Do you have a special person in your life who isn’t prioritizing their own health? Maybe you have a vata boyfriend who stays up till 2 or 3 a.m. watching TV, or a pitta husband who’s so hardcore with sports that he frequently injures himself, or a kapha partner who tends to overindulge in sweets and often finds herself catching colds and bugs. Maybe your significant other doesn’t even know their constitution (prakriti), state of imbalance (vikriti), or that they’re unhealthy at all!
So how do you get your partner to partner up with you Ayurvedically? Do you sneak shardunika into their coffee to curb their sweetness cravings? That might be tempting, but however well-intended such an approach might be, you can’t trick a person into prioritizing their health! Doing so would go against one of the principles of Ayurveda: taking health into one’s own hands.
A Dosha Love Affair
Let me tell you a little story about Jade and Raoul,+ a couple in their thirties who come from extremely different backgrounds. Jade’s parents own a vegan restaurant in the heart of the city, and health has always been a huge priority for her. Raoul, on the other hand, is a country guy who has lived his whole life eating greasy spoon diner food, never exercises, and often pulls all-nighters to meet work deadlines. The two of them met three years ago thanks to their shared love of photography, and they dream of opening their own studio. However, there are some roadblocks. Raoul feels sick and sluggish all the time, struggles to lose weight, and is resistant to change.
Sound familiar? It does to Jade, who learned of Ayurveda last year through friends in her yoga class. To Jade, Raoul is clearly experiencing a kapha imbalance and needs to work on balancing his doshas! She buys him a load of kapha-reducing products, signs them up for a yoga-in-the-park class, and insists they go on a 7-day cleanse immediately. Raoul, who barely knows how to pronounce the word “Ayurveda,” feels pressured and tries to take the edge off with comedy. This backfires, and Jade becomes offended. After two weeks of this, Raoul comes home from work one day to find Jade gone, with this note sitting on the dining room table:
Yeowch! Poor Raoul! While it’s wonderful to be with someone who is just as into Ayurveda as you are, forcing diet and lifestyle changes onto other people rarely works, particularly when someone’s less-than-healthy habits are deeply ingrained into their way of living.
While Jade’s intentions started out honorably, there were a few things she could have done differently that might have allowed for things to turn out more happily for the unfortunate (and thankfully fictional) pair. Let’s rewind and pretend they had tried the following:
Ask, Listen, and Be Kind
This may sound pretty obvious, but the biggest mistake Jade made right from the get-go was making Raoul’s decision for him. “I tried to make you help yourself.”
It is much better to approach this process from a place of openness and honesty. “Hey hon, I’m worried about you. You seem like you’ve been stressed out lately. You know what might help?” might yield better results than “Put that ice cream down and eat this Chyavanprash instead, right now!”
Discover Each Other’s Ayurvedic Profiles
It’s easy to hear about the pitta dosha, for example, and say, “That’s me, I have ruddy skin and like spicy foods, I must be pitta. Where’s the coconut oil?”
Jade already “knew” that she was a pitta-dominant individual and that Raoul was “clearly” kapha, but she made these snap judgements based on traits she’d read about. If Jade and Raoul had visited a practitioner, or consulted a resource like the Ayurvedic Profile™ quiz, they may have been surprised to learn that they were BOTH vata-dominant, experiencing vata imbalances, which can manifest in many different ways depending on the person.
Taking the profile quiz with another person can be very fun! It’s a good way of getting a second opinion on your answers, and you’ll get a more comprehensive view of yourself.
Make Mealtimes Fun!
Once you know which dosha to focus on, take a fun trip to your local natural foods market. While you’re perusing the shelves, you might find it helpful to consult some guides on vata, pitta, and kapha pacifying foods, respectively, as well as some tips for Ayurvedic food combining. Most importantly, don’t forget to enjoy yourselves while preparing your meals! Play some music, share what you’re making on social media with friends, and make your partner feel good about the choice you’ve made to eat healthy.
In Raoul and Jade’s case, this is definitely helpful, as what attracted Raoul to that greasy diner food growing up was always the atmosphere. Now that Jade is creating a happier, more encouraging atmosphere around their mealtimes, Raoul is more likely to be excited about finding balance.
Don’t Jump Headfirst into a Cleanse
Cleansing can be extremely beneficial for all three doshas, but it can be overwhelming to someone just discovering Ayurveda. Start small. Make a bowl of kitchari and see what your partner thinks. You could pick one day a week and have that be kitchari day, changing up the veggies and spices to keep things interesting. Once kitchari has become a regular featured meal in your kitchen, a digestive reset won’t seem so scary.
Ease into Exercise Time
Yoga is closely linked with Ayurveda, and it’s easy to understand why Jade, already a yoga pro, would want to bring her partner to a yoga class. However, this might be too much to start with. Raoul, like many guys who didn’t grow up around yoga, is not very comfortable with it and has always seen it as a “girls” activity. What’s more, he is self-conscious about how he looks, and doesn’t want to be doing poses in front of other people, especially in the park! His friends might see him there!
Instead, it might be preferable to start with a few helpful poses to do at home. Find 15 minutes or so and have that be a time for something easy, like Child's Pose or Downward-Facing Dog, especially if your partner spends a lot of time on the computer and needs a break! Who knows, maybe after trying a variation of poses, your significant other will feel more comfortable going to a class.
Don’t Forget About Massages!
How did Jade not start out with this one? Massages not only feel great and relieve tension, they also improve circulation and one’s overall state of well-being. It’s also perhaps the perfect “hands-on” approach to help your partner feel their best!
Whatever you do, don’t leave behind a strongly-worded letter! That isn’t healthy for anyone involved.
Note: If your partner is undergoing serious health problems but is willing to try Ayurveda, visiting a practitioner is a must.
+Jade and Raoul are entirely fictional, and are certainly NOT based on the author’s best friend and spouse!