In Yoga and Ayurveda, there are no general solutions and magical recipes that you can just copy and apply to your life. Both these sciences treat the individual like… well, an individual! A solution that might work for one person will not work for another. Why is that?
You must have undoubtedly heard about Dosha et Guna, which are different for everyone. Similarly, a solution that is appropriate in one season will not be appropriate in another season. But today, let’s talk about two concepts that are far less common: Kala (Time) and Desha (Land).
Desha (Sanskrit : देश:, IAST : dēśḥa) means land, region or country. Every land has its own specific characteristics. These characteristics have a direct impact of the dosha present within our bodies. They also impact the food that is produced upon that land as well as the quality of the air and water.
A dry and arid land is, by its nature, conducive to the aggravation of Vata (especially if there are winds). Similarly, if it is hot, the same dry and arid land becomes conducive to the aggravation of Pitta. Now, if someone who lives in that land takes too much alcohol or eats very spicy foods, then Pitta and Vata can become aggravated very quickly. On the other hand, the same spicy foods can help a person’s health if he/she is living in a marshy land, which, by its nature, is more conducive to Kapha Dosha.
Similarly, the kind of exercise regimen and its intensity must take into account the area where the person resides.
The Desha where we are born also impacts the prakriti (nature) of our dosha. While our bodies are adaptable, they nonetheless take a lot of time to adapt to changing conditions. And not all those adaptations are conducive to good health.
The word Kala (Sanskrit : काल, IAST : kāla) means Time. But it also has several other meanings. Sometimes, it is used to talk about seasons and the weather. Other times, it is used to refer to the era or the epoch in which we live.
More often than not, when the word Kala is used in Ayurveda, it refers to the time of the day. Each time of the day has its own characteristics. For instance, the first third of the day is the time for Kapha Dosha. The second third is Pitta and final third of the day is conducive to Vata.
The food taken during morning, for instance, will have a different impact upon the body compared to the same food taken during afternoon or evening. Similarly, the same exercise regimen, or meditation or pranayama done during morning would have an impact that is different from if we practiced in the evening!
But Kala is also the change in weather. Especially nowadays, when seasons have more or less disappeared, it is important to keep the changing weather into account for both our lifestyle and yoga.
And finally, Kala is also the era. Our lifestyles have changed. Due to the amount of time we spend sitting in front of screens, the flux of information that constantly raids our 5 senses, the needs of our body and mind are different from merely a 100 years ago.
This too must be considered whenever we think about the ayurvedic regimens as well as the practice of Yoga.
Developing a practice based upon Kala and Desha
Now all this might seem complicated. It is. And it isn’t!
The key lies in understanding how the weather, our lifestyle, the land where we live and the time of the day impact the dosha within our body. And then base our practice and our regimen to ensure that environmental factors don’t aggravate a particular dosha.
If the outside weather is increasing the pitta in our body, it is better to avoid spicy foods as well as alcohol intake. Similarly, if our lifestyle aggravates vata and pitta (which is quite common in this day and age), it is better to have a Yoga practice that seeks to diminish the negative effects of that aggravation.
So, typically, in this day and age, given the lifestyle and social changes, it is generally better to ensure that the practice of pranayama, asana and meditation prioritises a better grounding, with slower movements, stillness in the postures to ensure that vata and pitta don’t become aggravated.