In both systems of Ayurveda and yoga each human being is considered a unique, beautiful and perfect expression of nature. In Ayurveda, one’s unique mind/body constitution is called a dosha. I find it interesting that dosha translates as “that which tends to go out of balance”. It’s actually our innate tendency to fall out of balance.
Yoga and Ayurveda acknowledge that everything around us is constantly changing (nature or prakriti in Sanskrit). Ayurveda seeks to help us stay in balance despite all the change and to live in alignment with our own unique make up. Yoga helps us connect to what is changing within ourselves (Purusha) so that we may know ourselves at the deepest level and handle all the change with more ease.
It’s natural to have times of imbalance but without the tools or knowledge of how to realign ourselves, we can stay stuck (sometimes for many, many years) in a state of imbalance. The imbalance begins to feel normal. This can be physical imbalance as well as mental, energetic, emotional and spiritual.
When out of balance, we are literally living out of alignment with our true nature, going against our optimal state of health and well-being. This leads to a plethora of symptoms we don’t even realize are not healthy or indicative of imbalance.
Here are 5 indicators we are living out of alignment with ourselves:
- We look to other people to give us the answers. I am not talking about asking someone’s trusted advice or seeking valuable counsel. I mean we want someone else to have all the answers for us. We feel unable to make big decisions for ourselves. The truth is, only we have the answers for ourselves and when we are in alignment with our truest nature, we know only we can truly decide what is right in any given situation. Ideally, we assess, we examine all angles and then we make decisions that feel right to our core, no matter what anyone else tells us. This is taking full responsibility for ourselves and not giving our power away to anybody else. This is skillful discernment.
- We focus a lot of our time and energy worrying about what other people think or gossiping negatively about others. This usually indicates we are fundamentally dissatisfied with our own lives or the way we are living and therefore turn that frustration outward. When we feel good about ourselves and our lives, we are not interested in engaging in negative behaviors. We make positive choices and surround ourselves with positive influences. We see that it’s harmful to ourselves and other people and simply a waste of time to gossip and judge others. We also have compassion for people, rather than judging and criticizing them. When we are in personal harmony, we can see the good that surrounds us.
- We battle digestive issues regularly. Digestive issues are a sure sign we are off. Ayurveda addresses the digestive system because it’s where we process our food and turn it to usable energy. Most disease originates in the gut. Whatever the issue in the gut may be, if left unchecked it can progress and lead to additional health problems. In yoga science, the gut is where we process and transform life challenges and experiences. Sometimes the issue is emotional, mental or physical and it presents itself as digestive problems. Trouble in your tummy is a clear sign something is out of balance. Whether it’s constipation, irritable bowel, or just inconsistency, if the gut is off, we are off. Proper diet, eating with the seasons and eating in a calm and relaxed state are essential. A well-functioning gut signifies we are metabolizing both our food and our life experiences.
- We have difficulty sleeping. This tells us the nervous system is in overdrive. Everyone needs adequate rest and the inability to release into quality sleep will have long term negative consequences. Sleep disorders have become an epidemic in the U.S. Whether it’s stress, diet, over-scheduling, anxiety, trauma or something else, not being able to turn off the body and replenish ourselves each night is a real problem and an indicator something in our life needs to be adjusted.
- We have a hard time saying no! The inability to say no and protect one’s time and energy is a sign we don’t have strong personal boundaries or self-care practices. This is a big one. We cannot do everything asked of us and in today’s demanding and over-scheduled way of living, we have to say no on a regular basis. Not being able to say no is often tied to “people pleasing” and feeling obligated to say yes when someone asks us for something. We are energy beings and down time is a must for us to recharge and take care of our levels of output. Saying no and choosing what we do more consciously means we know ourselves and value our well-being.
If you experience any of those 5 signs on a regular basis, know that you can make changes to live a more aligned, joyful and self-empowered life. Both Ayurveda and yoga were designed to help you do just that. One simple step to start making changes is to begin a regular meditation practice.
Why? Because meditation fosters awareness of everything. It also calms the nervous system and teaches us to be more present with ourselves. Presence of mind helps us recognize habits and patterns of behavior that don’t feel healthy, positive or beneficial. It takes this awareness to reroute our choices to align with our own inner wisdom. Meditation helps us listen deep inside of ourselves and respond with courage and confidence!
About Nikki Estrada
Nikki Estrada has been in the yoga scene for more than twenty years. She leads workshops, teacher training and immersions nationwide. Nikki began her formal training in India, focusing on Ashtanga, a very physically challenging style of yoga. She is currently a senior yoga teacher and educator in the San Francisco Bay Area. Nikki's Vinyasa-based classes are a synthesis of her years of yogic and Ayurveda study and personal experience, with an emphasis on spirituality, intelligent alignment, meditation, and living life more joyfully. Her videos can be found on www.yogainternational.com. More information about Nikki can be found at www.nikkiestradayoga.com She resides in northern California with her husband and two daughters.