Knowing which of Ayurveda’s three doshas, or energetic forces (vata, pitta and kapha) you naturally tend towards can help you balance your life and diet, but it can also help you work out what activities in the great outdoors will make you feel your best.
Sian Lewis, The Girl Outdoors explains how getting active with nature is the perfect way to balance her Pitta dominant Dosha.
Start by finding your dominant dosha – it’s a pretty fascinating way of getting to know yourself.
Turns out I’m a dominant pitta – adventurous, freckly and often hangry. Pitta personalities are warm and fiery, but can tend towards impatience and anger if they aren’t well balanced. What does Ayurveda tell us we pittas need to do to attain a healthy equilibrium?
- Keep regularity and routine in your day
- Keep your body/mind cool and calm
- Avoid too much exposure to the sun but spend plenty of time in nature
- Maintain moderate level and less competitive forms of exercise.
- Engage in cooling and mind calming breathing exercises and meditation
- Make time to play, laugh and have fun
So how do we translate that advice to the great outdoors? These are the four ways to get active in nature I think suits a Pitta Dosha best.
Getting active in nature for Pitta Doshas
Human beings are 60% liquid, so perhaps it is no surprise that stepping into water can feel like coming home. Immersing yourself in an empty lake or the rolling ocean frees your mind; stretches out your limbs and washes away the stress of the outside world. There’s something yoga-like for me in the calming repetition of swimming breast stroke along a river or in the ocean, a cooling and meditative practice that’s perfect for relaxing your muscles, taking away heat both physically and mentally and freeing your mind. Try breathing deeply and regularly as you swim – you’ll feel any tendencies to impatience and hot-headedness just melt away. And once you start seeking out quiet reed-edged rivers or pellucid forest plunge pools regularly, you’ll be astonished at the beautiful wild spaces you’ll find.
Try the wonderful Wild Swimming book series from Wild Things Publishing, or www.wildswimming.co.uk, for suggestions.
Like wild swimming, surfing’s main attraction for me is an excuse to be immersed in water. Surfing lets you swap the stresses of a busy day for the calm enormity of the ocean, letting go of problems and anger in the midst of the sea, a force far bigger and more powerful than you. Catching and riding a wave makes you feel humble, too, and more aware of your surroundings.
The sea is no easy mistress, and you’ll have to put the time in if you want to learn to tame her. Signing up for a few lessons (Surf Sistas, http://www.surfsistas.com/) run lovely female-only retreats) is a good idea, and it’s all worth it the first time you stand up on a board and ride it your first wave. It’s tremendous fun, too, something pittas need to try to keep in their lives for balance. Whether you try it on a lush tropical beach or under Britain’s grey skies with a woolly jumper under your wetsuit, you might find you get immediately smitten by surfing’s meditative rush.
Skiing & Snowboarding:
You guessed it – skiing is perfect for pittas because it’s cooling, it’s water based and you’re out in pristine wild landscape that will free up your mind from navel gazing and let it be calm in a big open space. There’s little more magical than racing through deep virgin snow and leaving a set of fresh tracks behind you as you swoosh past ice-clad trees and distant mountain ranges.
Skiing and snowboarding open up otherwise remote and untouchable mountains and turn them into a playground, and exploring them requires you to be fully in the moment, letting of stress and anger. There’s no need to go for the adrenaline rush, either – pittas might be best off trying a ramble in snowshoes or the gentler art of cross-country skiing, where you glide along forest paths in a white wonderland.
It might sound a bit speedy for a cooling activity, but unlike road running, trail running is all about being in nature and appreciating wild places. The calming repetition of putting one foot in front of the other is a wonderful way to relax a busy pitta mind, and sweating will cool you down and make you feel purged of any excess heat and anxiety.
Trails are beautiful, quiet, and ever-changing with the weather and the seasons. Plus, negotiating mud, rocks, tree roots and the occasional squirrel keeps your brain engaged and your legs and feet working in a less repetitive way, which can lead to fewer injuries.
If you want to try the road less travelled my tip is to start out with a gentle jog along a coast path. Then build up your fitness and your confidence with runs in parks and on commons before you plunge into empty woodlands and the wider wilderness.
Find out your dominant dosha you are with the Tea India Dosha test: