Alex's Ayurveda & Life Blog

Grassroots Ayurveda in the 21st Century


“Finding NEMO” (non-ejaculatory-multiple-orgasm) and other curious somewhat taboo subjects about sexuality, love, pleasure and meditation!

Dear readers,

You may have noticed that I’ve been quiet on the Ayurveda blog for some time? Well, I’ve been focussing my energies on exploring Tantric approaches to meditation and sexual improvement which have had many positive effects. About a year ago I had the realisation that I wanted to feel more deep satisfaction from day to day life. I knew that meditating was something I wanted to try, but I hadn’t yet found the approach that suited me. At the same time, I had was motivated to improve my sex life. It occurred to me that these two could be combined, so I dug out my old books on Tantra and started to practice. I’m still learning, but feel the urge to share some of my experiences and thoughts, and I’d love to open a discussion about this with readers of my blog. So, the question to you all is… would you like me to write a series of blog articles about all of this? If yes, let me know via a comment!

Cheers, Alex.


Ayurvedic Bija Mantras Chanted – Audio Collection by Alex Duncan

Bija Mantras 1 - Alex DuncanAyurvedic Bija-Mantra Meditation Audio Collection

“Bija Mantras 1 – by Alex Duncan”

84 tracks equivalent to a massive total of

11 hours 40 minutes of audio = 9 full length Audio CD’s !

Featuring all 14 primary Bija Mantras mentioned in Dr David Frawley’s bible “Ayurvedic Healing”:

  1. Om
  2. Aim (listen to a sample)
  3. Hrim (listen to a sample)
  4. Hum
  5. Klim
  6. Krim
  7. Ksham (listen to a sample)
  8. Sham
  9. Shrim
  10. Ham
  11. Yam
  12. Ram
  13. Vam
  14. Lam

Each of the 14 Bija Mantras come in 6 forms*, making a total of 84 tracks equivalent to a total of 11 hours 40 minutes of audio !

* Each mantra has been recorded in two alternate versions: “a” (middle C) and “b” (middle A) allowing for a better match with your own voice. Each of these two versions has then been used to create three different tracks:

  • x54-repetitions version which lasts for 5 minutes (includes a period of silence at the end for meditation). Suitable for total beginners.
  • x108-repetitions version which lasts for 10 minutes (includes a period of silence at the end for meditation). Suitable for intermediate meditators.
  • x108-repetitions “wake up” version which lasts for 10 minutes (includes a period of silence at the end for meditation). This version gradually fades in from silence, perfect for using with your smart phone alarm clock feature.

Perfect for Ayurvedic & Yogic Practitioners alike!

Designed for use by Ayurvedic and Yogic practitioners who would like to prescribe 5-10 minute Mantra Meditation sessions for their patients or yoga students. Alex has used solo-voice chanting at a comfortable pace. These tracks contain no music.

A description of these Mantras and their uses can be found in Dr David Frawley’s excellent book “Ayurvedic Healing”.

*** SPECIAL OFFER : ENDS 31 DEC 2014 ***

As an exclusive offer to past students and blog followers, Alex is offering this entire collection (normally worth 90 $) for the friendly low price of only 30 $  (25 €)

With sales, Alex hopes to raise enough money to fund his next musical instrument purchase : the beautiful and highly acclaimed “Arturia MiniBrute SE” (worth 447€)

Help Alex continue to make great experimental improvised spiritual music in 2015...

Help Alex continue to make great experimental improvised spiritual music in 2015…

Click here to order now via PayPal (mp3 download only)

Once your payment has been received, Alex will send you details on how to download your copy of the mp3 collection.

Happy chanting !

Om Shanthi, Alex.


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Ayurvedic Prevention & Treatment of Tinnitus

Ayurvedic view of Tinnitus in a nutshell

Tinnitus is a Vata caused ear disease. Other ear conditions caused by Vata are excessive ear pain, drying of ear wax, thin scanty discharge, hearing loss. Internal dryness and long term aggravation of Apana Vayu and Prana Vayu are internal causes. External causes are overexposure to loud sounds, harsh sounds, as well as cold dry winds. Old age is also a time when Vata increases in all people which explains why it is especially prevalent in the elderly.

