Sunday, November 1, 2009

Lesson #7: Too Much Pitta

Too Much Pitta
by Gary Gran RYT, DAy.

Late spring and summer are known as the pitta time of year in ayurveda. This means it’s an easy time for pitta to become excessive. So what exactly is pitta? According to ayurveda, pitta dosha is the life principle of fire held in water to a fault or excess. It’s main qualities are a tendency towards excessive heat, oiliness, lightness, intensity, and irritability within the body-mind complex.
Textbook style explanations can only teach us so much, however. So let's conduct an experiment. The goal will be to experience an overload of pitta first hand.
Here is a checklist for what to do (the antidotes will be given later):

1) Go for it. Get as much stimulation as possible.
2) Be as intense as possible. Play to win. Push yourself hard.
3) Turn up the heat. Exercise at noon or in hot places.
4) Then eat some super spicy oily food. Fill up on meat. Drink strong coffee.
5) Put in long hours at work. Stay up late. Burn the midnight oil.
6) Be a risk-taker. Jump first and ask questions later.
7) Watch violent action movies or the evening news.
8) Be ready to argue and defend yourself at all times.
9) Keep your living and work space hot and stuffy.
10) Spend as much time in the sun as possible.

Starting to get a little hot under the collar? Right on! Feeling irritated? You’ve got your pitta rising. Sounding a little harsh in your judgements of others? Yes indeed. Noticing those angry jealous feelings coming on? Bring it on. Feeling like reaching out a striking something or someone? OK, that’s it, hold the show. You definitely know what an excess of pitta feels like. It’s time to stop.
You may also break out in skin rashes, sprout some pimples, or simply feel itchy. Other things that can provoke pitta are exposure to chemicals, plastics, food additives, hormones and toxins in general.
Now it’s time to reverse the process and learn the antidotes:

1) Your new motto is moderation in all things.
2) Let go, let go, let go. Chill and relax. Or as it is now said, chillax.
3) Stay cool. Exercise during the cool of the day.
4) Enjoy mild, cooling, soothing and nourishing foods and drinks. Fruits and fresh veges are especially helpful, but be sure to eat a balanced diet and stay hydrated. Go easy on the spices and stimulants.
5) Take time off. Go to sleep before midnight. Rest during the heat of the day.
6) Slow down. Use foresight. Learn to look before you leap.
7) Enjoy peaceful soothing music and entertainment.
8) Realize that others may not share your opinion nor your enthusiasm. There is no need to be right. Practice cheerfulness and friendliness.
9) Get good ventilation. Use fans, dehumidifiers and air conditioners as necessary.
10) Stay out of the sun. Spend time in shady, soothing natural settings. Enjoy the coolness of the moon.

And, finally, realize your vision and your joy. Pittas are natural leaders once they realize that it’s alright for others to hold different opinions. It doesn’t have to be us against them. Laugh, laugh, and laugh some more. Let your joy be a light unto the world.

Lesson #6: Too Much Kapha

Too Much Kapha
by Gary Gran RYT, DAy.

Late winter and early spring are known as the kapha time of year in ayurveda. This means it’s an easy time for kapha to become excessive. So what exactly is kapha? According to ayurveda, kapha dosha is the life principle of water held in earth. It’s main qualities are a tendency towards excessive coldness, dampness, heaviness, congestion & stagnation within the body-mind complex.
Such an intellectual explanation can only teach us so much, however. So let’s try an experiment. Our goal will be to experience an overload of kapha first hand.

1) Slow down. Be as sedentary as possible. Sit around.
2) Let things pile up.
3) Avoid exercise. Be lazy.
4) Instead, stuff your face with lots of goodies, especially sweets, pastries, and carbs.
5) Keep the rich foods, desserts and dairy foods coming.
6) Ice cream before bed is the short path.
7) Then sleep and sleep some more. Be sure to get up late in the morning.
8) Be a couch potato. Watch lots of TV and zone out.
9) Procrastinate and ignore others when they complain.
10) Better yet, try this experiment with your friends.
11) Don’t plan for the future. Dwell on the past. Brood over the family.
12) Be sentimental. Be possessive.
13) Stick with that which is familiar. Don’t experiment or try anything new.
14) Move into a cool damp house. Live in the basement. So what if there’s a little mold or mildew around!

By now the kapha should be building up. If you’re feeling lethargic, heavy and dull you’re on the right track. Good signs are nasal congestion, post-nasal drip and lots of phlegm. Coughing and a nauseous stomach in the morning anyone? Good grief, you say you’re sinking into depression? Feeling sad? Then you’ve succeeded. You’re feeling first hand an overload of kapha.
So before we get lost in our kaphic morass, we better reverse course and apply the antidotes.

