By Alexandra Samet of Hunger, Hatha & Heels
Ayurveda, or the science of life, supports the idea that nature (instead of medicine) can cure many ailments. This ideology promotes prevention by getting to know ourselves and how to create balance with our environment.
As travelers our surroundings are constantly changing which can cause us to feel imbalanced. While we are constantly moving to different places there is one constant: Prakriti, or what we are born with. Your prakriti cannot change; however, you can attempt to balance the elements you were born with in order to lead a more healthy life.
Ayurveda suggests we are all composed of five elements — earth, water, fire, air and ether — and that these are condensed down into three main body and mind types (doshas). Here we’ll discuss the different Doshas and see where you fall. With this knowledge, you can shift yourself toward a more balanced life on the road.
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Are You A Vata?
Your energy is airy; meaning you’re constantly moving and often carrying excess energy. Friends may refer to you as being spacey or dizzy, as you are constantly dreaming and moving with no clear direction.
Many travelers are creative dreamers who embody this quality.
Ironically, while you may love to be on the move, you have a tendency to be easily overwhelmed or anxious when changing your environment. It would serve you well to book many stops in advance, keep directions close by and maintain an itinerary. If possible, seek the help of a travel planner who can help focus your plans. You should also bring anything that will make you feel grounded like a first aid kit, sunblock, bug spray, medicine and emergency contacts.
You are more motivated when you have some kind of muse or direction, so choose exciting attractions and inspiring companions.
In addition to your personality, your physical traits can impact how you should balance your life. You have a lot of air in the body, which provides fluidity and flexibility in your poses; however, be careful not to hyper-extend or overstretch, as this can lead to chronic injuries.
Because of your cooler tendencies, you may have poor circulation in your fingers and toes. Therefore, be sure to stretch before you practice yoga or do other physical activities while traveling. You tend to have a smaller frame, which often comes with smaller and pointier joints. Therefore, you could benefit from some padding under the knees in lunge poses.
Because of your mind and body composition, you may experience excess gas and potential digestive issues. Be especially mindful of what you eat, focusing on grounding food that is earthy and fatty like root vegetables, nuts and seeds. Avoid foods that are cold, light or crunchy while traveling, as your body is cool and dry to begin with. You will benefit from warmer, heavier foods like hearty soups, stews and oatmeal. You should also eat breakfast in the morning to provide a solid foundation for your day.
Use your time on the mat to wind down and relax your already energetic nervous system. Do not surreptitiously move through your flow without rest, as Vata’s need time for stillness and meditation. You tend to open your heart quickly and easily to people and opportunities, thriving in positions like backbends or heart openers; however, before opening yourself up to poses, people or ventures, ask yourself if they are truly serving you. If not, give yourself permission to stay closer to the ground and make time for grounding poses like Ardha Matsyendrasana (Seated Spinal Twist), Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose), Dandasana (Staff Pose) or Janu Sirsasana (Head to Knee Pose).
Tip: Having your own quality travel yoga mat, like the Manduka eKO SuperLite Travel Mat, can help you feel grounded while away from home.
Are You A Kapha?
You are made of earth and water, making you very connected to the earth. You are grounded and nurturing, and make an excellent traveler as you can make a home anywhere.
Although you are easygoing and adaptable, you do best in travel destinations that are warm and dry. If you are traveling internationally, do your research so you can avoid the rainy season that can sometimes cause you to feel ill or unmotivated.
Because you love being in your comfort zone, make an effort to make your environment homey — think of adding bright flowers to your room or a framed photo.
In your circle you’re known as the one who remains calm under pressure and who always has a solution. Take note though that because you’re very practical you may not allow for variances in your schedule, which could mean missing out on new opportunities. Try to be open-minded when you travel, as you never know who you can meet and what you can do.
The structure of your body plays a significant role in the way you should live your life. You tend to be thicker, cooler, softer and oily. If you are out of balance, you can become overweight, lethargic and develop asthma, diabetes or depression. Try not to nap throughout the day, and keep yourself busy so you are constantly stimulated. Treat yourself to back, scalp or foot massages to stimulate your body.
While you may enjoy seated activities make sure to take breaks for walking around so your energy levels do not dip. Do your most physical activity in the morning to get a jolt that can propel you through the rest of your day.
You might benefit from a Vata travel partner who will encourage you to get out of bed early to explore, or a Pitta who will take care of making all the difficult choices; however, if you enjoy traveling at a slower speed be prepared to make some compromises.
