Doshas

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Frozen River SmallDuring the holidays, it’s easy to get caught up in frantic activity that leaves you exhausted, out of balance, and susceptible to winter colds and flu. If you want to truly enjoy this special time of year, the best gift you can give yourself and your family is nurturing self-care.

1.  Do one thing at a time.
Instead of multi-tasking, give yourself the joy of focused attention. When you’re cooking, turn off your phone, Blackberry, and TV.  Let yourself fully experience the sensory pleasures of preparing and eating your special holiday meals. If you’ve decided to send out Christmas cards (remembering that you can ignore the voice telling you “should” do so), make it a pleasurable ritual. Turn on some beautiful music and focus on the gratitude you have for each person to whom you’re writing a card.

2.  Commit to less.
Don’t succumb to the collective hallucination that would plunge you into a mad scramble to find thoughtful gifts for everyone from your mother to your child’s teacher, create reindeer topiary for the lawn, and make platefuls of cookies, candies, and pies from scratch. Choose to participate only in those holiday activities that hold meaning and joy for you and your loved ones.

3.  Communicate consciously.
A helpful tool to prevent emotional strain at family gatherings is the Buddhist practice of “right speech.” Before you speak, ask yourself these three questions: Is what I am about to say true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?  Find more conscious communication tips here.

4.  Maintain a restful sleep routine.
While it’s easy to fall into an erratic schedule with parties, travel, preparation, and other seasonal events, you will feel better and actually be able to accomplish more if you cultivate a restful sleep routine. When you find yourself pushing too hard or overdoing any activity, rest.

5.  Learn to meditate.
Besides sleep, the best rest is the deep relaxation provided by meditation. When you meditate, your breathing slows, blood pressure decreases, and stress hormone levels fall. You go beyond the mind’s noisy internal dialogue and experience an oasis of inner silence and stillness. An easy way to get started with meditation the Chopra Center’s 21-Day Meditation Challenge – we have a brand-new free challenge starting in February 2012, and you can also start right now by downloading our Summer Meditation Challenge. Learn more here.

6.  Eat warm, Vata-pacifying foods.
ginger teaWhen the weather is cold, limit your intake of dry and raw items such as nuts, chips, and uncooked vegetable, which all tend to aggravate the body’s nervous system and digestion. Try delicious soups, cooked whole grains, and nourishing stews. Drink plenty of hot tea, such as ginger tea. Find a simple ginger tea recipe here.
Learn more about Vata-balancing foods here.

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7.  Don’t skip lunch to do holiday shopping.
Skipping meals aggravates both the Vata and Pitta doshas, so stick with regular mealtimes.

8.  Exhale your stress.
In stressful situations we have an unconscious tendency to breathe shallowly, which only increases anxiety in our mind and body. Kapalabhati is a yogic breathing technique that releases stress and toxins from the body. Find Kapalabhati instructions in our library.

9.  Nurture your senses with aromatherapy and essential oils.vanilla
In your home or office, use soothing scents such as orange, lavender, neroli, sandalwood, vanilla, orange, basil, or clove. Performing a relaxing self-massage with sesame or other natural oils is a deeply healing practice that you can treat yourself to every day.

Frozen River Small

Tips for a Relaxing Holiday Season

During the holiday season, it’s easy to get caught up in frantic activity that leaves you exhausted, out of balance, and susceptible to winter colds and flu. If you want to truly enjoy this special time of year, the best gift you can give yourself and your family is nurturing self-care.

1.  Do one thing at a time. Give yourself the joy of focused attention. When you’re cooking, turn off your phone, Blackberry, and TV.  Let yourself fully experience the sensory pleasures of preparing and eating your special holiday meals. If you’ve decided to send out Christmas cards (remembering that you can ignore the voice telling you “should” do so), make it a pleasurable ritual. Turn on some beautiful music and focus on the gratitude you have for each person to whom you’re writing a card.

2.  Commit to less. Don’t succumb to the collective hallucination that would plunge you into a mad scramble to find thoughtful gifts for everyone from your mother to your child’s teacher, create reindeer topiary for the lawn, and make platefuls of cookies, candies, and pies from scratch. Choose to participate only in those holiday activities that hold meaning and joy for you and your loved ones.

3.  Communicate consciously. A helpful tool to prevent emotional strain at family gatherings is the Buddhist practice of “right speech.” Before you speak, ask yourself these three questions: Is what I am about to say true? Is it necessary? Is it kind? Find more conscious communication tips here.

4. Maintain a restful sleep routine. While it’s easy to fall into an erratic schedule with parties, travel, preparation, and other seasonal events, you will feel better and actually be able to accomplish more if you cultivate a restful sleep routine. When you find yourself pushing too hard or overdoing any activity, rest.

