By Ava Wentzel, LMT, Ayurvedic Yoga Educator
I love this quote because in Ayurveda, we are always trying to get to the quality of an issue or imbalance; this phrasing sheds light on the truth that is: The quality of our bodies and minds and life experiences depends entirely on the small choices we make consistently over the course of our entire life. Our habits have a greater impact on our wellbeing than that one weekend we stayed up for 48 hours and ate nothing but fast food and microwave burritos. So, if you’re wanting to begin your healing process and/or deepen your connection to yourself, the best place to start is with your routine.
To use Ayurvedic terms, when working with someone who wants to make changes we almost always want to begin by pacifying Vata Dosha. This is the pairing of the elements Air & Ether within the body/mind. When Vata Dosha is out of balance, we experience a multitude of issues such as anxiety, circular thinking, an inability to sit still or relax, lack of contentment, gas and bloating, sharp pains, aching in the muscles and joints, inability to focus, dizziness or shakiness, fatigue, a sense of weakness, shortness of breath, brain fog, insomnia, dry mouth and skin, rough hair and chipping nails, constipation, and much more. And the key to bringing Vata back into balance is routine and a sense of security.
Due to the nature of Air & Ether, Vata Dosha’s qualities are: light, cold, dry, rough, hard, mobile, subtle, clear, irregular, and dispersing. Take a moment to consider how the aforementioned examples of Vata Imbalance in the body/mind reflect the qualities of Vata Dosha.
Vata Imbalance: Constipation
Quality in Excess: Hard or Rough
Vata Imbalance: Joint Aches
Quality in Excess: Cold or Hard
Vata Imbalance: Inability to Sit Still
Quality in Excess: Mobile or Dispersing
The way to balance the Vata qualities would be to introduce their opposites: heavy, hot, oily, slimy/smooth, soft, stable, gross, cloudy. These are all qualities that promote grounding, security, and contentment. Think about it—when you’ve just been outside in the freezing snow for an hour, moving all around, shoveling your driveway, thoughts racing as you try to think about holiday plans and end-of-year work deadlines (COLD/DRY, MOBILE, DISPERSING), all you want when you come inside is to drink a HOT cup of cocoa, put on SOFT fuzzy socks, and sit in a STABLE cushy chair with a big blanket by the fire. For dinner, you might have something HOT/OILY/HEAVY like a dense chicken stew with a thick slice of toasted sourdough slathered with butter.
How does your body feel as you imagine this scenario?
How do you feel outside in the cold?
How do you feel when you come inside?
It’s likely you feel incredibly relieved, comforted, at ease, and grounded.
So, if we know we need to pacify Vata Dosha before any healing changes can occur, and if we know that the essence of any Vata-pacifying remedy is grounding, then I ask you: What is more grounding than a strong daily routine? And if our routine, our habits have an effect on the qualities of our experience, we want to be thinking about what qualities we truly want to introduce into our lives via food, relationships, conversations, etc.
I will go into daily routine (or, as it is called in Ayurveda, Dinacharya) more in another newsletter issue, but the important thing to do at the beginning is to start to invite self-inquiry—notice how your daily habits make you feel and decide if you want to continue to engage in habits that make you feel that way. Notice if your body wants you to continue these daily habits. Listen with an open heart and you might be quite pleasantly surprised to hear a gentle message emerge from deep within you.
Lots of Love,
P.S. I will be having a live conversation with Osi Mizrahi, an Ayurvedic expert and wellness advocate, where we will be discussing Dinacharya (aka daily routine.) Osi, also an incredibly vibrant entrepreneur and founder of Osi Oils, believes that each and every one of us possesses the ability to provide for ourselves, to heal ourselves, and to transform ourselves simply by cultivating healthy, nourishing, and supportive daily rituals. Join us on Instagram on Monday, December 18th 2023 at 1PM EST to listen to the conversation and ask questions!
ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः
Om, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti
(Om, Peace, Peace, Peace)
FOR MORE AYURVEDIC INSIGHTS, FOLLOW ME ON INSTAGRAM @AVALEBEN