Saturday I went to my yoga studio early to catch a certain teacher but found that her class was cancelled and replaced with a workshop. It was going to cost me more money so I was thinking I would come back later but the owner was sitting at the front desk and she swayed me. She said, "wherever you end up is where you're supposed to be." I smiled and decided she was right.
I was supremely worried that this was going to delve into hippie nonsense bullshit space cadet crap but it wasn't that way at all. In fact I felt enlightened after about 20 minutes. I learned a little about Ayurveda: the study/knowledge of life, and the different body types: Vata: air, Pitta: fire, and Kapha: water. Everyone has all three but everyone also has more of one and it translates to your body composition, diet, exercise, and lifestyle. Essentially this study is linked to holistic medicine and learning how to heal yourself.
For a really pitiful description, I will just highlight a couple things that stuck with me:
Vata people: spacy, imaginative, restless, fearful, passionate, worrisome, often dissatisfied, tend to be thin and wiry, are prone to stomach aches
Pitta people: driven, over-achievers, focused, irritable, judgemental, articulate, strong, medium to muscular, often have high stress
Kapha people: lazy, sleepy, hungry, loving, compassionate, loyal, heavy, prone to depression
So, if you're mostly vata you need to ground down on planet earth more often. Do strengthening and toning exercises, not jumping around or too much cardio. Don't eat foods with high acidity.
If you're pitta you need to chill out more. Skip that afternoon run and spend more time stretching and doing boring breathing exercises. Don't eat too much spicy food or have too much caffeine. Get into your head more and avoid so much outside world.
Kaphas need to do more cardio of any type or just walk and spend time with people. Get out of your head and into the world. Avoid sweets in favor of heart healthy snacks every 4 hours.
Ok you're reading this thinking that it's all common sense and what is the point? Everyone already knows how to heal themselves they just would rather eat ice cream in front of the tv or destroy their knees in the daily run. These concepts helped me a lot because I've been dealing with extreme stress related stomach aches for the last week. I usually reach for the tums, rolaids, mylanta, maalox, alka seltzer, etc. The doctor last week said that I am in danger of an ulcer and could potentially have acid reflux already. She said I could take the over the counter prevacid OR I could eat plain yogurt every single day. I eat a lot of yogurt already and knew it was good for digestion but I didn't think of it as medicine.
The instructor of this workshop talked about how he has acid reflux. It means that his pitta is out of balance and fire is building up in the stomach. If he cools down his fire with cucumber, watermelon, and less acid producing foods the pain goes away and no prescription is necessary.
I went home feeling happy and relaxed. When I got there I saw a few cigarette butts in the ashtray, a pamphlet on the side effects of a drug, and a paper with various doctor's phone numbers on it. This only meant one thing. I frantically called Mom and found out that yes they had to take Grandma back to the hospital. The drug cocktail they gave her after her surgery gave her a dangerous reaction and there was swelling around the heart.
The funny thing about Grandma is that she thinks doctors are gods. They are the upper echelon of society and anything they say is right. I asked her the other day if she is sure she needs to take the prevacid, xanax, flonase, lipitor, sleeping pill, and aspirin along with all the new drugs they gave her for this procedure. She said yes and that she has to take so many of each per day. She totally didn't get the concept that she could have tried something other than all these drugs to help her. Her doctor is also an older gentleman that might retire soon. I don't think it ever occurred to him to have her try a macrobiotic diet or something along those lines. Due to my pressuring she asked him about acupuncture and he assured her that it will only help for a couple days but then the pain will come back so there is no point. Take celebrex instead.
My mom has become amazingly enlightened through this experience. She joked the other day about how it's strange that the media and education and families spend so much time focusing on keeping kids off drugs and the hazards of drinking and driving, but we really have no idea what kind of drugs our elderly are on while they are driving around or when they are alone at home. The harm that comes from all of this is somehow completely acceptable.
It turned out that one of the pain killers the surgeon prescribed wasn't right for someone with a weak heart. After being hooked up to an IV for the last two days and having a blood transfusion yesterday she is still in the hospital. It looks like it's all going to be ok but questions remain. Grandma is in the hands of science now and despite studies saying that these other combinations of pills should be ok, we really don't know if her body will take it.
Eat yogurt everyday people. It's a start.