According to Ayurveda, balance comes from applying opposite qualities to those of the imbalance. If vata is cold, light, dry, rough, mobile and clear, then a vata imbalance can be helped by the use of warmth, heavier grounding qualities, oiliness, smoothness, and stability. If you are vata imbalanced it is good to receive treatments like oil massage, herbal steam and shirodhara (oil stream to the forehead) as well as to eat warm, moist, smooth, well-cooked foods and to take vata balancing herbs like ashwagandha. Warm spices like cumin and cinnamon also help balance vata.
Pitta is hot, sharp, light, motile and sour and can best be balanced by its opposite qualities such as cool and dull. How about a cup of warm milk at bedtime, spiced with cardamom? The milk has cool, dull and heavy qualities ideal for pitta. Coconut oil or brahmi oil in a coconut base also has cool, dull and heavy qualities ideal for a head massage to calm pitta. Coriander is a wonderful spice to bring pitta back into balance. And among pitta soothing herbs, shatavari has pride of place in carrying the opposite qualities to pitta.
Kapha is cold, heavy, oily, cloudy and sticky, so one of the best ways to calm a kapha imbalance (such as head cold) is to go off wheat and cow dairy for a time, since both these foods share similar qualities to kapha. Foods that are light, dry and spicy do well for kapha and so do ginger baths, using a mixture of dry ginger powder and baking soda. Dry ginger is also useful as a tea for kapha imbalances.
In the event that you are uncertain which dosha is imbalanced, try remedies that balance the qualities of all three doshas. You can drink cumin-coriander-fennel tea and take triphala to help balance the qualities of all three doshas. Remembering the simple principle of using one quality to bring down another, you can work towards regaining balance.
Alakananda Ma M.B., B.S. (Lond.) is a Certified Ayurvedic Doctor (NAMA) and graduate of a top London medical school. She is co-founder of Alandi Ayurveda Clinic and Alandi Ayurveda Gurukula in Boulder Colorado, as well as a spiritual mother, teacher, flower essence maker and storyteller. Alakananda is a well known and highly respected practitioner in the Ayurveda community both nationally and internationally.
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