What’s happened so far

Thanks for joining me on my first week of blogging! Just in case you’ve missed anything, here’s a quick summary of what’s happened so far over the last nine days!

So here goes!

I hope you’ve been enjoying the posts so far and have found them useful! Tomorrow I’m going to look at the chakras – hope you can join me! Namaste.


 

Understanding Kapha dosha

Over the last two days, we have now looked at creative Vata and intellectual Pitta’s. Now it’s time to complete our journey through the doshas with compassionate Kapha!

Caring and compassionate – introducing Kapha dosha

Kapha can be translated as “that which sticks”. This dosha is associated primarily with earth (prthivi) and water (jala). In nature, the principles of Kapha are observed in the earth itself, in rock formations, and mountains. Kapha holds the structure of the body together and is responsible for stamina and lubrication. Kapha helps heal wounds, promote growth, moisturises the skin, lubricates the joints and mucosa, and is associated with all liquid secretions. In society, Kapha-dominant people tend to be the caregivers, gardeners, and teachers.

Kapha locations

The primary seat of Kapha is the stomach (some texts also suggest the chest). The five subtypes of Kapha are:

  • Avalambhaka Kapha – chest, heart, and lungs.
  • Kledaka Kapha – stomach (also includes the lubrication of the stomach, intestines, and mucus membrane).
  • Bodhaka Kapha – gums and tongue.
  • Shleshaka Kapha – joints (lubrication as synovial fluid).
  • Tarpaka Kapha – head (cerebrospinal fluid and white matter of the brain).

Characteristics of Kapha

If your predominant dosha is Kapha, you are likely to have many of the following characteristics:

Physical characteristics

  • Large body frame.
  • Gain weight easily.
  • Pale, oily skin.
  • Thick, wavy, dark hair.
  • Round face.
  • Large, moist eyes.
  • Slow speech.
  • Strong.
  • Good stamina.
  • Sweat moderately.
  • Sleep deeply.

Emotional characteristics

  • Stable.
  • Contented.
  • Calm.
  • Thoughtful.
  • Caring.
  • Compaasionate.
  • Loving.
  • Loyal.
  • Patient.
  • Supportive.
  • Excellent long-term memory.
  • Slow to anger (but also clam down slowly too!).

Balancing Kapha


Kapha in balance

When a Kapha is in balance, they are lovely to be around. They are kind, content, grounded, compassionate, loving, cuddly, faithful, and supportive.

 

Kapha out of balance

When Kapha becomes imbalanced, a person may experience:

  • Over dependency.
  • Obsessive traits (resistance to change)
  • Depression.
  • Laziness.
  • Greediness.
  • Possessiveness.
  • Obesity.
  • Asthma.
  • Heart problems.
  • Back pain.
  • Joint issues.
  • Sinus problems.
  • Congestion and mucus.
  • Fatigue/lethargy.
  • Emotional eating.
  • Boredom.

Things that may increase Kapha

  • Overeating.
  • Emotional eating.
  • Cold, damp weather.
  • Not doing exercise.
  • Being indoors for too long.
  • Being a couch potato!
  • Avoiding mental stimulation.
  • Sleeping too much at night or napping during the day.
  • Salt.
  • Sweet food.

Top tips for Kapha

If you are predominantly Kapha, here are a few tips which might help you stay in balance.

  • Eat a Kapha-pacifying diet (more on that another time, but basically food with slight, dry, warm, spicy, bitter, and astringent qualities)
  • Avoid dairy.
  • Don’t eat between meals, have your biggest meal at lunchtime, and don’t eat after 7pm.
  • Rise early and do vigorous exercise.
  • Have fresh ground, organic coffee (Kapha is the only dosha that should have coffee!)
  • Walk after eating.
  • Have oil massages (such as Ayurvedic massage with stimulating mustard oil [or use only light oils like sunflower; dry massage can also be beneficial]).
  • Meditate.
  • Do vigorous exercise like strong yoga sequences (sun sequence, for example), running, rock climbing, and high-intensity dancing.
  • Mix things up a bit – try something new!

Remember, nothing in this blog should take the place of advice given to you by your healthcare practitioner, so always be safe!

I hope you enjoyed this series of blogs – have spotted your predominant dosha? Have fun exploring!

