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In Ayurveda, we focus much of our energy on the doshas—the combination of elements that make us who we are. Discovering the intricacies of your mind and learning to offer yourself grace is simply practice for connection to the people around you, both new acquaintances and old friends. This process isn’t only about becoming proficient in the doshas as they are expressed in you; it’s about uncovering the ways doshas are represented in others. Developing this skill makes it easier to perceive the times when your loved ones need extra support and how your superpowers can be useful. Take inventory of the people you connect with regularly, especially people who play important roles in your life. Understanding everyone’s unique value—like feeling the joy in all the seasons—will make your relationships better not only with others but also with yourself. The trick is to look after others in the spirit of genuine support, not just tolerance.
HOW VATAS THRIVE
Create, but Contain
Having the capacity to create and explore is a must for vata, but without the structure to contain it, there’s a risk of mental and physical energy becoming scattered. So, while creativity is essential, it can’t be without the daily anchors, bookends, and landmarks that ground vata. This could come in the form of a schedule—one that isn’t too rigid or constricting. For some, this may be establishing sleep and eating times; for others, it may mean committing to consistent morning and evening routines. Instituting routines can send a message to the body to stay synced with its own natural rhythms. Fewer decisions have to be made about use of time and there’s a lesser chance of experiencing stress from scrambling to get things done last minute (or dealing with the repercussions of not having done them at all!).
Understanding that vatas aren’t hardwired for planning and organization is supportive in and of itself. Build a little extra time into your dates with them since you know they have trouble being ready on time. Give them soft and gentle reminders to keep them on track. And try not to overwhelm their busy mind with too many details or decisions.
Look Before You Leap
The most impulsive of the doshas, vatas have to keep their attraction to all things new and different in check. An inability to pause and decipher between what’s purely a temptation or distraction and what’s worth pursuing can result in unfinished projects, lack of commitment in relationships, and an overall diminished sense of direction in life.
Vata’s can get distracted by every glowing opportunity (shiny object!); nonetheless, it’s important for them to practice patience and discretion. One way to do this is by keeping a daily “ideas journal” to write down thoughts that relate to new projects and ventures. They can then be reviewed monthly or weekly to decide which are worth implementing. This can release some mental chatter and also prevent vata from jumping into something too quickly.
Rather than discouraging vata’s need to have change and newness, be a sounding board for them. Let them talk through their ideas with you. Ask them questions that help them make the most informed choice; discuss whether a change is necessary at all. Also ask them what they need from you once they do leap into something new.
Mobilize to Stabilize
Vata’s superpower—physical movement—can be an ally in grounding and staying focused. The key to this superpower is to know how and when to put it into action. Vata’s main cue to move is experiencing an overactive or unsettled mind. Get ahead of it with planned movement breaks. If vata is experiencing quick and fleeting thoughts, they should try slow and methodical movement like a walk, yoga practice, or qigong. If it’s rumination or worry, they can ground themselves by lifting weights or doing seated stretches in a chair or on the floor.
As vata’s confidant, you may have to encourage them to slow down and seek comfort in stillness. But asking vatas to stop all movement could cause more anxiety than calm. Be a safe and calming presence. Be aware of your own breathing and mannerisms by slowing your breath and rooting your feet into the ground or floor. It’s easy to get caught up in their uplifting and intoxicating energy. You’ll be of better service to them and yourself if you’re able to keep yourself grounded in their whirlwind.
HOW PITTAS THRIVE
Soften and Share
Many of pitta’s standout qualities, like their mental acuity, leadership skills, and drive, are all in direct alignment with their sharpness, but their intensity can be intimidating and off-putting to others. Pitta’s sharpness sets a tone of extremes, where there’s only room for right and wrong or black and white, and it creates a rigidness that can be detrimental to their well-being and those around them. When pittas soften, they’ll find it easier to keep their calm and their connection with others.
For pittas, it’s helpful to remember there’s more than one right way. Planning, organization, and being laser-focused on goals can hold pittas captive, and they end up making many sacrifices in the pursuit of perfection. With perfectionism, sharpness can accumulate. But if pittas soften through outward expression of emotion and vulnerability—something they may normally view as weak—they can save themselves a lot of heartache. Showing vulnerability, especially in front of others, reminds them that they’re human. It helps them keep realistic expectations, prevents them from pushing too hard, and makes them more approachable and relatable.
When you notice a pitta friend becoming as sharp as a razor’s edge, support them by being a soft landing place for them. Rather than getting pulled into their intensity, keep your state of calm and let some of your own vulnerabilities show so that they feel safe to do the same. Showing up in a genuinely attentive and caring way can be exactly what’s necessary to sweeten the spicy pitta.
Lead While Listening
Since pittas are so certain of their own abilities and skills, it can be difficult for them to strike a balance between taking the lead and including others’ ideas, thoughts, and feelings. In many cases, they want things done their way and don’t put a lot of trust in others to do things right. On an elemental level, this drive causes fire and heat to build. On a practical level, it isolates them from others. It’s not good to strip pittas of their leadership roles, since those roles feed their soul, but pittas can prevent heat from accumulating and stay in good standing if they listen while they lead.
