As the holidays approach, I find myself thinking a lot about the term “balance”. “How to stay balanced during the holidays”, “how to maintain balance while off your routine”. Everyone and their Mom has something to say about how to achieve balance. In general, I think it’s a great direction for us to be moving in, but I can’t help but wonder if maybe we’ve forgotten what the true meaning of “balance” really is.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big proponent of any movement that supports embracing a holistic approach to health. After years of diet trends and label-limiting lifestyles, any health approach that ditches a dogmatic set of rules as the holy grail of health is certainly a large leap in the right direction. However, the term “balance” shifts a lot from community to community and even from year to year. It’s easy to forget what balance really means.
5 years ago if I told anyone that I took a balanced approach to health, I’d probably get some strange looks. 5 years later, the concept isn’t so weird anymore, but the definition is still up for interpretation.
Some people consider balance to be living with an 80-20 philosophy or ensuring that all aspects of health, both physical and mental are considered equally as important. Some people find balance in working out 7 days a week and others would rather wake up early to meditate rather than lace up their running shoes. I think the variety that encompasses “balance” is awesome, but I also think it’s worth spending a few minutes assessing how we throw this term around.
BALANCE : An even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady (Oxford Dictionary).
It’s interesting to take this definition and look at it from a health perspective, especially given that we live in a chaotic world where most factors remain out of our control. Try as we may to maintain this even distribution, most of us are in a state of flux where we constantly must redistribute our ease and burdens to keep us upright and steady. We can implement as much routine as we want but that still doesn’t change our ability to control the uncontrollable.
So what does this all mean? Essentially, it’s that we need to try looking at balance as less of a destination and more of an ever-evolving journey.
Balance is not something you are, it’s something you constantly try to achieve, even with no final destination in sight.
Now I’m certainly not the first person to stumble on this concept. Ancient Ayurvedic teachings subscribe to the notion that in order to stay healthy, we must retain balance and this requires a constant interaction with our environment in an effective and wholesome way. I was not too familiar with ayurveda until my friends at Tetley Ayurveda Teas introduced me to it.
What Is Ayurveda?
Originating from India’s Vedic culture over 5,000 years ago, Ayurveda is a system of knowledge that views the balancing of mind, body and spirit as the key to holistic well-being.
In Ayurveda, the universe is made up of 5 elements: Air, Fire, Water, Earth and Space. From the combination of these elements, Ayurveda recognizes 3 doshas or energies that describe our physical and mental states.
While most of us have a dominant dosha, Ayurveda teaches that you’re a combination of all 3 doshas and your needs change daily. On days where vata is more dominant, your needs will be different from days where kapha is more dominant.
How Do Ayurveda Teachings Influence Your Health?
Ayurvedic medicine believes that each person has an individual, balance of the three doshas. Individual doshas are constantly in flux and are influenced by eating, exercising, and your relationships with others. Your dosha makeup is also called your individual “Prakuti” and optimizing your prakuti by balancing your three doshas ultimately defines your state of health.
What I love about this philosophy is that it’s totally in line with this idea that balance is not a state of being, but a constantly evolving practice. Sometimes you need more Vata, or Pitta and sometimes your Kapha energy is making you feel crazy! Everyday is different and as a result, your needs will be different.
How Can You Balance Your Doshas?
Ayurvedic teachings propose that the ways in which you interact with your environment, through diet, exercise and our relationships with others and yourself all determine your dosha balance levels. Sometimes you may feel extreme anxiety, which would indicate excess vata in your body, whereas lethargy may suggest too much kapha. Everyday is different, so while you may be more dominant in one dosha in general, you may have a day that requires more support for another dosha.
Let’s look at the doshas (note: you may see yourself in one, two or all three of these descriptions, as such your prakruti – balance – is described as a combination dosha):
VATA– Most commonly associated with space and air elements. They’re quick, sensitive, always on the go and tend to be on the thinner side with cold hands and feet. When in balance, they’re creative, expressive, active, flexible and quick learners. When out of balance, they can be indecisive, worried or nervous.
How to balance vata: warm foods like soups and stews, fluid movement like yoga and specific herbs such as Cinnamon, Camomile, Licorice Root, and Cardamom. Check out Poise Vata.
PITTA – contains qualities that reflect fire and water elements. They tend to have fiery personalities and warm body temperatures, along with a medium size and weight. When in balance, they’re warm, friendly, sharp, intelligent, and organized. When out of balance, they can be stiff, angry, arrogant and judgmental.
How to balance pitta– increasing cooling foods such as cucumbers, fruit and fennel and decreasing spicy and fermented foods. They tend to benefit from group movements that provide a sense of accomplishment. The best herbs for balancing pittas include: Peppermint, Hibiscus, Spearmint, Coriander, Lavender. Check out Cool Pitta.
KAPHA – Kaphas are best reflected through earth and water. They tend to be calm with solid body frames and high endurance. In balance, they’re stable, compassionate, affectionate, patient and forgiving. Out of balance, they tend to be lethargic, complacent, possessive and insensitive
How to balance kapha– warm and spicy foods, along with avoiding heavy/oily foods makes up for a more balanced kapha. Early morning, high-intensity training tends to be their best bet along with heating, spicy herbs such as Ginger Root, Peppermint, Cloves, Turmeric, Cumin. Check out Vigour Kapha.
If you’re interested in figuring out which dosha is your dominant, take the Dosha Quiz HERE.
What Are Tetley’s New Ayurveda Teas?
I truly believe that my understanding of ayurveda practices has completely transformed the way I approach balance. Accepting that our bodies are constantly changing and its needs have to be met differently with each change has really helped me embrace the idea that no label or practice or rigid schedule can help me feel my best.
But I’m also a realist and life doesn’t always offer you the opportunity to get in touch with exactly what you’re feeling and the best ways to fix it. Sometimes I’m feeling anxious and I can’t make it to a yoga class. And sometimes I’m feeling lethargic and I can’t just whip up a spicy meal on the drop of a hat. That’s why I LOVE Tetley’s Ayurvedic teas. I’m a huge proponent that small changes can yield big results, and oftentimes they can be as simple as pouring yourself a mug of your favorite tea.
Before I even took the quiz, I was obsessed with the vata tea. It’s like my body knew exactly what it needed and only reinforced my fascination with Ayurveda. It’s also pretty awesome to see how mainstream brands are embracing alternative medicine and providing quick and easy solutions for those of us who don’t always have the option of slowing down.
// THE GIVEAWAY //
Balance and it’s meaning in our lives is clearly a passion I’m super passionate about, so I was really excited with Tetley offered me the opportunity to invite FIVE guests to join their TEA Talks in Toronto on January 14, 2017.
Tetley is hosting a full-day ayurvedic event featuring some of the leading voices in the community, including Yogi Cameron. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about ayurveda, how to keep working for balance and get a better understanding of your own dosha make-up. This is an invite-only event, but Tetley was awesome and is letting me give away five tickets.
All you must do is take the Dosha Quiz and let me know your results by commenting below! The giveaway is open to Toronto residents (or anyone willing to cover the cost of their own travel to Toronto) and includes a complete ticket to the full day of events. Giveaway runs until 12/11/2016. Good luck!
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored conversation by Tetley Tea. I was compensated for my time, however all creative control is entirely my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that help make THM possible!
What does balance mean to you? Have you heard of Ayurveda?
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