Ayurveda Lifestyle: Understanding Our Doshas To Create Balance In Our Lives With Chrissy Gonzalez
Life happens in the body, and yoga is a physical and mental practice that has the potential to change people’s lives. Ayurveda is the sister science to yoga that can heal the root cause of an ailment. Join Karen Pulver and her goddesses talk to Chrissy Gonzalez, a Chicago-based yoga teacher and wellness coach, to learn about Ayurveda and how this principle can help us live a balanced life. Together, they take us into a dosha quiz that will help determine our doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha), figuring out if they are causing imbalance and how to put it back into its balanced state through our lifestyle choices like diet, exercise, and even the people we choose to have around us. Chrissy further guides us through this exploration and gives suggestions on our personal doshas and how we can align with our Inner Goddess. At the end of the day, we all just want to find that connection and sense of peace in our lives. Follow along to this conversation to learn more about how to achieve those by following the Ayurveda lifestyle.
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Ayurveda Lifestyle: Understanding Our Doshas To Create Balance In Our Lives With Chrissy Gonzalez
Thank you for joining us. It’s July 5th, 2020. It’s Independence weekend for the United States of America and I thought it was interesting because I do have this eagle and he is balanced on his beak. He sits in my office to remind me to stay balanced. As some of you have heard, I’m a dual citizen. I’ve also brought along my Canadian mug that says, “Sorry.” I got it in Toronto. These both represent my dual citizenship, but also to remember to remain balanced in our society and to also be respectful to people around us as well as ourselves. When we talk about independence, look at the word “in” and going inward. That’s why I wanted to talk with you all about focusing inward, feeling balanced, even though it’s a little tiny beak that you’re balanced on trying to remain balanced, focused and respectful to others as well as yourself.
We’re going to be talking with Chrissy Gonzalez. She is a Chicago-based yoga teacher and wellness coach. She’s a vegan foodie, writer, travel junkie and animal lover. The onset of her love affair with yoga has been many years ago, set in motion and active practices that has allowed her to guide others for over a decade. She’s personally come to my home to teach both my husband and I to practice and to show us many different poses and to remain balanced. She has since completed over 700 hours of Yoga Alliance Certified training under the guidance of her teachers, Joan Hyman, Jeanne and many others. She stays busy teaching alignment-based classes and workshops flowing with harmonious movement, yoga philosophy and a positive outlook. She also leads workshops and yoga retreats all over the world. In addition to teaching yoga classes, she is involved in several animal rescues and awareness programs. She founded The Yoga Pawject, a nonprofit that helps raise money for animals in need. Welcome, Chrissy to the show. Come join us as our guest goddess, Chrissy. Thank you for coming.
Tell us more about your journey because you and I met while you were teaching at a studio here in Chicago. I kept going to your classes. I loved the Vinyasa flow classes that you would teach. Do you know what I loved about it? I loved your touch. We were talking before that it’s hard to touch people because of COVID. You would do adjustments at the end. I remember you used to touch my temples and align my neck and also not just your physical touch, but your soulful touch. I loved how at the end of classes you would often read quotes. I don’t know where you got them, but it would be perfect for whatever I was going through that day. If it wasn’t quite something I was thinking of, I would think about it all day and I would take it with me. Since then I’ve known you I don’t know how many years, but you’re this soul and you have so much to share with everyone. Welcome.
Thank you so much. That’s sweet of you to say. It means a lot. I’ve been teaching yoga since 2002. I first discovered yoga around 1997 when I moved to Los Angeles. I was nineteen years old. I was very young. I was a little wild child. I was living with a boyfriend and our neighbor was a yoga teacher. We were friends with her. She asked me if I’d ever done yoga before. I was like, “I don’t know.” I didn’t know what that was. I had never heard of it. She says, “It would help you.” I had some anger issues before. I went to her class, which was in a church. There weren’t as many yoga studios back then.
It was more of like a Kundalini class, so a lot of breath focus. It’s not like the Vinyasa flow. It was very bizarre. I remember feeling cleansed, good. There was something that happened in that class. It all happened naturally. I discovered a studio in Santa Monica called Power Yoga. It was a donation-based class, which was perfect for me because I had no money. It would get packed. I’d see people like Woody Harrelson in there and all these other people. It was a scene. It was a very strong class. They called it Power Yoga. We would sweat. We would all go in there and it was packed in there. This much space between mats, sweat everywhere. Imagine that now. It was exciting.
I was like 19, 20. I needed something to put my energy in. Yoga was great because it had this physical quality to it, which I’ve always enjoyed my whole life. To me, meditation has to involve some physical practice, whether it’s running, dancing or yoga. It also calmed my nerves a little bit. It helped me stress a little bit less and be a little bit less reactive and angry. I was starting to practice for years. One of my friends, who had an addiction problem, she was an alcoholic. She wanted to do this teacher training. It was like not very much money at all. It was the very first teacher training that Yoga Works, which is where I did my trainings did or one of the first. I was like, “I did it more to support her.” I was happy that she wanted to do this good thing instead of go out to bars every night. I learned so much that first training. I made some friends.