5. Meditate. Besides sleep, the best rest is the deep relaxation provided by meditation. When you meditate, your breathing slows, blood pressure decreases, and stress hormone levels fall. You go beyond Meditating with incentsthe mind’s noisy internal dialogue and experience an oasis of inner silence and stillness. Click here to access free guided meditation audios from the Chopra Center’s lead meditation teacher, davidji.

6.  Eat warm, soothing foods.
When the weather is cold, limit your intake of dry and raw items such as nuts, chips, and uncooked vegetable, which all tend to aggravate the body’s nervous system and digestion. Try delicious soups, cooked whole grains, and nourishing stews.

7. Don’t skip lunch to do holiday shopping. Skipping meals aggravates both the Vata and Pitta doshas, so stick with regular mealtimes. Learn more about the doshas here.

8.  Exhale your stress. In stressful situations we have an unconscious tendency to breathe shallowly, which only increases anxiety in our mind and body. Kapalabhati is a yogic breathing technique that releases stress and toxins from the body. Find Kapalabhati instructions in our library.

9.  Nurture your senses with aromatherapy and essential oils. In your home or office, use soothing scents such as orange, lavender, neroli, sandalwood, vanilla, orange, basil, or clove. Performing a self-massage with sesame or other natural oils is a deeply healing practice that you can treat yourself to every day. Find complete massage instructions at the Chopra Center’s online library here.

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Interested in more mind-body wellness tips?

Subscribe to the Chopra  Center’s free online newsletter, Agni, combining timeless wisdom with cutting-edge information that will help you get into the best mind-body shape of your life. Click here to sign up for Agni and visit our rich archive of past issues.

multicolored leaves XSmallIn Ayurveda the fall season corresponds to two major doshas: Pitta and Vata. Autumn is considered Pitta as long as hot weather prevails, and Vata as it becomes cold. Late fall and winter are known as “Vata season” because they are marked by some of the same qualities that characterize Vata: cold, dry, light, clear, and moving.

As long as these qualities are in balance, a person whose dosha is predominantly Vata will be healthy, creative, and exuberant. But when too much Vata accumulates in the body and mind, the imbalance may manifest as physical or emotional disorders, including insomnia, dry skin, arthritis, constipation, high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression.

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All body types are vulnerable to Vata derangement during autumn and winter, but those who are predominantly Vata types need to be particularly vigilant about staying in balance. Here are some practical ideas to keep you grounded and vibrant during the cold months ahead.

Follow a Vata-pacifying Diet

  • Ayurvedic spicesEat foods that are warming, fresh, and well cooked; avoid dry or uncooked foods (especially salads and raw fruits and vegetables).
  • Drink lots of warming liquids such as hot water and herbal teas to prevent dehydration. You can prepare a fresh ginger tea by placing a teaspoon of fresh grated ginger into a pint  thermos  bottle and filling it with hot water.
  • Eat more of the sweet, sour, and salty tastes and less of the bitter, astringent, and pungent ones. Avocados, bananas, mangoes, peaches, lemons, pumpkins, carrots, beets, asparagus, quinoa, rice, mung beans, almonds, sesame seeds, and ghee are a few excellent Vata-pacifying foods.
  • Don’t worry if your appetite seems stronger than usual as this is a natural tendency in winter and helps pacify Vata. At the same time, of course, don’t eat to the point of discomfort.

Nourish Your Senses

  • Wear clothing made with soft fabrics in earth tones and mild pastel shades, which calm Vata.
  • Stay warm. Vata is a cold, dry dosha, so it’s important to make sure that your home and work place are well heated and that the air has enough humidity. Since Vata is extremely sensitive to moving air, it’s wise to avoid drafts or sitting near fans or ventilators.
  • Give yourself slow, gentle self-massage in the morning or before bed. Use a nourishing, warming oil such as sesame or almond. You may also want to gently rub a drop of sesame oil inside your nasal passages, which tend to become dry during winter. Find  instructions for performing an ayurvedic self-massage here.

Sleep and Restful Awareness

• Get enough sleep! This is vital for Vatas, who tend to push themselves to the point of physical or mental exhaustion. Read more about creating a restful sleep routine here.

• Learn to meditate. For the overactive Vata mind, meditation is one of the best ways to find calm and stillness. The Chopra Center recommends and offers instruction in a powerful practice called Primordial Sound Meditation, a mantra-based meditation rooted in the traditions of ancient India.

Interested in more mind-body wellness tips?

Subscribe to the Chopra Center’s free online newsletter, Agni, combining timeless wisdom with cutting-edge information that will help you get into the best mind-body shape of your life. Click here to sign up for Agni and visit our rich archive of past issues.

“Making your doshas happy will make you happy. This is the secret to balancing the whole mind-body system.”AgniSignup-Banner
– Deepak Chopra

Your mind-body type (known as your dosha in the ancient healing science of Ayurveda) plays a great role in how stress affects you. In Ayurveda, the three main doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.

