The sister science of yoga, Ayurveda, is a healing system that brings together basic principles of physiology, emotional state, and spiritual vision and brings them to the world. It is the art of everyday life that has evolved through practical, philosophical and spiritual enlightenment, always keeping its roots in the understanding of creation.
Presented for 5,000 years in the sacred texts of the Indians, Ayurveda’s theory takes into account all the possible influences of stress, from the seasonal to the planetary to the physical. It also sheds light on patterns of thought but also on physical stresses that make stress an obstacle or not, depending on how we respond to it.
Ayurveda science can determine what type of temperament we are and how we respond to stress. In this way, it helps us to take smart steps to bring our body and mind in balance.
Knowing what our dosha (Ayurvedic type) is, we can decide which direction we will move to get rid of stress.
In the West we are not used to meditating on our different reactions to stress – instead focusing on general solutions, such as going for a walk or taking a bath.
According to Ayurveda, stress has its roots in the mind and is expressed as attachment, desire and yearning. By their very nature these impulses cannot be satisfied and thus create a negative emotional mood. And despite the fact that these traits are common to those experiencing stress, what makes the difference is the personal, physical and emotional response.
So, according to Ayurveda, reducing stress depends on understanding each person individually and adopting long-term solutions, such as a specific diet, exercise, herbal and lifestyle management tips that can not only help to cope with everyday life but also reduce stress. and help build solid foundations for the peace of mind.
Depending on which element is dominant in our temperament (vata-air, pitta-fire, kapha-water) our thinking, appearance, and existence are affected. In order for us to be helped by ayurveda, it is important to determine which dosha is dominant in us. Sometimes it is useful in dealing with stress to determine not so much who is dominant as what is out of balance. What is out of balance is what determines our response to stress situations.
The one who accurately diagnoses any imbalances is a specialized Ayurveda therapist. We will show you some general reactions – and solutions – to stress depending on each dosha’s imbalance.
Those who are dominated by vata dosha are creative and think fast. When vata is unbalanced, then we have difficulty organizing ourselves to realize our ideas. Our attention is easily distracted and we have fear and anxiety.
Some physical symptoms are weight loss, tooth decay, insomnia and constipation.
To bring balance, we must seek the opposite qualities, starting with our food. Better to choose foods that are hot and to avoid colds. Dairy, rice, nuts and herbs such as ginger, cinnamon and cardamom can help.
The practice of yoga is preferably soothing and slow. Choose asas such as Tadasana and Vrksasana that enhance the feeling of earth. Balasana and Pascimottanasana soothe the mind and favor the large intestine and pelvis.
Meditation is precisely what those suffering from vata dosha imbalance need. Add relaxing music as an aid.
Extremely focused on their goal, those who are dominated by pitta dosha tend to experience stress with shades of anger. They are easily agitated in situations they cannot control. By their nature they are alert, smart and durable and use these features to achieve what they want. But these properties can turn into harsh words and criticism, problems with ulcers and skin disorders when they go out of balance.
When pitta dosha is unbalanced, it is advisable to choose foods that soothe it, such as cucumber and melon, dates and vegetables.
Yoga should be such that it does not enhance the heat in the body. The bends and forward bends can calm the pitta dosha. Baddha Konasana, Janu Sirsasana and Pascimottanasana also relieve excessive pitta.
Meditation is a good solution, provided it does not generate heat during it.
Those who dominate the kapha dosha tend to be dedicated, grounded and patient, reflecting the slow nature of this dosha.
Their inner stability and self-sufficiency appear as compassion and warmth towards others. When kapha dosha is unbalanced, people become headless, possessive, and lazy. Because they move slowly, they want their life changes to happen slowly. Unfortunately, everyday life is full of sudden changes and the kapha types take them heavier than others.
Their tendency to become immobilized can lead to a vicious cycle of depression, high eating and obesity. Those who have similar symptoms should be careful with their eating habits. Stress is a vibration. Trying to tackle it by adding tension is not the best practice over time.
Foods should be light and slightly spicy. Artichokes, eggplants and broccoli are some of them. Of the fruits, the best are cherries and pears. Sweets and nuts should be avoided.
The kapha type benefits from vigorous exercise. He may finds dynamic yoga tedious and difficult, but it will be very beneficial in the long run, especially when it comes to stress. Dhanurasana, Ustrasana and Matsyasana open the heart sternum and chakra. Reverse asanas are also very useful.
Whatever the dosha is in imbalance, we must move with caution, because something that balances one can throw the other into imbalance. Our efforts to balance are an evolutionary process, not a static goal. It changes with each step we take, so before we go one step further, we redefine our needs.
Maria Hrisoheraki, Certified Iyengar Yoga InstructorRead More About Maria Hrisoheraki:
Maria Hrisoheraki started practicing yoga as a teenager and for many years she explored some of the most famous systems in yoga: Sivananda, Satyananda, and Yoga Works. In 2002 she came across Iyengar Yoga and was hooked immediately.
Her first class made her feel like a total beginner, stiff and sore. But she kept going and today she is a certified Iyengar yoga teacher, Intermediate Junior 3.
She keeps attending Iyengar yoga teacher training courses, to fulfill her constant need for better and deeper understanding in yoga, and frequently attends Iyengar Yoga seminars with world acclaimed teachers like Penny Chaplin, Eyal Shifroni, and Carrie Owerko.
Apart from teaching and learning, she has the opportunity to contact the world by sharing her thoughts about yoga. She is active in social media and blogger at the Greek branch of Huffington Post which is one of the biggest news organizations in the world. Also, she is a columnist at “NaturaNRG”, the leading health and wellness free-press magazine in Greece. She is the foundress and owner of Pure Yoga ( www.pureyoga.gr).
Translated by Marianna Thimiaki