Simple Ayurvedic Prevention Measures for Tinnitus

Limiting the cause is of cause the first and last prevention treatment. With increasing use of low-quality mp3 audio devices and other harsh sound sources, parents need to go out of their way to educate children more so than ever in sound hygiene.

2-3 drops of raw organic sesame oil can be inserted into each ear at bed time. This treatment is suitable for all people of all ages assuming there is no underlying inner or outer ear infection or skin inflammation.

oiling ears(extract from Caraka Samhita)

Ayurvedic Treatment for Tinnitus

A general Ayurvedic evaluation should be done. If Vata is found to be aggravated in its primary location (the colon and pelvic region), therapies that treat Apana Vayu are necessary. Prana Vayu must also be evaluated and treated accordingly. See my article on Apana Vayu.

A disease specific treatment is the Ayurvedic medicated oil called KSHARA TAILAM (which can be sourced from certain Ayurvedic product suppliers). 2-3 drops of the warmed oil can be inserted into the ear canal at bed time.

ears 2

(extract from Caraka Samhita)


Hey Doctor! What’s my Dosha?

Shedding light on why different Ayurvedic doctors give you different opinions of your Prakriti

In Ayurveda the three Doshas are considered to be of fundamental importance in treating and preventing physical and mental disease. Unlike biochemical medicine, the Ayurvedic approach gives significant responsibility to the patient who is invited to learn about their own Doshas. This is the trend in the West as Ayurveda is emerging as a popular form of traditional medicine.

However, as with all schools of knowledge, incomplete or inaccurate learning leads to misunderstanding, confusion, potentially damaging or hindering the integrity of the system. In this blog article I would like to address one of the most common areas of confusion among the general public concerning the concept of “My Dosha” specifically Prakriti: your Ayurvedic constitution.

Below is an excerpt of an email I received recently, it perfectly illustrates a very common dilemma and is not the first time I have been confronted with this kind of question:

I have been studying, following, and loving Ayurveda for several years. As I understand, one of the essential bases for anything in Ayurveda is knowing one’s Dosha. When I first discovered Ayurveda, I did many online questionnaires to determine my Dosha: they revealed me to be either Pitta-Vata or Vata-Pitta, both Doshas being quite close to each other in prominence in me.

Since then, I have met several Ayurvedic doctors – all of them qualified and professionally trained, some of them very respected, all from India.

The first was a well-known Ayurvedic doctor whom I consulted while he was visiting Switzerland. Through pulse diagnosis, he told me, emphatically, that I was Pitta. There is also a lot of Vata, but my Prakriti was Pitta, according to him.

The second was a good doctor from South India whom I consulted in another European country. He told me that I was Vata, with also some Pitta, but Prakriti: Vata.

Two months ago I had a full Ayurvedic treatment in South India, where I am at the moment. The doctor is very well-respected. He said that I was quite obviously Vata, and that I also might have some Kapha secondarily, but he was not sure. He said he did not see much Pitta in me.

Since I am still in India, I decided yesterday to see what other doctors would say about my Prakriti, because I believe this is important to know. One doctor, professionally-trained as all the others, checked my pulse and told me that I am Pitta. The second checked my pulse and told me that I am Vata, with Kapha secondarily. He said that he did not see Pitta in me.

I respect Ayurveda as a science. The pulse diagnosis is something that one is trained to do, I expect rigorously, during one’s professional studies of Ayurveda. Establishing a person’s Dosha is the basis of the basis, one of the most fundamental things in an Ayurvedic diagnosis.

I understand that different doctors can have different approaches and differing treatments that may seem contradictory with each other, but each of which, taken alone, can lead to good results.