The good news is you sleep soundly and tend to have regular digestion. You can tolerate caffeine, alcohol and spicy food, as you are so calm your body requires a jolt. You do not do well with dense and fatty foods that can weigh you down. Instead opt for lighter forms of protein like fish and eggs, and favor light grains like quinoa over rice or wheat. You also should avoid salt, as you have a tendency to retain water and bloat.
Do not eat too much early on in the day, as this can make you more tired. Energize with some warm tea flavored with cinnamon, eucalyptus, ginger or juniper as it will stimulate your senses.
You love staying close to the ground, seeking poses like Uttanasa (Standing Forward Fold) or Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-legged Forward Fold) to release into the mat and feel grounded. Rather than choosing grounding poses, you would benefit from postures that are energetic and airy, and practices that have more of a flow.
You should try poses like Ustrasana (Camel Pose) or Urdhva Dhandasana (Full Wheel Pose) that shift your energy upward. Make sure to get out of your comfort zone, too. Sure, the predictable poses of Ashtanga are enjoyable, but you’ll feel great after incorporating some creative Vinyasa sequences.
Are You A Pitta?
Pitta is the combination of fire and water, contributing to competitive traits as well as spunk and bite. You can be a hothead who overheats easily if you are not mindful of how to contain your energy life force (Prana).
Being in control and planning trip activities is important to you, though this also means you should seek travel partners who don’t mind handing over the reigns. This will help with avoiding confrontation. Yes, you can handle hardships, but your strong willed nature means conflict makes you edgy.
Unlike Vatas and Kaphas you are naturally heated, so surround yourself with people and environments that calm you down. Do not take everything so seriously; make time to laugh and enjoy life as you can be the life of the party when you relax.
You are physically strong, muscular and fast, but should soften your shoulders and neck to relieve daily stress. Imbalances can manifest themselves in rashes, peptic ulcers, excessive body heat, heartburn and indigestion.
You have intense physical pursuits, which allow you to be action-oriented but also prevent you from slowing down and enjoying the journey. Your sex drive is also intense, but be mindful about choosing partners that nurture as well as stimulate you.
Be conscious that you are the type to try to take on too much and over-complicate what could be simple. Therefore do not overbook yourself when you are traveling, and take time to appreciate and connect with your surroundings before taking out your camera.
Make sure to go easy on yourself, too. Remember you do not need to see and do everything. Instead, focus on your favorite spots and really get the most out of them. By cutting down some of your activities you will also leave more time to take care of yourself.
You’re already full of fire, so avoid spicy foods and stimulants. Pack yourself cooling fruits and vegetables like watermelon and cucumbers and opt for lighter protein like tofu, eggs and peanut butter to avoid aggressive behavior. If you have digestive issues while traveling be especially careful to select sweet, fatty or grounding foods over spicy, sour or bitter.
You enjoy arm balances, inversions and hot yoga, but are better off choosing relaxing activities. While there is no doubt you’re a warrior, avoid intense poses and shoot for restorative postures like Sukhasana (Easy Seated Pose) with your palms facing down for grounding, Salamba Balasana (Supported Child’s Pose), or Viparita Karani (Legs-Up-The-Wall-Pose). Take time to meditate and practice yoga daily, ideally with calm music without words as to not overstimulate or cloud your mind.
The Take Away
When analyzing which Dosha you are, keep in mind you are potentially made up of more than one and the ratio can change overtime depending on your experiences and the way you develop.
The overall takeaway is that you should be mindful about your tendencies. Analyzing your Dosha allows you to look inward and reflect on your daily choices. If you do not know where to begin when making life changes, start by listing some of your most consistent habits. Then, move them under one of two categories, deciphering whether they complement your life or create roadblocks. You might find that you have a tendency towards similar relationships, eating habits, forms of exercise, jobs, pastimes and travel destinations.
Once you recognize what is serving you and what is not, you are in a better position to move towards the goal of human existence: Satva, or balance and enlightenment.
Bonus Yoga Resources
About The Author
Alexandra Samet is a writer, social media maven, yoga enthusiast and foodie. She loves to explore the unique restaurants New York City has to offer. To balance her love for food, she leads a healthy and active lifestyle. She practices yoga daily to find tranquility in the concrete jungle she calls home. Check out her blog, Hunger Hatha and Heels, and follow her adventures on Instagram (@hungerhathaandheels).
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