Work can fulfill us or deplete us. And since we spend easily half our waking hours on the job, our occupation affects our longevity and health.
If we learn how to explore the full potential of our ayurvedic constitution (prakriti), we can design our lifestyles accordingly, reaping maximum success from our labors and increasing our levels of energy, joy, and vitality.
Our prakriti is comprised of three doshas- vata, pitta, and kapha. Although some people have dual or tri-doshic constitutions, most of us have one dominant dosha. Here is how the doshas play out at work and some ayurvedic advice on how to regain balance if your job is dosha-aggravating.
Are you creative and energetic with a gift for communication? If so, your dominant dosha is probably vata. You’re an original thinker bursting with ideas but tend to flit from place to place, project to project, instead of seeing a job through from start to finish. Intoxicated by excitement, you dive headfirst into projects and can easily exhaust yourself if you don’t take proper precautions.
Ayurvedic advice: At work (and everywhere else), make a concerted effort to practice moderation. Excessive responsibilities, boredom, interruptions, or multitasking will feed your erratic, nervous nature. And pay close attention to your working environment. A lack of fresh air; fluorescent or flickering lights; and too much movement, dryness, and cold will further aggravate your vata imbalance.
If you can’t avoid some vata aggravation on the job, be sure that the rest of your life compensates for it by sticking to a strict routine- eat, sleep, work, and exercise at the same time every day. Warm, moist, slightly oily, heavy foods will nurture you; daily oil massage will ground you; and slow, methodical movement such as walking or swimming will soothe your changeable nature.
Your ideal career: When balanced, vata people flourish in the arts as designers, dancers, actors, teachers, writers, and photographers.
If you’re intense and competitive at work, your dominant dosha is probably pitta. When balanced, you’re a realist, a leader, a planner, a decision maker. Left to your own devices, however, you can become aggressive and self-promoting; chances are, you’ll eventually overheat (both physically and mentally).
Ayurvedic advice: Although you are fueled by challenges, competition, decision making, and overcoming obstacles, an excess of these conditions will make you impatient, irritable, and domineering. Keep your working environment cool and resist your tendency to plunge into dog-eat-dog competition. Instead, practice compassion; learn to listen to your colleagues; and set aside time for seemingly non-essential leisure pursuits.
To combat any on-the-job pitta aggravation, emphasize coolness in your diet and lifestyle. Avoid salty, oily, spicy foods and choose sweet, bitter, and astringent foods instead. Exercise during the coolest part of the day- swimming is best. Take time out to spend time with loved ones, laugh, and have fun.
Your ideal career: Because you are a logical, goal-oriented perfectionist, you may find success in politics, surgery, law, or finance.
Do your friends describe you as slow but steady, reliable, and compassionate? Your dominant dosha, then, is kapha. When you’re in balance you exhibit superior stamina, endurance, and strength. Kapha people often use these qualities to make a business or operation run smoothly. But if you’re stuck in a sedentary job, it’s easy for you to slip into complacency, inertia, possessiveness, and greed. You may avoid change even when it would be beneficial.
Ayurvedic advice: Excessive boredom, repetition, and lack of physical movement at work will make you stiff and lethargic. You need motivation and stimulation. Change your environment frequently and seek out competition even though it may push you out of your comfort zone. And keep in mind that your prakriti is aggravated by artificial lighting and cold.
In your everyday life, vary your routine to combat your tendency to get stuck in a rut. Create challenges for yourself. For example, sign up for a class in something that sparks your interest. Eat light, dry, spicy food and resist your tendency to overeat, especially sweets, dairy, and meat. And exercise vigorously 5 to 7 times a week. Running, aerobics, and martial arts are good for you.
Your ideal career: Kapha people make great administrators; they also find satisfaction in the caring professions, horticulture, and manual labor jobs.
Shannon Sexton is the editor at large for Yoga + Joyful Living
Yoga+ is an award-winning, independent magazine that contemplates the deeper dimensions of spiritual life–exploring the power of yoga practice and philosophy to not only transform our bodies and minds, but inspire meaningful engagement in our society, environment, and the global community.