I have always been fascinated by Ayurveda. Mind you, I am an Ayurvedic novice and I am just dipping my crooked toes into the deep ocean that is Ayurveda. The supplements company I work for as an R&D assistant uses some Ayurvedic herbs in our product line, but our formulator is primarily a tonic herbalist and is very into TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). Our previous formulator used to work for Deepak Chopra at the Chopra Center and was a wealth of knowledge about Ayurveda. He always told me I had a “Kapha body and a Pitta Mind”. This makes a whole lot more sense to me after reading some of the books I’ve been reading lately.
Yes, my first book review is for an actual book about (gasp) romantic relationships. I didn’t realize that when I reserved it at the library, but I was willing to keep an open mind and read it anyway. I got a good chuckle out of the title, “What’s Your Dosha, Baby?”, but this book has a surprisingly excellent and straightforward dosha quiz. “Doshas” in Ayurveda are both a constitutional “type” as well as energies in the body that can become imbalanced (or can be kept in balance, but I wouldn’t know anything about that now, would I?). You can take the quiz for free on her website: http://www.whatsyourdosha.com/books/. There’s also some free downloadable information on tips/diet info for your dosha, too. Her quiz distinguishes between what dosha you are physically and what your tendencies are mentally.
I always thought of myself as a hardcore Kapha type, but it turns out that it’s not that simple. As an aside, Ashtanga is supposed to be a great practice for Kapha body types (surprise!). I do have a lot of physical Kapha traits (wavy hair, big eyes, full lips, oily skin, lots of stamina, slow to get up in the morning even with 6 cups of coffee, need lots of intense exercise) and some classic physical Kapha problems (hypothyroidism, asthma, PCOS, sinus problems/allergies, can eat like a vegan lumberjack when upset) but many of these imbalances have resolved since moving to the desert and changing my diet radically. What I definitely do have is a Pitta mind: quick, organized, incisive, somewhat controlling, intellectual, critical, passionate and frequently pissed off. As much as I try to dismiss my hot-headedness, oh, it is there and it is not going anywhere. And, as I work more on my yoga practice and eat a low-fat, plant-based diet with lots of greens and cooked foods, things are changing and I have to make some adjustments.
I am edging more out of the Kapha swamp sludge I was in when I lived in Florida and more into a one-woman Las Vegas Pitta Party. No wonder Bikram yoga makes me want to kill people now! It’s hot, damp and encourages competition and criticism for me. My recent dislike of all things sour and vinegary makes much more sense now. Every time I eat lots of salads with any of the fat-free E2 and McDougall style dressings that have a lot of vinegar or citrus, I get cracks in the corner of my mouth and my whole mouth gets inflamed. Well, no more of that shit! My instinctive move to lots of lightly cooked green veggies makes much more sense now. Follow your instincts and eat what feels right to you, no matter what the diet and exercise gurus out there are saying. I truly believe that there’s no “one-size-fits-all” protocol.
I also find that I feel better eating different things during the summer than I do during the winter. Being mindful of the season and of where you live can be very helpful. Dehydrated flax crackers were great when I was in Florida, but in Las Vegas where it’s like 7% humidity? Hell to the no! You can always make little adjustments to make your food work with you instead of against you. This is a constant process, and can be very subtle. Get help if you need it—there are tons of resources available, whether it’s seeing a nutritionist or exploring some new books or websites on your own. Don’t be afraid to experiment and adjust!