After the training was done, I started teaching right away. I started teaching private. Yoga Works offered us classes that were donation classes. The people that went to these classes knew that the teachers were new. They would pay whatever they would pay like $1, $5. I met a lot of people and they liked my energy or whatever. They would have me go to their houses and that’s how I built my career. I did more trainings after that. I got addicted to trainings for a while. My second and third trainings are when I met my teacher, Joan and Jeanne. Joan was the one who inspired me the most. A lot of the way that I teach now is from her teaching. If you were to take her class, you would definitely see where I get it from. She’s also the person that I learned about Ayurveda, which is what we’re going to talk about a little bit. She’s been doing Ayurveda for a long time.
I was intrigued by that whole side of yoga. I’ve been teaching yoga ever since. I moved to Chicago several years ago. I met you shortly after I moved here when I started teaching at Namaskar, which was one of the first studios that hired me. I’ve been there for several years as well. In LA, I was teaching mostly privates, one-on-ones. Chicago is where I started teaching more group classes. That was cool too to have that group environment. I like them both for different reasons. I like to have a combination of the two. I love it. I’ve been doing it a long time. I’m shifting a little bit as a teacher.
I’m starting to pull away from such physical practices and focus a little more on the mental practices of meditation and things like that even Pranayama practices. People can get very caught up in the Vinyasa flow. Especially now, it’s become almost like an exercise. There are many teachers out there that are teaching classes, but not bringing in any of the philosophy. There’s a missed opportunity there. There’s so much more to learn. Yoga has a potential of changing people’s lives, not getting them more flexible in their hamstrings, to be able to get into a handstand or something, but about learning to find the connection in the sense of peace.
I remember doing pigeon in one of your classes and I didn’t know you very well. I remember you saying, “Go inside and release. Don’t worry about how far down to the ground you’re going to go, just breathe.” I remember feeling emotional. I started crying. I ran out of your class and I was like, “What happened?” It was the weirdest reaction. I googled and started researching. I realized that I must have released something. It’s a connection. The poses can help release connections to thoughts and emotions.
Life happens in the body. They say that our hips are the seat of our emotions. When you think of all the things that have happened to you in the past that you’ve pushed down, which we tend to do a lot of, a lot of that stuff can get stored in our hips. At least that’s the theory anyway. I believe that theory because you’re not the first person to break down in pigeon. I’ve seen it many times over the years including myself in my own practice. I remember when I lost my dog and I went to my teacher Jeanne’s class. I sat way in the back in the corner, she knew what was going on.
She said, “Do what you can.” She held us in pigeon for five minutes. I was like waterworks. I remember leaving feeling like I released something. I wasn’t letting myself feel those emotions. We hold our emotions in different areas. Emotion as far as like relationships, sadness and heartbreaks, our shoulders tend to hold the weight of others. A lot of times when your shoulders are stiff, it’s because you’re putting a lot of weight of other people’s stuff that you don’t need to hold onto. A lot of times when you do a lot of opening shoulders, it’s like this weight lifts. A lot of people put a lot of tension in their lower backs. When they do stuff to release the lower back, that helps release certain blocks as well.
It’s interesting. That’s probably why I love yoga so much because you can go on a long run or you can do like weights and it feels good. You feel strong. Sometimes you release. Yoga, there’s this real sense of letting things go. Yoga is you think of your body almost like an onion. You’re peeling away at these layers, trying to get back to the source. Before all the stuff that’s happened to you, all the conditioning, all the things that people tried to convince you of that’s truth, all these things that have made you who you are now, you start to peel that away. You discover who you truly are or your essence, the part of you that is connected to a higher source.
We often refer to your inner goddess, that inner passion. That’s another word for it, your soul, your inner goddess, your inner strength. Not having all of these boundaries and restrictions stop you from doing that and opening. Tell us a little bit more about Ayurveda.Be mindful of how much of one type of thing you are doing in your life so you can learn to balance it out. Click To Tweet
Ayurveda is known as the sister science to yoga. A lot of Ayurvedas believe that yoga and Ayurveda go hand-in-hand because it’s more than treating the symptoms. It’s about healing the root of the cause. You’re going deep. It’s not about, “I have a headache. I’m going to take an Advil.” What’s causing the headache? What foods are you eating? What environment are you in? I’ve always been very much into more holistic approaches to health. I’ve never been on any medications for anything. I’ve always practiced trying to figure out what’s going on. Not to say that medications are not good, nowadays Ayurveda and Western medicine are often brought in together. There are people out there that do need medication for severe things that are going on, mental imbalances or traumas. It’s always important to know that there’s other ways to treat things too. That’s why Ayurveda caught my attention. Back in 2012, I went to India with my teacher, Joanne, after my 500-hour training. It was a yoga retreat.
The place that we stayed at was giving us Ayurvedic foods to eat. We all have these different constitutions, but there’s general principles to Ayurveda that everybody can benefit from. Not drinking icy cold liquids. There are a few others. I was eating that food and I felt good. It’s balanced. They’re called Sattvic. I didn’t feel like I was like super adrenaline high or super lethargic low. It was this steady, calm, peaceful, joyful energy. I was like, “I would love to be able to feel like this as much as possible.” That’s where Ayurveda comes into play. You eat certain types of food according to your dosha. These cleansing rituals like dry brushing, tongue scraping and oil pulling in the mornings and in the evenings. You also be mindful of your environment, the people that you’re around. Even the movies that you watch, the books that you read, you try to think about all these things and how they’re affecting you. The whole point with Ayurveda is to find balance in nature and what’s happening in nature as a tool.
There’s much to talk about. Thank you for sending the quiz to us. I wanted to invite our featured goddesses on. We all took the dosha quiz that you sent. It was recommended by Chrissy. You do want to say that you’re not a medical professional but tell us a little bit more about that.
