Balance Your Constitution and Age Well

age well ayurveda neurological wellbeing yoga therapy Jan 25, 2022


There is much wisdom in the ancient teachings of yoga and Ayurveda (the sister science of yoga).   There is also some quality research to support how these practices can be applied to neurological wellbeing and a positive ageing experience.  Today I will provide an introductory explanation about balancing your constitution. 

The words themselves translate as follows:  

Yoga means to "yoke" together.  It is the union of breath and body, of grounding and reaching, of self-awareness and detached witness-consciousness, the union between your sense-of-self and the divine, of opposites becoming one.

Ayurveda is broken up into these words - Ayur meaning Life, and Veda meaning Knowledge or Science.  Therefor this Sanskrit word means the Science/Knowledge of Life.  Ayruveda includes meditation, physical yoga, dietary and lifestyle support, herbal medicine, massage, and other types of cleansing and healing treatments.  

Your Constitution

Prakruti is the Sanskrit word that translates as Constitution, meaning the way you were born, what makes you You.  It is your character, physical, mental and emotional attributes, and disposition.  It is based on the concept of the 3 humors, or Doshas.  These are Vata, Pitta, & Kapha, and each of us is made up of these 3 Doshas to varying levels.  Some of us are typical Vata for example, while some of us are a balanced mix of all three.   There is no right or wrong - it is all about learning how to balance what you are born with and where you find yourself today.

Vikruti is the imbalance that occurs within the Doshas due to our experiences, environment and choices.  Prakruti guides us to understand the person and Vikruti guides us to develop a yoga therapy treatment plan (with Ayurvedic lifestyle advice) to move towards the person's goal and bring balance back into one's life.  

While we are born with a certain constitution, and this constitution remains with us throughout life (Prakruti), we do fluctuate between balanced and unbalanced throughout our lives moving through varying levels of disharmony or dis-ease (Vikruti).  To maintain good health we can learn to balance the Doshas that are out of balance through diet, meditation, breathing, yoga and cleansing practices.  

When we understand our constitution it becomes simpler to see why not all "diets" work for all people, not all yoga styles suit everyone, and not all jobs or careers work in our favour.  It also helps us to understand the life-cycle we are in and the predisposition we may have to certain disorders as we age. 

Understanding our constitution can provide us with valuable information about how we are going to age, and what we can do to help keep our body and brain working well, building reserve and resilience.   

Life Stages

No matter what our personal doshic combination is, the Doshas represent the 3 life stages:

Kapha is the baby stage through to about 16 - think soft, squishy, juicy.

Pitta is the stage from 16 - 50 (midlife) - think heat, drive, ambition, learning lessons, assimilating information, goal focused and competitive.  This is the time to get serious about self-care and wellbeing to protect the body and mind as you age.

Vata is from your 50's through to the end of life - while you have mastered life's lessons (or working towards a deeper understanding) and have a cultivated a great balance between energy and happiness, this is also the time when the body can become cold, dry and brittle.  It becomes harder to bounce back, especially if you have not taken care of yourself earlier in life.  But don't despair - it is never too late to make changes towards more positive outcomes.  

Out of balance Vata in those aged over 50 has been linked to a higher incidence of neurodegenerative disorders such as dementia and Parkinson's.  Someone with a predominantly Vata constitution who is experiencing Vata excess is at a heightened risk of joint issues, dry skin, muscle and bone deterioration, cognitive decline, neurological concerns, inability to relax, disturbed sleep, bloating and constipation.

Balancing Excess Vata 

While seeking the help of a yoga therapist or Ayurvedic doctor can be very useful, there are also changes you can make at home if you are over 50 to help bring any Vata excess back into balance.

Start by introducing warm, grounding, nourishing, lubricating foods.  No cold drinks or foods, no dry foods such as crackers, biscuits, chips.  Think of root vegetables, steamed greens, Indian dhal, avocados, plump blueberries, warming spices such as turmeric and chilli, warm oats with stewed fruits.....

Keep the body warm, wear clothes that keep the wind and cold out.

Massage the body with slightly warmed black sesame oil (organic and cold pressed).  Long strokes on the limbs, circular strokes at the joints.  Leave on the skin for about 15 minutes, wearing an old dressing gown, then wash off in the shower.  Pop some anti-slip socks or slippers on so as not to slip if you get oil under your feet. 

While you wait for the oil to absorb you can devote this time to some breathing practices (pranayama) or mindfulness meditation.  These will help to calm the over-active Vata mind, along with the warm oil which will help to reduce excess Vata, and nourish your nervous system.

Curious to find out how Yoga Therapy can support your neurological wellbeingFind out more here. 


Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash



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