But establishing one’s Dosha is basic. Either one is a particular Dosha, or one isn’t. The pulse diagnosis should give the objective basis to determine this.

How is it possible that five different doctors, all of them professionally-trained and practicing, all of them qualified and with experience, gave me five completely different diagnoses of my Dosha [Prakriti]?

If you can help me understand this, I would be grateful. Many thanks in advance!

This email was sent to me recently, and it reminded me of many people I know who are in the same or similar situation. In no particular order of priority, I am going to do my best to form a reply.

What is Prakriti?

Prakriti is your innate unique tendency of Dosha state. It is determined at the moment of conception and during pregnancy. It appears to be an important factor in understanding your physical, metabolic and to a lesser extent, your psychological nature throughout life. Prakriti literally means nature.

Prakriti is expressed in terms of the relative proportion of the three Doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Think of the Doshas in terms of managers of our biology. In fact thinking of them as three forms of intelligence, or even three actual people, can be a very useful metaphor. These three managers of our complex organism are dynamic, ever changing in their daily cycles of activity. They interact, depend on each other, and ultimately represent nothing other than three aspects of one ‘life force’. Or, if you prefer to remain free from esoteric notions, the Doshas are the three fundamental biological behaviours of (human) life. Vata represents the principle of movement, Pitta the principle of transformation, and Kapha the principle of cohesion.

The Caraka Samhita (a very old and important Ayurvedic “bible”) defines Prakriti as your congenitally aggravated Dosha. This definition puts emphasis on the inherent risk that your dominant Dosha or Doshas have in terms of giving you a unique predisposition to certain types of Diseases. Vata dominance predisposes us to neurological and movement related diseases. Pitta to inflammatory diseases, and Kapha to congestive diseases of excess.

At any point in time, we can assess our current activity or state of the Doshas via a number of subjective and objective measurements. A thorough assessment requires us to take multiple factors into account: examination of the tongue, eyes, the skin, nails, hair, body shape, urine, stool, sweat, pulse etc. Questioning into numerous aspects of the patient’s subjective and objective experience are use din conjunction with these observations. Modern analysis (blood, scans etc) can also provide valuable information when interpreted from an Ayurvedic viewpoint. Only this complete evaluation can approach a reliable estimate of your Prakriti. Therefore:

Anyone who claims to make a reliable evaluation of your Prakriti or current Dosha state via the pulse alone is probably either delusional or being untruthful.

I have been told that there is a very rare select few who have become almost clairvoyant in their ability to “read you” via the pulse alone, however, in order for them to do it, you need to follow a strict pre-evaluation diet and lifestyle for several days. Because Ayurveda is mostly unregulated in the West and the East, quackery is rife!

Prakriti is hard-wired into your system, no doubt your DNA. It is unchangeable and exerts a strong influence on the way you are: your body shape (somatotype), metabolic type (slow, fast, variable), and numerous other things. Prakriti cannot be modified. However, your Doshas can and frequently do deviate form your Prakriti. This can cause much confusion for all of us! Especially if our understanding of the concept of Prakriti is limited or overly simplified. This deviation is known as Vikriti which literally means “deviation from nature”. Whenever one or more of your Doshas increases (or decreases) outwith normal healthy limits, you are in a state of Vikriti. It is possible and frequently seen that the Dosha or Doshas which go out of whack are not necessarily the same Doshas that you have as dominant in your congenital nature (Prakriti).

The most useful way of thinking about your Prakriti is to think of it as a strong lifelong tendency that will always exert an influence on your current state of Doshas. Most people are either single Dosha or double Dosha types (where either one or two Doshas dominate in your nature). A rare few people seem to have a triple Dosha type where all three Doshas exert equal dominance.

Your Dosha state today may or may not reflect your Prakriti Dosha profile. It depends on how you live: what you eat, your environment, your lifestyle habits, everything. Perhaps I am a dual Vata-Pitta type, but today my Kapha Dosha is excessive due to overconsumption of Kapha-increasing foods. The thing is with Prakriti, it is a Dosha tendency profile, it is not the actual Doshas.

