After food is ingested, it passes through various stages of digestion, each one involving a specific dosha. To digest one major meal takes 6 to 8 hours. For approximately two-and-a-half hours after eating food, the dominant dosha is kapha, which is associated with the stomach. Roughly two-and-a-half hours later, the pitta dosha is dominant. This period and doshaare associated with the small intestine, where bile and intestinal enzymes are at work. Ultimately, the digestion is completed in the colon, the predominant site of vata, where absorption and elimination occurs. This stage is a time of vata domination. Gas, a quality of vata, will often occur here if food is not properly digested.
The seasons have attributes much like the three doshasand can cause aggravation and imbalance. For instance, the summer is hot, sharp and bright which provokes pitta. So pitta. diseases like sunburn, hot flashes, exhaustion, acne and diarrhea may occur. Psychologically, people may respond to trifles with anger and hate.
Autumn is dry, light, cold, clear and windy, all aggravating qualities to vata dosha. Aches and pains in the joints and muscles may materialize, and the mind may become fearful, anxious and lonely.
The heavy, cold, dampness of winter can provoke kapha , leading to cough, cold and sinus congestion. Attachment and greed may develop in the mind when kapha is aggravated.
The watery quality of spring also provokes kapha and some people will tend to have spring colds, allergies and respiratory ailments at this time.
The change from one season to another may require shifting one's diet for a period of time to restore balance.
Getting The Right Amount of Exercise
Exercise, too, should be in harmony with the specific constitution. Kapha individuals can perform the most strenuous exercise, pitta a medium amount and vata the gentlest. Aerobics, swimming, fast walking and biking are all good exercise for pitta and kapha but not for vata. Vata tends to love jumping and jogging, but exercises like yoga, stretching and Tai Chi are better choices. For people with serious vataand pitta disorders and for those whose age is over 80 or under 10, exercise should be very gentle. Walking is probably the best exercise of all for any constitution.
Even for a healthy individual, Ayurveda suggests a workout that is one-half of one's capacity, just until sweat appears on the forehead, under the arms and along the spinal column. This amount of exercise stimulates gastric fire, improves digestion and relieves constipation, as well as inducing relaxation and sound sleep. Sweating helps to eliminate toxins, reduce fat and make you feel good. Over-exercising may cause dehydration and breathlessness, even chest pain and muscle aches, eventually leading to arthritis, sciatica or heart conditions.
Choosing a Balanced Lifestyle
Lifestyle has its own definite rhythm in each person's life. Waking too early or late, irregular food habits, staying up late, job stress, untimely bowel movements and suppression of natural urges are a few habits that can unsettle one. Regularity in sleeping, waking, eating and elimination, indeed following a daily routine, brings discipline and helps to maintain the integrity of the doshas and good health.