Vata-Pitta Dosha

My dosha is combination of Vata and Pitta according to Ayurveda. Ayuverda defined as “The Science of Life”, also known as “Mother of All Healing”. It originated from India and contains deep history and knowledge. Moreover, it emphasis on creating balance of the physical, mental and spiritual.

What is Vata?
Vata is composed of air and space. Subtle energy associated with movement such as breathing, blinking, muscle and tissue movement, and all movements in the cytoplasm and cell membranes. When it is on balance, it promotes creativity and flexibility. On the other hand, it produces anxiety and fear when unbalance.

What is Pitta?
Pitta is composed of fire and water, and represented as the body’s metabolic system. It is in charge for digestion, absorption, assimilation, nutrition, metabolism and body temperature. When it is balance, it promotes understanding and intelligence. On the other hand, it arouses anger, hatred and jealousy when unbalance.

The 3 Gunas
Guna is translated as “the three fundamental qualities or attitudes” of the manifest energy. Philosophically, the theory of the guns explains what this universe is made of and how it came to manifest itself as mind and matter. As yoga practitioners, awareness of the gunas allows us to recognise whether we are genuinely moving forward in life (sattva), running in places (rajas), or losing our way (tamas).
The 3 Gunas and Diet

1) Sattvic foods promote purity of mind, peace intelligence, and clear decision making. Some examples of food for Vata-Pitta are well ripened and sweet fruits (pomegranate, figs and avocadoes), cooked vegetables (pumpkin, okra and potato) and grains (corn, quinoa and oats). They should be eaten in as natural form as possible in state of raw, steamed or lightly cooked. Vata-Pitta should avoid foods such as dried fruits, coffee and dairy products.

2) Rajasic foods over stimulate the body and mind, creating restless, excited mind. Vegetables cooked in excess butter, with spicy and strong flavouring agents, are typical example of rajasic preparation.

3) Tamasic foods that lower our immune system, cloud the mind, and promote negative emotions. Examples are foods alcohol, tobacco and soft drinks.

How can I apply the 3 Gunas on a daily basis to bring balance on Vata-Pitta dosha?
Breakfast:
Greek yoghurt with fresh cut fruits such as cantaloupe, ripe bananas and peaches. It is optional to add grains such as sunflower seeds and small amount of pistachios. Also, hot mint herbal tea as beverage.

Lunch:
Basmati rice with cooked vegetables (Stir-fry pumpkin, kale, mushrooms and beans), with chicken breast.

Snacks:
Chamomile tea with a handful of activated almond nuts.

Dinner:
Veggie wrap (sauté your favourite vegetables), add in salmon or chicken and cottage cheese.

Know Your Ayurvedic Dosha

In Ayurveda tradition, the three basic types of dosha are Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Ayurveda in Sanskrit means “The Science of Life”. Dosha is the energy present in the body, governing physical, mental and emotional characteristics. Since birth, each person has the original body type with unchanged attributes, while lifestyle, diet, climate, environment etc can often shift you out of balance with compromised immunity and health. Each person has a dominant dosha or combination of doshas. No one dosha is better than any other.

Pitta contains the properties of the fire element, and a small amount of the water element. Having Pitta as dominant dosha, they are of medium height and build, and their hands and feet are usually warm. Pitta people generally have a strong metabolism and strong appetite, and a lower tolerances for heat. Mentally, Pitta people have good memory and organisation skills with tendency to be perfectionists. But after prolonged heavy workload, they might have difficult time relaxing and sleep disorders can occur.

Exercise is good for Pitta people, especially activities with moderate exertion to let off the energy and strong emotion. Similarly, the food should calm the fire associated with Pitta. It should not be too pungent, salty, sour or spicy. All food with sweet, bitter, astringent and cool flavours can reduce the Pitta fire. Barley, oat, rice, wheat, all leafy green vegetables and sweet fruits are recommended. Sour fruits should be avoided, except for lime to be used sparingly. Eggs should be taken in moderation, other meat products should be avoided. Sweet dairy products are good for Pitta, with sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds occasionally. However, hot and pungent spices shall be avoided. Corriander, cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom, fennel and cumin can be added sparingly.

