An Ayurvedic Approach to Parenting (Part 1)
Date Posted:10 January 2011
Have you ever wondered why each child is unique and what works for one may not help another? Being covered up and kept warm might soothe little Henry but only serves to aggravate Lucy and make her hot and irritable. Kenny started eating solid foods at 6mths while Alice still prefers breast milk at 8mths.
Like everyone, babies and children have a unique constitutional type. According to the Ayurvedic theory of doshas everything in the universe is comprised of different proportions of space, air, fire, water and earth. In our physiologies we also have a combination of these elements called Doshas. Comprehension of the variations in doshas enables us to understand our children’s likes and dislikes, reactions to certain food, behavioral problems and most importantly ways to maintain their health and happiness.
What are the Doshas Qualities?
Doshas are governing principals found all throughout nature.
Vata Dosha - Space & Air
Vata is expressed as space and air and is responsible for all movement in the universe. It has the light, dry, changeable, quick qualities associated with the wind.
Pitta Dosha - Fire & Water
Pitta dosha is expressed mainly as fire (with just a touch of water) and governs all metabolism and transformation. It has the qualities of the fire being hot, intense, sour, red, orange and yellow.
Kapha Dosha - Earth & Water
Kapha, expressed as water and earth, is responsible for all cohesion and structure in the universe. It is almost opposite to Vata, being heavy, slow, steady, sweet and moist.
Prakriti - Our Ayurvedic Mind/Body Type
Each of us has a different proportion of doshas called Prakriti. Prakriti refers to our basic nature.
Vata Ayurvedic Mind/Body Types
A predominance of Vata dosha brings a light build. By nature Vata types are quick, enthusiastic and creative. They have a tendency towards dry hair and skin and their sleep and appetite are often light and easily disturbed. They love change and travel, get excited about new ideas but find it hard to stick to one thing and are notorious for changing their minds.
Babies with a predominance of Vata find it hard to gain weight. Their sleep and digestion are easily disturbed and they have a tendency towards wind and colic. They dislike the cold or being exposed to windy conditions. On the whole they have low, delicate appetites and love sweet, warm food.
Pitta Ayurvedic Mind/Body Types
Someone with more Pitta in his or her Prakriti has a medium build. They tend to have the colours of the fire in their hair and skin. Their skin is generally more sensitive and burns easily. Pitta predominates have good appetites and strong digestive systems. They love food and get irritable if they miss a meal. Their dynamic, passionate natures give them good organization skills and they make excellent managers. They are efficient, punctual and orderly but are sometimes lacking in patience.
Babies displaying a lot of Pitta in their nature will be dynamic and active. They love to explore the environment around them and can get bored easily if left with nothing to do. Their skin is soft and sensitive and they have a tendency towards skin rashes. Infants with a Pitta Prakriti have strong digestive systems and tend to move on to solid foods earlier than other babies.
Kapha Ayurvedic Mind/Body Types
Someone with a lot of Kapha in his or her constitution has a large build. Their bones are bigger and they have large lustrous eyes and thick hair. Their skin is generally moist and soft. By nature they are slower than their Vata or Pitta counterparts, preferring to act in a steady, methodical way. Their digestion is also slower and they have a tendency to gain weight easily. They have good stamina and when balanced are sweet and emotionally stable. They like a regular lifestyle and a steady pace of life.
Kapha predominant babies are generally placid and happy. They are on the chubbier side and have big lustrous eyes. They tend to be more resilient than other babies but have a tendency towards excess mucous and congestion.
We are all a combination of these three Doshas
No one is purely one dosha but a combination of all three. We can be predominately one or two or even have amounts of all three equally. Our Prakriti or basic nature can be obscured by imbalance. Through lifestyle, diet and seasonal influences we can experience too much or too little of the doshas. This imbalance is called Vikriti.
Click the button below to read part 2 and discover what imbalances are for each of the doshas, and how to maintain the balance with simple steps.