Styles of Stress

Styles of Stress

Stressed by Rick
Stressed by Rick

I’ve spoken before about our dominant guna (quality) and how this affects our emotions and the way we experience the world.

A very similar model arises from dominant elements in the physiology. A dominant element leads to a tendency to imbalance, known in Ayurveda as the doshas.

The doshas and primary element and quality are:
Vata – Air, movement
Pitta – Fire, digestion (of food & experiences)
Kapha – Earth, stability

Imbalanced doshas can relate to a trend to tamas guna, whereas restoring balance cultures sattva guna. Most of us have a blend of tendencies that can dominate at different times.

Imbalance of the various doshas will cause certain types of health issues, prominent emotions, and so forth. Ayurveda offers ways to restore balance, health, and evenness.

Recently, I read an interesting article by Linda Egenes on the way different doshas respond to stress. If the stress continues, the imbalance increases, eventually leading to that style of systemic health issue. Restoring systemic balance is where Ayurveda shines.

Imbalance of vata leads to worry and anxiety, and over-activity of the mind.

Ayurveda recommends calming foods, lifestyle, and herbs to restore balance.

Imbalance of pitta can lead to anger, frustration, and exasperation. Emotions become more intense.

Ayurveda recommends cooling foods, lifestyle, and herbs, although these may not be what you think. Cooling foods don’t necessarily cool the mouth but do have that effect on the body.

Kapha is steady but when imbalanced, can lead to eating to digest stress or withdrawing. This can lead to lethargy, sadness, rigidity, and depression.

Distinct from the other types, Ayurveda recommends stimulating foods and herbs for kapha, and an active lifestyle.

As Linda said “it’s important to remind yourself that things have a way of working out. The more you can focus on the upside, the better you can create something positive out of these extraordinary times.”

For more, see Linda’s article and the Ayurveda links in the Health section of my Recommended page.

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  1. Gina

    I think Nature is trying to tell me something. . . Just found this on Facebook the other day:
    Vata: What did I do wrong?
    Pita: What did you do wrong?
    Kapha: There’s something wrong?

    1. Hi Gina
      🙂 These are all fear-based responses to life, thinking that something is wrong. Basically, that’s driven by ego wanting to be in control. When something happens it didn’t want, it’s wrong. Who’s to blame? Suffering ensues. Yet it’s all based on a mistaken impression…

      Allow life to be as it is and surprise! Life is good.

    2. Michael Jaksch

      Hi Gina!

      I want to give an different perspective than David. 🙂
      I would use that as an inquiry questions….meaning, asking yourself these (especially of your 2 dominant doshas) and then look what thoughts come … just look at them, give them space…rest with them…. but do not follow them or try to change them by thinking about them.
      Once some thought patterns are there bring your focus to the body (feelings and body sensations) and sit with them…allowing them to be excactly as they are….give them space, try to give them some containment….breath into them and let them move …let them find their own resolution and let them reveal their hidden gems as they move to completion. Do not hurry that process, even if it is uncomfortable….hurry is just an avoidance strategy.
      All the best

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