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AYURVEDIC DAILY SELF-CARE PRINCIPLES FOR VATA, PITTA & KAPHA

Previously, we have discussed and introduced the doshas - Vata, Pitta and Kapha – and how these doshas function and operate on a daily and seasonal cycle, as well as a lifetime cycle.

As part of this, Ayurveda recommends that an individual follow a daily routine to help balance their constitution and/or help alleviate any current imbalances.

According to the classic Ayurvedic texts, the recommended routines can be quite long and time consuming (especially in the morning) – which is fantastic for those who have the time – but the reality of modern living is that many of us, simply do not have, nor can we afford the time to give to these routines.

So, we need to be able to adjust the essence of them and work to integrate these into our daily schedules. At a minimum - for all individuals - the following guidelines* are recommended:

* These are guidelines and need to be adjusted to the individual, their age, state of health and capacity. 

LIFESTYLE

  • Allow for sufficient rest and sleep. Go to bed at a regular time each day, and best before 10pm. Avoid also sleeping during the day.
  • Keep to a routine as much as possible during the day.
  • Get sufficient daily activity and exercise, without overdoing exercise. Balanced activity/exercise is healthy, but avoid over-exertion.
  • Avoid stress, anxiety, fear and tension. Look at self-care and working through any stress, anxiety, anger or any other mental health and/or emotional issues.
  • Deep breathing for 5-10 minutes a day is very beneficial. Meditation, yoga and pranayama can also be beneficial.
  • Work to eliminating stools daily, preferably in the morning. Do not ignore the urge to sneeze, pass gas, urinate or have a bowel movement.
  • Be happy, enjoy life and work on a positive outlook to all things in life.


NUTRITION (DISCUSSED IN MORE DETAIL ON AYURVEDIC DIETICS PAGE):

  • One should eat the foods that one does not react to.
  • One should eat according to the digestive capacity. As a guide, eat to fill the stomach 1/3 with solid food, 1/3 with liquid and leaving 1/3 empty to allow room for digestive secretions in the stomach.
  • One should eat at regular times/intervals.
  • One should avoid overeating. Allow 6 hours between meals and snack 3 hours after a meal, and eat only if hungry.
  • Breakfast should be easy to digest, lunch the main meal, and dinner should be lighter than lunch.
  • Eat preferably home cooked meals, and avoid leftovers.
  • Eat in a pleasant environment. Eat seated and try to avoid TV and electronic devices whilst eating.
  • Eat slowly, eat with respect/reverence for what you are eating, chew thoroughly.

For those wanting to adhere slightly more to Ayurvedic guidelines*, the following presents an additional general outline (incorporating also the above notes points) for the recommended daily routine for each dosha. Again, these incorporate a much simplified version of the traditional recommended daily routines, but they are easier to incorporate into daily life, even for those with a busy lifestyle.

* These are guidelines and need to be adjusted to the individual, their age, state of health and capacity. 

RECOMMENDED DAILY ROUTINE FOR VATA TYPES

  • Wake up at a regular time each day, preferably before sunrise.
  • Drink a glass or two of warm/hot water to help flush the system
  • Aim to have a bowel movement as early as possible after waking up
  • Clean/scrape the tongue with a tongue scraper or the back of a teaspoon
  • Wash the face
  • Do a mild form of exercise, contemplation or meditation – even just for 5 minutes
  • Take a hot shower
  • Eat a normal to light breakfast
  • Work – snack 3-4 hours after food if hungry
  • Have a cooked and warm lunch
  • Take a very short walk after food to help aid digestion
  • Work – snack 3-4 hours after food if hungry
  • Mild exercise late in the afternoon
  • Eat a light to normal dinner
  • Relax, spend relaxing time with friends or family
  • About an hour or longer before going to bed, minimise screen time, electronic devices and stimulating music etc.
  • Massage the bottom of the feet with warm sesame oil. Put on socks until oil absorbs so as to avoid slipping or getting the sheets oily)
  • Get to sleep, preferably by 10pm


