Are you air, fire or water? Is your best season Autumn, Winter, Spring or Summer? Are you more dynamic, focused, or nurturing?
Ayurveda sees our bodies as microcosms of the macrocosm – the universe within each being. This means you, me, everyone. We are all, all living beings, comprised of the five elements of the universe ~ space, air, fire, water and earth, animated by Mahat, a deep inner intelligence often called the Soul.
These elements, in their biological form, combine to create Doshas, which you can think of as an energy or force. There are three Doshas: Vata is made up of a combination of air and space ~ think of it as wind; Pitta is a combination of fire and water ~ think heat; and Kapha is water with earth, so it is the most stable.
Because we have all of the five elements of the universe in our being, we have each of the Doshas as well. But each of us is born with a unique, individual balance of these Doshas. That innate natural balance is called Prakriti, which is the unique combination of nature’s energies that determines your body type and personality.
Given that Prakriti is your inherent, unique, individual mind-body profile and Dosha is your energy imbalance, you can have a Vata, Pitta or Kapha Prakriti, but an entirely different Dosha at any given time. In other words, you can be Kapha, with a Vata imbalance. Or Pitta with a Kapha imbalance. It sounds confusing at first, but once you understand, a simple and elegant logic is revealed.
Since our health and well-being relies on balanced energies ~ stabilizing, strengthening and harmonizing our vital forces ~ in Ayurveda we look to the state of your Prakriti, your stable, balanced nature, and the play of Doshas, the fluctuating, dynamic energies, to determine wellness.
So how do you learn what Prakriti/Dosha you are?
Prakriti and Dosha Questionnaires and Quizzes abound, but the quickest way to determine yours is to consider your skin, sleep and digestion. Ask yourself the following ~
Is your skin usually dry?
Is it prone to redness, break-outs, itchiness or rashes?
Is it milky, thick, moist, with large pores?
Are you challenged in falling asleep at night, restless, worried, even occasionally insomniac?
Do you sleep easily, get up easily but often wake in the middle of the night?
Do you “sleep like a log” and enjoy staying in bed in the mornings?
Is your your metabolism quick but digestion is sensitive with occasional constipation or gas?
Is your appetite regular and strong, making you fierce if you don’t eat?
Is your appetite sluggish, especially in the morning, with metabolism slow?
The first question in each set above represents Vata. If you answered “Yes” to two or three of the first questions, then it is likely that Vata is your nature. The second question in each set represents Pitta and the third, Kapha. If you are still not sure, or want more detail, you can take my Dosha Test here.
Like Doshas, the seasons move energetically, too, which is why it is so important to eat seasonally ~ to balance the doshic impact of your environment. Spring is Kapha, when Water dominates and combines with earth to make mud, or heavy, cloudy, foggy days. Summer is Pitta when heat, or the Fire element is strongest. Late Autumn into Winter is Vata, when the colder winds clear the trees of their leaves, creating more space for new life later to come.
Nature is always changing. At the same time, nature is always compensating for that change by offering foods that balance the energetic shifts, the Doshas, as they move seasonally.
Therefore in the Spring, we eat light and focus on detoxification. In the Summer we eat juicy, refreshing, cooling foods and in the Autumn we ground and strengthen with Autumn’s harvest of root vegetables, grains, warm soups, stews and herbal teas.
Throughout this Blog you will find Seasonal Recipes to illustrate nature’s bountiful wisdom. But many of you have asked me to write up ideas for a Whole Day of Meals Specific to Each Dosha.
This is daunting, but important, so I am going to break it down season by season, and post for the relevant season, hoping that you will enjoy getting the information you need when it’s most timely.
Since it is still gloriously Summer, I’ll start here, with A Day of Meals for Summer Season.
Morning Snack ~ Snacks are not essential but summer’s energy burns quick, often burning up the morning meal well before lunchtime. To keep that Pitta calm, stoke the fires with a piece of fruit or a frothy, blended juice of green veggies. You will feel that roaring heat mellow to a sweet purr in no time.
Lunch ~ Summer is the season and lunch is the time to go raw. I love a Veggie Wrap with grated carrots, zucchini, sliced cucumber, avocado, sprouts, lemon juice and a dash of of olive oil for dressing, seasoned with a sprinkling of fresh dill, mint or cilantro, and served with a side of Heidi Swanson’s Summer Corn Salad.
Afternoon Snack ~ Again, snacks aren’t essential or even ideal for most of us. We should arrive at a moment where we feel hungry between meals. But snacks can be very helpful when Pitta fires rage. Be prepared with Fresh Pea Hummus & Flaxseed Crackers, or Guacamole with a fresh Tortilla roll, a Coconut Banana Smoothie, a handful of fresh-picked vegetables plain or juiced, a handful of sprouts, Almonds or Sunflower Seeds, or even a slice of this delicious Live Coconut Pie, or this outrageous, Raw Chocolate Pudding that I wrote about last week.
Dinner ~ Grilled Vegetables with Quinoa; Cilantro Pesto Pasta with Broccolini and a Seasonal Salad; a warm, not hot, bowl of Beans & Greens; a room temperature soup of your favorite vegetables; or a simple meal of slow-cooked Kichari.
This is also a great time of year for a short Juice Fast. Try juicing for 3-5 days to deeply cleanse and throughly feed your body’s tissues. It helps reset your tastes to the singularly pure and healthy, so it is a nourishing way to turn bad habits to good.
Summer is really the easiest time of year for meals because most of your food is just hanging off the tree or vine seducing you with its vibrant color, ripe aroma, juicy flavor. Sweet and delicious, nature wants to nourish you, please you, excite you, love you, care for you.
What is your favorite Summer Meal?
Lisa Coffey is an American Ayurvedi who has been immensely creative in her expression of the Ayurvedic science. I borrowed the title of this article from one of her books, What’s Your Dosha, Baby? She also has a lively website where you can play with quizzes on your Dosha and Doshic relationship compatibility.
May your food, breath and thoughts bring balance so your true light can shine.