Ayurveda and Your Stress-Type

Photo credit: Ollyy
Photo credit: Ollyy

How do you react to stressful situations?

The traditional science of ayurveda gives 3 main constitutions (called doshas), each with a unique way of dealing with stress.

Vata Dosha : The Air-Ether Type

Vata tends toward fear, nervousness and anxiety. They worry about the future (i.e. not being able to handle their responsibilities) and their tendency toward excessive thinking makes it difficult for them to complete their tasks (which only adds to their feelings of scatteredness).

Being made primarily of air and ether, the subtle vata type needs to take care of their delicate nervous system, as it is easy for them to suffer from sensory overload in  highly stimulating or energetically demanding environments. When out of balance, vata types become insecure, fearful, forgetful and agitated.  Insomnia, anxiety, constipation, irregular appetites and weight loss are tell-tale signs of vata imbalance.

Like the wind, a balanced Vata type is highly creative, loves to improvise and moves with fluidity through the many adventures of life. However, they need learn to pace themselves and to respect their delicate constitutions. They can bring out the best in themselves by committing themselves to routines, structures and relationships that ground their etheric tendencies, and by favouring foods and hobbies that are grounding and warming.

Pitta : The Fire-Water Constitution

A stressed out pitta tends toward frustration, irritation and anger. This fiery type tends toward frustration and power controlling and frustrated for the things they cannot control. They tend to blame others, and can be tyrants, bullies or have emotional outbursts. High blood pressure, migraines, indigestion, hyper-acidity (or acid reflux), ulcers and skin eruptions (acne, eczema) are tell-tale signs of pitta imbalance. Pitta insomnia (where they wake up too early in the morning) is also common, as is over-consumption of alcohol or smoking.

In balance, Pittas are natural leaders: confident, inspiring, driven and intelligent. They can create balance for themselves through cooling foods and activities (such as swimming or hatha yoga) or by taking time to chill out and stare at the trees or the sky. Pitta also rules the eyes, so it’s important for them to take breaks from computers and artificial lighting.

Kapha : The Earth-Water Constitution

Kaphas tend toward resignation and laziness. Under stress, they may feel powerless, and tend toward procrastination and overindulgence (i.e. overeating and lounging on the couch for hours). This constitution tends toward depression, weight gain and congestion in the lungs.

When in balance, they know how to set a healthy pace, collaborate with others and are gentle, loyal and kind. To stay in balance, the Kapha type needs vigorous exercise on a daily basis and to limit high-fat or heavy foods (such as potatoes, sweets and creams or cheeses).

Recognizing Your Type

You may find that you identify strongly with one constitution, or you may find that you are combination of types. The easiest way to know your constitution is through a self-test. Pulse analysis (available through ayurvedic doctors and therapists) is the best option, if it is available to you. Like anything else, consulting with an expert is the best way to make this science work for you in your life.

Generally, if we are living in a state of imbalance with our natural selves, all of our doshas will be out of balance. For example, someone with strong Pitta tendencies  might burn themselves out to the point that they feel lazy and lethargic (Kapha) or agitated and anxious (Vata). Like a delicate ecosystem, the elements of your body all work together — an imbalance of one type can create imbalances in the others. Again, consulting an expert is the best place to know where to focus your attention.

Finding Balance in Difficult Circumstances

We all face challenges in our day-to-day lives. Stress is caused by how we understand our circumstances, rather than by the circumstances themselves. The mind has an incredible capacity to give shape to our reality, and we can see our experiences as helpful or hurtful depending on our level of understanding, our interpretation and our mental habits/beliefs.

Quantum physics has now revealed that, once when we change the way we look at something, the situation itself changes, purely through the force of our neutral observation. Whether you are ‘spiritual’ or not, this recognition — once we truly get it — is an incredibly powerful force for reshaping our reality, defying our old programs about the nature of human suffering.  A daily meditation practice is a great tool for training the mind in equanimity, compassion and poise.

Ayurveda (which means, “the science of living”) also provides a variety of  dietary, herbal and lifestyle to help bring balance to your unique constitution.

To read more:

Quick Understanding of the 3 Doshas

Herbal Support : Banyan Botanicals Stress-Ease

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