It stands to reason that if you truly want to know someone, be it your spouse, sidekick, or progeny, a 2 week quarantine is a fabulous way to immerse yourself in their idiosyncrasies. With the advent of Spring 2020, the entire world was catapulted into a tailspin fueled by uncertainty, fear, and sheer panic. No doubt, the Coronavirus is a force to be reckoned with.
We heard whispers of said virus, but it wasn’t until last week that COVID-19 had us batten down the hatches at record speeds. CVS looked like a Black Friday circus as customers clamored for Purel and the highly coveted 60-pack of Charmin Ultra Soft Toilet Paper. Comestibles? Check. Water? Check. Cadbury Mini-Eggs? Double check.
So here we are, with our beloveds – – but what if in larger doses they drive us absolutely bananas? Breathe, Ayurveda can provide some insight on how to skillfully, and lovingly, handle each family member during times of stress. By recognizing their innate constitutional makeup, one is given an intuitive map to what makes them tick.
Ayurveda recognizes that everyone has a distinct genetic blueprint that manifests as a configuration of the 5 elements: ether, air, fire, water, and earth. Together these elements coalesce to form the 3 doshas, or biological humors.
Vāta Dosha = Air & Ether
Pitta Dosha = Fire & Water
Kapha Dosha = Water & Earth
Not sure which category you, or your family members, fall in? Here’s an archetype run down:
Vāta people have a predominance of ether and air. Like the wind, they move quickly, talk fast and flutter from idea to idea. These are the social butterflies, the artist, the dancers and dream makers. You can easily spot one by their long, lean build, namely in their legs. Vātas are known for being enthusiastic and the team cheerleaders. When met with a challenge, they may quickly erupt, but then promptly forget and move on.
Willowy vātas couldn’t gain weight if they tried. Their frames are on the slight side and they are ruled by their senses. With the skin being the largest organ, sense organ and otherwise, vāta people can be overstimulated by excessive touch or sensory stimulation. These are the people that come home from a trip to NYC with their eye twitching due an overload of the sense organs. Flashing lights, honking taxis, street food smells, people everywhere…vāta goes haywire and needs to detach from the world for a spell in order to recharge.
Lacking an abundance of the earth and water elements, vātas do not have the same level of sustaining endurance that kaphas possess. Vāta types are known to keep pushing even when their gas tank reads E, further depleting themselves and requiring more R&R.
Without a heavy helping of the fire element, Vātas tend to run cold and have weak digestion. In times of stress they may lose their appetite and tend towards gas, bloating and constipation. Vātas can become untethered and spiral into a panicked thought vortex, especially at 2am. Emotionally, out of balance vāta shows up as insomnia, anxiety, irrational fears and mania.
Pitta folks are full of passion and drive, thanks to a good helping of the fire element. Pittas are often Type A’s that love to make lists and feel immense satisfaction as they check all the boxes. They are organized, direct, phenomenal leaders, sharp , witty and goal oriented. Wicked competitive, these are the folks that play Uno for blood.
Physically, pittas are square in the middle between vāta and kapha. Not too thin, not too muscular. They have sensitive skin that burns easily in the sun, or turns to a smattering of freckles. The sense organ that dominates pitta is sight. Fire folks are hyper sensitive to light, and can be spotted sporting a pair of Ray Bans while grocery shopping. They require black out curtains to sleep and an eye mask!
With their radiant fiery minds, pittas are dedicated scholars and want to know how everything works. They are opinionated and love parlaying in intellectual debates. In fact, their minds are so robust that the fire goes to their head and often renders their hair thin, prematurely grey, or bald, and even their eyesight can be hindered (eyes are a fire organ according to Ayurvedic A&P).
Pittas LOVE to be right and can have a hard time admitting defeat, or saying “I’m sorry”. They are not going to wax poetic or constantly tell you how much they love you – those words of affirmation would more likely come from a vāta or kapha type, respectively. Pitta’s love language is through action and protecting the fox hole.