Ayurveda is meant to help our body self-heal from disease and of the body and of the mind. There are instances where we do need Western medicine to help us heal too. You want to make sure that if you have something serious going on that you’re not going to take one of these quizzes, eat a certain food and think you’re going to be okay. You may need more help than that. When you get your dosha read, which is what these quizzes are. There are many fun quizzes online. There are hundreds of them. I thought that this one was thorough. If you see an Ayurvedic specialist, it’s not something that is approved by the FDA. Nowadays, especially doctors are starting to look into more natural remedies too, partially because of the opioid crisis and the amount of stress that people are in. They’re like, “I can’t give everybody antidepressants. Let’s start to get to the root of the problem and see if we can help.” Stress does land in the body too and it causes ailments and things like that.
If you practice and look at your dosha, try and incorporate into your life different ways of your lifestyle, it can help prevent or if you are getting sick, it may not be as intense because you’ve already been balanced. We’re not going to go through the whole quiz, but we’re going to take a look on what our scores are. What does Vata mean?
The three doshas are comprised of what they call our constitution. They are tendencies. It’s the nature of our body type. Vata, they call it the air type or the wind type. Vata characteristics are thin, dry skin, thin hair or drier body types. You tend to want to eat drier foods. If you like things that are salty like potato chips. In the fall, when the winds start to kick up and the air starts to get a little drier, they call it Vata season. Everybody’s Vata tendencies tends to rise. If your constitution is primarily Vata, it starts to rise. You have this wind energy. You have a hard time sitting still. You can’t sleep too well. There’s more to it than that, but that’s the general. You think of dryness, wind. That’s the Vata.
The Pitta, the season that we’re in is Pitta season because it’s very hot. It’s almost like fiery. The characteristics of Pitta are sharp, piercing. People who tend to be Pitta have these piercing eyes. They tend to be more of natural. I’ve always said that about you. I love your eyes. They like pierce through your soul. As far as body types, they’re a little more moderate. They’re not necessarily heavier or super skinny. They’re in the middle. They tend a lot more focused. They have a certain sense of drive. One of the things is they can experience weaknesses like headaches and get a lot of skin conditions.
They have a tendency to have constipation because there’s not a lot of moisture there. There are many things. We’re seeing a practitioner, an actual Ayurvedic doctor. They would look at you and they would be able to tell by looking at your skin, your eyes, your teeth, your hair, your body type, even the way you talk, how you breathe. You can tell the way that I’m talking because I have a lot of wind in me. I have a lot of Vata and that’s how I’ve always been. I have to balance that out with a little more of the grounding Kapha. Kapha is more heavy, wet, dull. You think about somebody like Aretha Franklin.
She’s got a lot of Kapha. She’s like a mom. She’s very grounded. She’s very loving and nurturing. Those people’s weight tends to creep up. They have a hard time keeping their weight down. They have digestive issues as far as a little more runny stools and things like that. They go more towards the richer foods, the sweeter foods. These are the three main doshas. What Ayurveda believes in is that opposites heal. When you find that you are predominantly one type of dosha, you want to try to treat that by balancing your foods and your activities to balance and bring in the other energies.
Let’s start with Dena. Can you tell us your three scores?
I was predominantly Pitta. I was close. I was only one point higher for Pitta than for Kapha and had very little Vata. When I read what you did, the descriptions of them when I went further into the studies, I saw myself in lots of places. I look at myself as lots of things. I needed some more clarification on how that is or I’m answering these questions based on what I think personally, which may not be what you see when you look at me or if I saw a doctor.
The thing is your constitution can change. All of us have a lot more Pitta now than we might. Unless you’re tend to be more Pitta in general because of the time of the year. It’s hot. It’s summer. In the fall, if you did this quiz again when it got a little bit windier, a little bit cooler and dryer, you might start to notice that you have more Vata tendencies. These things tend to shift. There are some people that have tendency to two constitutions. I am Vata-Pitta. I’ll go more towards Vata usually, but I tend to get very Pitta in the summer months. When I was living in Los Angeles, when it’s hot almost all the time, it depends on where you live too.
Some people can be what they call tridoshic where they have a combination of the three. It’s very balanced. It changes as you get older, as your life situations change. If you’re pregnant, if you have children, if you’re sick, all these different kinds of things can change your constitution. It’s important not to get too caught up on the quizzes. There are certain things about us that we know. I’ve always had dry, brittle hair. I’ve always had this restless energy. It’s interesting how that comes to play and it stays with you throughout your life a little bit.
It also changes when you go through menopause or after you’ve had children. My hair’s texture used to be much different before I had kids. After I had kids, it changed. When I go through menopause stuff, your body changes as well.
There are things that happen chemically in your body that can change. When you think about when you were younger, you had all this energy and you can eat anything you wanted. Now we don’t have that same energy. We have to eat a little bit differently. I’m learning that in my own diet. I’m now realizing like I can’t eat whatever I want and lose the weight. That’s where the Kapha is starting to come into my body a little bit. I’m like, “I tend to have these tendencies to eat a little bit richer sometimes. I got to cut back on that a little bit and do more exercise.”
Rachel, tell us about you.
Like Dena, my Pitta and Kapha were exactly the same number. The Vata, there was never a scenario where a Vata was the one I lean toward the most at all.