There are certain markers that are quite reliable indicators of Prakriti (skeletal structure and tongue shape for example). But ultimately, once you actually do things in the therapeutic sense with the Doshas in mind, you will be able to gauge what is happening with them and gradually find out the Prakriti through guided trial and error. This is the most reliable way and the key point that I want to make in this article:

Your understanding of Prakriti, your Dosha tendency profile, emerges over time due to experience. It is not something that can determined from a single evaluation of the Doshas.

A naïve approach to Ayurveda can result in patients having unrealistic expectations who want to be told by the ‘Ayurvedic guru’ the answer to the mystery of their life. “Doctor, what is my Dosha [i.e. Prakriti]” should be replied to with something like this “Be patient, we will find out in time. It seems to me that your dominant Dosha is Vata, but I could be wrong. A certain amount of experimentation will be required”.

In my opinion, too much emphasis is placed on the notion of knowing one’s Prakriti from the word go, and not enough emphasis on knowing how to read the Doshas in their actual present state and how to manage that information in the interests of prevention or disease management.

Many of the most effective preventative and curative Ayurvedic dietary and lifestyle interventions focus on the management of Vata Dosha. Vata is the most important Dosha. It governs the other Doshas. It is the most complex and fragile in its work responsibilities. Modern life is highly Vata-aggravating: drying, mobile, agitated, changeable, fast, intense etc. Learning to help pacify and maintain a healthy Vata Dosha is already an excellent starting point for most people in the modern world. Make that your focus today and worry about your Ayurvedic Prakriti tomorrow.


What is Ama? What foods cause Ama?

“Ama” means partially or undigested food. Ama can cause toxic residue to build up in the gut. This residue harms the gut and can infiltrate and harm the body and its organs, contributing to many different chronic disease conditions.

Any food that is poorly digested creates a little bit of Ama. Ama builds up over months and years. Each individual person has a unique ability to digest certain foods as well as a propensity to poorly digest others. So while there are foods that typically cause Ama in all people, there is a separate list that depends on your unique body type as well as other factors like your inherited digestive enzymes (Agni) and cultural adaptations (Satmya).

Here are some of the foods and eating habit  that are typically cause Ama:

  • Eating too much or too often (going beyond our capaicty)
  • Foods consumed when you are emotionally disturbed
  • Eating while walking
  • Eating foods too quickly
  • Highly refined and processed foods
  • Most industrial foods
  • Very sweet foods (desserts etc)
  • Very fatty or heavy foods
  • Animal based foods, especially beef and pork
  • Foods containing man made chemicals (preservatives, colouring agents, pesticides etc)
  • Burned or overly cooked foods
  • A long term diet based on 100% raw foods

Much can be done to remove Ama from the gut and the body. However, miracles are few and far between. Don’t think that Ayurveda will save you from a life time of neglectful dietary habits. Even if Ayurveda can in theory reverse much of the damage that might have been done, it cannot do so without considerable investment of personal will power, time and money (if you intend to go down the clinical detox programs known as Pancha Karma).

Better than waiting until you are ill is to prevent Ama from every accumulating beyond a tolerable minimum. This can be best achieved by minimizing the above dietary and lifestyle factors, as well as incorporating routine manageable fasting and other simple practices that support the optimal function of your digestive fire (Agni) and promote the body to undergo regular but gentle phases of detox.

What Dosha What Job


The Best Job For Your Doshas

How to know what job or vocation best suits your ayurvedic profile?

Knowing the dosha or doshas that dominate in your psychological constitution, your mental prakriti, can help you understand what kind of work you are best suited to. It can also help you adjust your attitude and approach towards work, as well as how to preempt for the risks of occupational hazards.

Most popular books about ayurveda present a useful, but somewhat facile approach to this subject, prescribing such-and-such a career for such-and-such a dosha.

