Diving into Ayurveda

As some of you may know, this year I decided to embark upon a 300-hour ayurvedic training. Ayurveda is something that from the top-level made sense to me; it’s a form of medicine that takes into account the individual’s constitution instead of offering a blanket solution for a disease or problem. It appealed to me from that standpoint and the notion that food plays a large role in your health, something I believe and have experienced firsthand in my own body. However, with the top-level knowledge came confusion. What I always took away from the ayurveda 101 talks in my yoga teacher trainings was that I should balance my doshas, and what that meant is since I am a kapha/pitta (or pitta/kapha), I needed to introduce more vata foods and vata movements into my life. Since we were talking the broad strokes of ayurveda, this to me meant I needed to eat lots of raw, crisp, light veggies and go for a run or attend a few heated power yoga classes. Obviously, I’m taking this to an extreme caricature, but that’s pretty much what is presented in overviews – the extreme caricature.

It’s not that I don’t like fresh, crisp veggies and fruits, it’s just that I know I can enjoy those occasionally. When I have them often, repeatedly, I feel ill. Even though the broad strokes I had been presented didn’t sit right with me, the basis of ayurveda did, and when I had the chance to study them with Katie Silcox, a fellow Southern woman who decided to get out and explore the world that I had an immediate connection with when I met her, I made an immediate decision to dive into her training.

There have been lots of aha! moments over these four months of being thrown into the deep end of looking at the body from a completely different standpoint than I have before. The biggest one, however, has been to finally understand this “balance” of doshas and clearly see where I am imbalanced. In ayurveda, it is said that one is born with a certain elemental balance within them – the prakruti, our natural state. Life happens, as it is wont to do, and we naturally shift our balance to accommodate all that comes at us – emotionally, though our nutrition, through our daily movement habits. Where we are currently is our vikruti, generally our adapted state, unless we manage to have our vikruti in line with our prakruti.

Katie’s simple instruction was to not worry about our prakruti, but to simply address the imbalances in life. If one addresses the imbalances, the prakruti will reveal itself, and you’ll be seated your healthy, happy, natural state. My addition to this is discovering our imbalances may or may not take a little work, as we are adaptable beings, and many times we either don’t realize what is throwing us out of balance or we do not want to acknowledge it for many reasons: we depend on a job that is causing us imbalance to provide for us/our families, we don’t want to let go of a vice, or we simply don’t want to do the hard work of making a change, it seems too daunting a task. So our minds quickly rationalize or create a mental block around the imbalance so we can continue in our imbalanced state.

To bring us back to my story, as I dove into the first few months with Katie and Mary Thompson, another wonderful teacher in the Shakti School program, I began to realize my issue was not with my kapha or pitta, for the most part, which are my more natural states. My imbalance was coming from too much vata in my life. Every day is a different schedule, every day I eat at a different time, I set off to different places, I have the option to dive in a work on Om Fairy stuff or things around the house, or to plan for those many, many trips I tend to take, near and far. I recently opened my own studio as well, and I’ve been trying to balance how much time to spend there, how to market it with my other offerings, how to add in a retreat offering in India – which means basically my focus is very scattered and I have no routine. Upon realizing this, I paused, took a deep breath, and decided I needed to develop a course of action to address the vata in my life.

So I’ve been doing all of the things I normally wouldn’t have done in the past with the broad strokes view that said I needed more vata in my life. I’m eating denser, heavier, wetter foods that are grounding and nourishing. Sweet potatoes, oats, ghee, coconut oil, soups and stews. I dedicated at least one morning a week for a long, proper abhyanga massage with coconut oil scented with more warming, grounding essential oils. My morning meditation practice has increased from 5 minutes to 40 minutes, and I gave up one of the classes that most threw my schedule out of whack, allowing me to keep more consistency day to day with my routine. With all of this has come a more peaceful feeling. Worries, anxieties and fears have fallen away, as have a few pounds (one of the things that is always a focal point when talking about kapha, it seems). My digestion and cycle both have begun to normalize once more, and I have a clarity about where my focus should be both at home and at work. I didn’t manage to magically make more hours in the day, so I’m still busy and attempting to juggle a lot, but it once again feels like I can manage what is on the plate, as opposed to feeling like I’m dropping things and disappointing people, which I’m certain is a feeling we’ve all had at one point or another in our lives.

I’m looking forward to what the rest of this year’s training holds for me, as well as next year’s level two ayurveda training and sharing so more with you about the tools and methods I’ve studied and put into practice.

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