The seasons come into play with all of that and your life situation. Even the people that you surround yourself with. Think about the things that you enjoy doing, what kinds of exercises do you want to do? The reason why I like this quiz is because it asks a lot of different types of questions. “How do you show affection?” was one of the questions. With words, gifts and touch. With words, that’s how I show affection by talking. Vata people are very talkative. I did not pick touch. I touch in yoga, but that’s not my tendency to show affection and hug people with touch. That’s a very Kapha quality. It’s a beautiful quality to have.
Someone like me who is predominantly Vata, I would want to start to implement more of the Kapha practices to balance my Vata. Someone like you, depending on how much Vata and Pitta, you might want to implement some of the Vata practices to help balance those two out. Although there’s nothing wrong with any of this stuff, it’s not like I’m damaged even though the word dosha technically means blemish. When you have too much of one of these types, it can cause imbalances in the body that you feel physically and emotionally. That’s where the practice of Ayurveda comes into play.
Alyssa, how about you?
My numbers, unlike Dena and Rachel, were different. I am Pitta but not close to any of the other ones. My numbers were 40 and then 26, 24. It’s imbalanced, which might explain a few things. Predominantly, I’m Pitta.
I want to read something about people who have a lot of Pitta.
I was the same with Pitta and Kapha, the same score, but then much lower in Vata. On the other quiz, I was also very high on Pitta.
Since we all have a lot of Pitta on ourselves, because like I said, summer is Pitta season. Pitta people have moderate, reasonably and steady weight with a medium frame and are usually athletic. They are focused, energetic and intense types. They’re prone to loose stools, heartburn, headaches, weakness in the liver and skin rashes. Emotional challenges are anger, resentment, irritability, jealousy, and can sometimes become cynical. They become more focused under stress. When you’re in a stressful situation, you’re like, “Get to work,” that’s a very Pitta quality. The way you balance out is by cooling down. Remember that the element of Pitta is fire. By cooling down, being more playful, learning how to relaxed, when a Pitta is balanced, you have clear perception and are dynamic. You’re great leaders, natural teachers and guides. Those are basically the Pitta qualities. When you have a balanced Pitta when it’s not too high or too low, those are the tendencies.
Kapha is cool, wet, heavy. The element is earth. Kapha people are a little bigger boned or stocky who have a tendency to become overweight. Good muscular development with shorter necks, round, big eyes, thick hair and good bone structure. They tend to speak a little slower. They move a little slower. They’re consistent. They’re dedicated people. They’re nurturers. They can be prone to mucusy conditions, lungs and sinuses. You have the potential for water retention, weight gain, diabetes. You can get congested problems in your lungs or sinuses. Emotionally, you can get depressed, attached, lethargic when it’s out of balance. You need warm light energy around you to balance out. Allowing your light to come into your home, spending more time outside, it’s good to get your body moving. A little more cardiovascular type exercise, drink coffee in the morning to get your systems going. Your gifts are unconditional love, nurturing and devoted. You’re very devoted and people love to be around you. You’re very comforting. You make reliable partners.
It sounds like a lot of the remedies are similar to each other in a sense.
Remember how I said when I went to India. They didn’t read all our doshas. There were all sorts of different people in this retreat. The food that we were eating was general. I’m reading out of this book called The Ayurvedic Vegan Kitchen. Ayurveda is not necessarily vegan. They incorporate things like ghee. Someone like me, Vata, very dry, I should be cooking with lots of ghee or lots of oil to add more moisture. One of the things you want to avoid is iced drinks, which is hard for me. I love my drinks cold. It’s very harsh on the system.
Is that for every dosha?
That’s a general Ayurvedic principle.
I’ve heard of that in general like drink your water at room temperature.Opposites are what heal in Ayurveda, so cooling heals heat. Click To Tweet
Health professionals and stuff that a lot of this inner lapses a little bit too. That’s an Ayurvedic principle. Eating moist foods helps to reduce gas, bloating or indigestion. This is for people who are like the dryer types, like Vata or even Pitta. They want you to moist and dry foods with water or healthful oils. Incorporating oil in your food not a lot of it, but a little bit of it like olive oils. Not cooking with the olive oil. Try to eat both raw and cooked foods in every meal. Have a little bit of cooked and raw in the meals.
That’s a good combination to balance all the doshas. These are the things you want to try to avoid in general. Avoid table salt, which if you’re like Vata like me, you love salt so it’s hard to avoid it. Avoid white sugar, white flour, try to avoid meat when possible. Even though, Ayurveda is not necessarily a vegan planned, but they do try to keep the animal proteins at a minimum. Cutting back on meat especially if you eat a lot of it. Avoid plants sprayed with chemicals so try to get organic. Try to avoid genetically modified foods, alcohol, especially during Pitta season, the summertime. This is the time that we tend to go out and celebrate. Maybe we have too many cocktails. Cocktails by nature are very fiery, have a lot of spice to them.
Wine is okay?
I’m not supposed to drink wine at all as the Vata.
As Pitta, we can drink a glass of wine?
Who can drink wine usually is Kapha. Wine can increase your energy a little bit. It’s almost like coffee. If you’re a Pitta and you’re very fiery right now, you want to have more herbal teas.
If you’re both, like I’m both? Half a glass of wine?
