5000 years ago, Indian sages began developing an intricate system of health and well being called Ayurveda. A sister science of yoga, Ayurveda believes that good health can only be achieved through a delicate balance among the mind, body and spirit. In true essence, we are what we eat and reflect our environment and personal choices in our health.
According to Ayurveda, all matter is comprised of 5 elements—air, ether (space), fire, water and earth. As humans, being matter, we too have these elements inside of us.
The Ayurvedic Doshas—Vata, Pitta and Kapha—are comprised of these five elements. Vata is comprised of Ether and Air, Pitta of Fire and Water, and Kapha of Earth and Water. The Doshas are biological energies found throughout the human body and mind. They show up in all our characteristics, from the way we eat and digest to the way we sleep. Each Dosha governs a specific function that affects your body, such as acne, bloating and even depression.
Why is it important to know your Dosha?
Because your health depends on your unique body constitution. Before we explain what each Dosha does, here is a short quiz you can take and discover your dosha.
You were born with a certain amount of each dosha, but it changes throughout your life due to season, your diet, your stress level, your exercise habit, your emotional state and a host of other factors.
If the proportion of doshas in your current state is close to your birth constitution, then your health will be vibrant. A divergence between these states, however, indicates a state of imbalance.
Vikruti is the term used to describe the imbalanced deviation away from prakruti or innate constitution.
Now that you know about your Dosha, let me take you through each type.
Vata dosha is characterised by the mobile nature of air and ether. Mentally, those with Vata prakruti are quick and creative. They are always on the move and thinking of the next big thing. They get bored easily if they’re in one place for long.
Physically, Vatas are the kind of people who are always moving. The obstacle for Vata dominant people is the movement that can sometimes go haywire. They often find it hard to put a stop to their thoughts, from brainstorming genius ideas to over analysing pointless situations, repeating conversations in their heads. This makes them easily distracted, and they sometimes can go off the tangent.
Just as easily as Vatas think of an idea, they lose it. They have a hard time remembering their own thoughts. Meditation can feel impossible for them. When they are sitting still, sometimes anxiety creeps in. They start to worry about things they don’t need to think about. In general, their minds are in the future. The biggest task for them then is to settle their minds and become present.
All of us have our Vata moments. We can be overwhelmed, anxious and a little stuck in our heads. Today, it has become normal to feel this way because we live in a Vata-centric society. Most of us are multi-tasking and doing 12 things at once. This makes it especially difficult for us to stay focused.
Vata Skin: Vatas have more airy, dry and moving characteristics like dry skin, bloating, constipation, creative personalities and desire to move.
Reset Strategy: When you feel this way, it is important for you to slow down and pacify your Vata. You don’t have to be a Vata type to feel anxious. It may just mean that you have a Vata imbalance.
However, some people are just prone to feeling this way, and those are Vata types. They have an especially hard time staying grounded and are often very flighty, moody and changeable. They’re extremely sensitive to their environments and even a sound can disrupt them.
Mentally, Pitta types are ambitious and hard-working. They’re focused and complete one task before starting another. They are strong leaders who do well in management. They have very organised minds and work on a schedule. They are strong leaders who do well in management. They have very organised minds and work on a schedule. They are able to follow through with tasks, no matter how much effort it takes.
Physically, Pittas are the type of people who need a good workout. They have a great deal of fire energy within them that needs to be released. They love to physically exhaust their bodies and use their muscles. They are naturally competitive and do well in sports, boot camps, marathons and other athletic endeavours.
The obstacle for Pittas is that all this fire in their bodies can transform into the fire within their minds. They may become angry when things don’t go their way and impatient when others take too long to perform a task. Pittas expect everyone else to put in as much effort as they do. They hold themselves at a very high standard and demand others to do the same. Pittas can be seen as intimidating for this reason.
Pittas also are prone to burnout because they don’t know how to take a rest. All the fire within them begins to burn them from within. They are used to having a great deal of energy so much that they often overpass their own limits. They have difficulty in understanding the benefits of taking it easy and want to get as much as they can, and now. This causes for their mental health to suffer leaving them prone to adrenal fatigue.
We all have Pitta energy within us. However, if we keep on going at that pace without any rest, we are at risk of exhaustion. This is when burnouts happen.
Pitta Skin: Pittas have more fiery characteristics, including strong appetites, heartburn, loose stools, oily skin, strong personalities and desire to achieve.
Reset Strategy: The mind and body cannot always be operating at 100 miles per hour. It is important you take some time to relax and rejuvenate. Even if you are not a Pitta type, you have times in your life when you feel this way. You are in the groove, taking on more and more responsibilities until suddenly, they become too much. You notice you have less patience and are snapping at those around you more often. You may even crash, or blow up, like an erupting volcano. These are pitta moments.
Then there are those who seem like this all the time. Their whole life is one giant to-do list, from one project to the next. It, thus, is extremely important for Pitta types to settle down and take it easy because if they don’t, they’re at risk of losing their friends and loved ones.
Mentally, Kapha types are peaceful, patient and easy-going. They take their time but do a thorough job They are natural caregivers and tend to the needs of those around them, often before their own. Their kindness is their strength, and they go out of their way to please their loved ones. They make great listeners and counsellors. Patience is their virtue.
Physically, Kaphas are often complimented on their big eyes, full lips, and angelic voices. They naturally have curvy bodies, but at the same time, they have the strongest stamina of the Doshas. However, when they are out of balance, they allow their sedentary nature to take over and resist exercise, causing them to feel heavier and gain weight. This is why it is crucial for them to stay active to maintain balance.
The obstacle for Kaphas is that they’re busy ensuring everyone else is okay, they forget to take care of themselves. Kaphas are prone toward depression because this long standing sorrow begins to eat them alive. They isolate themselves from others and put this grief upon themselves because they do not want to burden others with their problems. Unlike Vatass, who have to tell everyone what is going on, and PIttas, who erupt at others but then get over it, Kaphas hold things within themselves. This makes them become heavier, with both weight and emotional grief.
We all may have undergone a time when we felt the Kapha blues. Nothing excited us anymore, and we wanted to stay in bed all the time and turn our backs on the rest of the world. It is normal to go through periods like this and it happens even to the best of us. Then there are those who may have felt this their entire lives. They don’t know what it’s like to wake up in the morning, bustling with energy because they have always felt this heaviness.
Reset Strategy: It’s particularly important for Kaphas to stay active and mentally stimulated so they don’t become dispirited and idle. They may have a hard time getting out of their comfort zones, but that’s how they grow. To cultivate creative Vata and ambitious Pitta in their lives, they need to start leading more active, dynamic lifestyles.
Kapha Skin: Kaphas have more earthy, grounded characteristics such as a tendency toward weight gain, thick hair, sedentary bodies, and moist skin.
We are all a combination of these three Doshas, and our imbalances actually relate to specific characteristics of each Dosha. Recognising our Doshas is the first step in the process of achieving a healthy body.
If this interests you, you can read more about it from this book.