Ayurveda is a science that balances the body’s life energies, known in the practice as doshas called Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Rather than focusing on individual symptoms, by living a balanced life tied to your particular dosha or doshas, you can keep your body and mind healthy and at peace. As with diet and lifestyle, each dosha has certain natural tendencies that lend themselves to certain wellness treatments.
How to Determine Your Dosha
According to Medha Garud, physical therapist, yoga therapist, Ayurvedic practitioner, and RYT 500 at The Art of Living Retreat Center, the most precise means of identifying your dosha is by having a Ayurvedic expert read your pulse. You can also take an online test, but these are less accurate.
How to Balance Each Ayurvedic Dosha with Wellness Treatments
Garud says that your wellness routine is an important aspect of keeping your dosha balanced. Here’s a break down of each dosha and what wellness routines are most helpful.
Vata doshas are light, dry, and constantly moving. When they’re out of balance they can become really anxious, especially in the winter time, which is the season of vata. To stay balanced, it’s all about grounding down and finding ways to slow down.
- Abhyanga is a detoxifying warm oil massage. Vatas respond best to sesame oil massage, which is warming to the lymphatic system and helps improve flow and circulation, which helps with elimination in the body. It also works on the body’s sympathic nervous system which is especially important for vatas who need an extra push when it comes to relaxation and focus.
- Shirodhara relaxation therapy is another really helpful treatment for vata doshas. It consists of a warm stream of sesame oil being dropped between the eye brows to calm the nerves and allow the body to rest.
Pitta is your inner fire. Those of us with predominantly pitta doshas are intelligent and quick witted, but when we’re out of balance we become angry, judgmental, and overly argumentative.
- Pitta doshas require regular abhyanga massage but with olive or sunflower oil, which isn’t as warming as sesame oil.
- Takradhara is a treatment that involves medicated buttermilk processed with herbs (depending on your particular imbalance). The liquid is continuously poured over the forehead and then allowed to flow over the scalp. It helps with relaxation and reducing heat in the body.
- Netra Tarpana, also known as “eye bathing” is when warmed ghee is gently poured on the eyes while you are led through relaxing, simple eye exercises. “It helps to pull tiredness out of the eyes,” says Garud. The eyes really are a window to the soul and when you’re stressed, according to Garud, it can cause eye problems because the eyes are closely tied to the mind.
- Karna Purna is another great treatment for pitta doshas. It involves warm oil being gently and slowly poured into the ears, lubricating the ear canal, calming the mind, and soothing the nervous system.
Kasha doshas are earthy and loving in balance but out of balance, they can be overweight and insecure. While vatas are always moving, kaphas can be overly stagnant.
- Treatments like Udvartana, a full body massage that involves herbs mixed with oil and chickpea flour, can help. It’s a scrub that helps with water retention and fat accumulation.
- Nasya is a wellness massage treatment of the nose that can help pull out congestion, which tends to be an issue for kapha doshas. It’s a face massage that stimulates the nadis (energy pathways in the body) followed by administering herb-infused oils into the nasal cavity and opening it up to relieve headaches, migraines, and stimulate the nervous system.
Maintenance For All Ayurvedic Doshas
According to Garud, there are also certain treatments that all doshas need regularly to maintain balance. “We live in a society that’s increasingly ruled by vata dosha, meaning we can all benefit from relaxation,” she says. When you need to calm yourself down from the inside out, try Abhyanga massage. It’s a self massage that you can do yourself or with the help of an expert. Marma point treatments are also a good balancing tool no matter your dosha. They work by stimulating certain energy points to pacify each individual dosha.
Treatments that You Can Do at Home
Some of us don’t have the extra funds to get regular spa treatments, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t maintain dosha balance. These tips can help:
- Head massage. Take a few minutes each day to massage the head with oil. It’s grounding and really relaxing for all doshas, especially when you’re plagued with stress and can’t seem to calm down.
- Drink hot water. Drinking a mug of hot water each morning is a great tool for stimulating the digestive fire that we all require to properly digest our food.
- Tongue scraping. This is a tool to remove toxic build up in the body that ends up on the top of the tongue.
- Oil pulling. Swish 1 tablespoon of oil, whether it’s coconut or sesame in your month for 15-20 minutes. It naturally whitens your teeth and helps with dental hygiene.
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