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Guest Blog by Brian Leaf

Brian Leaf recently published Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi, which is full of heart-felt humor and humility. In this lovely guest column, Brian shares the fundamentals of Ayurveda and how they can apply to our creativity. Take his short quiz to discover your type.

Brian Leaf, M.A. is the author of Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi. He draws upon twenty-one years of intensive study, practice, and teaching of yoga, meditation, and holistic health. Visit him online at http://www.Misadventures-of-a-Yogi.com .

Yoga, Ayurveda, and Creativity

Ayurveda, the 5000-year-old medical system from India, often called the sister science of yoga, has a lot to say about my wife and me. According to Ayurveda, there are different types of people, and these different types have particular strengths, challenges, and needs.

Ayurveda identifies three primary tendencies within people, called vata, pitta, and kapha. Vata is the energy of air; pitta is the energy of fire; and kapha is the energy of water and earth.

A person, like me, with a constitution dominant in vata will have airy qualities (creative, quick, possibly anxious). A person with a constitution dominant in pitta will have fiery qualities (intense, focused, possibly overly critical). A person, like my wife, with a constitution dominant in kapha will have earthy qualities (steadfast, grounded, possibly stuck).

A vata person will be well endowed in the creativity department. New ideas and creative solutions flow freely. Their challenge, like mine, is to stay grounded and not get spun-out and exhausted from too many creative ideas. We have to make sure to see our ideas through and not lose steam half way through a project. By calming our vata, we can be wildly creative but also focused and steadfast.

A pitta person will be incisive and intelligent, often set on a fixed course of action and less open to creativity and new ideas. Surgeons are usually pitta individuals. They are confident, focused, and intense. A pitta person can retain their great focus, but bring in more creativity and tolerance of new ideas by soothing their pitta.

A kapha person, like my wife, usually has terrific endurance and resolve. She easily stays grounded, but creativity does not flow as freely. She may sometimes feel stuck and blocked up. By soothing her kapha and increasing her vata, she can harness her tremendous strength and resolve, while also tapping into her creativity.

So how can you effect this change in yourself? First you must identify your Ayurvedic constitution. To determine whether vata, pitta, or kapha dominates your constitution, take the following short quiz.

1. Under stress, I become __________.
A. scattered and anxious B. focused and angry C. stuck

2. When I’m hungry, I get __________.
A. scattered and anxious B. angry C. depressed

3. I hate to feel _________.
A. too cold B. too hot C. too wet

4. My biggest psychological struggles involve __________.
A. anxiety B. being judgmental, irritation, anger C. feeling stuck

5. When I have digestive problems, they involve ___________.
A. gas & bloating B. heartburn C. slow digestion, feeling stuck

6. When I get sick, I feel ___________.
A. Worried, fried, constipated. B. Fevers, skin rashes, diarrhea.
C. Congested, stagnant, blocked up.

Count the number of As, Bs, and C’s in your answers.
Mostly A’s indicate vata, mostly B’s pitta, and mostly C’s kapha.

When you have determined your particular type (vata, pitta, or kapha), choose three of the six items listed below and follow them for at least a week and see what happens. You may feel a whole new level of balance, health, vitality, and increased creativity.
If your responses show a predominance of Vata:
• Keep warm, and wear soft, comfortable clothing. Make your bed into a soft, comfy haven.
• Eat mostly cooked foods and use a bit of spice. Eat at a table, in a relaxed setting, not on the go or at your desk.
• Keep a regular routine, and look over your schedule at the beginning of each day, so your mind can relax and know what’s coming.
• Practice gentle forms of exercise.
• Spend quiet time in nature, ideally near a lake or gently flowing stream. Sit under a tree.
• Avoid or cut back on caffeine, wheat, sugar, and processed foods.
If your responses show a predominance of Pitta:
• Keep cool. Get lots of fresh air, but avoid too much direct sun. Take walks in the moonlight. The moon is very soothing to pitta.
• Eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
• Avoid overly spicy, salty, and oily foods.
• Watch your tendency toward perfectionism, competition, and intensity. Bring in softness and love.
• Express your feelings in constructive ways. Be gentle on yourself and others.
• Avoid or cut back on caffeine, wheat, sugar, and processed foods.
If your responses show a predominance of Kapha:
• Get lots of vigorous exercise, everyday.
• Avoid fatty and fried foods. Eat lots of veggies and cook with a bit of spice.
• Eat less bread.
• Avoid getting in a rut. Try new things, take challenges, travel.
• Practice expressing your voice and your feelings and spend some time creating every day. Draw, paint, sculpt, sing, dance, play an instrument, imagine.
• Avoid or dramatically cut back on wheat, sugar, and processed foods.

Based on the new book Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi ©2012 by Brian Leaf. Published with permission of New World Library http://www.newworldlibrary.com .
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