Shamana for Different Doshas



For each doshic type there are some general guidelines we can follow in order to keep well or to help us return to balance.



Dietary & lifestyle changes to pacify Vata:


  • Early to bed 9.00 to 10.00pm and early to rise 6.00 to 7.00am. Do not read or watch TV in bed so the mind will not be racing when you attempt to sleep.
  • Establish a bed time regime, winding down for 1 hour before bedtime, this might include a warm bath, a warm abhyanga (massage), a short meditation or relaxation, i.e. choosing some gentle activities to calm the mind and body; you may find a drink of warm milk and nutmeg will help you drift off to sleep easily.
  • On awakening drink 2 cups of warm water at first light to help vata move in the right way. If there is vata vikruti you could drink 1L of hot water, but if this creates a feeling of nausea lie on L side until it passes.
  • You could perform some gentle stretches and ideally you will spend a little time working with yogic breathing or a simple pranayama such as nadi sodhana to help balance your nervous system and calm the mind. Ideally work with the yogic breath or nadi sodhana for 10 minutes twice per day.
  • At some point in the morning, before your day’s work begins, perform a self massage to be followed by a warm shower, for this you can use a light oil such as a good quality cold-pressed sesame oil or a herbalized oil appropriate for vata, and perform a warm oil simple self-massage to be followed around 20 minutes later by a warm shower. It is also very good to have a regular massage by a therapist, which if ayurvedic can be followed by swedana or heat afterwards. You can also use a sauna or sweat box 1x per week to the point where mild sweating of forehead but this is not recommended if there is very high Vata or Pitta present. If nothing else then massage feet only.
  • Take cooked food at regular times eliminating dry, rough, cold, raw foods. Take the dipana (pre-digestive) of cumin, cardamom and fennel in two angulis (finger widths) of warm water before each meal to balance digestion.
  • Hot drinks with ginger tea up to 1L and additional water for thirst, reduce or avoid coffee and tea which are too drying.
  • Once per month you can have a fast where only thin vegetable soup or ginger tea is consumed for one day as this strengthens agni (digestive fire) and helps to remove ama (undigested food materials and toxins)
  • Take mild activity, gentle focused exercise.
  • If there is fatigue and it is possible to do so, then take an afternoon rest between 4 and 5pm
  • Think and work less as this can be a powerful causative factor!



Dietary & lifestyle changes to pacify Pitta:


  • Avoid or reduce sour foods such as alcohol, refined sugars, strong or old cheese, tomatoes, mayonnaise, things preserved in vinegar, orange juice, yeasted breads, vitamin C, bananas.
  • Avoid or reduce oily and fatty foods such as pastries and deep fried foods.
  • Avoid or reduce red meat which easily aggravates the blood and can over nourish rakta dhtau (blood), so bile increases
  • Use a dipana (pre-digestive) taking coriander, cumin and fennel with two angulis (finger widths) of warm water during a meal. Can add 1/4tsp of melted ghee to this dipana.
  • Alternatively as a dipana can take three spices as above and add 15ml (3tsps) of aloe vera juice and pinch of turmeric to two angulis (finger widths) of warm water. Take this within a meal.
  • Cook with ghee to normalize agni (digestive capacity).
  • For re-hydration, can take 1/2tsp ghee in 200ml cup of warm water between 6 and 7am and see how digested, if hungry then okay, if feel appetite suppressed, liquid stools or nausea then taking too much ghee so reduce amount.
  • Fast once per fortnight having thin soup, sweet fruit juice, water or in summertime raw vegetable juice, this increases agni (digestive capacities) and removes ama (undigested food materials and toxins)
  • For high pitta, when feeling very hot inside, use cooling pranyama such as chandra bhedena where you repeatedly inhale through the left nostril and out of the right nostril otherwise a daily practice of Yogic Breathing and/or Nadi sodhana (alternate nostril breathing) for balance
  • Have easy company with no conflict.
  • In the evening establish a bed time routine where you are not working until late in the evening, it is better to get up early if work needs to be done! See if you can get to bed by 10.30pm at the latest.
  • Do non-competitive cooling physical exercise
  • Increase leisure time and have fun to lower any seriousness and any need to control. 