  • Those with predominantly Vata constitutions have the greatest tendency toward anxiety and worry. Normally creative and lively, in the face of stress, Vatas tend to blame themselves for their problems and become extremely nervous and scattered.
  • Pitta types are usually warm and loving, but if they’re out of balance, typically react to stress by finding fault with other people and becoming angry.
  • The most even-tempered dosha is Kapha. Kapha types are usually easygoing and gentle, but when faced with overwhelming conflict or stress, they may withdraw and refuse to deal with the situation.

Knowing your mind-body constitution will help you understand your own response to stress. Ayurveda offers specific recommendations for each mind-body type, including the most effective ways to cope with stress. To learn more ayurvedic tips for stress relief and mind-body healing, sign up for our free online Agni Newsletter.

Get into the Best Mind-Body Shape of Your Life . . .

The Answer is Inside!

wayne bannerThis month we invite you to connect to the rich inner wisdom of your body, mind, and spirit . . .

Begin by taking the Dosha Quiz to identify your mind-body type; join davidji for a guided meditation; practice a powerful technique to let go of food cravings; awaken your intuition through chakra-opening yoga; and watch our new video about our upcoming Journey into Healing workshop, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, and David Simon weave their messages together. In his letter, Deepak discusses how discovering and embracing your shadow can help you reclaim your hidden power, while David Simon writes about the journey to the heart and shares a special guided meditation on love.

We wish you a wonderful month filled with peace, self-acceptance, joy, and love.

In gratitude,
The Chopra Center Staff

A recipe from The Chopra Center Cookbook . . .

Enjoy the season’s bounty of ripe, delicious blueberries with this easy ayurvedic recipe made with organic ingredients. An ideal dessert for graduation celebrations and Father’s Day.

In terms of the six tastes recognized by Ayurveda, the prominent tastes in this blueberry cake recipe are sweet and astringent. Learn more about the six tastes here. Both of these tastes help pacify the Pitta dosha, which when out of balance can manifest as irritability, heartburn, skin rashes, inflammation and other conditions.

As we enter the hot months of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, it is particularly important to keep Pitta in balance by favoring cool drinks and food and the sweet, astringent, and bitter tastes, while reducing foods that are pungent, salty, and sour.  To learn more about Ayurveda and mind-body healing, subscribe to the Chopra Center’s free online newsletter, Agni. Click here to learn more and read past issues of Agni.


Cake Ingredients

2 pounds fresh blueberries
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 cups organic unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup turbinado sugar
¼ cup nonfat milk
¼ cup ghee    Find our ghee recipe here
4 eggs

Topping
2 eggs
¼ cup ghee
1 cup turbinado sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Note: If possible, use organic eggs, milk, vanilla, and spices.

1.)  Preheat oven to 325 (F) and spray or oil a 9 X 12-inch cake pan.

2.)  In a large bowl, toss the blueberries with the cinnamon and nutmeg; place in the cake pan. Put all the remaining cake ingredients in a bowl and beat well. Carefully pour the batter over the blueberries. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until golden brown.

3.)  Cream together the topping ingredients. Remove the cake from the oven, spoon the topping over it, and return the cake to the over for about 20 minutes, until the topping is browned and bubbly.

Makes 12 to 18 pieces.

woman meditation on hill XSmallThe ancient ayurvedic texts provide a long list of sensory experiences that promote wellbeing and balance the doshas.

Vata: Seek out the stability pf the earth. Try walking barefoot on the earth or grass for a few minutes every day. Spend a little time in the sun, allowing its light and warmth to soothe you.

Pitta: Walking along a natural body of water is deeply healing. Allowing the water’s cooling influences to calm and soothe you. Take a walk where there is lush vegetation or simply lie down in the grass.

Kapha: Take a brisk walk or a run in a beautiful park somewhere in nature. Go outside and gaze at the stars, feeling the unboundedness of the universe.

Kapha types have the most stamina and strength of all the doshas, but when out of balance, suffer from lethargy and excess weight. If you are predominantly Kapha, a stimulating, energizing yoga practice is ideal. It’s important to challenge yourself and create heat in your body, to counter Kapha’s natural tendency to feel cold and sluggish. Move through your flow sequences quickly (though always with conscious awareness) to lighten and warm your body.

Most of the standing poses are invigorating, especially if you hold them for a longer time. Try maintaining your asanas for up to 20 breaths. Backbends are also heating, helping to open the chest and circulate the life-giving energy of prana throughout the body.

Doing your yoga in the early morning hours of Kapha (6–10am) will help keep you more energized and motivated throughout the day. At the beginning or end of your practice, you can practice bhastrika or bellows breath, which cleanses the body and energizes the digestive system.

The ultimate goal of yoga is to connect to your true Divine essence and expand your consciousness. Whether you are predominantly Vata, Pitta, or Kapha, stay focused on your intention to stay present and take your yoga practice to a deeper level. The yogic sage Patanjali wrote, “Yoga is the settling of the mind into silence. When the mind has settled, we are established in our essential nature, which is unbounded consciousness.”

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