Pitta dosha

Pitta – Vata Dosha

After doing the Ayurveda Dosha Quiz, I found out that I was a Pitta – Vata and I need to eat a cooling diet to neutralise the fiery and intense pitta dosha. As the Pitta is the dominant dosha I should follow this diet and will do well with raw fruit and vegetables but should stay away from most spices as they are heating in nature.

My diet should consist of sweet fruit like sweet apples, figs, melons, pears, plums, grapes and mango and sweet and bitter vegetables like asparagus, leafy greens, cucumber and green beans. The grains recommended are oats (cooked), white rice, quinoa and whole wheat. All beans except lentils are allowed and dairy should be organic milk and unsalted butter. Recommended meats are the white meat from chicken and turkey.

When comparing the pitta dosha foods with the sattvic, rajasic and tamasic foods it looks very similar to the sattvic diet  with the exemption of meat. As I eat meat occasionally and then prefer chicken to red meat so I could easily follow the pitta diet with the exception of adding a little bit of rajasic foods in a daily coffee occasional beer or wine. 

Nathalie Rimmer 200hr YTT Weekend July 2020

References:

https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/ayurvedic-living/learning-ayurveda/understanding-your-constitution/pitta-vata/

https://www.nithyananda.org/Nithyananda-eNcyclopedia/Sattvic%20Rajasic%20Tamsic%20Food.html

 

Doshas & Labels

When I first heard of the Doshas, I rolled my eyes at yet another label to classify people according to their body types. Too often, we find ourselves going through yet another Buzzfeed quiz finding out what your last meal says about what kind of animal you are, only to close that tab feeling the same sense of cluelessness that we came to get rid of. Labels can often generalize (diminish what make us as individuals unique) as well as exacerbating differences where there might not even be one.

However, as I learnt more about it and pondered more about labels, I was able to see the other side of creating categories and labels as well. Further, there are certain aspects about label systems that can make them less divisive as well.

I found that in the 3 Dosha system, everyone has a unique blend of the 3 body types, thus having distinctive characteristics. This acknowledges the notion that you are distinct and should have adjustments personalized.

Being a lover of hot weather and dynamic cities , I found myself really resonating with the Vata-Pitta body type. The dietary and lifestyle adjustments definitely make sense for me as well. The advice from the Ayurvedic system is to eat more cooling fruits/vegetables such as watermelons/apples. It also encourages more quiet meditation to promote balance, which was something that I realized I tended to miss out on as well.

Each Dosha is also not seen as either positive or negative, but just as is. I believe this really aid our understanding to guide intentions and actions to create more balance for each individual, instead of static normative labels.

So, at the risk of sounding very Buzzfeed like, checking out your Doshas might help you realize some aspects of your diet/lifestyle that may have been out of balance for some time. After all, everyone has their own journey and should find out what works for you as a unique individual!

Yoga Therapy and Ayurveda

I was first introduced to Yoga through Ayurveda. I was fascinated by the discovery of Doshas in my last blog post that I would like to share about my Ayurvedic treatment: Kriya. Before coming for treatment, I am to fast because I am needed to do lots of purging.

  • Jala Neti

My yoga therapy first starts with Jalaneti. It is essentially nasal irrigation, where lukewarm saline water is taken through one nostril and leaves the other. This is done on both nostrils.

  • Kapalabathi

After Jalaneti, I blow out all remaining water from both nostrils using the technique of Kapalabathi Pranayama.

  • Vamana Dhouti

I proceed to then do Vamana Dhouti – the purification of the upper digestive tract. It is done by induced vomiting after drinking several glasses of saline water. After my sixth or seventh cup, I would naturally puke the water back out (now you know why I am needed to fast prior to treatment!)

  • Sankhapraksalana

Once I am done with Vamana Dhouti, I will then do Sankhapraksalana. It is a full intestinal cleanse, where it detoxifies the body. Here, I am to continue drinking several glasses of saline water till my bowel is clear (which means, the water that comes out is as clean as it has entered!). In between, I am to do five different asanas which include the Tadasana Stretch and Bhujangasana twisting.