When the fire gets too high, pitta can spread like a brushfire. They are quick to anger and will smolder until they decide they are done being angry, which can take some time. They can become extremely impatient, snarky, acerbic, dictatorial and thus, prone to acid reflux and inflammation.
Kaphas are the epitome of the love nugget. Made up of earth and water, Kaphas are the most stable and grounded of all three doshas. They are calm and steady, rarely flustered. Steadfast, they will assuredly maintain the peace during times of chaos.
Kaphas love to love. They are humanitarians with massive hearts. Brimming with compassion, kaphas are often the teachers, nurses or health care-providers.
Crafted with mostly earth and water, kapha types have solid, curvy, and muscular frames. Everything about them is luscious and thick. Imagine lustrous Pantene Pro V hair, gleaming healthy white smiles with wide Disney princess eyes…ahh!
Kaphas are all about potential energy, and live to bank energy. This can show up as excess weight, holding onto relationships that no longer serve, or hoarding nostalgic possessions. Public Service Announcement – No shame in holding onto that wardrobe from 25 years ago, so long as it brings happiness and is still being utilized. However, if it triggers a negative emotion, toss it!
Kaphas are creatures of habit and are perfectly content with routine; really, they were built for the quarantine life. The earth and water aspect of their constitution keeps them rooted in habits, good or bad. They will drive the same way to work every day, eat the same breakfast for years, while being punctual and predictable.
Out of balance, Kaphas can become lethargic couch potatoes. This can lead to depression, lack of motivation, weight gain and allergies.
Do any of these Archetypes resonate with you, or remind you of a family member? Know that it is quite common to be dual-doshic, or for some even tri-doshic. Meaning you may resonate with both vāta and pitta, or kapha and pitta.
Before we get into ways to cope, here are 2 key concepts related to the VPK emotional profiles:
Vāta = Flight
Pitta = Fight
Kapha = Freeze
How to relate, treat:
Treat Vāta like a flower
Treat Pitta like a friend/spouse
Treat Kapha like their cheerleader or coach
What to expect if you’re quarantined with a Vāta, Pitta or Kapha
+ Self-Soothing for VPK
Vata – The ethereal aspects of vata dosha bestows them with oodles of creativity. Their thinking, and talking, is often expansive and excessive. Vatas are yippers and may often miss words because they are so excited about what they have to say. To quell this nervous chatter, focus their attention with something calming and artistic.
Perhaps dust off the mandala coloring books. Throw on some soothing music, or a funny movie, and they could be enraptured with doodling for hours.
Knitting is often recommended for smokers in lieu of reaching for a cigarette, another nervous habit, I imagine it would be a great success for a twitchy vata. Arm knitting is still trending, perhaps your vāta loved one could construct an arm-knitted blanket. Double win as the heavy, warm material will help ground their nervous system.
That being said, vātas also need to off-gas their nervous energy through movement. This could be done easily through a family dance party, going for gentle walks in nature, or following an online yoga class.
- Dance party
- Start an indoor garden
- Restorative yoga
- Yoga nidra
- Japa mantra
- Walking meditation
- Soothing breath practices like: Dirgha or Nadi Shodhana
- Creative cooking – Chopped style
- Get outside, or observe nature from your window
- Read: cozy up on the couch with chamomile tea and a pet and/or blanket
- Foot massage – especially at night for sound sleep
- Warm cooked foods – helps keep you regular, for breakfast try oatmeal with a scoop of flax and a generous sprinkle of ground cinnamon
- Play an instrument
- Play catch with a family member, or the wall
- Creative writing
- Make your own Tik Tok videos
- Put on a family performance of your favorite play or musical
- Have a mug of ojas milk in the afternoon
- Take warm Epsom salt baths scented with lavender
- Take virtual tours of museums
- Learn about your favorite artist, writers, musicians
- Maintain faith, trust and hope
Pitta- To be honest, pitta is probably the most irate about being locked up. “But I still have the Chicago Marathon in the fall! How am I supposed to keep up with my training?!” Pittas need to move, and challenge, their bodies while staying mentally astute. Pittas like to distract themselves through work. These are the folks that are “up and at em” with the power washer at 7am.
