Know Your Dosha

Ayurveda & Your Dosha

Ayurveda is the science of life. Ancient Indian civilization did not separate science from philosophy and religion. Philosophy was considered the love for truth, science was discovering truth through experiment and religion the experience of truth and applying it into daily life.

Ancient ayurvedists used their minds like computer systems, developing powers of memorization so they became storehouses of copious medical fact. They used their refined powers of intuition to apply what they learnt to their therapeutic interventions, transforming ayurveda into a healing art. It encompasses all phases of life, body, mind and spirit while including the practical and theoretical aspects.

The Five Elements

The concept of the five elements is one of the most fundamental in Ayurveda. The five elements exist in all matter, organic and inorganic. Man is a microcosm of nature and the five elements exist in each individual. Our emotional, physical and spiritual tendencies are all directly related to the five elements.

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The five elements manifest sequentially:

  1. Space or ether is empty, light, subtle, omnipresent and all enclosing. We need space in order to live, move, grow, and communicate. It has no physical existence, it exists only as the distance that separates matter. Space includes all the hollow parts of our body in the mouth, nose, gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, abdomen and thorax. Space is associated with our sense of hearing. Psychologically space gives us freedom, peace and expansion of consciousness and is responsible for love and compassion. When imbalanced it brings feelings of isolation, separation, emptiness, ungroundedness, insecurity, fear, and anxiety.
  2. Air is the second manifestation of consciousness is dry, light, clear and mobile.  Air is existence without form. Air expresses itself in the movement of muscles, thought, pulsations of the heart, expansion and contraction of the lungs, sensory and neural impulses, breathing, digestion, and elimination. It is associated with the sense of touch. Air governs the flow of thought, bringing happiness, joy and excitement. Imbalanced, like space it brings anxiety, fear and insecurity.
  3. Fire, the power that can convert a substance from solid to liquid to gas or vice versa, increasing or decreasing the substance’s relative order.  Fire is form without substance, it’s characteristic attribute is transformation. Fire is hot, sharp, penetrating and luminous. When air begins to move, it creates friction generating heat and fire. Fire is active and changeable. In the body, our biological “fire” regulates body temperature, absorption, metabolism and assimilation. Fire is intelligence. It is associated with vision. It is needed for transformation, attention, comprehension, recognition and understanding. It also brings hatred, envy, criticism, ambition and competitiveness.
  4. Water, the liquid state of matter, the next manifestation substance without stability. It’s characteristic attribute is flux. Water is fluid, soft, viscous, cold, dense and cohesive. Water is the universal solvent, it is associated with the sense of taste, in the body as plasma, cytoplasm, serum, saliva, nasal secretion, cerebrospinal fluid, urine and sweat. Water brings contentment, love and compassion. It also creates thirst, edema and obesity.
  5. Earth, the solid state of matter is a stable substance. It’s characteristic attribute is stability, fixity or rigidity. Earth is heavy, hard, rough, firm, dense, slow moving and bulky. It gives strength, structure and stamina. It is associated with the sense of taste.  All the body’s solid structures of bones, cartilage, nails, teeth, hair skin, are derived from the earth element.

All the five elements exist from the single cell to complex human bodies. Every single cell has a mind, intelligence and consciousness, through which it manifests selectivity and choice. From all possible nutrients in its environment, it chooses its own food – that choice is cellular intelligence.

The Three Doshas

The five elements combine to create 3 doshas, vata, pitta and kapha or basic energies. All doshas are present in every individual in varying degrees.

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  • Space and air combine to form vata or the air element
  • Fire and water combine to form pitta or the fire element
  • Water and earth combine to form kapha or the earth element
Learn more about Vata

Vata types are usually thin and have trouble gaining weight, except when they do fanatically, which they do, to help stabilize themselves or refuel for the next round of activity. Their bodies are usually narrow, in the shoulders and hips and their joints often make cracking noises. Vata skins are dry, cool to the touch, their hair is course, dry and curly, prone to corns and calluses, and often complain of poor circulation. They tend to be fidgety, their appetites irregular, and their love for excitement leads them into irregular food habits that worsen their digestion. They usually suffer from chronic constipation due to innate astringency. Vatas types live erratic lives, and are light sleepers with trouble falling asleep. If changeability characterizes most of what you do, you are a vata.

