Ayurveda

Self-Care Guide: Your Doshas and Your World

Aroma of the fall
Young woman standing in the park in the fall and enjoying with her eyes closed

Because you are unique, adapting to the world is different for you than for someone else. One environment is beneficial to some people but not to others. If you want to practice self-care, this is a critical aspect. Ayurveda has been a self-care system for thousands of years, and understanding how your doshas work remains one of the best ways to practice self-care.

Looking at your home and work environment, your first priority should be to balance Vata dosha. Vata gives life vibrancy, creativity, and bursts of joy. This dosha changes very quickly, and everyone, no matter what body type (Prakriti) they have, should monitor Vata and adjust their environment to keep Vata from going out of balance.

The Best Environment for Vata

  • Contains low stress
  • Has an upbeat mood
  • Presents a predictable routine
  • Is quiet and calm
  • Offers creative possibilities
  • Reduces the chance of abrupt shocks
  • Avoids high risk
  • Allows for spontaneous behavior
  • Encourages support from others, including appreciation, attention, and affection

Some of these factors apply to your home life more than the workplace—affection at work can even be inappropriate, while affection at home is very nourishing to Vata. Generally, however, everything on this list fits into a self-care regime.

Neglecting what Vata needs leads to the potential for imbalance. If your environment is detrimental to balancing Vata, the risks rise for symptoms like anxiety, fatigue, burnout at work, insomnia, irregular appetite, and random aches and pains. The other side of self-care, besides promoting positive factors, is decreasing negative ones. The negative factors are basically the opposite of the positive ones.

The Worst Environment for Vata

  • Contains high stress
  • Has a flat, tense, or downbeat mood
  • Has no predictable routine
  • Offers few if any creative outlets
  • Is noisy and cluttered
  • Frequent abrupt shocks and setbacks
  • Presents high risks
  • Forbids or discourages spontaneous behavior
  • Makes you feel isolated and without support from others

Addressing both sides, positive and negative, is necessary. This calls for self-awareness, because Vata, like every dosha, works on a sliding scale. A pure Vata type will have a very low threshold of stress and be much more prone to anxiety, sleeplessness, and poor appetite than a pure Kapha type. But Pitta and Kapha, no matter how predominate in your makeup, are led by Vata, which is why it comes first in self-care.

The doshas help to explain the major differences between people. Changing your body type, like changing the genes you were born with, is impossible. But lifestyle choices can and do change how your genes function, and the same is true of the doshas. If you want your dominant dosha to function at its best, you need to recognize where you are most vulnerable. Each dosha has its points of susceptibility.

What are you susceptible to in your environment? We’ve already covered Vata, but if you are strong in Pitta and Kapha, your susceptibilities will shift in that direction.

Pitta is susceptible when the environment is:

  • Argumentative
  • Highly competitive
  • Full of rivalry
  • Disorganized or chaotic
  • Static and unproductive
  • Allows for little advancement or personal success

These factors are bad for Pitta because this dosha is about achievement, organization, progress, and recognized success. Emotionally there is a tendency toward anger, impatience, and the need to control. Self-awareness is the key to self-care. If you know that the factors that throw Pitta out of balance apply in your life, either at home or work, changes are called for.

Kapha is susceptible when the environment is:

  • Agitated
  • Lacks calm
  • Hostile or tense
  • Too unpredictable or lacks regularity
  • Too rushed

Kapha types are solid, grounded, reliable, and methodical, which indicates why everything on the list can lead to imbalance. But Kapha dosha is the slowest to change, in both directions. Kapha types are much less vulnerable to pressure and stress than other types. It takes a lot of chaos and unpredictability to make them feel uncomfortable, long after a Vata type has become unhappy.

Finally, there are signs for each dosha that your environment is probably too toxic for you to be in.

  • For Vata types, the environment is too toxic if you are generally anxious.
  • For Pitta types, the environment is too toxic if you are generally angry of hostile.
  • For Kapha types, the environment is too toxic if you are generally depressed.

If you see yourself reflected in any of these descriptions, you might consider changing your environment and walking away from situations that have created such serious symptoms.

The major takeaway is that your world isn’t the same as everyone else’s world, even if the environment seems identical. Your doshas color your response to the world, which is why you inhabit a personal reality. The responsibility to change your personal reality belongs to you alone. That doesn’t mean you can do without support—the more you feel supported, the better your mental and physical health will be. Promoting all the positive factors that are good for your doshas while minimizing the factors that throw your doshas out of balance is the best way to practice self-care. The improvement in your personal reality will be dramatic.


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