Listening means tuning in to others in addition to cultivating self-awareness. When pittas feel frustrated, angry, or critical toward someone, the source is often something that’s not going right in their own life. Realizing that they’re lashing out because of something personal requires patience, willingness, and an open mind. Pittas must be able to reflect on their emotions in an objective way. When they take time to listen to themselves, it is easier for them to be mentally and emotionally available to others.
Consider playing into your pitta friend or colleague’s desire to lead. This comes by knowing and trusting yourself. The more versed you are in your abilities and the better you can communicate your needs, the more comfortable pittas will be with you handling responsibilities of all sizes.
Pittas are too often so enthusiastic about their own ideas that they fail to consider yours. Start by planting the seed, then help them imagine it and connect with it. This can be a good first step to help pittas open up to a new idea (that isn’t their own).
Be Productive, Yet Playful
Although they may not see it, pittas are worth more than their diploma or salary and loved for so much more than their successes. Productivity shores up their innate passion and drive, but pittas also need to play. They need daily or weekly time for dedicated “non-productive” or “goal-free” time. We can expect pittas to balk at the mere suggestion of this, but they should choose to do what feels fun and fulfilling in the moment without plans or expectations—so long as it isn’t work.
You can come to a pitta’s aid by planning a playdate with them. Try to keep activities free from competition or anything that might tempt them to measure progress. Try to draw their attention to the process and experience rather than the end product. With your help, they’ll learn to embody the ways leisure and play restore and recharge them. They may possibly even notice more play helps them to reduce stress and be more productive in the end.
HOW KAPHAS THRIVE
Kaphas’ love for consistency and comfort makes the contents of their days very standard. What would feel monotonous to others can feel heavenly to a kapha. Keeping a routine ensures our days will have form and rhythm, and kaphas aren’t too eager to change if their routine is serving them well. But instead of their routine being a healthy path for them, it can become a deep groove that draws them into a state of imbalance.
Kaphas can enjoy the comfort and consistency they need to keep their equilibrium, and simultaneously shake things up enough to maintain a forward trajectory. This can be done by establishing times for periodic self-check-ins to assess how they’re feeling, reaffirm their direction in life, and consider how their routine is contributing to their well-being. Since our needs shift during different phases of life and predictable change is easier to cope with, these routine changes can be very fitting for the invariable kapha.
Since kaphas like to do things on their own time, it’s important to be available when they’re ready to reach out for help. If they don’t ask for your help outright, ask them the best way to be their supporter or accountability partner. Making changes to an established routine can be a very personal process, but there is still room for help from a friend.
Give and Receive
Kapha’s disposition to be nurturing and caring puts them in prime position to give, but since they’re often less practiced in receiving and can struggle to accept when their kindness is reciprocated. Giving more than they receive can leave them feeling empty and cause them to neglect their own self-care, ultimately diminishing the energy reserves they use to care for themselves and others.
Receiving takes practice. For someone who’s used to saying no when help is offered or feels undeserving, learning to be receptive to smaller things can help. They might consider accepting compliments with confidence or begin a gratitude journal. And the loving kapha who wants everyone around them to be happy needs to remember that people like to help.
If you know a kapha who has difficulty receiving, the best thing you can do is continue to give to them. Give them sincere compliments or offer random acts of kindness—give them a card, bake them cookies, bring them flowers from your yard, or tell them how smart they are. You can also be a model recipient when they give to you—making sure to show your gratitude and appreciation for them. This gives them opportunities to receive with grace and as a bonus, you’ll build a stronger relationship with them in the process.
Motivate and Circulate
Kapha’s inherent slow and static characteristics keep them (and people around them) grounded in our overbusy and overscheduled world, but they lack the fire element that provides the spark to get them moving, and it’s easy for them to become stagnant. Because they are comfortable being stationary, their inertia begets inertia. Thus, for kaphas it’s important to find regular ways to stay motivated and stay in motion for their health and balance.
As kapha’s companion or confidant, think of yourself as their cheerleader. Give them a pep talk when they are ready to jump into action and give them applause at every little milestone. Reward them with something that gives them comfort—like a home-cooked meal or a coffee date with them. You can also motivate them by joining them in their endeavors, but always let them choose the activity and allow them to set the pace. While you should aim to make up for some of the fire they’re missing with stimulation and motivation, remember your job is to encourage, not to tell them what to do.
Adapted from The Seven Ways of Ayurveda: Discover Your Dosha, Tap Into Your Strengths-And Thrive in Work, Love, and Life by Sarah Kucera (The Experiment Publishing)
Sarah Kucera, DC, CAP, is a Ayurvedic practitioner, chiropractor, and yoga teacher. She is the founder of the Sage Center for Yoga & Healing Arts in Kansas City, Missouri, and the author of The Ayurvedic Self-Care Handbook: Holistic Healing Rituals for Every Day and Season. She has a passion for teaching and empowering others to care for themselves. @sarah_kucera