  • Kitchari

Once the water that comes out is as clean as it has entered, my therapist cooks for me a Kitchari porridge with five simple ingredients – rice, lentils, cumin, ghee, turmeric. Kitchari is a staple Ayurvedic healing food that helps to line my gut after the purges.

  • Deep Relaxation Technique / Mind Sound Resonance Technique

After the full purging is done, I come to Shavasana and practice Deep Relaxation Technique (DRT) or Mind Sound Resonance Technique (“MSRT”) with my yoga therapist.

And then I am finally done! This usually takes up a few hours of my day. Over time, this treatment has tremendously helped me in my skin recovery. Whenever I share this, many who aren’t aware of Ayurvedic treatment, don’t understand how this can help a skin condition but I can attest it is a more holistic approach. Through researching on Doshas, I learned that the Kapha type likes to cling to things, where toxins are absorbed and retained by the body. This is made clear how the detoxification helps to rid it (I’m a Kapha-Pitta).

My mental and emotional stress/health were manifested through my physical health and I believe the pranic flow within my body was disturbed. But yoga and Ayurveda has assisted in the healing of my mind, body, and soul.

“You are Kapha-Pitta”

I was first introduced to Dosha through the Ayurveda treatment I used to go for my skin condition. I was a patient at the time and wasn’t very informed about Dosha. In our first week of Yoga Teacher Training, Master Weiling went through Dosha, the three Gunas, and food. We were told to do an Ayurveda Dosha quiz afterward and my results were as follows:

Attributes which do not change & childhood: Pitta (10 points)
Attributes which change: Pitta-Kapha (8, 7 points respectively)
Mental & Emotional Attributes: Kapha (11 points)

I was amused with the quiz results because according to my Ayurvedic doctor, I am Kapha-Pitta! The day after we were introduced to Doshas, I asked Master Sree what he thinks my Dosha is and he said Kapha-Pitta too! This intrigued me and prompted me to research more about the Kapha-Pitta type.

I learned that the Dosha combination of Kapha-Pitta is a healthy variant because the fiery aspect of Pitta works with the grounded Kapha, which ideally maintains balance. It is said that the Kapha-Pitta type has the “right degree of Agni (digestive fire)”. However, having this duality doesn’t mean I don’t have to listen to my body. There is still a need for me to keep an eye on the food I eat because Kapha can be a threat to the fiery nature of Pitta. With this duality, the different Doshas are more active at different times – Kapha being more present from February to May and Pitta from June to September.

With regard to a Kapha-Pitta diet, I found that it is essential for a proper acid/alkaline balance because if Kapha is aggravated, it shifts the balance to alkaline and if Pitta is aggravated, it shifts the balance towards an acidic state. The latter however depletes Kapha and its protective actions, which causes various types of excoriating and inflammatory disorders. I also found it particularly interesting that skin diseases were listed under typical Kapha-Pitta disorders. I guess this explains my inflammatory skin condition, eczema. Therefore, my diet should be something that keeps both Doshas in balance.

Some guidelines I found interesting while researching:

  • Have freshly cooked, warm food over raw and cold food
  • Sit peacefully and eat in a calm atmosphere
  • White meat is recommended over red meat
  • Excess dairy and excess seafood aggravate Kapha
  • Most vegetables (except tomatoes and capsicum) are suitable for Kapha-Pitta

These were interesting to me because some of the food I currently stay away from are in fact, red meat, dairy, seafood, tomatoes, and capsicum (and peanuts but they weren’t listed). And yes, I do appreciate warm (not hot!) food and sitting peacefully with my meal. I take my meals seriously because I see it as my me-time. 🙂

Blog Post 1 -Sattvic Diet for a Vata Singaporean

Never knew that in yoga, diets form an important aspect in a yogi’s journey. It is true when they said you are what you eat. Through a quiz that was assigned by the Masters, I was identified as a Vata-Pitta, but today we will focus on curating a Sattvic menu for a Vata body type.