Pitta often finds purpose through their occupation, as a result, there may be an identity crisis brewing with looming lay-offs. In addition, these fire gods/goddesses have supercharged digestion, meaning, don’t let these folks get hungry…or even worse, hangry. Keep your pitta family members well fed, and I’m not talking salad, I’m talking dense foods that will take time to burn off.
Pittas are rigid and like schedules. Create a daily schedule with your pitta child, in fact, all benefit from a consistent daily routine. Come up with jobs, goals, or projects. Have you always wanted to learn how to play the piano, or master Hozier’s masterpiece Shrike on the guitar? Now is the time to carpe diem!
Paint those cabinets, tighten all the screws in your house. You get the point…and pitta, don’t forget to be soft and embrace those around you. Tell them you love them and appreciate their existence.
- House Work
- Neglected projects
- Research your favorite topics
- Learn a new skill
- Chess, Checkers, Scrabble – remember it’s just a game
- Cool showers
- Rose water spritz to the eyes
- Moderate yoga
- Box Breath, Nadi Shodhana or Shitali pranayama
- Endurance based trainings – plyometrics perhaps
- Metta meditation
- Start a website
- Start an Etsy page
- Try making your own fermented foods – just don’t eat too much, they aggravate the fire
- Practice gratitude
- Read inspiring works
- Photography, graphic design
- Draft up plans for your dream house, job, dress
- Write- Put your brilliance to paper
- Play Legos on the floor with your kiddos
- Check out all the free online classes offered by Universities
- Organize an effort to help those in need
- Cook – FYI America’s Test Kitchen is right up your alley
- LAUGH!! Watch all the comedians, shows, performances that make you chortle
- Give until it hurts, and then give more
Kapha- As previously mentioned, kaphas are the most suited to shelter-in-place. If you, or your spouse, are a kapha, you may be relishing the extra time home with the family. Homeschooling? No problemo, you’ve totally got this with your saint-like patience. Since you already have a deep nesting instinct, why not embrace that quality? Cozy up the house, perhaps even rearrange – your vāta pal can help you pick out new paint colors.
Kaphas express their fondness through affectionate touch and food. Spouse, friend, kid, cat, dog, or plant, doesn’t matter, go snuggle and take care of them. Get out the Crock-Pot and make a massive batch of vegan chili. Better yet, sweetness soothes anxious vātas and agitated pittas, so why not whip up a batch of your famous gooey, chocolate brownies?
Basically, let your love light shine. Nest and give yourself permission to read and be earthy. Your grounded energy is contagious, the world could deeply benefit from more kapha right about now.
- Cook family style: freeze, disperse, or share a meal with your loved ones
- Knit face masks for your vāta friends, or pitta entrepreneurs
- Read a good novel
- Escape into a Hallmark movie- rumor has it Hallmark is re-running their Christmas movies all month long!
- Tend to your plants – perhaps it’s time to get a bonsai tree, those need lots of care
- Reorganize your pantry
- Clean out your closet!
- Spring cleaning all around
- Rake the yard
- Get the blood flowing with some vigorous yoga
- Subscribe to an online workout that lights you up
- Dance like nobody’s watching
- Sing, sing, sing
- Reach out to loved ones via FaceTime, Zoom, Skype
- Snail-mail: Write your grandchildren, nieces, nephews, children, or friends letters
- Bhakti Yoga- Listen and sing with Krishna Das
- Vinyasa yoga
- Stimulating breaths like Dirgha or even Bhastrika if you want some extra juice
- Gratitude circle
- Game night! Even if it’s over Skype
- Puzzles! Kaphas have the patience for even the 1000+ piece puzzles
- Stay in community through technology- sign up for an online meditation course, cooking course, sky’s the limit
- Worship – Some churches, synagogues, mosques, meditation centers are now offering their services online
- Stay seated in yourself, so others can mirror your stability
Alas, there is your laundry list to keep your VPK self, or comrades happy during lockdown. In closing, never forget the following:
- Food, and spices, are your medicine
- Breath and fear cannot coexist, so breathe deep
- This too shall pass