RECOMMENDED DAILY ROUTINE FOR PITTA TYPES

  • Wake up at a regular time each day, preferably before sunrise.
  • Drink a glass of room temperature water to help flush the system
  • Aim to have a bowel movement as early as possible after waking up
  • Clean/scrape the tongue with a tongue scraper or the back of a teaspoon
  • Wash the face
  • Do a mild form of exercise, contemplation or meditation – even just for 5 minutes
  • Take a hot shower
  • Eat a normal breakfast
  • Work – snack 3-4 hours after food when hungry
  • Have a larger cooked and warm lunch – if sleepy after eating – quantity was too much
  • Take a very short walk after food to help aid digestion
  • Work – snack 3-4 hours after food when hungry
  • Solid non-(too)competitive form exercise late in the afternoon
  • Eat a normal dinner
  • Relax, spend relaxing time with friends or family
  • About an hour or more before going to bed, minimise screen time, electronic devices and stimulating music etc.
  • Get to sleep, preferably by 10pm.


RECOMMENDED DAILY ROUTINE FOR KAPHA TYPES

  • Wake up at a regular time each day, preferably before sunrise.
  • Drink a glass of warm/hot water to help flush the system
  • Aim to have a bowel movement as early as possible after waking up
  • Clean/scrape the tongue with a tongue scraper or the back of a teaspoon
  • Wash the face
  • Do a mild form of exercise, or walking meditation – even just for 5-10 minutes
  • Take a hot shower
  • Make a thermos of ginger tea to drink through the day
  • Eat a very breakfast, fruit or if not hungry skip breakfast
  • Work – snack mid-morning if hungry. Aim to get more difficult tasks done in the morning where possible to avoid running out of time later on in the day.
  • Have a larger cooked and warm lunch – if sleepy after eating – quantity was too much
  • Take a very short walk after food to help aid digestion
  • Work
  • Active form of exercise late in the afternoon
  • Eat a light dinner
  • Relax, spend relaxing time with friends or family
  • About an hour before going to bed, minimise screen time, electronic devices and stimulating music etc.
  • Get to sleep, preferably by 10pm.


GETTING TO KNOW THE CHARACTERISTICS OF KAPHA DOSHA

Kapha dosha encompasses the elements of Water and Earth and is considered as the dosha of binding, form and structure. Kapha dosha provides stability, grounding, and stamina while Vata and Pitta are more associated with movement. Kapha helps one feel grounded, calm, content, and compassionate, gives us the ability to taste our food, builds and nourishes body tissues, lubricates joints and mucosal linings, and protects the physical systems of the body.


The Physical attributes of KAPHA types

  • Well developed bodies
  • Strong tendency to carry excess weight
  • Chest expanded and broad
  • Veins and tendons not obvious
  • Muscle development good
  • Excellent muscle tone
  • Naturally coordinated
  • Rarely feel hungry after exercise
  • Wide hips and shoulders – store energy
  • Complexion fair and bright
  • Skin soft, lustrous and oily
  • Skin pale
  • Skin is cool, but not cold
  • Hair thick, dark, soft and wavy
  • Hair dark brown/chocolatey and thick and slightly wavy (borders on coarse)
  • Eyes generally very attractive
  • Eyes large and liquid – blue or milk chocolateJoints well lubricated & deep set
  • Eyes dense and black or blue
  • White of eye generally very white
  • Teeth large, gleaming; rarely need attention
  • Tongue rarely coated when healthy
  • Fingers and toes short/squarish
  • Nails strong, large and symmetrical; can be thick and pale in colour
  • With moderate exercise can keep moderate weight
  • Gain weight easily and specifically on the lower body parts
  • Enjoys sun and burn after overexposure
  • Rarely have cold hands/feet
  • May have a few freckles
  • Oily smooth and thick skin
  • Moderate body hair
  • Lips full and moist
  • Sweat moderately, even in climatic extremes


