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Tips to Energize
By Nora Isaacs
Wish you weren’t so tired all the time? Here’s how to tap into the ancient science of ayurveda for energizing tips geared specifically for your body type.
My college roommate—thin, quick-minded, and restless—was somewhat of a mystery to me. We lived together for two years, hung out, studied together, but our energy levels—and the way we dealt with fatigue—couldn’t have been more different. While I barely functioned if I didn’t get my eight hours of sleep, Jen did fine on six. I conserved energy by moving slowly and methodically while she flitted from place to place.
I could never quite understand these differences as an undergrad; I naively thought that if we had the same schedule and habits, we would have the same energy level. But 15 years later, after studying the science of ayurveda, I get it. Despite the similarities that drew us to each other, Jen and I were vastly different—and we needed to find our own ways of rejuvenating in order to feel refreshed.
Jen and I are proof of what ayurvedic thinking is all about: Not everyone is created equal. The ancient science of ayurveda—India’s oldest known system of medicine—is based on the idea that life force manifests as three different energies, or doshas. Sometimes called metabolic types or constitutions, these three forces are present not only within us, but they also govern everything in the universe: hours in the day, seasons of the year, and even stages of life (see “Dosha Times” below).
When it comes to boosting energy, ayurveda looks to how we can live in harmony with the greater universe. When we ignore natural law—such as eating food out of season, staying up when our internal rhythms dictate sleep, and pushing ourselves when we need to rest—we disturb the balance between the inner and outer universe, and we become imbalanced. “And it’s then—when we break the rules of the rhythms of nature—that we’re more vulnerable to fatigue,” says John Douillard, DC, PhD, director of LifeSpa Retreat and Rejuvenation Center of Ayurveda in Boulder, Colorado.
So how can we draw from the wellspring of ayurveda’s ancient wisdom to stay balanced, vibrant, and energetic? The key is understanding your dosha, so you can tap into a prescription for energy that will work especially well for you. Here’s how.
Your Energy RX
The basic principle behind ayurveda is “like increases like.” So to maintain energy and balance, you need to gravitate toward the elements unlike those inherent in your constitution. Since you already have those qualities in excess, reducing them can help you find balance. “If you have a vata person, doing a vata activity, in a vata season, you begin to stack qualities,” explains Douillard. “And the premise of ayurveda is not to stack.” A better idea for a vata, explains Douillard, would be to bring in more elements of pitta and kapha—especially during the fall or winter season and the post-menopausal years, when vata predominates in the environment and the body.
Author: Nora Isaacs
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