Typically, a sattvic diet revolved around a concept that is applied in the choice of food we eat, and our eating habits as well – which is to adopt a “pure, essential, clean and energy-containing” essence in our diet. It complements the practice of Yama, specifically Ahimsa, which is the practice of non-violence. In theory, the sattvic diet places a huge emphasis on fresh/season foods, nuts, seeds, oils, ripe vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and non-meat based proteins. In modern literature, the sattvic diet is commonly referred to as the yogic diet. Often, vegetarian diets can be categorized as sattvic diets as well.

Vata corresponds to the following body parts: breath, circulation, mental activity, the passage of food through the gastrointestinal tract, joint function. When Vata is in balance, it helps to promote flexibility and creativity in self. When Vata is out of balance, it brings out the fear and anxiety within us.  The Vata Dosha revolves the element of Air and Space, and out of the three doshas – it has a high tendency to go out of balance as compared to Pitta and Kapha dosha, and hence is important to balance Vata through our food and eating habits.

In a post made by HalePule, ayurvedic diets also help to nourish and calm a Vata dosha, where they recommend the application of ayurvedic theories such as “like increases like the opposite brings balance.” Food is the best medicine and gives us prana – and a well-curated diet will help us to achieve the balance we seek in our daily lives as well.

In Singapore where food is a core anchor in our lives, to make a switch to pure Sattvic diet seems pretty difficult especially if you are a huge meat-eater! It is important to eat in moderation as well, as over-eating may make your Vata out of balance.

Therefore, for someone like me, a sample menu for a Vata as follows:

Breakfast: Warm Oatmeal + Sliced Banana, perhaps with a tablespoon of honey (manuka honey of course) + A glass of warm water to kickstart the day

Lunch: Roasted Vegetables seasoned with cumin powder/pepper and a pinch of salt (A good mix of asparagus, red beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, radish, zucchini, spinach and brussel sprouts (in small quantities)) + A glass of warm water

Dinner: One bowl of Brown Rice + Teochew Style Steamed Fish (with ginger and light soysauce) + An Apple + A glass of warm water

 

 

Reminders to an Out of Balance Pitta

Do you have the following characteristics?

  1. You are a “walking heater” (i.e. your body temperature is always warm)
  2. You get hungry easily (i.e. strong appetite)
  3. Your fingers always stain mirrors, glasses or smooth surfaces (i.e. slightly oily skin)

In the meantime, do you have the following symptoms?

  1. Suffering from skin irritations, such as rashes and acne
  2. Strong body odour
  3. Hot temper with an aggressive attitude

If you do, fret not! You’re not alone and there’s a possibility you might be just like me – an out of balance Pitta.

What is a Pitta Dosha?

Pitta dosha is made up of predominantly the fire (Agni) element and some water (Jal), similar as the weather in Singapore – hot and humid.  The primary function of Pitta is transformation.  Hence, Pitta dosha controls the important functions of digestion of food, i.e. transforming food into energy and heat.

In Ayurveda, where like attracts like, it’s easy for Pitta to be out of balance in hot and humid weather if not mindful of the food consumed and one’s lifestyle.  If you’re eating pitta food and doing pitta activities during Pitta season (like Singapore) you’re more likely to see your Pitta qualities increase inside of you.  Therefore, an out of balance Pitta should aim to do the opposite because the opposites will bring us into harmony.

So, good reminders to the out of balance Pitta in Singapore:-

Food Consumption is Crucial for Pitta

Since Pitta dosha controls the functions of digestion of food, to keep a Pitta balance, the very first thing to look into would be the food consumption by a Pitta.

Myself, for one, will get irritated and frustrated if I have a hot peppery soup on a hot sunny day (and without air conditioning adjusted to 16 degrees Celsius!).

Thus, it is recommended that Pittas take foods which are cool and refreshing, sweet and bitter are also great!  Pittas should reduce foods which are oily, hot, salty and anything fermented or fried.  For example:-   

 Fruits – Apple and Pear

√ Vegetables – Cucumber and Bitter gourd

 Beverages – Milk and Yogurt Drinks

 Spices – Cilantro and Mint

 Dessert – Ice-cream

X Fruits – Durian

X Vegetables – Garlic and Onion

X Beverages – Hot Chocolate Drinks

X Spices – Chilli

X Fermented Food – Stinky Toufu

Lifestyle Adjustment for Pittas

It is fundamental that Pittas always keep themselves cool – physically and emotionally.  Heat, anger, fear, stress and constant pressure aggravate Pittas.  So, it’s important to keep in mind the following:

 Wear breathable clothing with cooling effect

 Exercise during the cooler time of the day, such as early morning, or in a cooler environment

Apply Brahmacharya (moderation) in all things

Avoid conflict

Control your anger and frustration

Eat in peaceful environment.  Do not eat in a rush!

Don’t skip meals.  Keep healthy snacks within reach to avoid being “hangry” (hungry + angry)

Practice Shavasana (Corpse Pose) after each yoga practice

 

My go-to Sattvic breakfast as a Vata

A Vata is made up of the element of air. We Vatas are known to be free-spirited, energetic and can embrace changes easily. However, Vata personalities can also be forgetful, anxious, and often suffer with constipation and poor circulation.

Some of the Vata aggravating foods include frozen dessert (I love my ice cream!), junk food, alcohol, sugar and tea such as green tea. Vata can be counterbalanced with nutritive and tissue-building foods that are warm, moist, heavy, soft and oily, as well as foods with a sweet, sour and salty taste. Vata pacifying foods include soft dairy products, wheat, rice, corn and bananas.

With a Sattvic diet in mind, where the diet is mostly organic and vegetarian, an ideal meal for a Vata includes a glass of warm milk with a slice of bread topped with sliced banana and nut butter, topping off with a dash of cinnamon. This Sattvic breakfast plan is fast and easy, which is a perfect way to start a Vata’s morning!

A Sattvic Breakfast Idea for Kapha-Pitta types

Ayurvedic Dosha and Diets

With a combination of the grounded Kapha but fiery Pitta in you, striking a balance in diets between these Doshas is crucial in this Ayurvedic type.

The good news for Kapha-Pittas is that we have the space to incorporate two diets of warm well seasoned and balanced food with moderate use of various oils. Some of the similarities from these two Doshas are the use of sweets fruits such as pears, mangoes, apples, plums with the avoidance of dried fruits. As a part-Kapha type, fruits should be eaten at restricted timings one hour before or after a meal and not in the evenings. Also, both Doshas incorporate bitter tasting vegetables in their diets. This includes cauliflower, celery, parsley, peas, sprouts, cabbage and lettuce. Finally, both Doshas prefer the use of cooked oats, barley, Basmati rice as a choice of grain and the use all legumes with the exceptions lentils and white beans.

Although Kapha-Pitta types may utilize nutrition from two Doshas, some contradictions may occur. For example, pitta diets encourages milk products and substitutes such as unsalted butter, ghee, goat milk, cow milk, cheese and even vegan choices of soy milk and tofu. However, Kapha diets requires an avoidance of cheeses and only limited quantities of reduced fat animal milk. The only exception would be soy milk for Kapha types. Another instance is the use of spices whereas Kapha diet encourages the use of all spices while Pitta diet only allows for certain spices such as cilantro, cinnamon, turmeric, cardamom, fennel and some black pepper.

With the idea of a Sattvic diet which is mostly raw, organic and vegetarian that is in line with this Ayurvedic type; you can follow this simple, Apple cinnamon oats recipe for breakfast. It’s a quick, simple recipe for a healthy vegan breakfast that you have in less than 15 minutes!

Recipe (Serving Size for one)

Ingredients:

1 cup Soymilk

1/2 cup Rolled Oats

1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon

1 tablespoon Organic honey

1/2 medium Apple (Peeled and Chopped)

1/4 cup of walnuts

Instructions:

  1. Mixed together apple, organic honey and cinnamon in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
  2. In another medium pan, heat up soymilk to a low boil over medium/high heat.
  3. Add in oatmeal and reduce heat to medium, stirring occasionally for 3-5 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed.
  4. Transfer cooked oats to a bowl and add spiced Apple mixture to the oatmeal.
  5. Top it off with walnuts and drizzle more honey onto oatmeal if desired.

https://www.euroved.com/en/ayurveda/test/pitta-kapha/#anupana