  • Being a musician or an artist (a ‘creative’ occupation) is often cited as being best suited to vata types, who exemplify the airy, wandering, unpredictable nature of wind, which is the essence of creativity.
  • Fiery pitta types are said to be best suited to jobs like law or science, where a perseverance and hunger for knowledge are essential.
  • Kapha types, sure and steady, are supposed to do best in management or caring positions where a long-term vision and patience are needed.

These generalizations are useful but limited. My experience is that to make use of ayurveda in the context of career guidance, we really need to understand the nature of our doshic makeup and how this translates to our behavioral tendencies, emotional character, intellectual capacity and our basic motivational drives. Assessing our aptitude to a particular job depends on our investigation of these and other dimensions that contribute to our unique makeup.

What motivates you?

Perhaps the most useful question to ask is “what motivation lies behind my actions?”

Your dominant dosha will ‘drive you’ according to its qualities a.k.a ‘gunas’. These qualities will motivate you according to their nature. The qualities of your dominant dosha or doshas will express themselves, whether you like it or not, with relative ease: these gunas come naturally to you. Let’s take a look at this:

Vata dosha is like the wind: highly mobile, dynamic, changing direction often, highly adaptable, gusty (all-or-nothing), turbulent, quick, light, superficial, pervasive, unsteady, dispersive. It is contained by the sky: vast, non-resistant, empty, spacious.

  • Vata dominant minds are ever curious and creative, fundamentally motivated by the need for change and stimulation.
  • Vata helps use to create novelty from nothingness, when ideas come from no where, vata is the cause. Vata helps us to connect seemingly unrelated dots on a page to form new interesting patterns.

Pitta dosha is like fire: hot, intense, penetrating, radiant, bright, mobile, spreading out movement, expansive, light. It is contained or tempered by water, which adds some liquidity and stability to fire’s intensity and lightness.

  • Pitta dominant minds are fundamentally motivated by the need to have a goal, a challenge, something to get their teeth into, to digest, to understand and assimilate deeply.
  • Pitta helps us to take many elements together and make sense or order from them. Pitta is quick to assemble meaning and order out of complex multi-variant situations.
  • Pitta can be fast, but unlike vata, there is more intensity, purpose and steadiness behind each endeavor.

Kapha dosha is like phlegm: gelatinous and sticky. It is also like wet clay: heavy, immobile, dense, solid, smooth and moist, cool.

  • Kapha dominant minds are fundamentally motivated by the need to create security and stability, comfort and cohesion.
  • Kapha is interested in building wealth and well-being for the future, so long-term projects are often carried through to their termination thanks to the kapha in us.

What do you love about your work?

Now let’s apply some of these ideas to understanding why certain people love the work they do. The idea is that if your work allows you to express yourself according to your innate doshic makeup, you will be in your element, or at least, your work will flow relatively naturally to you.

Vata types love their work if it affords them plenty of change, renewal, variety, novelty, stimulation, freedom to move and think relatively freely. If their work permits a healthy amount of unstructured experimentation and exploration, they will love and thrive in this context.

Pitta types need their work to be going somewhere; it needs to be goal oriented, clearly structured. There can be a preference for moderate to high levels of pressure and intensity. Exploration and experimentation are fine, but will be more calculated and focused than for vata.

Kapha types do best at jobs that allow them to express their need to establish security, comfort and stability for themselves and their community. The motivation can be to earn a good steady living, or to nurture others, or to provide a good reliable service. They prefer low stress work environments and like the comfort of routine. Slow and steady rule so if experimentation or exploration are required, it will be conducted with the most careful attention to detail, and take time to be completed and reach maturity.

My main point in this article is to break apart the notion that all nurses are kapha motivated, or all teachers pitta motivated, or all fashion designer vata motivated. This just simply doesn’t correlate with what we see in society, where in reality, you get all types of people doing all sorts of jobs.

The key to understanding your doshic involvement in your vocation, be it professional or domestic is to ask yourself what is your approach to the activity, what comes easy to you, what do you most love about what you do.