During Pitta season, you want to cut back on the alcohol and the caffeine, fried foods that are a little more heating. These are all things that tend to create toxins in the body. Another thing too is when you eat fruits, try to eat fruit by itself. Don’t combine it with other foods. This is an Ayurvedic principle. You digest fruit differently when you combine it with other things than when you eat it by itself, it’s more beneficial. Chew your food thoroughly. I tend to inhale and then move on to the next thing. Chew your food until it’s like water consistency and then swallow. Slow down your eating. Don’t eat when you’re not hungry. That was one of the great things about this retreat. We had two meals a day. We had breakfast and then we had an early dinner. I found that I eat more than I need to eat. Being mindful of your hunger signals and only eating when you’re hungry and then stopping when you’re satiated, not when you’re necessarily full. These are Ayurvedic principles, but you guys have probably heard all these suggestions from your doctor.
Not all but a lot of them. It’s good to look at your dosha to help balance out. I know, Alyssa, you had a question about balancing.
It sounds like balance is key. It’s almost better to have this particular quiz was out of 90 so 30, 30, 30 would be great. That’s the goal to be as balanced as possible.
Being tridoshic is not very common at all. It’s very rare.
For me, my numbers were imbalanced. I’m pretty balanced between Vata and Kapha but much more predominantly Pitta. What would be your suggestions besides diet? All the diet advice that you were giving is terrific for anybody regardless of your constitution. Those were all great tips. We’ve certainly heard a lot of those from other guests, readings and doctors, etc. My question is how do you go about seeking more balance and which way do you go when you’re so predominantly one. That’s seems cemented into my constitution if it’s so unbalanced. It’s probably difficult to achieve this trifecta doshas.
Someone who has predominant dosha, it’s a little bit easier to treat because opposites are what heal in Ayurveda. If you are Pitta and you run very hot and very fiery, you obviously try to balance it out by cooling yourself down. One of the things that they say for people who are very Pitta, especially in the summer, is to try to get into the water, get into a lake or if you have an ocean or a pool or something. Do things like swimming. Try to be a little more creative. Lighten up a little bit as far as what you’re doing in life and how much control you’re trying to create.
See if you can practice. Try to have more fun, do things that are little more like letting loose. Go out dancing, not that we can go out anywhere dancing. If pickleball is something that fires focus. For someone that’s Pitta, your tendency is going to be competitive and try to accomplish. Flow yoga is great for you, something that’s a little more freeing or dance. Try to enjoy yourself. Your dress is beautiful, more flowy looks and things like that. Lighten up your room a little bit. Make sure you get plenty of sleep, make sure you get plenty of rest. How’s your sleeping? Do you sleep well?
That’s my strength. I’m a good sleeper.
Besides the diet stuff, for you, it’s try to engage yourself in things that are a little more letting loose, not being so regimented in anything.
Pickleball is a competitive. I didn’t even think of that. It’s fun for you, but it is a competitive sport.
It’s something we took up during stay at home times. It’s not like I’m professional. It was a fun activity to do with my family. It’s a sport. It’s not yoga or meditation.
Rachel, what did you want to ask Chrissy?
I love to practice yoga too. I’ve never done like a dosha quiz before. I found this fascinating to see where I landed. It’s funny when I started yoga, I started doing Bikram yoga. I’ve found that heat took so much out of me. I couldn’t even go to a grocery store afterwards. I couldn’t move. I like a yoga studio to be warm enough so that my muscles aren’t cold. Any additional heat is too much. Is that part of my composition?
You said you had a lot of Pitta in you as well. You’re increasing your Pitta by going into a studio that’s 108 degrees or whatever. I have my own other issues with Bikram anyway. I don’t think it’s a good practice in general for anyone. Someone like me who’s very Vata, very dry, I’ve taken my fair share of Bikram classes and I would leave feeling invigorated. I want to run a marathon. That was my reaction to it because I need that moisture and that heat. I would say for you, what yoga do you do now? What kind of practices?
It’s Vinyasa Flow.
Do you do fast flow and things like that or do you do slower?
I go to Yogaview and it’s a Level 2 class. I feel like it’s a strong class. It depends on the teacher too, but I feel some teachers make you hold poses longer or not.
Yoga is good for all the doshas, just moving your body. If you were predominantly more Kapha, which I’m not sure if you said you were more Kapha than you were a Pitta.
I was exactly the same for Kapha.
That was me too.
The Kapha tends to heighten in the winter months when there’s less light, when we’re indoors more. Our tendency is to hunker down, maybe do more gentle practices and do more restorative. It’s important to balance it out by doing a little more flow. I like to play around. When I tend to do only one thing, like only Vinyasa Flow, I’m mindful of that and I try to change it up a little bit. I tell all my yoga students like, “Is yoga all that you do? Go for a nice jog or a bike ride or do some resistance training or do a restorative yoga class or a yin yoga class. Balance it out so that you’re giving your body all these different things that it might be craving.”
Like attracts like. You will be attracted to the things that are your dosha things. I tend to be more attracted to the kinds of foods that are more Vata foods, the drier foods, the salty foods. If you’re predominantly Kapha, you tend to be more attracted to like the sweeter or the richer foods. If you’re predominantly Pitta, it’s not always true, but usually you’re attracted to more like spicy foods or fiery foods, or you drink a lot of coffee and things like that or wine. It’s about observing yourself, your tendencies. When you get your dosha read by an actual Ayurvedic specialist, they do this thing where they have you journal what you eat, what you do, and that comes into play.
