Growing up in Romania, my grandmother used to say I would get sick if I played outside without a hat or a scarf. For many years, after going to medical school, I tried to figure out if my grandma’s wisdom had any scientific explanation. With time, I became convinced that there wasn’t any possible link between a cold day and “catching a cold.”
After studying Ayurveda – the 5,000 year old healing Hindu system – I realized my grandmother was right. Cold, windy weather actually can affect our health.
According to Ayurveda, we are made of the same universal elements of nature: fire, water, earth, air, and ether.
What makes us unique are the different combinations of these elements, called doshas, which constitute our mind-body types and personalities.
In Ayurvedic medicine, an out-of-balance dosha contributes to certain symptoms… physically, mentally, and emotionally. Learning about your (or your child’s) Ayurvedic body type will give you actionable information on how to reawaken the body’s inner guidance system. The process of balancing a dosha involves accessing our “inner pharmacy” by engaging all the senses.
The information below should help you discover your child’s dosha, but if you need more specific details, try the Prakriti Constitution Evaluation, and then read on for how to help support your child’s Ayurvedic type.
Vata Dosha – Space and Air
Vata is the predominant dosha of the fall and winter season, when things in nature get windy, dry, and cold. Vata, being the lightest element, of air and ether, it is the first one that gets out of balance and pushes the other elements into disharmony and disease.
Vata out of balance in the mind causes kids to feel anxious, restless, jumpy, or distracted. In the body it can show up as cough, nasal congestion, dry skin, cracking joints, insomnia, bloating, or constipation.
How to Keep the Vata Child in Balance:
Taste: Feed the Vata child healthy fats, plenty of vegetables (especially root vegetables in soups and stews), fruit, rice, spices like nutmeg, cardamom, and cinnamon. The Vata child may also find comfort in something sweet like honey (age 1+).
Touch and smell: Cuddle and massage your child often. Healthy touch from mom and dad is more important and grounding for this dosha. Oil massages, called Abyanga, use warm, sweet, and sour aromas are generally the most balancing. These aromas include lovely orange, rose, vanilla. It’s also important to keep the Vata child warm. She may be cold when the rest of the family is comfortable. Keep the thermostat littler bit warmer and keep an jacket or blanket along with you.
Sight and Colors: Surround the Vata child with earth tones and soft, pastel colors. This will make his room, clothing, favorite blanket, etc. more comforting to him.
Sounds: Listen to sweet, soothing music and avoid loud places.
Routines: A reliable routine can soothe an out-of-balance Vata child. Try to maintain a consistent bedtime, regular mealtimes. Keep a calm, quiet home environment and a predictable schedule, even on weekends.
Pitta Dosha – Fire and Water
Pitta children are charismatic, outgoing, and athletic. They have natural leadership skills, and other children follow them naturally. They also enjoy a challenge and are known for their sharp intellect.
The Pitta child can either be the fire in the hearth, warming up the house or the out of control fire that burns down the whole place! While under stress, the Pitta child typically gets angry like a bubbling volcano.
How to Keep the Pitta Child in Balance:
Taste: Avoid spicy or hot food and opt for mild flavors. Cool foods, like cucumber, watermelon, avocados, and apples, can help cool down the fiery Pitta. She may experience irregular hunger, so don’t always expect her to clear her plate.
Touch and smell: Massage with coconut oil is relaxing for the Pitta child. Diffuse calming aromas like lavender, sandalwood, and jasmine around the home.
Sight and colors: Opt for cooler colors in clothing and surroundings like soothing pastels, green or blue or even silver. Pittas need plenty of wide open spaces.
Routines: Give Pitta children room in their schedule or scheduled alone and quiet time. Meditation is a wonderful tool to calm a Pitta mind, and children as young as 6-7 years old can learn to meditate. Keep competitive sports or situations to a minimum, which can sometimes be distressing.
Kapha Dosha – Water and Earth
As a stage in life, Kapha is considered the main childhood dosha. Kapha children tend to be more stocky in build, slower, very patient, and easy-going. When they’re out-of-balance, they can become very stubborn and have difficulty changing their minds.
Think of a balanced Kapha as the perfect mixture of earth and water, making a soft, malleable clay, but an out-of-balance Kapha can be a dry, hard brick that would rather break than take any other shape or form.
How to Keep the Kapha Child in Balance:
Taste: Avoid processed and canned food, dairy products and sweets. Pungent and bitter flavors, like garlic, radishes, collard greens, and ginger may bring a Kapha child back into balance. Limit red meat consumption, and use small amounts of fats and oils.
Touch and smell: A daily dry massage can help stimulate the Kapha child’s circulation. Use warm, stimulating aromas like eucalyptus, cinnamon, clove, or marjoram.
Sight and colors: Surround her with bright, stimulating colors like red and orange. Keep her space clean and clutter-free.
Routines: Encourage your Kapha child to stay very active. Exercise is good for all children, but especially for Kapha kids who have a tendency of being inactive and love their couches.