Are you curious about Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is a traditional medical system that hails from ancient India. Sometimes called “the science of life,” Ayurveda is about balancing your mood, sleep, and life energy. Larissa Carlson is here to answer all of our questions on Ayurveda!
What We Talk About
- What is Ayurveda? (“EYE YOUR VEDA”)
- We’re seeing Ayurveda in spas and blogs everywhere – why is Ayurveda increasing in popularity?
- How do Yoga & Ayurveda relate?
- What are some Ayurvedic practices for self-care?
- What is the approach behind an Ayurvedic diet?
- Can Ayurveda support people with common problems like insomnia, weight loss, stress, digestive challenges, allergies, etc.? How?
Are you VATA, PITTA or KAPHA?
There are three doshas – Kapha, Pitta, and Vata – and although all three are present in all humans, one is dominant for each of us. An Ayurvedic diet is not about counting calories or macronutrients. It’s about eating whole foods and coming back to an equilibrium, which will help you reach your body’s optimal weight.
Here’s a breakdown of what each dosha looks like, and what kind of food is associated with it. [SOURCE]
People with a Kapha dosha tend to be steady, grounded, and thoughtful. According to Ayurvedic principles, those who are dominated by Kapha tend to be a little heavier/stockier. They have regular digestion, sleep soundly, and don’t deal with change very well. Some additional physical characteristics might include thick hair, large eyes, and smooth, oily skin.
They’re easily cold, so it’s recommended that Kapha individuals stay warm and dry. Additionally, this dosha is known to be a bit sluggish, so many of the suggestions, when it comes to both lifestyle and diet, tend to focus on stimulation in order to balance this out. Kapha’s elements are earth and water, and its primary function is protection.
Here are some diet guidelines they’re advised to follow:
- Eat little to no dairy
- Cook with strong spices, like ginger, cayenne, and pepper
- Consume small amounts of fats and oils, because these can be too grounding
- All vegetables are recommended
- Stick with lighter fruits, like berries, apples, and pomegranates, rather than bananas or pineapples
- Limit your intake of red meat
The elements associated with Pitta are fire and water, so Pitta individuals are known to be intense and bold, and they have an abundant amount of energy. They have great digestion but very easily overeat, which can cause an upset stomach, heartburn, and even peptic ulcers. Pittas can concentrate very easily; they’re outspoken, but they’re also short-tempered. They sleep well, but usually for short amounts of time.
Because Pittas are sharp and pungent, it’s important that their diet balances out this fiery way of life. Here are some tips for Pitta:
- Don’t skip meals or wait until you’re extremely hungry to eat
- Eat butter or ghee to help balance out the heat of your dosha
- Cook with olive, sunflower, or coconut oil
- Buy sweet fruits, like melons, cherries, mangoes, and ripe pineapples
- The best vegetables are asparagus, cucumbers, sweet potatoes, leafy greens, and broccoli
- Avoid tomatoes, hot peppers, spicy foods, aubergine, onion, and garlic
Vatas generally have a thin frame, dry skin and hair, and cold hands. They have sensitive digestion and are quick to anger. They love adventure and experiencing new things, yet at the same time they can struggle with anxiety and worrying. An Ayurvedic belief is that when a Vata is imbalanced, they will lose weight, be constipated, and struggle with restlessness and even arthritis.
Because their elements are air and ether, it’s important for Vatas to keep themselves grounded and consistent. Light activity is best for them, such as yoga or short hikes, and heavy, warm aromas make them feel calm (think basil, cinnamon, and lavender).
This is the outline of what a Vata should be eating according to Ayurveda:
- Rice and wheat are recommended on a daily basis
- Cooked, rather than raw, vegetables
- Avoid beans (except for tofu), which can aggravate the digestive system
- Consume fats and oils, such as ghee and olive oil
- Eat heavy fruits, like avocados, bananas, and figs, and avoid lighter fruits, such as apples and pears
About Larissa Carlson
Larissa Hall Carlson is a Yoga teacher, Yoga Teacher Training Director, Ayurvedic Yoga Specialist, Ayurvedic Practitioner, Prenatal Yoga teacher, and Kripalu Center faculty member. She is the former Education Manager of Kripalu’s Institute for Extraordinary Living, the former Dean of the Kripalu School of Ayurveda, and co-director of Yoga Journal’s online course “Ayurveda 101.” Larissa leads transformative, empowering, and inspiring classes, workshops, and trainings around the U.S. Larissa is available for trainings, conferences, and events as well as for personal yoga, Ayurveda, and Mindfulness coaching.
Join Larissa in her online course through Yoga Journal and AimHealthyU.com. Ayurveda 101 is a yearlong course in Ayurvedic diet, lifestyle, self-care, and yoga practices. It includes one 4-week course for each of the three doshas (vata, pitta, kapha) and provides participants with all the tools needed to live seasonally (doshically). Use code LARISSA at AimHealthyU.com to save $150 on the yearlong course or 15% on one season. You can also join Larissa at Yoga Journal Live NYC on Thursday, April 19, 2018 for an Ayurveda Intensive to explore Ayurvedic beauty practices (e.g. abhyanga oil massage and make your own Ayurvedic face wash).