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In the last few posts, we’ve been learning about Pitta Dosha, the energy of Fire (and a little Water). Today, we’ll celebrate the endurance and compassion of Kapha Dosha.

In Sanskrit, the term Kapha comes from “ka” meaning water, and “pha” meaning to flourish – that which is flourished by water. Kapha is made up of the energy of Water and Earth. It creates stability, moisture, and the power to reduce friction.

Kapha in the body governs lubrication, structure and support, a dosha relatively underdeveloped in our culture, especially in comparison to the overly celebrated multitasking of Vata and intense drive of Pitta. Another very important function of Kapha is the responsibility for recording and retaining all experiences. A balanced Kapha person has the memory of an elephant and will never forget.

Here are some expressions of the qualities of Kapha:

Heavy – strong muscles, big bones, large frame

Slow – sluggish metabolism, slow speech

Cool – clammy skin

Oily – oily skin, well-lubricated joints

Liquid – secretion of saliva and mucus, eyes deep like an ocean

Slimy/Smooth – protective mucus in the gastrointestinal tract

Dense – luxurious thick hair, firm mind

Soft – smooth soft skin, voluptuous body

Static – stable and sedentary behavior

Kapha’s functions in the body include lubrication of mucus membranes, maintaining electrolyte balance, wound healing, cellular wall structure, sleep, nourishment, taste and smell.

Kapha is the archetypal Earth Mama who represents motherhood, fertility, and embodies the bounty of the Earth. These individuals are gentle and slow. Kapha people love to hug and are full of grace and compassion. They can also be described as a “tortoise” type.

Kapha-dominant people like to keep a schedule; they enjoy routine and can be thrown by a change in plans. Kaphas have a great capacity for forgiveness and are capable of a deep sense of inner peace, typically expressed through acts devotion. Their reliability, stamina and loyalty are often noted by the people closest to them.

Stay tuned to learn what happens when Kapha dosha becomes imbalanced.

Goodness, how times flies in the summer! I just returned home after ten days in Portland, Oregon, enjoying the July 4th festivities as well as the wedding of some dear friends, Chris and Suji. It was blissful for this Pitta gal to wake up to temperatures in the 60’s!

While traveling, I was honored to be included in a survey of Ayurveda experts on the hot topic of juicing by fellow blogger Nadya Andreeva. There is a lot to say on the subject – and perhaps the best advice is that, as in all things viewed through the lens of Ayurveda, the wise choice depends on one’s constitution, the climate, one’s current state of balance and digestive strength. Our responses to her questions were included on two different blog posts: SpinachandYoga.com, and  MindBodyGreen.com. Thanks, Nadya, for the opportunity to share my two cents.

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And now, back to Ayurveda summer school! In my last Foundations post, I described the main qualities of Pitta dosha (the energy of Fire and Water): oily, sharp, hot, light, smelly, spreading, and liquid.

In human beings, Pitta’s primary responsibility is to coordinate digestion and healthy temperature. When Pitta is in balance (i.e., when it is maintained at the original baseline level set at an individual’s birth), then that person’s digestion and ability to manage internal heat are normal.

When Pitta dosha gets elevated, however, then signs of excess heat begin to show up. Fever, inflammation, irritation, hot flashes, diarrhea, ulcers, burning sensations, and skin rashes are all common signs of aggravated Pitta.

In the mind and heart, high Pitta can lead to anger, irritation, annoyance, jealousy, competitiveness, or simply a shorter fuse than usual.

What causes Pitta dosha to go up? As previously discussed, exposure to Pitta’s qualities (in the immediate environment, in foods consumed, or in the mind) will cause Pitta to rise in accordance with the law of “like increases like.” Watch out for greasy, acidic, and pungent-spicy foods, alcohol, hot temperatures, competitive activities, exposure to bright sunlight and overworking, which can all cause Pitta to rise.

During the particularly hot season of summer, Pitta tends to become elevated naturally. There is also a natural surge of Pitta during our mid-adult years when we are responsible for establishing our careers and making our mark on the world. With the emphasis on accomplishment and rational thinking in our culture, Pitta elevation can easily occur anytime.

The best “medicine” for Pitta contains or expresses its opposite qualities: dry, dull, cool, heavy, stable, and dense. Given that it’s mid-summer here in the Northern Hemisphere, now is a good time to drink cooling coconut water, hibiscus tea, pomegranate juice, and organic milk, to schedule in periods of rest (and actually follow through on it!), and to find a shady spot by a pool of cool water.

The trickiest part of managing Pitta is to keep our inner heat under control without putting out our digestive fire, or agni. Drinking ice cold beverages while eating a meal, for example, or piling on the ice cream after a meal, will disrupt digestion entirely. Extremes of cold cause constriction of vessels internally, which is why we ice an injury – to reduce inflammation. When we are trying to digest, however, it is helpful to keep vessels dilated with foods and liquids that are warm.

In the next post, we will begin to explore Kapha dosha, the energy of Earth and Water.

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.

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

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!

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!)

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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