Understanding Pitta dosha

After yesterday’s foray into the world of the windy Vata dosha, it’s now fiery Pitta’s turn…and no, this isn’t anything to do with hot pitta bread!

Hot and fiery – introducing Pitta dosha

Pitta comes from the word “tapa”, which means to heat; it can also mean austerity and concentration. Unsurprisingly, Pitta dosha is associated primarily with fire/heat (tejas) and water (jala) (approximately 80%/20%, respectively). Pitta is sometimes thought of “that which digests” or bile. In nature, the principles of Pitta are observed in the sun. In the body, Pitta exists as water or oil and is often acidic. It is responsible for transformation and  governs a variety of  processes (including digestion, skin quality, absorption, assimilation, body temperature, endocrine function, hunger, thirst, intelligence, and understanding). Pitta people tend to be the academics amongst us and are often drawn to science and law.

Pitta locations

The primary seat of Pitta is the small intestine, but as we saw with Vata, Pitta can also be divided into five subtypes.

  • Alochaka Pitta –  eyes (transforms light).
  • Bhriajaka Pitta – skin.
  • Pachaka Pitta – stomach and small intestines.
  • Sadhaka Pitta – heart.
  • Ranjaka Pitta – liver, red blood cells, and spleen.

Characteristics of Pitta

If your predominant dosha is Pitta, you are likely to have many of the following characteristics:

Physical characteristics

  • Fair skinned.
  • Freckles, birthmarks, or moles.
  • Fine or red hair (with a tendency to premature greying or falling out).
  • Light, penetrating eyes.
  • Pointed nose.
  • Medium, slender body frame (weight usually stable).
  • Strong appetite and good digestion.
  • Active.
  • Sweat profusely.
  • Large volume of urine.
  • Short, but sound, sleep.

Emotional characteristics

  • Self-disciplined.
  • High standards.
  • Organised.
  • Intellectual.
  • Good concentration and memory.
  • Persuasive speakers.

Balancing Pitta

 

Pitta in balance

When a Pitta person is in balance, they tend to have good digestion, a bright complexion, and great energy. They perform mental task with dexterity and achieve their goals. They also tend to have good humour and are loyal and warm-hearted.

 

 

Pitta out of balance

When Pitta becomes imbalanced, a person may experience:

  • Fever.
  • Rashes.
  • Anger and irritability.
  • Inflammation.
  • Ulceration.
  • Jealousy.
  • Low stamina.
  • Loss of appetite or an excessive appetite.
  • Criticalness.
  • The need to be controlling.
  • Intolerance.
  • Stubbornness.
  • Judgementalness.
  • Diarrhoea.
  • Heartburn.
  • Bloodshot eyes.
  • Heart issues.
  • Indigestion.

Things that may increase Pitta

  • Hot weather or over-heated rooms.
  • Hunger (pittas get “hangry” – always have a snack with you or stick to regular mealtimes!)
  • Competition.
  • Spicy foods.
  • Exercising between 10am and 2pm (pitta time of day – more on that another time!)
  • Mental over-exertion without the balance of physical exercise.
  • Drinking alcohol.
  • Smoking.
  • Over-work.
  • Coffee.

Top tips for Pitta

If you are predominantly Pitta, here are a few tips which might help you stay in balance.

  • Eat a Pitta-pacifying diet (more on that another time, but basically food with sweet, bitter, astringent, heavy, and cool qualities)
  • Eat at regular times.
  • Practice anger-management techniques.
  • Spend time doing something that makes you laugh and feel light-hearted.
  • Have oil massages (such as Ayurvedic massage with olive, sunflower, coconut, or castor oil or ghee).
  • Meditate daily (focusing on meditations which develop compassion and patience).
  • Avoid cardio or other strenuous exercise during 10am to 2pm (Pitta time).
  • Do relaxations and take gentle exercise like yoga (moon sequence is great), swimming, or evening walking.

Remember, nothing in this blog should take the place of advice given to you by your healthcare practitioner, so always be safe!

Tomorrow, I’ll be back with the final dosha – Kapha. Namaste!

Understanding Vata dosha

A few days ago, I blogged about Ayurvedic massage and promised I would write more about the Ayurvedic doshas at a later date…well…here I am, ready to blog away!