1) Get up and move around. Break up habits. Practice variety and change.
2) Clean up and throw out excess.
3) Start exercising. Try a variety of exercises and change your routines often. Work up to vigorous sustained exercise. Be active. Breathe deeply.
4) Eat less. Eat light. Eat a variety of foods. Break up habitual eating. Chew more. Better yet, learn how to cleanse and fast.
5) Eat more veges. Cut out the sweets and dairy. Take some hot spices to get your digestion moving.
6) Eat an early light dinner. Vege soup or a salad is your short path back to health. Don’t eat for several hours before going to sleep.
7) Sleep less. Get up early and exercise in the morning. Don’t sleep in.
8) Get out and about during the day. Stay active. Try something new for stimulation.
9) Take initiative. Work hard. Practice self-discipline.
10) Meet new people. Be socially active. Sing and dance.
11) Look to the future. Take risks. Take yoga classes.
12) Let go of the past. Let others go in their own direction.
13) Seek new ideas, new challenges and new interests.
14) Change your living space occasionally and be sure to dehumidify.

And, finally, realize your strength. In yoga, one of the best poses for kapha is the warrior. The warrior is strong, fearless and ready for action. Be that heroic warrior who out of compassion acts skillfully in service to all.

Lesson #5: Too Much Vata

Too Much Vata
by Gary Gran, CYT, DAy.

Fall and early winter are known as the vata time of year in ayurveda. This means it’s an easy time for vata to become excessive. So what exactly is vata, you ask? According to ayurveda, vata dosha is the life principle of air moving through space to a fault or excess. It’s main qualities are a tendency towards excessive coldness, dryness, lightness, irregularity, and movement within the body-mind complex. In severe cases, the excessive movement exhausts itself and the person becomes listless.
Textbook-style explanations can only go so far, however. So let’s try a little experiment. Let’s say you want to experience an excess of vata for yourself. Here is a checklist for what to do. (Don’t worry, we’ll give you the antidotes later.)

1) Get as much sensual stimulation as possible. Maintain your curiosity and interest in as many things as possible. Keep your social calendar full. Never miss any events, especially if they are new and unusual. And yes, try this experiment right through the fall and winter.
2) Eat fast, don’t chew, or eat while moving about, driving, reading, or watching TV.
3) Keep irregular habits. Never eat at the same time. Change your bedtime, then change it again. Never get up at the same time. Only exercise every once in a while, or exercise a whole lot, then don’t exercise at all.
4) Enjoy fast foods, raw foods, and lots of cold or frozen foods. Wash them down with iced drinks. In fact, try making iced coffee your favorite drink.
5) Travel as much as possible. And when going places, run and jump about.
6) Whatever you do, do it in excess. ‘Over do, over work, over exercise’ is your new motto.
7) Always wait as long as possible before going to the bathroom. Hold it. You wouldn’t want to miss anything, would you?
8) Hang around with other vatic people. Maybe you could get all your friends to try this experiment at the same time!
9) Let your workplace be as cold and dry as possible. Then move into the coldest and driest room you can find.
10) Refrain from organizing anything around you. Create lots of clutter.

By now, you are probably getting a little experience of vata out of control. If you’re feeling a little anxious, fearful, or insecure, you’re moving in the right direction. Keep it up!

11) Next, check out as much advertising as possible. Then go on a spending spree. Impulse buying is in.
12) Try to be active late in the afternoon. This could be the time for that shopping spree, unless there’s an all-night sale marathon.
13) Get outside whenever the weather is windy and cold. Dress lightly.
14) Make lots of noise. Talk a lot. Go places that are noisy.
15) Surround yourself with electronics -computers, cell phones, microwaves, radios, TVs, lights. The more the better, especially if they’re all turned on at the same time.

OK, so enough is enough. Or is there ever enough for the truly vatic person?

Now let’s complete our experiment with the antidotes.
1) Rest more often. Your new motto is ‘rest arrests vata.’ Learn to say no to new activities. It’s OK to miss a few events.
2) Slow down. Eat slower. Chew your food. Eat sitting down in a quiet place.
3) Create a rhythm or flow in your life. Keep regularly scheduled mealtimes. Go to sleep and get up at the same time every day. Schedule and keep regular times for mild exercise and relaxation.
4) Enjoy warm, moist, nourishing, well-cooked fresh foods. Add good quality oil and a little salty taste to your food. Also try modest amounts of sour condiments.
5) No rushing, hurrying, or worrying.
6) Take regular breaks and more quiet time. Stay relaxed.
7) Attend to your bodies needs. Try warm oil massage and gentle stretching.
8) Talk less. Practice slow, smooth, quiet, deep, even breathing.
9) Stay warm and cozy. Use a humidifier if necessary.
10) Throw out clutter. Organize and arrange your environment.
11) Practice contentment. Save your resources. Don’t squander your energy or your money.
12) Go to sleep before 10pm. Rest in the late afternoon.
13) Protect yourself from the weather. Dress warmly. Use layers.
14) Reduce noise. Enjoy quiet restful music. Repeat a soothing mantra or prayer. Practice silence.
15) Enjoy quiet time outdoors. Reduce your exposure to electronics. One strategy is to balance time spent with electronics with time spent in nature.

And, finally, trust in the pattern of life. There’s no need to get worked up into an existentialist angst, chase after new experiences, or collect endless data. Be present to the life that flows through you and all around you. Trust that what you really need is already present.