I've been thinking a lot lately about the concept of "form follows function." The idea that the design of a structure is a direct result of its intended use is kind of groundbreaking. I look at other dancers and also just regular people and I can energetically sense something about their personalities based on their shape and form. I want to preface that I am not making judgments about people when I do this; it’s merely an observation. For example, if someone has very pronounced lips, and a well developed jaw and neck I assume that this person likes to speak a lot or is perhaps a singer. In terms of ballet, if someone has lean and long limbs it is usually easier for that person to extend his or her legs higher and further to achieve the visual effect of long romanticized movement versus someone shorter and stouter with more developed muscles. The shorter person with more developed muscles might find it easier to turn and execute steps because they won't have to exert as much force as the longer and leaner person. The same is true in painting; consideration is given to what materials are needed to achieve a certain visual effect. Using watercolors will result in something entirely different than if pastels or charcoal are used. In both cases, we’ve got two very different forms for two very different functions. One is not better than the other; however, since art is a subjective topic, it’s important to understand the intention of the artist whether it’s a choreographer or a painter.
Wednesday, 02 March 2011
Last but certainly never least, this is the fifth and final installment of the series What’s Your Dosha? All this talk about dosha and ayurveda is just that…talk. Now ‘tis the season to act! First, you need to discover your own personal doshic constitution, so take the doshic quiz to find out. Once you know what your dominant dosha or doshas are (unless you are the fortunate few who are tri-doshic) you can determine the nature of your constitutional imbalance.
Remember the eight-limbed path, it’s gonna come in handy here. The two most accessible tools are asana and pranayama. The way a yogi practices directly affects their dosha. The postures, the duration of holding those postures and breath techniques are key to practicing the appropriate asana for your constitutional type. Here are some tips for practicing for your type:
Thursday, 02 December 2010
Thanks everyone for the positive feedback and great questions from my series What’s Your Dosha? This is now the third installment on the topic. In Part I, LA Dosha I describe the vata dosha. In Part II, All Doshas=Balance I discuss the pitta and kapha doshas in detail and what they mean, how they affect us physically and psychologically and how they manifest themselves. Some of my readers asked if it’s possible to be pitta one day, and vata the next? Or do you have a set dominant personality, like type A and type B? For example, if you are generally a type A personality who thrives on achievement and getting things done, then you are most likely pitta-dominant. Yet there are times when that same individual experiences bouts of anxiety or bouts of lethargy. It may seem out of character for that person to be anxious or lethargic but it’s important to remember that everyone has elements of all three doshas within him or her. Our tendencies, behaviors and afflictions depend on which of the three doshas are active and which are inert. There are three categories of doshic constitutions: single doshic, dual-doshic and tri-doshic. According to Mela Butcher, Director for the Center of Ayurveda in Los Angeles only 30% of people belong to the single doshic category. That means they’re either pitta dominant, vata dominant or kapha dominant. About 65% of people are dual-doshic. Most people are some combination of vata/pitta, kapha/vata or pitta/kapha. Only 5% of people are tri-doshic. If you are one of the lucky few “tri-doshies” you’re more likely to remain balanced because the ratio of vata, pitta and kapha is almost even. Excessiveness in any one of the doshas results in doshic discord. The excessive dosha clouds the individual’s constitution triggering a myriad of physical, psychological and behavioral problems. Possible factors for sudden or gradual doshic discord include stress, weather, food, relationships and environment. For example, it’s a fairly well known fact that the hours of 10am-2pm are the most productive during our day. These hours provide strong cognition according to Mela Butcher. Think about the crash and burn feeling so many people experience around 2pm prompting them to get up from behind the office desk and visit the nearest vending machine for a soda and snack. Our entire existence depends on the idea of biorhythms. Biorhythms are inherent cycles that regulate memory, cognition, ambition, coordination, endurance, etc… For example, when the weather begins to change from dry to wet and cold many people experience joint discomfort. Or conversely, when weather patterns change from wet and cold to dry, hot and windy many people experience allergies and sinus problems. We can catagorize seasons and even our days in terms of vata, pitta and kapha. Checkout the biorhythm breakdown below:
Between 2-6am: Vata…the wee hours of dusk are luminous and serene.
Between 6-10am: Kapha…the sluggish and lethargic early morning hours when most of us wake up.
Between 10am-2pm: Pitta… these are the most productive hours during the day.
