well. Just like a physical flame, Pitta transforms matter from one form to another. We can see Pitta at work in the daily transformative power of our own metabolism and digestion.

The qualities of Pitta are oily, sharp, hot, light (in both senses: light-weight and bright), pungent in odor, spreading and liquid. A Pitta-dominant person typically has a medium-framed body, red-toned oily skin, quick digestion with a ravenous appetite, balding or prematurely grey hair, and a sharp intellect. When the weather is hot and humid, Pitta is dominant in the environment. (Hello, summer in central Texas!)

In the human body, Pitta is responsible for metabolism and maintaining healthy temperature. Its functions include digestion, absorption, assimilation, cellular metabolism, vision, and maintaining healthy skin. Importantly, it is also responsible for the digestion of information or experience into emotions and knowledge.

People with Pitta as their dominant dosha tend to be interested in matters of the mind, sometimes at the expense of the body. They can have fiery emotions, full of passion, and they can be competitive or even aggressive in communication, invested as they are in persuading their listeners. Their drive and motivation is strong and goal-directed.

Stay tuned to learn what happens when Pitta dosha gets out of balance.

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In my last Ayurveda Foundations post, I described the main qualities of Vata dosha (the energy of Air and Space): dry, light, cold, rough, subtle, mobile and clear.

In human beings, Vata’s primary responsibility is to coordinate movement and communication. When Vata is in balance (i.e., when it is maintained at the original baseline level set at an individual’s birth), then that person’s movements and communications are effective and healthy.

However, when Vata dosha gets elevated above an individual’s unique “norm,” then signs of Air and Space emerge: cracking joints, dry skin, constipation, weight loss, insomnia, poor circulation, pain, stiffness, tremors, irregular heart beat, fatigue, and ringing in the ears.

In the mental-emotional realm, aggravated Vata can create fear, anxiety, worry, forgetfulness, and an inability to focus. “Spaciness” is a sure sign of excess Space element, a component of Vata.

What causes Vata dosha to get elevated? According to the law of “like increases like,” exposure to Vata’s qualities will cause Vata to go up. Some common culprits include windy weather and eating leftovers (incarnations of the dry quality), high altitude and caffeine (light), cold weather and frozen food (cold), crunchy chips and granola (rough),  repetitive thought patterns and recreational drugs (subtle), excessive exercise and travel (mobile) and staying up late (clear).

Since Vata is responsible for movement and change, it plays a critical role in maintaining overall balance – and it is often implicated when balance is lost. According to the ancient texts, more diseases arise from an excess of Vata than from the other two doshas combined.

During the particularly changeable and dry seasons of autumn (and sometimes winter), Vata is high, as it is in our elder years. Considering our cultural tendency towards constant movement (with air travel, commuting, and multi-tasking as our norms), most Western city-dwellers consistently experience high Vata. The persistent influence of cyber-“space” doesn’t help.

Therefore, it is wise to take extra steps to keep Vata dosha from getting aggravated.  The best antidotes contain the opposite qualities to Vata: oily (moist), heavy, warm, smooth/slimy, gross (substantive), and stable. Bring on the oatmeal with ghee, slow walks on the earth, and a steady meditation practice!

In the next post, we will dive into the intricacies of Pitta dosha, the energy of Fire.

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A reminder… TOMORROW NIGHT is my free webinar:

“Stop PMS and Menstrual Pain with Ayurveda:

How to Create Boundless Energy and Feel Great All Month Long”

Tuesday, June 26, 7-8:30pm CDT

To register or for more details, click here

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Here on the first full day of summer, I am excited to funnel this new season energy into something I’ve never done before – a free teleseminar! This topic is near and dear to my heart. Call in and join me on the line from wherever in the world you are.

Stop PMS and Menstrual Pain with Ayurveda:
How to Create Boundless Energy and Feel Great All Month Long 

Tuesday, June 26, 7 – 8:30pm CDT, (8pm EDT, 5pm PDT)
Click HERE to Register for Free Call-In Instructions

  • Do you feel exhausted, drained and miserable for several days each month?
  • Do you dread your period, knowing your pain or intense mood swings will disrupt any plans you’ve made?
  • Do you wish there were something other than drugs to help you?

According to the ancient holistic health system of Ayurveda, PMS is not “normal” or necessary, although it is certainly common. Too many women experience debilitating cramps, bloating, insomnia, anxiety, depression, constipation, diarrhea, migraines and acne – but it doesn’t have to be this way.

In this free teleseminar you will learn:

  • Four simple actions you can take during your next period to find relief
  • The #1 reason women feel pain during their cycle (it’ll surprise you!)
  • The hidden cost of continuing to live with this monthly disruption and pain
  • Three new habits to learn for truly lasting pain-free cycles
  • One key mindset shift that will change the way you relate to your period entirely

Are you ready to feel comfortable in your body all month long, with boundless energy and a more nourishing relationship with your cycle as a whole?

Then click HERE to register. Call-in instructions will be sent to you promptly. I hope to “see” you on the call!

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As explained in the previous Foundations post, according to Ayurveda there are three organizing forces (or doshas) in Nature called Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Each dosha is made up of two of the major elements (Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether/Space) and expresses the qualities of those elements.

Vata – The Energy of Air and Space

The Sanskrit word vata is related to the verb vah, meaning vehicle, to carry or move. This meaning underlines the importance of mobility in describing Vata’s character. Like the Air element, Vata moves easily as it is light-weight and insubstantial. We can feel Vata’s presence in the wind and in the movements of our bodies and minds.

