Natural healing practices and a healthy lifestyle can make all the difference to your human body, mind, and spirit, so why would it be any different for your dogs? The impactful natural healing practices of Ayurveda, which many of us follow daily, apply equally as well to your canine companions.
Ayurveda, the mind-body healing science of the East, can be beneficial to humans and animals alike. Therefore, as you educate and empower yourself about natural living, let’s expand your area of influence to include your pets as well.
The Ayurvedic approach provides various methods to nourish and restore balance through the five senses or “gateways”—sound, taste, sight, touch, and smell. All information is channeled through these five gateways and integrated into your mind-body system. Ayurveda guides you to make your choices to favor what nourishes your imbalances, while reducing what exaggerates them. Naturally, equilibrium can be restored. Every body thrives when in balance.
How do we put Ayurveda into practice? One example is the effect of music or sound. When you listen to calming, grounding music, it may encourage you to feel more relaxed and at ease. You don’t need to know the words, the composer, or the instruments involved to receive that sensation. When you listen to salsa music, you feel more active. When you hear ocean waves, you feel soothed. All the sounds around you make an impression on you, even when you’re not aware of it.
Applying Ayurveda to Dogs
Like humans, dogs live in a sensory-oriented world and are continually “consuming” information through their five-sense gateways. Their entire life can be transformed by adjusting their environmental influences. As a responsible human companion, you get the chance to help your dog be and feel their very best.
Also like humans, dogs have a mind-body type or constitution, referred to as a doshas. The three doshas—Vata, Pitta, and Kapha—are combinations of the five great elements of nature—space, air, fire, water, and earth. The elements can accumulate, and this imbalance can lead to discomfort, disease, or various types of illnesses … no matter what kind of animal you are!
Determining Your Dog’s Dosha Imbalance
First, you should determine which of your dog’s doshas are imbalanced. Here are a few of the most common symptoms of each dosha imbalance:
A Vata dosha imbalance:
- Is marked by being too airy, light, and dry.
- Can express as anxiety, fear, or hyperactivity.
A Pitta dosha imbalance:
- Is marked by being too hot, penetrating, and moist.
- Can express as anger, inflammation, and intensity.
A Kapha dosha imbalance:
- Is marked by being too heavy, slow, and inert.
- Can express as withdrawal, weight gain, and overprotection.
How to Balance Your Dog’s Doshas
Next, let’s look at how to get your dog’s doshas back in balance.
To balance the Vata dosha:
- Favor warm, moist food and environments
- Give a doggie massage (deep, audible breathing for extra relaxation for both!)
- Practice calm communication
- Ensure consistency with daily routine
To balance the Pitta dosha:
- Favor cooling food and environment
- Make time for swimming, time in the snow, and other cooling activities
- Practice non-aggressive, mentally stimulating play, such as playing fetch
- Set aside daily meditative, peaceful time with your dog
To balance the Kapha dosha:
- Favor light, energizing food
- Avoid heavy, fatty foods
- Designate a safe, comfortable space for your dog (bed, crate, corner, etc.)
- Practice daily invigorating exercise
Make any changes—even positive ones like these—slowly and gradually over at least two weeks. Be consistent. Observe your dog to assess comfort and receptivity. First and foremost, whether it’s preparing their meal or giving them a massage, center yourself while doing it. Give them your focused attention and love. This energy alone is a healing force like no other.
Your Dog Is a Mirror of You
The well-being of your dog is often a direct reflection of your own well-being. Your pets can be a mirror for you, and one of your greatest teachers. When facing a behavioral or physical challenge with your dog, it’s very important to ask yourself, “Is there a reflection of that behavior or ailment in MY life?” The canine-human bond is yet another opportunity for healing your (and their) body, mind, and spirit.
*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center’s Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.