The Three Doshas (Constitutions)
According to Ayurveda (The Science of Life), human physiology comprises five elements and creates three doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha. You can think of the doshas as guiding physiological principles that keep all of your bodily functions balanced and healthy.
Vata is composed of air and space elements and is responsible for your nervous system with major functions of movement, transportation, and communication in physiology. Pitta is composed of fire and water and is responsible for your digestive system with major digestion, metabolism, and transformation functions. Finally, Kapha is composed of earth and water elements and is responsible for your immune system for the functions of structure, strength (immunity) and lubrication.
The three doshas are direct expressions of nature’s intelligence and help with identifying your body’s first response to external environmental stresses caused by weather changes, diet, physical, mental or emotional.
The Time of Day
Each dosha dominates a certain time of the day as well as certain seasons of the month. During the day, every four hours is dominated by one dosha and is influenced by the qualities of that dosha. Vata time is 2-6AM/PM, Pitta is 10-2AM/PM and Kapha is 6-10AM/PM. So, in the morning, it is best recommended to wake up before 6 AM so that you can avoid the struggle of getting out of bed at Kapha time with the heavy earth energies. Same with the seasons, as in summer, when Pitta energies influence, it is best to avoid spicy foods as you will already be feeling the heat.
At the time of writing this article, we are in the Vata Season. If balanced, you can feel enthusiastic, vivacious, talkative etc. however, if Vata is out of balance, you can feel anxious, fearful, nervous, unstable, ungrounded, etc. Think about the energies of air and space and their qualities: light, dry, coarse, rough, dark, changeable, moveable, subtle, cold, clear, etc. These will influence this season, so it will be best to counteract them with various modalities to create a balance.
For example, to avoid dryness in your body, you can treat yourself with a warm oil massage (Abhyanga); you can do breathing exercises to balance the air and ground yourself. The body is intelligent, so if you don’t take care of the dryness, the body will do it for you by creating mucus, and now you have a sinus problem. Once you understand the qualities of each dosha and its effect on any given season, it becomes easier to incorporate or avoid certain things while running their cycle.
The Hot Water Routine
Here is a simple hot water routine that you can incorporate into your lifestyle for this season. The routine is not based on flushing out the toxins with large quantities of water but rather on the effect of warm water on the tongue. When you take a sip of water, your tongue (the only digestive organ that we can touch) stimulates digestion as it communicates with the system. However, since there is no food to digest, two things occur. First, it helps process the food that you consume throughout the day and prevents from creating toxins in the body and second, it begins to burn any old toxins that have been created in your body. Therefore, in this process, the effect of warm water on the tongue is responsible for most of the results of the Hot Water Routine.
A Quick History
In the 1980s, one of the world’s most famous Ayurvedic physicians, Dr Raju, visited the United States. When he checked the pulses of Americans, he was overwhelmed by the number of toxins that he noticed on their pulses. Since Ayurveda was almost unheard of, treatments such as Panchakarma (detox therapy) were unavailable. He realised that opening these clinics would not be possible with the labour cost being so high that most people could not afford the treatments even if they were available. Then Dr Raju remembered one of the modalities shared by his grandfather, who inspired him to become an Aryuvedic physician. This was based on famous classical Ayurvedic text, the Charaka Samhita, in which it states that taking hot water improves digestion and cold water hinders it.
He suggested this modality to many of his patients and recommended a routine of sipping hot water throughout the day. He then travelled around the world and returned to the US after some time and was pleased to find out that the patients who had been doing the Hot Water Routine daily had much lower levels of toxins.
- Bring water completely to a boil and place it in a thermos (a one-quart thermos is ideal)
- Take a sip on this every half hour throughout the day (more can be taken if you like)
- Stop at 6 PM so that you do not have to be up in the night to urinate
- If you are dealing with any digestive disturbances, place the following spices in a one-quart thermos with the water, letting them steep the whole day as you drink it: 1 tsp fennel seeds, 1⁄4 tsp coriander seeds, and 1⁄4 tsp cumin seeds. I sometimes like also to use herbal tea with blended seasonal spices.
Enjoy the gorgeous fall while remaining grounded and calm!