Between 2-6pm: Vata… during these hours creativity and ideas flourish.
Between 6-10pm: Kapha… our mental focus starts decreasing during this time.
Between 10pm-2am: Pitta...these hours may cause one to experience a second wind and/or sudden rush of energy conveniently before bed causing anxiety…and so it goes…the cycle repeats.
Tuesday, 09 November 2010
Go! Go! Go! Do! Do! Do! This is the pitta constitutional type. In my post La Dosha, Part I of my series What's Your Dosha? from 10/23/10 I discuss the vata dosha in detail, but it’s imperative for my readers to be familiar with all three doshas, especially the pitta. I am a pitta. Most people I surround myself with are pitta. We tend to lead rather than follow, we are reliable overachievers who refuse to stop until the job gets done. We always go the extra mile in hope of attaining the elusive gold star. Pittas make things happen. They are planners who need to be in control. Uncertainty is pitta’s Achilles heel. Pitta is manifested through the interaction of fire and water. When water is boiled long enough it transforms into steam. Pittas carry a lot of heat within them, hence the fire element. Tapas is a pitta-like quality. For example, when you take a sweaty vinyasa yoga class or when you sit in a sauna you are creating tapas by purging and purifying toxins from your body. Rumi, a 13th Century Sufi poet sums up the ontological nature of pita perfectly with the quote: “Spirit is the art of getting what’s stuck unstuck.” This is the very essence of pitta. Excess pitta can be detrimental. Typically, someone with too much pitta in his or her constitutional make up is prone to inflammatory conditions (think about all that fire in the body) and is susceptible to physical and psychological burnout. Water, when mixed with fire creates steam. Extreme steam is unmanageable. Anxiety is common to both, the pitta and the vata. Vata manifests through the elements of air and space. When checked with the other two doshas vata is adaptable to any situation. When vata becomes the dominant dosha the individual becomes prone to indecision and therefore subject to anxiety. Similarly, the pitta’s industrious diligence, when checked by the other two doshas, translates into productivity. Conversely, when the individual’s constitution becomes overly clouded by pitta he or she becomes predisposed to burnout and anxiety as well.
Lastly, there’s the kapha or what I like to call k-ahhhhhh-pha. Kapha manifests through the elements of water and earth. Mixing water and earth results in mud. Kapha and pitta share water as a common element. Water is the dynamic element that gives rise to kapha’s consistent and dependable nature, similar to the pitta. Kaphas are rational and methodical and are resistant to change. However, when kapha isn’t checked by the other two doshas the individual becomes vulnerable to lethargy, depression and fatigue. Water, when mixed with earth creates mud. Mud is heavy, thick and dirty. Individuals with excess kapha tend to carry more body weight, especially around the middle.
YOGI TIDBIT TO TRY:
I’m not promoting the judging of others since that’s the antithesis of what yoga purports; however I think this is an interesting experiment to try. With that said, take the information in this post and from the post La Dosha and apply it to an individual. Perhaps it’s your mother, boyfriend, teacher, a stranger, or even a pet! Yes, doshas are all around us and are relevant not only to other individuals but also to our environment, pets, and even inanimate objects. Doshas are intangible, yet they’re certainly observable because they are energetic and the frequency with which these energies vibrate determine the dominant dosha.
Monday, 08 November 2010
I can’t seem to get off of my “change is the only thing there is bandwagon.” It’s evident not only in my own life, but in the lives of my friends, in my dancing and in my city. The other day was a really “on” day at work. I was on my leg in class, my pirouettes were dead on, my jumps were light and I enjoyed a sense of ease I haven’t felt in a while. Rehearsal was much the same. Today however, just a day later, I felt like a different person with a different mind and body. Not to say that my dancing was poor—I am my own harshest critic— but I clearly felt different in my own body than the day before. What a difference a day makes. CHANGE. Sometimes when things aren’t going so well in life I fear that I’ll be stuck in my current predicament forever, but alas change does come. Even when things are going very well, I’m still plagued by the fear that change imminently looms somewhere in the background and inevitably, like a Greek Tragedy, I await my own downfall. Living in Los Angeles amplifies the volatility I experience in daily life. New careers, new cars, new homes, new spaces, trying to become this or that, trying to get here or there (good luck with traffic!) are the staples of a metropolis like Los Angeles.
Saturday, 23 October 2010