You have to be as honest. You start to observe yourself your tendencies. If your body is not experiencing anything that is concerning, you might have already discovered a level of balance. The way that I practice Ayurveda, I’m not super strict about it. According to my dosha, I shouldn’t eat tomatoes. I have this giant thing of tomatoes here that I munch on all day long. It’s got a lot of acid in it. Raw tomatoes in general, you want to cut back on that stuff, but I love them. I’m not going to kill myself for that. I’m not going to beat myself up if I have a glass of red wine, but I have to be mindful if I have a bottle of red wine.
Rachel, you once said that you love to dance and that’s helping balance you out.Your body is like an onion, peeling away the layers to your essence, the part that is connected to a higher source. Click To Tweet
That increases your Kapha, that free moving and dancing type of stuff. Someone like me who has a lot of Vata, who has a hard time focusing and being in control, I would probably benefit from doing some of the practices that Alyssa likes to do in general or you, Karen, things that require more focus, more discipline. I tend to go from one thing to the next to hone that in a little bit.
I have a question about social interactions in Ayurveda. When you were saying surrounding yourself, when I meet a person and I find that instant click, does that mean that person is the same dosha most likely or the opposite? When there’s someone who you get this gut reaction, what does it mean to help balance out social interactions with your composition?
We tend to be attracted to the people that are like us. Most likely the people that you’re close to are going to have similar constitutions to you. It makes sense because you enjoy doing the same things.
My husband, if he did this, he’s very different than me.
That was one thing I was going to say. When I first learned about the Ayurveda, when we did our first training on it, I automatically went home and I thought I knew my husband. I was like, “You’re Kapha.” I thought he was this lethargic, heavy. He’s like, “What?” The one thing I would say is don’t go and try to analyze your significant others or your kids or anything like that. If you want to have them take the dosha quiz, from what I see, he has a lot of Pitta on him as well. That’s probably why you guys get along. My husband has a lot of Pitta in him too. Your astrological sign has certain opposites make perfect partners. A lot that can do with Ayurveda too. It’s nice to incorporate different types into your environment. If you surround yourself with a lot of Pitta, that can start to drain you if you’re very Pitta. If you have a lot of Kapha, you surround yourself with a lot of Kapha types. It adds to your constitution. It’s harder to balance it out.
If I’m Pitta and Kapha perhaps and you’re Vata so that’s why we get along. It’s nice because you help balance me out. The girls here are Pitta as well mostly, but I still get along with them. If I have too many, I understand what you’re saying now. It’s good to allow more into your life.
The general rule of thumb with Ayurveda is be mindful of how much of one type of thing you are doing, whether it’s the foods that you’re eating, whether it’s the things that you’re doing for exercise, try to change it up as much as possible. When it’s hot outside, times like this, you want to try to avoid being in heat for too long. You want to make sure that you cool down a little bit. Not cool down like physically, as far as like, but try to tone down your fire. It’s doing more meditation. Making sure that you practice meditation every day, especially this time of year. Think about what’s happening in the world too. This Coronavirus, the protests, all the injustices, the president, these things are stoking our fire. They’re heating us up. They’re almost were burning out of control. I wouldn’t be surprised if most people right now, unless you have a lot of Kapha, which it’s very grounding. This is a good time to bring a little bit of Kapha into your life. You want to try to cool the fires down right now as far as Ayurvedic terms.
We’ve talked before with other guests about meditation and de-escalation of how we react. Instead of knee-jerk reactions, breathing and trying to stay mindful and balanced before that fire heat. Road rage, that’s a hard thing too when you hear that happening. You and I talked about road rage.
That’s my thing. No matter how much yoga I practice, it takes one guy cutting me off. I get crazy.
Dena had a final question for you.
In researching this, reading up and learning about it. You touched on this earlier, I’m circling back. In the literature, it says that this is with you since conception. We talked about after you have children or you’re perimenopausal and menopausal or it’s seasonal. It seems conflicting to say that it’s there from the conception, but yet it changes or am I misinterpreting what I’m reading?
Ayurvedas believe that what creates our constitution has to do with our environment after conception, but it can also have to do with before conception and even our ancestors and our karmas. When you were in your womb, if you had a volatile situation before you were born, your parents were drug addicts, fighting all the time or you were born in a war-torn country, that stuff is going to affect your constitution. Before you were born, your family was very loving, nurturing, calm and peaceful, that might have something to do your dosha long-term. The doshas tend to fluctuate. If you were to do this quiz, especially someone like Alyssa that had a lot of Pitta or even Karen, when you’re have a lot more of something, chances are that remains. That’s something that stays with you. That’s why it’s beneficial to help balance it out with Ayurveda.
I did this quiz years ago and I was high in Pitta.
When I first learned about this, my teacher was like, “You have a lot of Vata.” A lot of yogis have a lot of Vata. LA is very Vata in nature. There’s a lot of winds and it’s very dry. All of our Vatas has increased living in LA. When I grew up in Miami, it’s very moist. It’s very hot. I had a lot more Kapha in me. When I moved to LA, I shed all this weight. My skin became more dry, but I always had personality Vata tendencies. You tend to fluctuate a little bit, but your constitution stays the same. A lot of it does have to do the things that we have no control over. That’s why things like diet, exercise, other practices. Do you do dry brushing? Do you know what that is? Dry brushing is wonderful, tongue scraping all these things to help purify and clear out the toxins that get stuck and oil pulling as well.
Was that what you gave us, Rachel, with the coconut oil? She gave us packets.
