Ayurvedic Specialist & 500 Hour E-RYT
Our society is addicted to being busy. It’s common that multi-tasking and doing more is a sign of productivity and strength, while moving with less urgency and doing less is viewed as less productive and perhaps even unmotivated. When in reality, the exact opposite is true. When asked what surprised him most about humanity, the Dalai Lama answered, “We sacrifice our health in order to make wealth, then we sacrifice our wealth in order to get back our health.” This leads us to the question, “Do we really need to work harder, or smarter? If the latter, how do we shift gears to live a more balanced life? “
From Fight or Flight to Nurture
According to Ayurveda, fatigue is caused by one of many things. Primarily it is associated with a depleted state of agni (digestive fire) or one of the three vital energies; prana, tejas, or ojas. Generally speaking, when a dosha; vata, pitta, kapha, is in excess, disease is manifesting and when the three vital forces are in excess, health is manifesting.
When working with Ayurveda and the vital energies, we are better able to see where our low energy is stemming from, and make the shifts necessary to cultivate, not only more energy, but optimal health and happiness.
When we experience fatigue, our body is telling us that a system in our body is not functioning properly. In Ayurveda, everything starts with our ability to digest or the strength of our agni (digestive fire). To better understand the function of agni, we look at the roll of digestive enzymes in relation to the strength of our metabolism.
The best path to restore agni is through an Ayurvedic cleanse. To maintain healthy agni, one can establish an Ayurvedic diet that is personalized to their constitution or dosha along with a balanced lifestyle.
When agni is too high or too low, we must look at our current state of imbalance in relation to the three doshas and their subtle essences. To correct agni, we must work to rebalance the doshas by increasing the three vital energies; prana, tejas, ojas
Need some guidance getting your digestion back on track?
Balancing Kapha and Creating Ojas
The kapha dosha is comprised of the elements of earth and water and is our source for obtaining nourishment, vitality and sustained energy. In regards to agni, when kapha is in excess, agni (digestive fire) is low or does not burn with enough heat. This causes much of what we consume to not be fully cooked or metabolized resulting in undigested matter accumulating in our small intestines. This undigested matter rots and transforms into toxic matter that coats the walls of the GI tract. This further causes lack of absorption from the food that is broken down as well as accumulation of fat, toxins and inorganic matter that our body cannot properly pass.
To reduce excess kapha one must follow a kapha pacifying diet and lifestyle as well as work to increase their ojas. Ojas is the subtle form of kapha. Ojas is our vitality and endurance. Ojas is directly related to our adrenals and allows us to handle stress through sustained adrenaline. It is our immune system and our ability to defend ourselves against external pathogens. It provides endurance, resistance and strength to ward off diseases. One can work to increase ojas through a sattvic living. Increasing ojas is the most important focus that we can cultivate, for ojas is the container for which we are able to obtain and maintain both tejas and prana.
Work Smarter, Not harder.
When we are already under pressure, busy, stressed or fatigued, adhering to a new Ayurvedic Lifestyle can seem like just another thing to add to the list. This is counter productive and should not be thought of as another thing to do, but simply a different way to do what you are already doing.
As Vata dosha’s primary quality is movement, it is the least stable; the first to go out of balance and also the easiest to bring back into balance. To balance Vata, we turn to prana or the breath. Checking in with the breath is a great way to start your day as well as track your day. When Vata dosha becomes imbalanced, the breath becomes rapid, rigid and lacks depth. This triggers the flight or fight response - also known as our sympathetic nervous system. This activation of the sympathetic nervous system causes stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol to flood the body, further aggravating vata causing agitation, fear, intestinal disturbances and difficulty focusing. As Vata is the “mover” of the doshas, when in excess, it can also cause Pitta and Kapha dosha to go out of balance. Starting your day with deep breaths or a pranayama practice can help to keep the breath balanced throughout your day as life presents itself. Focusing on the breath is also a great way to become present and a simple discipline that you can integrate that will also start to reduce Pitta dosha, by cultivating Tejas. This focus can help us adhere to what matters most in our lives, nourishing our minds and bodies creating sustained vitality and energy, bringing Kapha dosha into balance as well.
Our goal should not be doing more, it should be trying to find a way to do less so that we can enjoy what we do more. Creating a morning routine can help you find direction for your day. Start your day with 8-15 minutes of meditation and breath work, followed by just 5 minutes of writing down what you want to accomplish with your day, then simply check in with this list two more times throughout your day. Starting to find balance through slowing down, taking a deep breath and identifying our priorities can create the focus that we need to nourish ourselves instead of constantly working towards depletion.
It is also important to take note of that which is not serving your health and happiness. When we start to become more mindful, it is important to check in with ourselves, often. After everything, whether it be a conversation, experience, meal, meeting or interaction; we should be asking ourselves, “how did that make me feel?” With time this will start to bring clarity on what we want to start omitting from our daily lives. There is a level or responsibility that cultivating health and happiness requires, standing up for yourself so that you can live the best life possible.
Stop Doing This; So You Can Start Doing That
Overall, reclaiming your inherent health and energy is less about fighting fatigue and more about nourishing your three vital energies. It’s about carving out 30 minutes in your morning to create your balanced day. It’s about honestly checking in and letting go of that which is not serving your ideal life, day in and day out. It is about eating food that is replenishing your tissues, not depleting them and causing harmful toxin build up in your digestive system. Living Ayurvedically will bring you the energy that you are seeking once you realize that it’s not simply about doing more, but doing more of what brings you happiness and health.
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