By Vedika Global 2-Month Ayurveda Self-Care Course Graduate Kate Aughenbaugh
I recently went on a sabbatical from my career when I felt my health going downhill. My doctor confirmed my suspicions by diagnosing me with high blood pressure.
In response to this, I attended Vedika Global’s 2-Month Ayurveda Self-Care Course with a Sankalpa, or intention, to restore and maintain balance in my life – a concept I consider to be one of my core values. The course took me a step further and revealed a more profound skill. Through foundational theory, practice, and reflection, I learned how to compassionately embrace the fluctuations and imbalances I experience in my life and within the external world. I have also learned simple, yet powerful, ways to bring myself into balance.
In Ayurveda, everything is made up of five elements. These elements combine to create doshas (bio-psychic forces), which are present in the body and mind. Everyone has a unique combination of doshas and in Ayurveda, we work to keep these doshas in balance.
But, here’s a joke that I learned: “dosha” also means, ‘something that comes out of balance.’ The implications of that definition made me want to laugh out loud, as I comically thought of how frustrated I became when I wasn’t in perfect equilibrium over the past two months.
I knew going into the course that I had an imbalance of one of the three doshas, called Vata dosha, which is composed of air and ether. An imbalanced Vata dosha creates a tendency towards worry and fear. I worried that I wasn’t ‘doing’ Ayurveda properly and this caused me to get clenched up and to further aggravate my imbalances.
It was when I recognized, through learning Ayurveda’s foundational theory, that the practice isn’t about perfection, and that the elements naturally come out of balance, that I finally released my tension and was able to laugh at myself. And it was in that moment of laughter when I came back into balance.
I realized that movement and change is all part of the act being staged by the ever-changeable interactions of the elements. And, as one of our teachers Shankari ji, said, “How can you be upset at an element?” What a relief!
Today, I am able to look at the world through a basic Ayurvedic lens. This allows me to observe and tweak the interactions of the elements in my own mind and body in order to rest in my true nature, which is truly balanced. For example, if I find that my thoughts, are getting out of control, I can apply these simple techniques to calm Vata dosha, an imbalance of which causes the mind to be restless.
● Drink a cup of hot spiced milk.
The Ayurvedic spiced milk we learned how to make in the course is calming, grounding, and nourishing. In fact, it is so nourishing that it can be used as a meal substitute. This is a nice offset to the airy, spaced-out quality of a Vata dosha imbalance.
● Practice Pranayama (Yogic breathing exercises) and/or Yoga for Atmabodha.
We learned several Yoga asanas (postures) and Pranayama practices focused on stilling the mind through meditation. Depending on the time of day, I will use one or both of these. Stilling the mind is the perfect way to balance the scattered nature of Vata dosha.
● Do these practices in succession.
I am proud to say that I invented this bit of alchemy for myself. It’s a perfect combination for me because after I make the milk, I need it to cool a bit, so I will do Yogic practice at my altar and then sit after my practice to enjoy my drink in silence.
I’m still not perfect and I still get anxious. However, I have softened my negative narrative around my own imbalances. I’m also able to view others with more compassion, as I recognize that if someone is reacting carelessly, they are very likely experiencing some kind of imbalance of their doshas.
Most importantly, I can now appreciate how the elements tease one another, resulting in what appears to be infinite combinations of ether, air, fire, water, and earth teetering in and out of balance.
My new-found understanding of the intricate dance of these five elements has imbued me with a profound ability to see beauty everywhere.
Having lived in Russia for three years and traveled to over 20 other countries, Kate is an adventurer at heart. She hold a B.A. in Russian from Grinnell College and is currently on sabbatical from a 13 year career of running HR departments for tech and gaming companies in order to explore philosophical and experiential sciences, including Yoga, Ayurveda, and Tantra. She will complete a 200-hour yoga teacher training program in the tantric Sri Vidya tradition through the Himalayan Institute this summer. Kate intends to launch a new journey as a teacher and healer while she adheres to her dharma of exploring and inspiring. Her blog detailing tidbits from my (mis)adventures can be found at miss-perception.com