The doshas 

The systems of the body are governed by certain rhythms, as seen in nature. The doshas govern these systems. The word “dosha” is Sanskrit and means “the one which can pollute the body”. Doshas are described in this way because when they are in balance, we are healthy; if they are imbalanced, we become ill. In Ayurvedic massage we look at doshic imbalance (Vikriti), whereas an Ayurvedic practitioner establishes your natural state (Prakriti) and looks at how this differs from your Vikriti. All three doshas are needed for balance in the body and  derive from the five elements (Ether, air, fire, water, and earth). Today, I’m going to look at the air and ether dosha, Vata.

Flow like the wind – introducing Vata dosha

Vata translates as “that which moves things” so it’s not surprising that this dosha is associated primarily with air/wind (vayu) and ether/space (akasa). In nature, the principles of Vata are observed in the wind and the tides. Vata is known as the “King of the doshas” as it governs movement and can pull the other doshas (Pitta and Kapha) out of balance. Without Vata, Pitta and Kapha are inert. In the body, Vata is responsible for all movement (including breathing, blinking, cellular signalling, circulation, contraction, expansion, nerve impulses, seeing, speaking, thinking, and touching). You might have come across Prana (life-force) during your yoga classes; Prana is the mental form of Vata. A pretty impressive list…no wonder Vata is King of the doshas!

Vata locations

The primary seat of Vata is the colon but Vata can also be divided into five subtypes, called the five winds (pancha vayu).

  • Prana vayu (moves inwards) – brain, head, heart, lungs, and throat.
  • Samana vayu (moves across) – intestines and stomach.
  • Udana vayu (moves upwards) – navel, lungs, and throat.
  • Apana vayu (moves downwards) – bladder, colon, genitals, rectum, and reproductive organs.
  • Vyana vayu (moves outwards) – blood circulation, nervous system, and skin.

Characteristics of Vata

If your predominant dosha is Vata, you are likely to have many of the following characteristics:

Physical characteristics

  • Thin, light body.
  • Agile.
  • Angular or irregular features.
  • Dry skin and hair.
  • Rough and cracked skin.
  • Wiry, dark, curly/wavy hair.
  • Dull but active, small eyes with thin eyelashes.
  • Thin, bony nose
  • Few moles (dark in colour).
  • Cold hands and feet.
  • Sensitive digestion.
  • Prominent veins and tendon.
  • Sweat very little.
  • Light, restless sleepers.
  • Irregular eating and appetite.
  • Scanty urination.
  • Bursts of energy.

Emotional characteristics

  • Creative.
  • Fast talkers and good communicators.
  • Open to new experiences.
  • Anger flashes.
  • Forgiving.
  • Sensitive.
  • Enthusiastic.
  • Lively.
  • Mentally alert – good short-term memory but poor long-term memory.
  • Friendly and generous.
  • Not materialistic.

Balancing Vata

Vata in balance

When a person who is predominantly Vata is in balance they tend to have a lean body and be energetic, creative, lively, and enthusiastic.

 

Vata out of balance

When Vata becomes imbalanced, a person may experience:

  • Weight loss.
  • Excessive chill.
  • Constipation.
  • Fatigue.
  • Hypertension.
  • Arthritis/joint problems.
  • Restlessness.
  • Insomnia.
  • Digestive problems.
  • Nervous disorders such as anxiety.
  • Indecision and forgetfulness.
  • Poor circulation.
  • Brittle nails.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Over-sensitivity.

Things that may increase Vata

  • Cold, windy weather.
  • No routine, irregularity.
  • Over stimulation.
  • Poor sleep.
  • Over-exertion.
  • Fasting.

Top tips for Vata

If you are predominantly Vata, here are a few tips which might help you stay in balance.

  • Eat a Vata-pacifying diet (more on that another time, but basically food with warm, oily, heavy, sweet, sour, salty qualities)
  • Eat in a peaceful, quiet environment…and remember to eat at regular times.
  • Spend time in nature (this is good for everyone though!).
  • Stick to a regular daily routine.
  • Have oil massages (such as Ayurvedic massage with sesame, almond, avocado, or bhringaraj oil).
  • Meditate daily (I like to use the Dru earth meditation to ground).
  • Do gentle, rhythmic exercises with fluid movements,  like yoga, dancing, swimming, tai chi, or walking.

