Ask Dr. Sheila: Ayurveda and the Doshas in Relationships

Ask Dr. Sheila: Ayurveda and the Doshas in Relationships
Every month, Dr. Sheila, Chopra’s Chief Medical Officer will be answering questions from our followers. If you have a general question for her around health and wellness, please send us an email to askdrsheila@chopra.com, and your question may be the one she answers next month. This month, Dr. Sheila answers a question about how Ayurveda can provide insights into who we are and how we show up in our relationships.

The health of our relationships is an important part of our overall well-being. From an Ayurvedic perspective, ultimately all of our relationships are a reflection of our relationship to self. So cultivating a good relationship with ourselves is the foundation for developing healthy relationships with others.

Components of Healthy Relationships

What makes a relationship healthy? It’s not about getting what you want all the time or enjoying all of the same activities. Harmonious relationships are based on mutual attention, affection, appreciation, and acceptance.

  • Attention means deep listening and being totally present.
  • Affection is deep caring and being there for someone when needed.
  • Appreciation is feeling grateful for another person.
  • Acceptance means that you see the truth of the other person without judgment.

Often, when we find it challenging to give one of the above pillars in our relationships, it can be useful to ask ourselves if we are giving ourselves the attention, affection, appreciation, and acceptance that we deserve. When we make time for ourselves and accept ourselves as we are, it is often easier to do the same for others.

Some of these factors may be more important to an individual than others. Understanding what is important to the person you are in relationship with, whether it’s a partner, friend, or family member, can help create a healthier relationship. In addition, being able to give attention, affection, appreciation or acceptance may come more naturally to you than others. It can be helpful here to understand our individual nature, or dosha, as well as the dosha of the person we are in relationship with.

Doshas in Relationship

As Ayurveda teaches us, we all have our unique mind-body constitutions which predict our physical and emotional tendencies. This is also true for how we each give and receive love in relationships, whether they are intimate relationships, friendships, or relationships with colleagues.

Your mind-body type, or dosha, influences how you show up in relationships and what you need out of them as well. It is also affected by your current state of balance.

Although there are many other factors involved in how we behave in our relationships, here are some general tendencies for each of the doshas.

Vata in Relationships

Vatas have the qualities of air and space and can often feel scattered or insecure, therefore they often thrive in relationships where their partner grounds them and spends time with them. They enjoy a sense of security and safety in relationships and without it can become anxious which is their natural stress response. They also can be quite emotionally sensitive so using care when interacting with Vatas will help build trust. And although they enjoy security, they also need space to breathe and to be creative and free-spirited.

In return, Vatas bring excitement and spontaneity to relationships. They will offer opportunities to get out and have fun, as well as meaningful and plentiful conversation. Vatas have very open hearts and express their love and emotions easily.

If you are a Vata, or you recognize these characteristics in yourself, you can help create healthier relationships by recognizing your tendencies and needs. Others may not understand your need for frequent communication, or your sensitivity to their language and tone, so sharing this with the people you interact with will help. In addition, stay grounded with regular meditation and breathing so you don’t feel as sensitive to the emotions of people around you and can interact in a balanced and authentic way.

Pitta in Relationships

Pittas have the qualities of fire and water and enjoy passionate and connected relationships. They thrive when they share interests with their partner and need to feel valued and appreciated for all they do. However, when they are not feeling supported, they can get irritable or critical which is their natural stress response.

In return, Pittas bring an intensity and passion to their relationships which can create deep connections. They enjoy providing for the ones they love and bring and energy and purpose to their relationships. Pittas love to learn and will bring their partners opportunities for in-depth conversations and new adventures.

If you are a Pitta, or are aware of these characteristics in yourself, you can avoid conflicts with people in your life by understanding your nature. You can ask for what you want, and be aware that others may not have the same energy and intensity that you do. Being flexible and accepting of others will go a long way in relationships. Keeping yourself balanced with meditation and walks in nature will help you remain nonjudgmental and more compassionate with others, deepening your relationships.

Kapha in Relationships

Kaphas have the qualities of water and earth, which makes them desire relationships that are stable and long-lasting. They feel comfortable in relationships where they are allowed to express their laid-back nature and accepted for who they are. That being said, they will also enjoy being encouraged to get out and try new things. However, when they are pushed too far they can withdraw and not communicate which is their natural stress response.

In return, Kaphas support their partners with kindness and nurturing. They are happy to let their partner make the decisions and are easygoing in nature. They provide a secure foundation for a relationship and are happy to go with the flow and support their partners in whatever way they can.

If you are a Kapha, or see yourself in this description, there are things you can do to create the harmony you desire in relationships. Although it may not be your nature to speak up, expressing your needs and feelings prevents a buildup of resentment that can interfere with your relationships. Meditate often and keep your energy flowing with regular movement and exercise so you don’t feel stuck and complacent in your relationships.

Caring For Ourselves, Caring For Each Other

How we give and receive love is dependent on how we are caring for ourselves, so it is important for all healthy relationships to take time for self-care which will then bring balance and harmony into all of our relationships.

Our relationships are mirrors that help us to learn more about ourselves and offer growth opportunities along our spiritual path. When we understand our natural tendencies and the tendencies of our partners, we can avoid situations where we get stuck and are not growing. Instead, our relationships can act as a vehicle for expanding awareness, happiness, and love in our lives.

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