The Physiological attributes of KAPHA

  • Regular appetite
  • Digestion relatively slow
  • Tend to move slowly
  • Craves pungent, bitter, astringent foods
  • Perspiration moderate
  • Generally happy, healthy and peaceful
  • Appetite moderate and stable
  • Can go the whole day on juice alone
  • Can easily skip breakfast
  • Bowels regular – 1/day
  • Stools well-formed, rarely hard
  • Stools soft and may be pale in colour
  • Evacuation is slow
  • When constipated, respond to medium strength laxatives
  • Effortless and regular menstruation
  • Average amount of menstrual blood
  • Imbalance can add mucus to menstrual blood
  • Period cramps are mild and dull
  • Prone to water retention
  • PMS: water retention, bloating, swollen breasts, vaginal itches, slow digestion and lethargy
  • Not greatly disturbed by any climate but prefer warm weather and low humidity
  • Enjoy sex but are not fascinated by it
  • Can be aroused but remain passionate for a long period of time
  • Sleep soundly and prolonged
  • Drop of to sleep easily and wake rested and alert
  • Gladly sleep many hours at a time
  • Rarely have trouble sleeping
  • Dreams are cool, calm, quiet, uneventful
  • Do not bother to remember their dreams unless the dreams are intensely emotional
  • Speak slowly and cautiously
  • Don’t volunteer much information
  • Tone is lower in pitch than Vata or Pitta
  • Like to avoid confrontation
  • Strong disinterest in change
  • Predominantly calm and quiet; steady and serious
  • Enjoy home and family
  • Stable personalities
  • Study each subject carefully before committing to anything
  • Innately more compassionate than Vata or Pitta
  • Think in emotions and ‘feel’ connection between words and forms
  • Manage well and are good managers but not leaders or theorists
  • Slower to learn but once learned, never forget
  • Once angered, never forget a slight
  • Can dig themselves into ruts
  • Not motivated to exercise until they start to exercise


The Psychological attributes of KAPHA

  • Tolerant, calm, forgiving
  • Greed, attachment, possessiveness, envy
  • Tend to be wealthy
  • Good at holding onto their money
  • Withdraw when confronted
  • Can procrastinate when under pressure
  • Express through thought and emotion
  • Very loyal
  • Are ‘in it for the long term’


How to recognise a KAPHA imbalance

  • Excess mucous in the respiratory system and in stools
  • Thick, white coating (ama) on the tongue
  • Infrequent and sluggish bowel movements (e.g. consistently not having a bowel movement every day)
  • Emotional eating
  • High body weight, difficulty losing weight and easily gains
  • Difficulty waking in the morning and from naps
  • Feeling slow, foggy, dull, lethargic, or heavy in mind and/or body
  • Feeling overly attached and possessive of people, things, or experiences
  • Stubbornness, complacency
  • Endometriosis, ovarian cysts, enlarged prostate


What factors imbalance KAPHA dosha

  • Foods and beverages that are sweet (sugar, grains, dried fruits, dairy), and salty tasting
  • Foods that are heavy and oily
  • Cold foods
  • Over-intake of liquid foods
  • Dairy products
  • Not chewing food properly, gulping food, eating while talking, eating while standing or walking, eating while driving, talking excessively during meals
  • Eating meals at irregular times
  • Eating on a full stomach or before the previous meal is digested
  • Overeating
  • Eating just after strenuous exercise
  • Exercising (strenuous) too soon after eating
  • Oversleeping
  • Going to bed late (i.e. after 10pm)
  • Obstructions to bodily channels
  • Lack of or under exercise
  • Lack of sexual activity
  • Any excessive (or lack thereof) activity, where there is not enough balance (work/sleep/activity/exercise/relaxation/social/creativity). This also includes excessive screen time, use of electronic devices, excessive inactivity/stagnant lifestyle, and lack of mental and physical stimulation/challenges.
  • Indulgence in suppression of emotions/any emotion
  • Late Winter and early Spring
  • Morning and evening
  • Rainy and cloudy weather

What balances KAPHA dosha
The ‘qualities’ or characteristics of Kapha are oily, heavy, cold, dull, stable, slow, soft, smooth, dense gross and cloudy, sweet, sour and salty in taste. Therefore, the opposite of these qualities will help bring Kapha back into balance.

  • Fun, varied, enlivening, stamina focussed and orientated activities.
  • Light, warm/hot, sharp, hard, pungent, liquid, subtle, clear foods with bitter, astringent and pungent tastes.
  • Foods, medicinal herbs and Ayurvedic bodywork therapies that have the qualities as listed above.
  • Avoidance of the above listed diet/lifestyle factors that aggravate Kapha, and work on elements/factors that rebalance Kapha during Kapha times of day and Kapha season of year.


Qualities of a balanced KAPHA
When in Balance, Kapha types are stable in temperament, have a good long-term memory, good strength and stamina, a healthy and robust physiology, are team players, are reliable and enjoy sound sleep, are compassionate, loving, nurturing and affectionate.

 

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