I am Yin and Yang, I am Sun and Moon.
It’s my eternal internal struggle. All other Pitta-Kaphas out there will know exactly what I’m talking about.
For those who have no clue, no, Pitta-Kapha is not a student fraternity. Rather, they are doshas or body constitutions as defined by the Ayurvedic science.
Until a few years ago, I had no notion of Ayurveda, and the first Ayurvedic doctor I consulted four years ago decided I was predominantly an (aggravated) Vata with some Pitta added to the mix.
At the time, I was working 120 hours per week, doing three scuba dives a day, living on a boat in the middle of the Indian Ocean and responsible for the safety, well-being, entertainment and luxury diving holidays of 22 guests each week. I was extremely high strung, sleeping an average of four hours a night. I was also five kg lighter, which is substantial for my short stature of 1.54 cm.
In retrospect, I probably did suffer from a super-aggravated Vata—but, somehow, I never identified myself with the Vata type description.
Recently, after extensive questioning and examination, another Ayurvedic doctor diagnosed me Pitta-Kapha.
Suddenly, everything made much more sense.
So this is me, unchecked.
Most days, I’m out running around tirelessly, teaching four yoga classes a day, squeezing in an Ashtanga Primary Series self-practice, writing a blog, editing an article, sending out twenty emails, systematising my entire life in excel sheets and organising a last minute dinner party for 15 people. I live off a freshly slow-pressed juice for breakfast, a smoothie for lunch and a salad for dinner. I’m unstoppable.
I’ve always loved my Pitta personality (even before I knew it was called Pitta), and to most of my friends, that’s who I am.
On some days, however, I wake up with next to nothing on my to-do list and I stumble from my bedroom, to the bathroom, to the couch. Three hours later, the extent of my activities is limited to having gotten off the couch twice to drink some water, once to pee again and other than that, no more than moving my fingers over the touch screen of my smartphone.
Though lethargic and uninspired, I am far from being unhappy. I just relish being sprawled on the couch, preferably snuggled against my man without the need to interact with anybody else for the whole day. I’ll long for greasy snacks, lots of cheese and a large plate of pasta.
It’s Kapha oozing from all my pores. Only the people who I live or spend long periods with will see this languid side of me.
Until not too long ago, my Pitta side would dominate most of the time. While I was driving the slower-paced people around me crazy with my impatience, I would also wear myself out—sleepless nights because I wasn’t performing up to my own expectations, no time for healthy food and enough hydration because my ambitions kept me pushing ahead, always forcing others to follow my relentless stead.
Consequently, I used to feel kind of guilty and hypocritical on my Kapha days, as if I was wasting time and missing out on all the fun, exactly the things I was always accusing other “lazy and boring” people of doing.
Learning about the science of Ayurveda, my body constitution and the tools available to stay balanced and to soften the rough edges of the doshas has helped me to start living with much healthier attitude towards myself.
Here are five tips that help me balance my Pitta-Kapha nature:
1. I learned to accept the duality of my nature.
No longer ashamed to express my Kapha side, I now consider my non-Pitta days as “well deserved days-off” instead of wasted time. As a consequence, I no longer feel the need to compensate after a lazy day and my Pitta days are much less stressful than before. By accepting my two doshas and their quite opposite expression, I almost naturally found more balance.
2. I spread my activities
I’ve always been a night person and I just love endlessly pressing that snooze button in the morning. Taking this into consideration, I try to plan my days such that I have less obligations in the morning and more in the afternoon/evening, thus taking to heart both my Kapha and my Pitta needs.
Nowadays, my perfect day starts with a not-so-early yoga practice followed by some puttering around the house or some work on my laptop. Then an afternoon and evening filled with activities, friends and good food, only to end the night with some quiet time at home with my husband. Work and social obligations allowing, of course.
Instead of cramming some days full of action while keeping others completely empty, I now attempt to spread my to-dos so that I have some must-dos to do every day, but not too many. This way, I will have something to get up for on a Kapha day and I will have time to breath and relax on a Pitta day. I always have some could-dos as a back up, for the days that I have more time and energy than expected. Again, it’s all about balance and giving both my doshas the space they need.
3. On Kapha days
On the days that I have too much Tamas and my Kapha is aggravated (usually because of something I ate the previous day), I surrender to my mood by turning it into a grooming day. In between my work and other obligations, I sit on the couch a lot, but instead of vegetating, I pedicure my feet, manicure my hands or read a book. That way I can laze around while still doing something useful, something that makes me feel good.
I’ll do a long, slow, dreamy Yin or restorative yoga practice and if my Pitta conscience screams loud enough, perhaps even a Yin Yang practice to breathe in some fire and energy.
These are the days that I have more time to think, so I often find the inspiration to start writing, although usually I don’t have the drive to finish it. That’s okay, though—I know I will get the job done on a Pitta dominant day.
4. On Pitta days
On the days that Rajas is burning inside of me, I take full advantage of all the energy and get things done. But, knowing full well that I can come across as an overpowering control-freak, I have now learnt to take breaks, easing things for myself and for the people around me.
Instead of eating in front of my computer, I sit down in front of my plate. Instead of multi-tasking, I force myself to mindfully focus on one thing at the time. Instead of kicking myself in the butt trying to finish something today, I purposefully leave it for tomorrow, thus giving myself more time to think about my actions, my words, my decisions.
I will do a full fiery Ashtanga Primary Series practice but will take care to end with a nice long Savasana in order to let my body restore and my mind find rest.
5. Finding balance through food
Fact is, as a Pitta-Kapha person, I have to deal with excess Rajas on some days and excess Tamas on others, perhaps more than those with less Pitta or less Kapha in their constitution.
However, rather than seeing it as depriving myself of certain foods, I focus on the ingredients that I can eat. When I’m low on energy, I spice up my food and drink a lot of lemon and ginger juice or tea. When I’m restless, I go for legumes, whole grain, avocados and cheese.
When I know I have a day-off coming up, I allow myself more tamasic foods if I happen to crave them, such as meat and alcohol. On the contrary, when I need to focus and steam ahead, I’ll go for sweet fruits and leafy greens.
On the whole, I have slowed down and found a more stable level of energy. I’m still a go-getter, but a milder one. My lazy days are less useless, my action days are less stressful.
Moving forwards, who knows, I may eventually find total Sattvic balance by getting up earlier in the morning, paying better attention to my diet and practicing yoga more regularly but until then, I cherish both my doshas, aggravated or not.
I am a Pitta-Kapha girl!
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Editor: Emily Bartran