I am a terrible sailor. I hate the wind. When it is blowing a gale at the dock and the boat is heeled over in her slip, it makes me cranky.
Perhaps you can relate to this? You may have noticed other tendencies that seem to be part of who you are. Maybe you like spicy foods and hate sweets? Maybe you always like to be active, but have very little endurance for long hikes? Are you a calm, easy going-person or are you quick to anger?
Welcome to the world of Ayurveda – a method of explaining our constitutional tendencies by dosha: Vata, Kapha and Pitta. You are born with a predominant dosha, but usually we are a combination of two doshas. Your good health is determined by how closely you live your life in balance with your dosha type. Disharmony and illness are a result of making choices that do not support your dosha.
There are numerous Ayurvedic questionnaires that you can take to help you determine your dosha. I was first introduced to this Indian system through Deepak Chopra’s book, “Perfect Health”. The questionnaire helps you determine your dosha and then suggestions are made for foods and activities that will help keep your dosha type in balance.
As a Kapha, I am averse to dampness – a condition also addressed in Chinese medicine. Living on a sailboat in Canada is not the best environment for a Kapha. To keep myself in balance, I dress warm, eat hot foods in the winter months as opposed to raw, cold foods and need to exercise regularly. Applying sesame oil to my skin before showering and then washing it off also warms me up. Kaphas need their sleep. If you needed an excuse to sleep in, you are welcome.
My secondary dosha, Vata is aggravated by too much wind. It pulls me down into an unbalanced state quickly. As long as I keep my Kapha nature balanced, I am able to deal with the wind. If I have not been taking care of myself, I will end up as a short-tempered, easy-to-gain-weight, insomniac. Nice.
I like the philosophy behind Ayurvedic principles because it addresses our unique constitutions – a concept that Western medicine has trouble grasping. I challenge you to take an Ayurvedic questionnaire and find out your inner dosha. You will be surprised to see that many of your preferences for food and exercise as well as, personality traits can be explained by your dosha.