What’s the tongue scraping?
You can buy them at where you see toothbrushes and stuff there. I like to do it first thing in the morning. You stick your tongue out and you scrape your tongue. You scrape the dead skin off your tongue. Your mouth is what holds the most bacteria. In the morning after you sleep, if you scrape your tongue, they say that it’s a cleansing ritual. It helps remove toxins out of the body.
Is dry brushing with a special brush?
Yeah. I’ve seen them at Target. They have a handle. I take the handle off and I use my hand. You start from the ankles and you move in the direction of your heart. From my lower body, I go up all along the body, even the back and the arms. I do that with the brush. The chest, you go down. Do it daily every morning before you take a shower. If you take a shower first thing in the morning, which I usually do. if I do some yoga or something, I’ll jump in the shower and I’ll do the dry brushing before, then you shower.
It’s like an exfoliation.
I was in Morocco and we did a traditional Moroccan bath. One of the things they do is they exfoliate your whole body. It was me and one of my students. We’re there like naked getting our bodies exfoliated by some woman. I barely had any skin that came off. The other girl had all this dead skin that came off. She was like, “Why don’t you have any skin?” I’m like, “I dry brush every day.” There’s all this stuff in the air and your body is absorbing it. Things like tongue scraping and dry brushing helps remove some of that stuff that’s being absorbed in your body. You do a daily. It becomes a ritual. It’s like a self-care thing. Women in general tend to take care of others more than we take care of ourselves. If you give yourself these 5, 10 minutes of these little practices, it enhances your day and your outlook. It makes you feel special. It reminds you that you’re like, “I’m important. It’s important to take care of me.”
To take care of you because we are all goddesses. We want to unleash our inner goddesses within and these are all practices that we can do that.
I want to say which I learned from another teacher, the days have energy cycles and certain times of the day have more Vata energy. Certain times of the day have more Pitta energy. Certain times that they have more Kapha energy. When you schedule your day, if you can go with that energy, you tend to be more productive. I’m going to give you an example. From 2:00 AM to 6:00 AM is called Vata time. It’s what they call mind mode. It’s a good time for meditation for spiritual practices between 2:00 AM and 6:00 AM. From between 6:00 AM and 10:00 AM is Kapha time. The body tends to get a little bit denser, a little bit slower, not a good time to eat a huge breakfast. Instead, try to get up a little earlier to stimulate your digestion.
If you exercise, exercise between 2:00 and 6:00. 6:00 to 10:00 AM is more like getting yourself going. It’s not the best time to exercise or to do a lot of productive stuff. Between 10:00 AM and 2:00 PM is Pitta time. Between 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM is the time that you’re most productive. You’re doing those. This is the best time to work, to do your work or be creative or running errands, getting things done. From 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM is again Vata time and your energy returns to be a little bit more spacey. After a certain time of your day, you start to lose focus and you’re all over the place. It’s a good time to slow down, maybe take a nap or do another like a gentler yoga practice.
From 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM is Kapha time. That’s the time that you start to wind down and get ready for bed. Stop working, prepare food and prepare yourself to relax. It’s not a good time to check your emails or to start to do more work because 10:00 PM to 2:00 AM is Pitta time. A lot of times in the middle of the night between 10:00 PM and 2:00 AM, it’s like you can’t go to sleep. Your mind starts to work again. You’re thinking about things. If you’re already in bed to prevent this, you want to try to not have your phone in the room or not watch TV when you’re in the room or go online. That’s why people who have a lot of Pitta have a hard time getting to sleep sometimes.
I’ll have to shift my workouts because I’ll have to get up at 5:00. I’m going to try that though.
It’s hard. I have a hard time getting up that early too, but if you do it, it’ll start to feel good in your body.
I’m going to try that because I’ve been told that before too in general. It’s a good practice to do. Thank you so much, Chrissy for joining us and for teaching us. We appreciate all the teachings and all the lessons that you’ve taught us to be the true goddesses that we are. Thank you.Ayurveda is meant to help our body self-heal from diseases of the body and of the mind. Click To Tweet
It’s my pleasure. Thank you.
Welcome to Favorite Things. We’re going to talk about things that we enjoy that bring us happiness that make us feel good. It can be anything from an object to a product, something that you love to do. Something that brings you happiness so that you can attract more of that into your life. It’s interesting that we were talking about Ayurveda principles. I am a very strong in Pitta. It’s interesting because what I brought along is I’m wearing moonstone, which is my favorite stone, moonstone necklace, a moonstone ring. My friend went to India and she brought me back this actual rough moonstone. I’ve always been attracted to moonstone.
Every time I go somewhere, even I had this ring made in California. I found the stone and make this ring. I love wearing it. I’ve been told that it’s cooling. I understand it must help balance me out because I’m strong in Pitta that I love wearing moonstone. I love moonstone. I also wanted to share that I went swimming. I love swimming, but it’s not so much doing lengths. I love going in the water, plugging my nose, going under the water and floating. It cools me off, which is interesting. We talked about that I’m a very high Pitta. It feels so good to do those things and have these things in my life. Let’s start secondly with Dena. What did you bring?
I don’t know that I can circle mine back to our interesting conversation, but these rubber Birkenstocks, I am mad about for the summer. I have my old ones from college with the suede into this, but my girls and I, we have them in colors and styles. They’re super comfy and super light. They make me feel happy on my feet. I’m enjoying these when I’m outside, not cooling down, which I need to start doing more of clearly.
