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Finding the Fire in Me: A Life Lesson in Ayurveda

Updated: Dec 27, 2021

Ayurveda is experiencing a bit of a renaissance.

When I heard about it growing up, it was for the really woo-woo types who did home enemas and smelled of musky herbal tea. But then Ayurvedic practices like dry brushing and neti pot picked up steam in the self-care category and my interest was piqued.

*** For the uninitiated, Ayurveda is a 5,000 yr-old holistic system still practiced around the world that merges the mental, physical and spiritual. It is based on the five elements: fire, water, earth, air and ether (space), which govern not just the planet but also our body and being. These five elements combine to create 3 doshas, which are the qualities used to describe your body, environment, food and everything else. The doshas are: Vata (air and ether), Pitta (fire and earth) and Kapha (earth and water). To stay healthy, we need to keep our doshas balanced.***

I started taking distance learning courses through The American Institute of Vedic Studies while still living in NYC but it all seemed very elusive. Partly because I was just too busy— running around as an independent contractor in the wellness industry left me with very little spare time and the freneticism of city life hijacked whatever was left.

I put down my books and focused at the task at hand of surviving. I did my mindful movement, I did my meditation, I ate plant-based, recycled and tried to keep positive company. I knew intuitively all these things worked together but couldn’t really explain why.

I still felt unbalanced, overstimulated and disconnected. So with high hopes of gaining some self-insight and distance from old patterns, I moved to the mountains on the Carolina borders at the end of January of 2019.

I immediately became sick.

Winters here are rainy, cold and clammy. With nowhere to go I stayed in bed and looked out the window at the clouds. The introspection was fun for the first few days, but it turned into a rut overhung with a nagging brain fog.

I had to do something, so I returned to my studies. Suddenly the fog started lifting.

A light went on: That rainy cold and clammy season was pure Kapha. Getting phlegmy and congested was Kapha. My lying around doing nothing was Kapha. I had turned myself into a mountain of Kapha (earth + water = mud).

Ayurveda teaches that like increases like, which in turn leads to imbalance. To find health you must add the opposite element, in this case, fire. I started implementing tips like adding some ginger to basically everything (spicy=fire), going for hikes in less than optimal weather (cardiovascular=fire), and I finished the last of my 300-hour Ayurvedic training in such a sprint that my grading professor remarked my Pitta was showing (drive/mania=fire).

I looked back at my time in NYC and realized that my lifestyle of flying from job to job was very Vata (air and ether), and the pulse of city life was pure Pitta. As a natural Kapha, I felt totally out of element. However, my submersion into a 100% Kapha situation jarred my system so much, that my full being went into revolt.

Now with the Ayurvedic roadmap, I’ve been listening to the seasons, listening to my body and listening to my mind with an ear that knows everything is related and everything shifts. Finding this dance with nature has finally made all the puzzle pieces fit.

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