Now that the holidays, with all their emotional ups and downs (not to mention the obligatory January 1st hangover!) have passed, we can turn our thoughts to the next big item on the 2016 agenda: our New Year’s resolutions, particularly in the area of personal health and well being.
Maybe we’ve resolved to finally sign up for that yoga class, eat less gluten and more fresh organic veggies and fruits, cut down on caffeine and alcohol, try a paleo diet or one that’s vegetarian or vegan.
Maybe we’ve even thought about going to bed an hour or two earlier, just to see how that feels. That at least should be easy, right? But maybe not! Recent research reveals that our tendency to stay up late or retire early may be part of our genetic blueprint.
I’ve been a night owl ever since childhood. Even when I know I have to be up early for a meeting or some other project, I’m rarely in bed before midnight and often spend another hour or so “mulling” before falling asleep. Lately I wake around 5 am and can sometimes get back to sleep but often not, yet it doesn’t seem to diminish my ability to function during the day. Naps are impossible. Seems like once this body is up, it’s in constant motion. On the other hand, my husband falls asleep instantly the minute his head hits the pillow. He sleeps through the night, wakes late, and often naps or meditates during the day. (He’s retired so this works for him.) Clearly we are not the same kind of critter!
Ayurveda sheds a fascinating light on the subject of genetic programming. According to this teaching, there are three main doshas or body types: vata, pitta, and kapha. Vata people are often small, slight-bodied, active, and nervous: their core element is wind. Pittas can be any size but are usually active and quick-tempered; their core element is fire. Kaphas are often large, slow-moving, passive, and heavy-bodied; their core element is water. Most of us are a combination of these doshas– I am a vata-pitta, while my husband is a kapha-pitta. One of our daughters is vata-kapha and the other is pitta-kapha.
Whether or not research has been done to determine the correlation between Ayurvedic teachings and the work of Dr. Eran Tauber and his colleagues, we can all take a deep breath, let go of the guilt we’re supposed to feel for being “different,” and enjoy being exactly who we are!
Happy New Year!