Ayurveda: The Science of Life
Ayurveda is an ancient holistic medicine that originated in India and South Asia. The Sanskrit term Ayurveda is defined in English as “the science of life,” and this rich system of health care provides guidance on how to live in utmost harmony and respect with natural rhythms, the seasons, and the elements. Considering our lives through an Ayurvedic lens offers a valuable tool that provides insight into ways we can promote immunity, nervous system regulation, good digestion, and general wellbeing.
As parents or caregivers, we are often looking for helpful ways to boost our children’s health. An understanding of an individual’s mind-body type or dosha is a central component in Ayurveda, and this can provide a wonderful basis upon which to honour our child’s innate strengths and specific needs. Ayurveda looks at three main doshas: vata, pitta and kapha, with each of us holding a unique combination of the three that gives us our unique physical characteristics, mindset, and health.
Vata be likened to an airy-windy-space energy that controls the functions of movement, the nervous system, and creativity.
Pitta is described as steamy-smoky-fire that can be attributed to the power of determination, digestion, and metabolism in ourselves.
Kapha is a watery-heavy-earth energy, most connected to stamina, immunity, and the structure of our bodies and minds.
Ayurveda recognizes that all people have both an original dosha—the one they were born with—as well as a current dosha, the one they are experiencing in the now. In this article, we’ll be discussing the original dosha and how this contributes to a child’s uniqueness. Understanding our children from a constitutional perspective helps us as parents and caregivers to become aware of how we relate to, parent, and nurture our children. Knowing your child’s dosha can aid in enhancing their strengths and supporting them in the areas they may need it most.
The Vata Child: The Graceful Breeze
The creative vata child holds physical characteristics that are delicate and dainty. Vata children have a thin frame and a graceful physicality which can sometimes lend itself to fast movement, akin to the wind or a quick breeze. They will often have crooked teeth, dry skin, thin hair, and a tendency towards digestive issues such as frequent tummy aches. Their stomach upset will often be connected to anxiety, and they may also have long-standing issues around constipation that gets especially aggravated during times of worry. Insomnia, hyperactivity, nervousness, and phobias are often associated with this mind-body type. Vata children’s personalities are dynamic! They are sensitive and empathic beings who are intuitive, excel at dancing, art, and creative pursuits.
Supporting Your Graceful Breeze Child
Here are a few things to remember in supporting your graceful Vata child:
Routine, routine, routine
A regular sleep and wake time, and eating in calm environments are essential. New experiences and circumstances of change may leave them feeling strained, so preparing them in advance can be helpful.
Avoid cold drinks, and dry and raw foods. Vata children do much better with porridge, soups, stews, and warm herbal teas to help their tendency towards constipation.
Massage your vata child’s feet at night before bed with warm oil such as sesame seed or almond. This can help their overactive nervous system to relax and deepen into restorative rest.
The Pitta Child: The Warm Sun
The fiery, extroverted pitta child has a natural athletic build, moderate muscle tone, normal to oily skin, and bright eyes. They often have a tendency towards over-sweating, skin rashes, and acne. When off-balance, pitta children may also have symptoms of acid reflux, loose stools, or nausea. Pitta children can get irritable, or “hangry”, if they skip meals, and will be ravenous after a long day of school. They generally have a tendency towards anger and impatience, which may be directed towards people closest to them.
Pitta children are generally outgoing and confident. They are often sun-like-leaders amongst their peers, as others are attracted to their warm presence. Pitta children are natural competitors: winning in sports, achieving academic awards, and working hard towards goals they set their sights on.
Supporting Your Warm Sun Child
To nurture a pitta child, it’s most important to help them develop self-acceptance and avoid self-criticism. They can be been very hard on themselves, so making sure they feel loved despite their grades, awards, or achievements is very important. Encouraging more play time is key.
Aim to provide a healthy breakfast to start the day, and always make sure they carry nutritious snacks with them. Roasted pumpkin seeds and raisins, fruit, or a healthy muffin are easy and totable, nutrient-rich options.
Teach your pitta child to manage emotions by practicing breathing exercises, going outdoors daily, journaling, and talking with their family. A pitta child should be reminded not to over-compete, to take breaks from homework, and to have fun and play!
The Kapha Child: The Compassionate Moon
The calm, introverted kapha child has a curvy build with larger bones, full cheeks, and a round, moon-like face. They have thick, shiny hair, gorgeous soft skin, and big bright teeth. Kapha children are inclined towards frequent colds, coughs, and ear and sinus congestion. They may also get nasal allergies, and tend towards developing asthma. Mood disturbances such as low motivation, and sometimes even depression, are often connected to this dosha.
Kapha children have gentle, affectionate, compassionate personalities. They are watchful observers who tend to move slowly and cautiously in the world. They are incredibly loyal, diligent, and generous. They may have interest in athletic pursuits, as they have a natural stamina. They care so deeply about others and this shows in their interests in the welfare of people, animals, and the environment.
Support Your Compassionate Moon Child
To bolster a kapha child it’s important to keep them challenged, interested, and curious about activities, social interactions, and school. Keep them motivated with a positive morning routine and engaging in weekly group classes like dance or martial arts.
If you notice your child fits these characteristics and has a lot of mucous build up and congestion, you may wish to remove or minimize dairy (under the guidance of a health practitioner).
Mornings can be difficult for a kapha child who would often want to hit the snooze button over and over. Motivate your child to wake up with a positive mindset and good energy by making them a warm herbal tea, playing some uplifting music that they love, and starting the day with a fun physical activity like hula-hooping or jumping on a mini-trampoline.
Ayurveda, the science of life, encourages a deep listening to the unique needs of your child while also celebrating their immense strengths and gifts. It gives us a beautiful awareness of children’s individual dosha so we can better support their wellbeing and parent in a conscious way that allows your little one to thrive.
You may also enjoy: Agni: The Ayurvedic Approach to Digesting Your Food and Red Gold: The Benefits of Saffron.
For further reading visit ecoparent.ca/extras/SPRING21