It does relate, Dena, because they’re light. They’re not heavy, which is if you’re strong in Pitta that their light for you. Rachel, how about you?
I have this new bracelet. It’s very simple. It’s one of my husband’s coworker’s sister who has a jewelry business and started making these bracelets and the money goes to an organization called Sistah Biz. It supports black women-owned businesses. It’s light, comfortable and easy to wear.
It’s for such a great cause. That’s amazing. Alyssa?
Karen, I’m also wearing a moonstone ring, but that’s not my favorite thing. It’s funny that I’ve got moonstone on as well. My favorite thing now is not something I can show you, but I’ve been ordering a box of fruit and vegetables that arrives every week from a local company. I started doing this at the middle of March when we all were shut down and worried about how we were going to get all of our food and nobody wanted to go down to grocery stores. The company is called GFP Chicago. They’re local. Not all of the produce is grown locally. It is from all over, but the vendors are all local Chicago and Chicago land vendors. It’s inexpensive. It’s less than $30. It comes in this giant box of fresh fruits and vegetables. They give you a sense of what’s coming, but you don’t know.
It’s like the big surprise. You open the box to see what you get. It’s a fun thing every week. The most fun thing is, “Here’s what I have. Let’s plan the week’s menu.” We’re doing a lot of cooking around here these days and how are we going to utilize all this great stuff. Nothing’s too out there like, “I don’t know how to cook with this. I don’t know what to do with this.” It’s all very approachable, very normal fruits and veggies. I’m not sure how that factors into my dosha, which I’m supposed to do cooling tastes. That works. Sweet, bitter and astringent, maybe some of these are and some of them were not.
Remember to not eat your fruit with it. Don’t put whipped cream on top.
I’ve been enjoying it. It’s been a fun addition to the stay at home fun.
Chrissy, now you’ve heard all ours, I know it’s to narrow down. I’m sure you have many favorite things we always share at each episode and our list is going to continue and continue. Is there one thing that you can think about that would be something that is your favorite thing that brings you happiness and joy right now?
Lately, it’s been cooking. I’m going to bounce off Alyssa. I wrote down the name of that box because I used to get something like that a long time ago. It was like Christmas every week. I have vegan cookbooks. I’ve been home alone for a few months. My husband’s been working out of town. I’ve been getting creative in the kitchen. I like experimenting and using as many fruits and vegetables as I can. I have these monster tomato plants that are growing. Kale, basil, oregano, strawberries and blueberries so pulling stuff out of that and being in the kitchen and cooking while listening to music has been bringing me a lot of joy. I’ll say one more thing is spending time with my dogs. My dogs definitely keep me focused and grounded. I can’t sleep in because I have to take care of them. I have to make sure that they’re taken care of. Having an animal for me is always very good for my Vata tendencies. It keeps me focused on something and it gives me some responsibility and also lots of love and tenderness, which is good to increase Kapha to spend time with things that you love and hug them and all that.
You started The Yoga Pawject. We didn’t talk about that. Is that the nonprofit?
I haven’t done a lot with that as of late. I’ve done several fundraisers, yoga classes in the past. Mostly, I’ll find an organization and I’ll either raise money for a specific charity or even a specific animal. Sometimes there are some animals, some dog that was found on the street on death’s door. There are some companies trying to raise money to help this dog live and survive. I’ve done that several times and it’s very rewarding to help bring money to that.
If our audience want to reach you to perhaps join some classes that you teach here in Chicago or reach out to you to ask you questions, how can they do that?
Thank you so much again. Eat those tomatoes because you like them and makes you feel good. We thank you again for sharing favorite things.
I should say one more thing. There’s a couple of places here in Chicago that have been known to have great Ayurvedic doctors. One is called HMSA Ayurveda and Yoga, and that’s on Lincoln Avenue. It’s in Chicago. It’s closer to the lake. There’s a place called Healing Foundations, which is located on Belmont Avenue and also in Chicago. The third one is Integrative Ayurveda and Counseling. That one is up in Highland Park. If this is interesting to you, I recommend trying to find one of these. A lot of these people are doing more of the virtual stuff so you don’t even need to leave your home. They’ll ask you a million questions and they’ll give you specific remedies for whatever it is that you might want to try to help alleviate.
Thank you. I’m sure our audience who are in other states or countries, if you google, you can find Ayurvedic doctor. Everyone, enjoy your day. Thank you, Chrissy, so much for joining us.
- Chrissy Gonzalez
- The Ayurvedic Vegan Kitchen
- Healing Foundations
- Sistah Biz
- GFP Chicago
About Chrissy Gonzalas
Chrissy Gonzalez a Chicago based yoga teacher and wellness coach, vegan foodie, writer, travel junkie and animal lover. The onset of her love affair with yoga over twenty years ago set in motion an active practice that has allowed her to guide others for over a decade. Her formal training began in 2002 with Yoga Works in Los Angeles. She have since completed over 700 hours of Yoga Alliance Certified training under the guidance of her teachers Joan Hyman, Jeanne Heileman and many others. She stays busy teaching alignment based classes and workshops flowing with harmonious movement, yoga philosophy and a positive outlook. She also leads workshops and yoga retreats all over the world. In addition to teaching yoga classes, she is involved in several animal rescues and awareness programs. She founded “The Yoga Pawject”, a non-profit that helps raise money for animals in need.