Ever worn a sweater in the peak of summer? Added more salt to a salty soup? Ridden a Ferris wheel when you were dizzy?
Nope. You did just the opposite, didn’t you? Common sense. You don’t do things that aggravate an existing problem. You do things that balance it.
Now, how can your health stay in balance? By staying as close as possible to your innate metabolic personality or prakruti – your “no problem” zone. Your innate metabolic personality is your body’s personality at birth. It’s what gives you your unique appearance, metabolism (as well as organ function), and behavior.
Everybody’s innate metabolic personality is made up of three functional energies (light and quick, slow and steady, and intense) in different ratios. You can figure out your unique mix of functional energies quite simply by identifying your tendencies.
Once you know your tendencies, gear up to rein them in slightly. If you don’t, they tend to go overboard and cause trouble – ask anyone who has had a sweet tooth!
The two basic principles you need to remember to balance are:
- Like increases like
- Opposites balance each other
So if you are given to bouts of restlessness, find activities that calm you down. If you like being a couch potato, get up and stay active purposefully. But if you tend to overwork yourself, dial it down to escape a burnout. Here are a few suggestions on how to keep yourself balanced. But don’t stop at these, invent your own.
Staying Light and Quick, Not Restless
If you have a light and quick metabolic personality, your mind is overflowing with ideas and your daily planner overflowing with chores. Pretty much like the wind, you are constantly moving from one task to another. On a good day, you get so much done! On a bad day (which can be quite frequent), however, you are see-sawing between exhaustion and anxiety. The trick is to ground yourself.
- You need constant excitement and inspiration and would eagerly welcome change. But hey, take it easy. Change can send your mind into a tizzy and fuel both exhaustion and anxiety. So it’s essential for you to stick to a routine. The routine doesn’t have to be boring. You can keep a slot free for trying out new things every day.
- Eat well-cooked warm meals with sweet, salty, and sour flavors. You have a wide variety of fruits, veggies, meats, oils, and spices at your disposal. Let your creative (and digestive) juices flow unhindered.
- Keep yourself warm and comfortable with warm baths, warm teas, and warm meals. Don’t overexercise since you tend to lose weight quickly. Gentle strolls and rhythmic dances are better for you.
- Get to bed by 9:30 pm and wake up at 6 am. Perform pranayama (alternate nostril breathing) and meditation before sleeping to calm your overactive mind. They may be challenging initially, but once you get into the groove, they’ll give you a sharper focus and deeper sleep.
Any sort of transition or change makes you more restless. Which is why on nights when you have disturbed sleep, you will find yourself waking up around 2 or 3 in the morning. To curb this tendency, engage yourself in immersive, creative activities during early evening (2–6 pm). You also need to take special care to keep yourself balanced in the cold and dry months as well as in the months when the season changes drastically.
Staying Slow and Steady, Not Sluggish
Are you one of those calm and composed people who, quite like water, like to live life on their own pace? Good for you! You are probably among the happier people in this world. On good days, doing things at your own pace can produce a perfect piece of work. But on bad days, you find yourself unmotivated, lethargic, procrastinating, and depressed. For a slow and steady person, the key to staying in balance is staying active.
- You have a tendency to find a comfort zone and settle down (kind of like earth), refusing to challenge yourself. Change your routine frequently. Don’t do similar activities every day. Keep room for trying out new things.
- Stay purposefully active. Rather than sitting down with a bottle, get up to fetch a glass of water. Leave whatever you are doing and take a short stroll every couple of hours. Do exercises that pump up your heart rate. Not only will that help you burn calories, it will also improve your mood and motivation.
- Since your digestion is sluggish, eat warming, spicy foods that have bitter, astringent, and pungent flavors. Pungent foods in particular can help clear the sinuses – a common health complaint of slow and steady people.
- Sleep is the dearest word in your dictionary, and you like to get a lot of it – 8 hours, easily. But the tendency to oversleep also puts you at risk of sluggishness, lethargy, and, eventually, metabolic disorders. Get to bed a little after 10 pm and wake up before the sun rises, say around 5 am. We know it’s only 7 hours, but if you make the most of your light and quick energy (yes, you have it too, but in a smaller quantity) in this hour of transition from darkness to light, you won’t need more sleep.
The times of the day when you feel most sluggish are 6–10 in the morning and evening. Stay vigorously active during the morning slot and use the evening time to wind down. Stay especially active during the cold and wet months of the year.
Staying Intense, Not Irritable
If you’ve never understood the phrase “too much of a good thing,” look at someone with an intense metabolic personality. You’d identify these focused and driven individuals easily; they’re the ones you think of when you think “fire.” One big problem with being serious, focused, and driven all the time is that there’s always a burnout lurking around the corner. Another is that not everyone around you can keep up with your pace, and that could fire up your naturally hot temper. The trick is to keep yourself cool.
- Eat cooling foods like sweet, juicy fruits and bitter and astringent leafy greens. The high water content will do you good. Cut down hot, spicy, and sour foods. In a balanced state of health, your body will intuitively shun these tastes since they can give you heartburn and acid reflux.
- Take scheduled breaks and head outdoors (not when the sun’s shining bright, though). Stay as close to nature as possible. Take leisurely walks or swim a few laps to calm your mind.
- On days you cannot afford to take a break, treat yourself to some exclusive me-time in the evening. Massage your body with coconut oil, take a cold bath, play some soothing music, enjoy a light read, and then, just before hitting the bed, settle down for pranayama (sheetali) and meditation.
- Sleep by 10 pm and wake up by 5:30 am. You are the type that loves to take on a new project past midnight and ends up compromising on sleep. So a strict sleep routine is a must.
Since your body temperature takes direct cues from the environment, afternoons (10–2 pm) can be challenging, especially in the summer months. Avoid stepping out in the sun, tone down your exercise regime, and add more fruits and herbal teas to your diet. Also remember to keep your room cool at night.
Now that you have a basic idea about how to stay in balance, here’s a little exercise for you to try at home. We’ll tell you the qualities associated with your predominant energy and the opposites. Going by the principles of “like increases like” and “opposites balance each other,” find suitable activities. You’ll soon be able to draw up your own list of healthful activities.
Light and Quick
- Inherent qualities: Dry, cold, light, quick, and moving
- Opposite qualities: Moist, warm, heavy, slow, and steady
Slow and Steady
- Inherent qualities: Cold, moist, heavy, slow, and steady
- Opposite qualities: Hot, dry, light, fast, and mobile
- Inherent qualities: Warm, oily, light, bright, and intense
- Opposite qualities: Cool, dry, heavy, dull, and mild
How to Get Back to Balance
In the course of your life, several things may happen that could change your innate metabolic personality or unique mix of functional energies – say, relocating to a new place or doing a job that demands odd hours – making you quite unlike yourself. Great if your body adapts to change and you don’t at all mind this new you, but such luck is rare. Sooner or later, the body tires of being someone it was never meant to be and you start experiencing an imbalance. You can’t always re-relocate or find a new job. So what do you do? You balance according to your symptoms.
Imbalance will always show up as changes or symptoms in your digestion, metabolism, sleep, brain function, bones and joints, and immunity. Keep an eye out for such changes.
Each symptom can be tied down to an excess in a particular functional energy. For instance, an uncharacteristic bout of heartburn means your digestive system has become overactive, something that is seen in people with more intense energy. On the other hand, feeling more sluggish than usual could mean that your energy expenditure is flawed, a problem that plagues people who have more slow and steady energy.
After you identify the energy/ies responsible for causing the symptoms, pacify them function by function. Or pacify whichever energy is triggering most of the symptoms.
Happy sleuthing! (Clues below)