Remember, nothing in this blog should take the place of advice given to you by your healthcare practitioner, so always be safe!

Hope you enjoyed this post! I will be back tomorrow with Pitta dosha. Namaste!

Discover Ayurvedic Massage

Ayurvedic massage – sounds exotic and mysterious, right? In today’s blog, I’m going to talk a bit about Ayurvedic massage and hopefully demystify it for you! First of all…let’s take a trip to India!

The roots of Ayurveda

Simply translated, Ayurveda means the “science of life” and is a traditional system of medicine originating in India. An holistic form of healing, Ayurveda is one of the oldest systems in the world – it was first documented nearly 4,000 years ago (1,500 BCE)! It is even said in the South Indian Keralan tradition that Ayurveda began over 6,000 years ago, when Lord Brahma remembered it! Ayurveda includes medicinal compounds, spiritual and mental practices, philosophy, mythology, diet, yoga, and massage. It’s the massage part that I’m going to blog about today.

Ayurvedic massage

Ayurvedic massage involves a variety of techniques that are suggested to:

  • Stimulate and enhance skin tone.
  • Detoxify and revitalise the body.
  • Induce relaxation.
  • Reduce stress.
  • Improve blood circulation.
  • Increase energy reserves.
  • Improve sleep quality.
  • Enhance the immune system.
  • Help chronic pain management.

A key feature of Ayurvedic massage is its long, gentle strokes which are so amazing! I absolutely love Ayurvedic massage! So, what is it about Ayurvedic massage (apart from all these suggested benefits) that make it so special?

The special nature of Ayurvedic massage – discovering your dosha

For me, the most amazing thing about Ayurvedic massage is the wonderful herb-infused oils. These oils are carefully selected for your individual constitution – an Ayurvedic massage is tailor made! Secondly these oils are warm which allows the massage to be very relaxing and rejuvenating at the same time. If you’ve never tried a warm oil massage, I can highly recommend them. Before I float away imagining a massage, let’s quickly go back to the “tailor-made” bit!

The oils used in an Ayurvedic massage are selected based on a consultation to discover your constitution (dosha). Within Ayurveda, there are three doshas – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. We all contain these doshas in varying degrees. To go into detail about these doshas would take another few blog posts, so I will come back to these another time. However, to put it simply, these doshas represent the elements in the body; Vata is primarily air, Pitta – fire, and Kapha – water. We are composed of all three doshas, but one or two are often dominant. The consultation before an Ayurvedic massage shows how your doshas are now. This is called your vikriti (imbalance). It’s worth pointing out here, to discover the dosha you were born with (prakriti), it is necessary to see an Ayurvedic practitioner who will be able to give you a more detailed picture and recommend herbs to take to correct an imbalance. In Ayurvedic massage, insights are gained as to why doshas may be aggravated but a massage therapist will not give a diagnosis or assess your prakriti. However, the massage therapist will choose a specific oil and massage techniques suitable for your vikriti.

The theory behind Ayurvedic massage

The aim of Ayurvedic massage is to remove toxins (ama) from the body. In Ayurvedic theory, ama is said to be fat soluble, which is why Ayurveda aims to saturate cells with oil. However, some doshas (such as kapha) can benefit from dry, friction massages. It is thought that Ayurvedic massage cleanses the skin and opens the pores. As dead skin cells are removed during the process, skin tone and texture is improved and rejuvenation is encouraged. In addition, ayurvedic massage is believed to enhance the elasticity and strength of the skin, aid the functioning of organs like the large intestine, kidneys and lungs, and stimulate blood circulation and flow of the lymph. At its most simple, Ayurvedic massage is nurturing and relaxing.

Giving an Ayurvedic massage

An Ayurvedic massage is fabulous to receive but I find them wonderful to give – they feel like such an amazing gift. The process can be meditative due to the long, rhythmic massage techniques and I like to use silent mantras to focus entirely on the client. I also use my reiki techniques to channel prana during the session. In April (2018), I was so excited to fully qualify for Abhyanga (full-body) massage. I am currently practising on my marma back, head, and facial massage and hope to sit my exams for these later this year – so watch this space!

If you would like to book an Abhyanga (full body) massage, please get in touch – I’m honouring my reduced prices until I fully qualify for all four techniques…why not treat yourself to an Ayurvedic massage?