Vatas thrive on regularity in their sleep, rest and diet routines. In a balanced state, vatas are creative, clear thinkers, and love new experiences. Vata types benefit most from grounding activities like meditation, sleep, hot, unctuous meals.

Learn more about Pitta

Pitta types or the fire constitution types are pungent, which makes them intense, hot and irritable. Usually medium in height, weight and endurance, their skin in light, and is most susceptible to sunburn. They have plenty of freckles or moles, their hair tends to be straight and their appetites are always good. Pitta types love intensity and confrontation. If they miss a meal, they will “consume” any unwary bystander with their stored anger. They love food and usually enjoy good digestion. Pitta minds are powerful, competitive spirits, they tend to be impatient, work long hours, sleep well. The pungent taste makes them angry quickly and most pitta types suffer from hair loss at an early age.

Balanced pittas are leaders, love meeting goals and competing for everything. Even with their partners or themselves.

Pittas do well with staying cool during summer and hot temperatures, pacing their work, eating normal meals on time, that balance their dosha and meditating on letting go.

Learn more about Kapha

Kapha individuals are heavy set, natural athletes when exercising and eating well. They are however, prone to weight gain just by looking at food. Most kaphas remain healthy and are innately strong, do not feel physical hunger that vatas and pittas do. Kapha types sleep soundly and most often oversleep. Kapha types do not crave the excitement and stimulation and enjoy attachment to a stable status quo. Kaphas need motivation and stimulation just as vatas need balance and relaxation and pittas need a challenge.

Every individual has a unique constitution. There are seven types of constitutions – Vata, Pitta, Kapha, Vata-Pitta, Vata-Kapha, Pitta-Kapha and Vata-Pitta-Kapha. Although we have all three doshas we are one dominant dosha and a secondary less dominate dosha. Making most people dual doshic.

Ayurveda considers health to be a state of balance between vata, pitta and kapha, the digestive fire or agnis, the tissues or dhatus and kriya or processes. It is not the absence of disease, it is the presence of a functional relationship between body, mind and consciousness.

Learn more about Vata-Kapha

Vata and Kapha are united in their coldness. Vatas tend to feel colder than kaphas, who have stronger insulation. Vata Kaphas are zealous about everything they do, and often overdo things, neglecting discretion. They can alternate between being light, open, and airy with being deep and secretive. The deep emotional nature of kapha and the overactive up and down nature of vata ensures that emotional hurt goes deep and remains traumatic. The tastes for vata kapha are sour, salty and pungent.

Learn more about Vata-Pitta

Vata Pitta types show the characteristics of each individually. Whether the primary is a vata and secondary is pitta or vice versa, people with the dual constitution need to balance pitta in the summer and vata in the winter with the help of a proper doshic diet. When VP is unbalanced, fear usually alternates with anger in response to stress. Pittas are born leaders, while the vatas tendency to self doubt is an added advantage in being able to step back and look at the bigger picture, when pitta is too close to the issue at hand. Vatas are creative, out of the box problem solvers making the dual pitta vata constitution a great combination that can give rise to new ideas but also put them into practice or motion with good organization and leadership skills.  Proper harnessing of the joint qualities of lightness and intensity lead to self-development at all levels. VP types most need stability. They need to be weighed down with the heaviness of kapha. Sweet taste is most important for them.

Learn more about Pitta-Kapha

The pitta kapha constitution adjusts best to today’s world of irregularity, constant change and confusion. Many people who achieve all rounded success are Pitta Kaphas who combine the stability of kapha and the drive and adaptability of pitta. The active pitta metabolism balances the powerful kapha physique and immunity, while emotionally; the pitta anger is well balanced with kaphas cautiousness and calm. On the dark side, pitta arrogance and over confidence is magnified by kappa’s smug self-satisfaction. Pitta Kaphas shared trait of oiliness or wetness creates disregard for criticism, and acknowledges flattery alone. This attitude can make a Pitta Kapha very difficult to live with. Bitter and astringent are pitta kaphas best tastes.