The Rolling DoshasHere are some examples:

Nursing: vata loves the variety of people and encounters, the variety of different procedures, the opportunity to change hospitals on a frequent basis. Pitta loves the challenge of being efficient, articulate and educational in their approach to caring. Kapha loves the human contact, the selfless role of caring and comforting patients.

Teaching: vata loves the opportunity to find new metaphors and teaching methods to convey the same basic material each year. Pitta feeds of the challenge of controlling a group of students, finding ways to better explain things or organize the teaching to help students get the best grades possible. Kapha enjoys stability of the educational institution, as well as the sense of community and solidarity among staff and motivated parents.

Chef: vata loves the opportunity to innovate, trying out new things, creating something from nothing on a whim. Pitta gets a kick from the challenge of creating something very meticulous in very little time, and knowing they will be praised for their mastery. Kapha likes the fact that they are feeding people, it’s a good steady job, plus they just love to be surrounded by food because it is comforting in nature.

These short examples should whet your appetite for more thorough investigations. In reality, our suitability to a particular kind of work situation depends on many factors, not just our mental prakriti. However, if our daily occupation fills us with joy and satisfaction, chances are we have found something that corresponds to our unique nature, which is largely due to our doshic blueprint.

It is probably clear from the above examples that your job title says little about your attitude towards work, your motivations. So try to find out your motivations and ask “does this match my ayurvedic mental type?”

Three Skill Sets

What is interesting is that most vocations require all three doshas, all three life principles. If you do a good job, chances are you are mixing all three skill sets together:

  • Vata, the principle of movement provides: coordination, communication, inspiration, conception, curiosity, excitement, innovation, exploration, trying-new-things-out.
  • Pitta, the principle of transformation provides: insight, understanding, calculation, implementation, logistics, drive, courage, determination, passion, desire to succeed and be recognized for it.
  • Kapha, the principle of cohesion provides: stability, support, patience, perseverance, commitment, follow-through, caution, foresight, stopping-power.

We all have access to these different skill sets, and we can all cultivate them with awareness, choice, training and will-power. That said, if we are vata-pitta natured, we will find it easier to cultivate the vata-pitta skills, and less so the kapha ones. Same applies for the other single or mixed types.

A balancing act

As well as finding the work that best suits you, that ‘goes with the grain’ so to speak, you should also pay attention to keeping balance, avoiding the common pitfalls inherent in your particular area of expertise.

Here’s an example: when you love your work because it is changeable, unstructured, liberated, dare I say it ‘unorganized’, this fits the skill set of a vata type, who is happy as a sand boy in this scenario. Push this to the extreme however and your vata will become so active that it will begin to deter from your overall physical and mental harmony. To much of a good thing… You know where i am going with this!

If you over-embrace your work and go at it totally according to your unique style, with little self-awareness and self-respect, you will eventually either blow out (vata), burn out (pitta) or sink (kapha).

Life is an inherent juxtaposition of opposites. We all need a little bit of this and a little bit more of that and so on. So in an attempt to define a ‘perfect work scenario’ for the doshas, keep in mind the need to maintain balance.

If your mojo rocks to the tune of vata, you will tend to overexploit your innate airy and spacey traits while undervalue pitta’s fiery intensity and kapha’s earthy stability. As you mature into life, you will see how a little sacrifice, a little remedial compensation, can go a long way.

For example, as a vata-pitta type I like to have several projects on the go (vata) and to attempt to do them all quite intensely (pitta). I get carried away, burn the midnight oil, then begin to suffer from tiredness etc. At this point, I have a choice: drink coffee and push on, or reign in and take a break. I also have the choice as to whether to allow my daily ‘hygiene’ to follow my innate haphazard pattern of vata, or to try cultivate at least a modicum of regularity and routine (a kapha trait).

What turns you on at work?

Fancy sharing? Why not complete the survey below.

Choose the answer that most fits your reasons for liking your work or vocation…

© copyright 2013 Alex Duncan


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