When Vata is present, it expresses its inherent qualities, causing the things around it to take on and reflect those same qualities. The qualities of Vata are dry, light, cold, rough, subtle, mobile, and clear. When these qualities are evident, we know Vata is involved.

For example, if someone has a thin body with dry skin, cold hands and feet, rough and irregular digestion, quick-moving thoughts and they can adapt easily to new environments, we would say Vata dosha is dominant in that person. If the weather is changeable or the seasons are transitioning from Summer to Autumn, Vata is dominant in the environment.

In the human body, Vata is responsible for all movement, circulation and rhythm. Its functions include speech, nerve impulses, flexibility, respiration, coughing, the heart beat, peristalsis, elimination, menstruation, labor, orgasm, clarity, and joy, to name just a few.

Vata brings forth the desire for change and is expressed in variability, ranging from a change in clothing style to a change in career, done so simply to keep from feeling bored. Vata detests routine, tending towards spontaneity and exuberant expressions of creativity. Vata is the life of the party, always ready for the next adventure – and perhaps a little spacey at times.

Stay tuned to learn what happens when Vata dosha gets out of balance.

(And until then, Happy Father’s Day!)

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A pivotal concept in Ayurveda is the theory of the tridosha. This theory explains how and why energy moves in nature in certain ways.

Since humans are part of nature, this system also describes us. For example, it gives a rationale for why some people always get heartburn after eating tomato sauce, while others don’t.

The word dosha refers to an organizing principle or pattern. The ancient teachers noticed that certain qualities show up in nature together like a constellation and move in predictable ways.

They observed three primary organizing patterns in the world, and they correspond to the major elements. Since there is no equivalent concept in the English language, we use the Sanskrit terms for these three forces: Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

Vata dosha is made of the elements Air and Space (or Ether). Vata is the most mobile dosha (like air), and it is involved whenever there is movement – when wind blows the trees, when a rabbit’s leg muscles contract and he leaps, or when someone sneezes a piece of dust out of their nose.

Pitta is made primarily of Fire (although there is a little Water in there, too). In any instance of heat or transformation, Pitta is at work – when the sun heats the desert floor, when an apple core decomposes in your compost, or when your face flushes as you step up to the karaoke mic.

Kapha includes the qualities of Water and Earth. The heaviest dosha, Kapha is present wherever there is stability and structure – in the form of a boulder, or the stillness of sleep. Kapha also governs lubrication, both the moisture in the atmosphere and the moisture in the body.

The three doshas interact and influence each other in nature to maintain an overall equilibrium, balancing out each others’ qualities. At times, one dosha will be dominant, and then naturally give way to another dosha, creating a dynamic yet balanced whole. It is a beautifully comprehensive and complex system, which becomes clearer the more you learn about it and look for it (I promise!).

In subsequent posts, I will dive deeper into each dosha and explore how they govern the activities of our bodies and minds. Until then, let me know if you have any questions in the comment section below. I look forward to hearing from you!

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Om gung Ganapataye namaha!

In Vedic tradition, at the start of new undertakings it is customary to honor and invoke Ganesha, also known as Ganapati. Ganesha represents that energy or force that clears the way before us, removing any obstacles that may be in our path.

He is depicted as the elephant-headed god in the Hindu pantheon, a powerful force to be reckoned with, but also a gentle soul whose dear companion is a mouse. A scribe himself, he is especially fond of academic endeavors, so I invite him to smile brightly on our virtual gathering here and bestow his gifts of reliability, dedication and brilliance. May our studies be filled with light!

What Is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is commonly translated as “the science of life.” With such a broad scope, Ayurveda offers an incredibly diverse set of teachings on how to maintain longevity so that we can fulfill our dharma, the mission or purpose that we are called to serve on this planet.

Established in the region that is now India some time between 2000 and 5000 years ago (depending on which expert you consult), Ayurveda is the oldest continuously practiced health system still in use today. More than a regional set of practices, it is built upon a coherent cosmology and set of principles that underpins local variations observed in different areas.

The word Ayurveda comes from the roots ayuh, which means “life,” and veda, which means “science or knowledge.” As a health system, Ayurveda includes the knowledge not only of how to address illness or disease, but of how to live well.

“Ayurveda” is a Sanskrit word, an ancient language that is not in common usage anywhere today. It continues to be studied, however, because so many ancient wisdom practices are preserved in Sanskrit texts, including many meditation traditions, Yoga and Ayurveda.

Ayurveda offers guidance on many lifestyle practices including dietary choices, food preparation, herbal remedies, methods for detoxification, behaviors to attain desired outcomes, yogic practices, appropriate exercise, and much, much more.

In my next post, I’ll cover the incredibly important concept of the tridosha, one of the pillars of the Ayurveda system. Stay tuned! Use the “subscribe” button at the top right of this page to have future posts sent to your In Box.

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And I do mean hot!

Today is the full moon, so my June Full Moon Newsletter is now available. Topics include:

  • Key strategies to manage the heat of summer
  • The Venus transit across the sun (from our earth-bound perspective)
  • Details on my free teleseminar, “Stop PMS and Menstrual Pain: How to Create Boundless Energy and Feel Great All Month Long with Ayurveda,” on June 26.

Let me know what lights you up in this issue, and what other topics you want to learn about!

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