Do’sha Know: Ayurvedic Stress Relief 101
Zodiac. MBTI. Human Design. Enneagrams. We’re hyper-curious about ourselves, and there are so many ways for us to find out more about what makes us tick…and that’s not even counting all the “What type of artisanal ice cream flavor are you?” quizzes from Buzzfeed.
One of the most ancient – and most RELIABLE – ways to find out more about yourself is by determining your Ayurvedic “dosha.” According to Ayurveda, a dosha is one of three energy types within the body that define who you are. There are three types: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. We each have all three in us…however, each of us has a unique combination of the three, and are usually dominant in one in particular.
Think this is just another personality test? Well, yes and no. Yes, figuring our your dosha can tell you a lot about who you are (just like that Buzzfeed ice cream quiz)…but it can also tell you about how to manage things like self-doubt, anger, and STRESS (unlike that Buzzfeed ice cream quiz). Ayurveda is about way more than the individual. It’s about living in harmony with the world around you, too.
Sahara Rose is an author, health coach, and Ayurvedic expert who is passionate about bridging ancient Ayurvedic healing and spiritual wisdom with modern western nutritional science/psychology. I love that Sahara blends the two so seamlessly, making it SO easy to incorporate these centuries-old healing practices into our day-to-day life that we’re left wondering why it took so damn long to find out about them.
Stress is high year-round, but during the holidy months it seems to runneth over. Sahara’s take on stress: find your dosha and go from there.
Tally up how many times you select A, B, or C to find your dosha (you may be dominant in two – I’m a Pitta-Kapha, for example), then follow Sahara’s ridiculously simple stress-busting strategies…
Ayurvedic Stress Relief 101
You have a deadline coming up. How do you deal?
a) I’m totally overwhelmed and don’t know how I’ll manage. I want to run away and shut down.
b) I can feel my temperature rising and my heart racing but sit down and get to work — NOW!
c) I don’t let it get to me. I’ll finish when I finish and if it’s a little late, it’s not the end of the world.
Someone just sent you a text calling you out on something. How do you react?
a) I’m so anxious reading through it. My mind is racing to all the things I should reply and am already thinking about what they’re going to say next. I can’t focus and feel like I might hyperventilate.
b) I’m pissed. Who do they think they are to call me out on that? What they said isn’t even true. Bring it.
c) I’m so upset. I immediately want to apologize and make it right again. I hate the feeling of someone being disappointed in me. I feel heavy and sad.
You just got fired. What’s your next move?
a) Omg, I just screwed up my whole life. How am I going to pay my bills? How am I going to eat? I will never make it to my goals. What caused this?! Well, I always have wanted to be a creative…
b) Your just fired me?! B**** please. I am the one who does the firing! On to the next one! Screw it, I’m just going to start my own company!
c) Omg I did not see this coming. I’ve been with this company for years. I’m so upset. The boss must hate me. I’m such a failure. How will I find a new job?
How do you deal with emotions?
a) Buy a plane ticket and dip. Or at least spend the weekend by myself in my own world.
b) Head to the gym to torch some calories and get my rage out.
c) Eat my emotions in vegan donuts.
When something bad happens, how do you feel?
a) Cold, weak, faint.
b) Hot, enraged, angry.
c) Heavy, depressed, energetically exhausted.
A — VATAS
Vatas’ minds, like the fall wind, are always racing. Vatas have a lot of air energy, causing their thoughts to constantly move, causing a tornado in their minds called anxiety. Vatas often waste countless hours worrying about outcomes that may never happen (sound familiar?) This is because vatas place their emphasis on the future, rather than the present or past, which can cause vatas to have trouble sleeping at night. Vatas tend to over-analyze, replay responses and make up scenarios on how situations can pan out. For vatas, it is important that they stay present, come back to their breath and ground.
Tips to reduce stress for Vatas…
• Allow yourself to walk barefoot in nature. With the negative ions from the Earth, you ground yourself, rebalance your energy and bring energy into your lower chakras.
