Can you lose weight with Ayurveda?
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When people first hear about Ayurveda and the Ayurvedic diet, they often want to know if they can lose weight with Ayurveda. I find that amusing. Of course, you can lose weight with Ayurveda, it is the science of life, the art of living.
Being overweight is to have an imbalance. So when we tackle the topic of losing weight, we need to look at the way modern humans live and what are our cultural challenges. Where is the imbalance coming from? Some are universal and not based on our specific constitution.
When people have excess weight, there is a tendency to immediately connect it to overeating and not exercising enough. But what I’ve learned over the years, coaching members through the Body Thrive program, is that sometimes that’s not true. We need to look at the habits and living imbalances and their impact on weight.
One of the first things you need to look at is whether or not you are eating at the appropriate time for your body type. It’s not just what you eat that matters, but also when you eat it. Because different body types digest and absorb differently, if you are not digesting correctly you can gain weight.
If you are eating the majority of your calories at the end of the day, you are weakening your ability to digest, absorb and eliminate. Since you are using the wrong time a day to digest, your body is not fully able to turn the food into high-quality tissue. In time, this simple habit of eating a lot at the end of the day will lead to weight gain.
One habit you need to cultivate is eating an earlier, lighter dinner. However, this is not an easy habit for everyone to cultivate. If you work long hours, you may think it is impossible for you to eat dinner earlier. But if your doctor told you it was important for you to eat earlier, you would find a way.
When thinking about what to have as a lighter dinner, there are different types of foods, for different seasons. In the summertime, a good option is a salad. Whereas in the winter, you might want to have a soup that is not too creamy. You want it to be high in fiber, but low in protein and fat.
This enables you to feel sleepy earlier. And there are studies that suggest a connection between getting good sleep and being able to maintain a healthy body weight. The more sleep-deprived you are, the more your endocrine system starts to malfunction and you lose your ability to feel full.
Another important habit is to eliminate and hydrate in the morning. Pooping before you start the day, will make you feel lighter, and it will also make you crave smarter things because your body will be more intelligent.
Losing weight for Vata
Let’s get into how you can use Ayurveda to lose weight, if you have a Vata constitution. Vata imbalances are incredibly prevalent at the moment. Vata is the energy of wind, and it regulates time. Because modern life is so out of rhythm, people feel like they have no time, and that creates an imbalance of Vata.
When Vata is out of balance, people feel overwhelmed. If this feeling lasts long enough, it turns into anxiety. These feelings can lead to the body holding on to more than it needs. The tricky part about losing weight as a Vata is that you should start by exercising. In reality, you should start by lying down on a hard surface and meditating.
When meditating you should place your hands above your pelvis and focus on your breathing. Breathing is a great way to get into rhythm. At first, you might realize your belly is going down when you inhale and up when you exhale. This is common for people who are out of rhythm. You should concentrate on doing the opposite.
Breathing will calm the nerves and help the bowels start moving and eliminating waste. In order to maintain the weight loss process, overweight Vatas should tune into the habits. Earlier, lighter dinner, going to bed early and starting the day right. You might want to do these breathing practices before going to bed and in the morning right after waking up.
The habits will reprogram the nervous system and pull it into rhythm. And that’s what life is – rhythm! There’s a rhythm to digestion, there’s a rhythm to absorption, a rhythm to feeding and a rhythm to fasting. This is highly beneficial to Vatas because it starts to build a deep sense of trust between the (??) and their bodies.
Normal dieting foods, such as raw salads, may not be helpful for weight loss in Vatas. In fact, they might create constipation, gas and bloating, which prevents good absorption. The tastes that balance Vatas are sweet, sour and salty, the tastes of building.
Losing weight for Pitta
Pittas tend to be overweight because of intensity. Pitta is fire, heat and dynamic transformation. This burning energy gives Pittas strong elimination, meaning that their weight issues, unlike Vata’s, are not related to constipation.
As children, teenagers, and young adults, Pittas are able to consume a lot of calories. Usually the problem for an overweight pitta is that they think they can eat more than their bodies need to eat. In order to battle the weight problem, Pittas need to realize they don’t need as much nourishment as they did in the past. Even if their appetite remains strong.
As Pittas age, they need to realize their bodies are getting more efficient, which means they don’t need to overwhelm their systems with extra calories. They need to ask themselves, “how much nourishment do their bodies need right now?”. And adjust their calorie intake to their biological age. It might be challenging at first, but Pitta’s stomach will start to shrink, and they’ll notice this is pretty easy to navigate.
There’s a lot that Pittas want to do with their lives, which makes it hard for them to wind down. And this need to keep the “fire” going, often into the night, can lead to overeating. That’s why Pittas need to learn how to disconnect at the end of the day. Pittas are more visual, so a good way to nourish themselves is by taking in beauty.
The tastes that balance Pitta are sweet, bitter and astringent. These are cooling tastes, which help Pitta’s fire to calm down and be more reflective. When balanced, Pittas get into rhythm and no longer feel the need to keep feeding and burning.
Losing weight for Kapha
Kaphas are water, earthy people, naturally gifted with abundance and generosity of physicality. So naturally, their bodies are overall bigger and curvier. Their natural abundance means they don’t need as much food as Vatas or Pittas. These are the people to whom the old “eat less, move more” advice works.
There is a tendency for laziness amongst Kaphas. In order to get them moving, it helps to put more fire and air into their diets. They should try tastes that increase fire, like pungent, and tastes that increase space, such as bitter and astringent. These tastes help them have more energy and feel the lightness of spirit that is deeply fulfilling.
To get into a better rhythm for movement, Kaphas should start by eating an earlier, lighter dinner. That way, they’ll wake up a little less heavy, and more willing to move. They can just put their shoes on and go for a walk. Walking at dawn is a great Kapha reducing activity, and they’ll get back home awake, stimulated and with a bit more energy.
You need to pay attention to your stomach when eating. Your stomach is supposed to be filled a third by space, a third by for hydration and, the last third for nutrition, or food. It might be hard at first, but as you keep these small changes, you will notice you have more energy.
You can find a lot more information on how to adapt your lifestyle to your constitution on our tip sheets for Vata, Pitta and Kapha. We have helped a lot of people get into the habits for thriving on our program Body Thrive. So if you feel like you need a little push to get in touch with us, and begin your journey.