When I was in Yoga Therapy training, we studied Ayurveda, yoga’s sister science. In the yoga sutras and other ancient texts, the human body and all its energies can be divided into three categories or substances, called doshas. There are online quizzes anyone can take to begin to question “which dosha am I?” but it’s actually quite complex.
It’s not simply based on anything that is fixed, like your blood type or the location of your birth, and the categories (pita, vatta and kapha) can change and mix, like the ice cream and toppings in your banana split.
Speaking of ice cream, one of Ayurveda’s main forms of support is diet. We build and sustain our bodies through food and we can moderate the body’s imbalances with our food choices.
Maybe you’re already opening another tab so you can discover your dosha and what foods you should eat for optimum health. This is what we all did, in the training course. It reminded me about the age when everyone I knew wanted to learn about their astrological sign or their temperament. It seems that our pursuit of self knowledge can be double edged: we want to know the worst so we can hide it or try to fix it.
This was just what happened to the trainees in my program. We would each lament our lousy luck, “I’m such a pita, that’s why I’m so irritated.”, or “If I weren’t so kapha I would be able to lose that extra weight.”. When the ayurvedic practitioner came to visit, we bombarded him with our self-oriented questions about what we should eat.
Like many folks with wisdom and lots of knowledge, he smiled calmly said that what we ate was not nearly so important as how we ate and why.
Of course we were disappointed. We really wanted him to tell us exactly what to do so we could perfect our broken selves. He made us look deeper.
For true healing, we needed to understand whywe would undertake diet or any aspect of the yogic journey, for ourselves and for our future clients.
Establishing pure motivation is the beginning of many spiritual practices. First, we have to/get to feel our own suffering and remember that we are not alone. In fact, every living being suffers and wishes it did not. Pure motivation means that we take action on behalf of ourselves and all others. It goes against our American way of stepping on our fellows to make our way to the top. It dissolves the competition women are trained in early, to win the best mate. It engulfs our natural self-orientation, allows us to work as hard as we’d like to, hoping to raise up everyone, even if just a little bit.
This can answer both the how and why to practice: for yourself and all others.
When we assume something is wrong with us and that we need to fix it, we are likely to try to hide this belief. We might even wait for our pain to be unbearable before we seek healing. Yoga and Buddhism hold the belief that we are essentially already perfect, but we just keep forgetting this. Our practices like āsana, meditation and diet are to facilitate remembering our whole, perfect selves. If we try to rush through or squeeze meals into the corners, between those other parts of life that are “really” important, the healing won’t have the same quality. In fact, when I stuff my healthy meal in my face, dashing around between client sessions, the food actually becomes part of my problem.
SLOW DOWN. This is the advice I need to hear, again and again. Just slow down, take some longer breaths, and decide if you’re ready to slither forward. For me, this is an essential detail about how to practice āsana, meditation, eating and everything else.
However, you may already feel you’re caught in too much snail trail, and some firey, fast movements could be your medicine.
Imbedded in all of our healing paths is the age-old command, “Know thyself”. Before hopping to the next lilly pad, take time to check in. When you’re planning your meals, pause to feel how you’re feeling and what you need for balance. Decide what your heart may need, your mind needs, and of course, listen to your body.
If you’re curious about ayurveda, I recommend you consult an expert. We have the delightful Ayurvedic Health Center in town, and I can happily connect you to their healing staff.
Meanwhile, be aware that this sunshine we’re all soaking up can make tempers run hotter, so stay cool, inside and out, on behalf of yourself and all of us as well!
I am delighted to be able to offer scholarships again for yoga therapy. Please don’t be shy if you are in need of support or if you know anyone who you could refer to me for stress relief. Likewise, if you’re moved to support this program as a donor, please contact me.
Remember that my website has all my past newsletters, recorded meditations and videos to support your mental health. Please visit CatEnrightYogaTherapy.com.