• Stay present! Escape your head and enter your body. Be aware of what you see, hear, smell and taste.
•Return to your breath. Anxiety occurs when we forget to breathe. Inhale and exhale to re-center your mind, spirit and body.
B — PITTAS
Pittas, of all three doshas, become stressed most easily. Pittas have a lot of fire energy, causing a lot of pent-up energy within them. When something goes wrong, they can snap and erupt like a volcano. For this reason, it is important for pittas to cool down. Pittas can be too in the present, which causes them to disregard future or past backlash for their actions. This can cause pittas to say things they do not actually mean. It is important pittas regain balance by cooling down to put out that fiery flame within.
Tips to reduce stress for Pittas…
• Spend by the water. Pittas are normally hot in nature, so they do marvelously when they are in cooling environments such as the ocean, a lake or a river. When you take a weekend trip near a body of water you will notice the stress disappear from your body.
• Practice some cooling pranayama breathing techniques. Take some deep breaths shaping your lips into the letter “O.” This is known as sitali. Another cooling breathing technique to practice is sitkari.
Practice sitali by:
1. Sitting comfortably with your eyes closed in a meditative state. For several minutes return to your breath and focus solely on your breathing.
2. Roll your tongue lengthwise and extend it out of your mouth.
Inhale deeply, like you are drinking through a straw, across your tongue and into your mouth. Breathe that breath into your abdomens. This breath will feel cooling on your tongue.
3. Bring your tongue back into your mouth then completely through the nostrils exhale.
4. Practice this for 2-3 minutes, gradually practicing up to 10 minutes.
Practice sitkari by:
1. Sitting comfortably with your eyes closed.
2. Expose your teeth to the air by pressing your lower and upper teeth together and separating your lips as much as you comfortably can.
3. Create a hissing sound when you inhale and breathe through the gaps of your teeth.
4. Close your mouth, then exhale slowly through your nose.
5. Practice for 2-3 minutes, gradually practicing up to 10 minutes.
C — KAPHAS
Kaphas are the least likely of the doshas to become stressed. They’re very hakuna-matata and “slow and steady wins the race.” Since Kaphas have a lot of earthy energy, they are grounding, calm and collected. However, when kaphas do become stressed, they become overwhelmed with sadness. Kaphas bottle up their emotions and do not let anyone know, which can lead to sadness, emotional eating and isolation. Even though kaphas are the dosha that seems the happiest, they’re the most likely to fall into depression and not let anyone else know because they feel like they have to be the rock for everyone else. If you can relate to this, it is crucial for you to raise your spirits and get out of your kapha rut by shaking your body and stimulating your mind.
Tips to reduce stress for Kaphas…
• Sweat! Sweat is medicine for kaphas, especially first thing in the morning. Do something that causes you to sweat and increases your heart rate before you eat breakfast, whether it is a cardio workout, hot yoga, barre, HIIT, boxing or anything in between. A great sweat sesh will instantly have you feeling extremely relieved.
• Attempt something new! Kaphas can become bored and dissatisfied because they are creatures of habits. It is important for kaphas to get out of their comfort zone, whether it is in a new city, state or even country. Perhaps trying out a new dance or art class, being a tourist in your city, or enjoying a weekend trip in a nearby national park camping is just what your soul needs. Life is meant to be lived and experienced in full depth. Break free from your routine so you can return to yourself.
• Eat smart and avoid snacking. Kaphas often release their emotions on food and make their eating decisions based on emotional reasons not from hunger. Try not to snack in between meals, eat only three square meals a day. Snacking throws off your hunger rhythms, affecting your digestion, metabolism, and nutrient absorption. Kaphas, of all three doshas, gain weight most easily. If Kaphas snack throughout the day, they will feel more heavier and sluggish. Kaphas need to make sure they get enough protein with their meals, to avoid wanting to eat two hours later — especially from the candy jar.
Stress is a natural part of life. Letting it overcome us is not. Learning about the doshas can help you handle and, most importantly, prevent stress, so you can live a balanced life.
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A version of this post originally appeared here.