Dietary & Lifestyle changes to pacify Kapha:


  • Rise early in the morning and get moving to introduce the qualities of drying and lightening, here a slightly heating asana practice is ideal, a fast paced walk or run is good, to be followed by a hot shower, although as always fitness levels must slowly be developed over time.
  • Prior to a shower a good practice is to perform a dry massage using a silk glove, loofah etc. which will help to stimulate the body.
  • Drink a cup of hot water with lemon first thing to help remove congestion.
  • If very kapha in nature a breakfast is not always required as there may be no natural appetite at this time, if however there is an appetite i.e. there is a considerable amount of pitta in your constitution, then a small to moderate breakfast would be good.
  • Take 1 litre of fresh ginger tea each day to help keep the body clear of congestion and ama. A coffee first thing is acceptable if feeling you require some stimulation. Thereafter you can try the ginger tea or other lightly spiced teas or warm water.
  • Avoid snacks between meals, if hungry then try taking small amounts of fruits, which are generally cleansing and sattvic; dried fruits in small amounts are particularly good.
  • Take the dipana (pre-digestive) of cumin, dry ginger and fenugreek powder in two angulis (finger widths) of warm water after each meal to balance digestion.
  • Have a moderate amount for lunch and the evening meal generally avoiding or certainly reducing white foods such as dairy, eggs, white sugar, white carbohydates such as white bread, white pasta etc. and fats. If eating meat choose light meats such as chicken and fish rather than heavy red meats as these tax the system less.
  • For the evening meal it is better to eat a little less than at lunch as digestion is not as strong, also ideally avoid eating dairy and meats, or any other heavy foods, at this time as they are more difficult to digest.
  • Try incorporating some spices into your cooking to aid good digestion, these may include ginger, cumin, turmeric etc.; indeed all spices are generally helpful as most contain some pungency.
  • If energy levels are good it is veryhelpful to have a fast one day per week where you can take nothing, only ginger tea or an astringent type fruit juice such as grapefruit.
  • It is possible to incorporate some heating type pranayamas into your routine such as performing bhastrika for 10 minutes twice per day as this has a drying effect upon the membranes of the body, and a lightening effect reducing congestion. Note however that some contraindications apply for this technique.
  • Try to join some social groups for leisure and in particular singing and debating groups are very helpful as they help to keep udana vayu strong, helping to maintain enthusiasm and positivity as well as maintaining the health of the lungs.
  • You can stay up a little later than others, perhaps until 11pm or 12pm as long as you are not tired, when tired it is better to go to bed a little earlier and still get up early.


These programs can be extremely effective at helping to treat diseases at the first four levels of the disease process and they are also excellent as a lifelong maintenance program for our prakruti.


Sometimes however it is a little confusing to determine which program we should be following when we possess a dual prakruti, say for example we have a vata/pitta prakruti then should we follow a vata or a pitta shamana program? Well the answer to this is that we need to concentrate upon a vata type shamana program during the run up to autumn when vata dosha is increasing, stay with it during the vata season and then change to a pitta type shamana program during the run up to summertime, the pitta season. As always however we need to closely observe ourselves and if there is a little vata vikruti due perhaps to excessive traveling for our work, or an overactive mind, then we may need to maintain our vata shamana program.


It is good to know that whatever our prakruti these shamana programs point to some of the biggest culprits for imbalance, so that we can all benefit if we can avoid or reduce dairy products, heavy meats, refined sugars, excess amounts of yeast, vinegar products, alcohol and caffeine. We can also all benefit from exercise which must be to our own natural capacity for exercise, so that over- exercising is as unhelpful as under-exercising. Ultimately moderation in everything is a good rule of thumb!