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Ayurvedic Doshas: Vata, Pitta, & Kapha Explained

Mar 01, 2022

Ayurveda

If you’ve been feeling imbalanced, you may feel the urge to switch up your habits, but it can be hard to know where to start. For followers of Ayurvedic medicine, an important factor to consider is one’s individual combination of doshas. Rooted in Ayurvedic practice, the doshas are considered to be health types and must be brought into harmony in order to keep the body in equilibrium. The three doshas represent the elements and are key to understanding the strengths, weaknesses, and needs of your body and emotions. Once you know your personal combination of dosha, then you can tailor your habits and lifestyle to achieve harmony.

What is a dosha?

Before identifying your own combination, you must first understand their purpose and characteristics. Doshas are responsible for a person’s physiological, mental, and emotional health, which is why it’s so important to keep them in balance. The doshas exist as combinations of the 5 elements of the world: aakash (space), jala (water), prithvi (earth), teja (fire), and vayu (air). Every person contains an amalgamation of all three doshas, but like a fingerprint, every combination is unique, with a person having more qualities of one than the others in varying permutations.

Types of dosha

The three doshas each represent a different archetype of person, and along with that, signify different types of foods and activities that reinforce their strengths and balance out their weaknesses. The three doshas are vata, pitta, and kapha, and each are made of up the different elements in the world.

Vata

Vata is the dosha made up of air and space and embraces movement, being linked to flexibility, creativity, and body movements like muscle contraction, breath, and heart function. Physically, vata body types are typically thin and lanky and have dry skin and frizzy or thin hair, thus dislike cold and dry climates. Emotionally, vata brings forth scattered and racing thoughts, the ability to learn quickly (but have difficulty retaining content), and a knack for creativity and multitasking.

Weaknesses

Unbalanced vata can be forgetful and flaky, struggling to stick to routines or complete projects. They may have an unstable demeanor that errs on anxiety and become easily overwhelmed, as vata is the dosha most easily impacted by stress. They also tend to have irregular eating and sleeping patterns and are prone to digestive issues.

How to balance vata dosha

To balance out the vata dosha’s cold and dry characteristics, put an emphasis on restorative, warming, and grounding routines:

  • Eating warm and moist foods that are rich in protein and fat, and have sweet, sour, and salty tastes while avoiding dried and cold foods like dehydrated fruit and frozen desserts.
  • Maintaining daily routines for meals, hydration (which is especially important because this air-based dosha increases dryness), meditation, and sleep.
  • Avoiding erratic or disruptive schedules, minimizing travel, and decreasing time spent on technology. Introducing consistency is key to this dosha’s equilibrium.

Pitta

Pitta is the energy made up of fire and water, and rules digestion and emotions. Often correlated with summer, the pitta body types are usually medium build, athletic and muscular, have oily or freckled skin, and straight hair. Emotionally, pitta’s temperament skews toward intelligence and drive, making them confident and strong leaders.

Weaknesses

When pitta is imbalanced, they will experience physical symptoms like heartburn, indigestion, psoriasis and other skin conditions, and alopecia. Emotionally, they may become angry easily, exhibit impatience and competitiveness, and easily become jealous.

How to balance pitta dosha

The following strategies will be most beneficial to the fiery pitta dosha:

  • Eating foods that are nourishing and refreshing, with sweet, bitter, or astringent tastes, such as fruit and coconut water. