Do you often feel as if your moods and ability to cope in recovery shifts with the time of day, according to the weather, or with what you eat? If so, then Ayurveda may be a tool that will be useful for you in recovery.
Taking into consideration the elements, our body types, the seasons, and more, Ayurveda has been around for more than 5,000 years and used to help people feel their best. Ayur comes from the Sanskrit root ayuh, which means “life” or “longevity,” and veda means “science” or “sacred knowledge.” Thus, Ayurveda is often defined as a sacred science that promotes longevity and a full life.
Could applying some of the principles of Ayurveda help you to get the most out of your recovery?
What Is a Dosha?
Applying Ayurvedic principles to your life starts with identifying your primary and secondary doshas. There are three doshas in Ayurveda: vatta, pitta, and kapha. Each one is defined by different physical and personality characteristics and associated with different elements.
- Vatta: Vatta doshas are associated with air and space, and often have small, thin lips and small, dark eyes. Small in stature with dry or rough skin, they are often very slim with little appetite and a tendency toward anxiety or depression.
- Pitta: Pitta doshas are associated with fire and, to a lesser extent, with water. They are often of average size and height with medium facial features. They are described as ambitious, jealous, and intelligent with strong appetites and a penchant for travel.
- Kapha: Kapha doshas are associated mostly with water and a little bit with earth. They tend to be large in frame and overweight with full features. Their appetite is steady, they tend to have a more passive and easygoing nature, and they prefer familiarity and comfort.
If none of these sound like you or if they all sound like you at one time or another, you are not alone. According to Ayurveda, we all display characteristics of all the doshas at different times and the so-called “negative” characteristics associated with them can indicate a lack of balance.
Why Does Any of This Matter in Recovery?
The idea is that getting to know your dosha and your natural tendencies empowers you to take control and create the balance you need. For example, if you find that in recovery you routinely struggle with jealousy and an inability to simply allow things to just be, your pitta dosha may be out of balance. Ayurveda makes recommendations in lifestyle and behavior that are designed to help you keep your doshas – and therefore your mood and your sense of stability and safety – in balance. In recovery, this can prove a particularly useful tool as you learn how to manage the ups and downs that come with life without turning to use of drugs and alcohol.
What Is My Dosha?
If you have not yet done so, you can do a quick dosha quiz to find out what your primary and secondary doshas are. Try to answer the questions based on your lifetime experience overall rather than on how you feel in this moment.
Can My Dosha Change?
According to Ayurveda, your genetics dictate your dosha, and your primary and secondary doshas have been impacting your experience in life since the day you were born. However, there are a number of things that can impact how your dosha is expressed in terms of your experience, including:
- Time of day: Different periods of the day are dominated by different doshas and believed to impact your energy levels. For example, the hours between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. are believed to be dominated by the pitta dosha and therefore some of the most productive hours of the day.
- Time of year: Seasons, too, can impact your dosha expression. For example, Ayurveda says that kapha doshas may have a hard time getting anything done when the weather is wet or humid because it increases the tendency for sluggishness that is so heavily expressed in their dosha.
- Temperature: Hot and cold are also said to impact dosha expression. Hot drinks versus warm drinks, hot food versus cold food, hot weather versus cold weather – use of these within the context of your dosha at different times of day is said to impact energy levels.
- Food and drink: The types of food eaten also impact how you feel depending on your dosha, according to Ayurvedic principles. For example, vatta doshas may have a hard time remembering to eat or eating enough, which can contribute to feelings of anxiety and agitation, so they may be encouraged to ensure they eat enough whole grains and other complex whole foods.
What Holistic Treatments Will Help You Navigate Your Path in Recovery?
Is Ayurveda for you? What about yoga or meditation or tai chi? Learn more about the different types of treatments and therapies that can help to round out your experience in recovery.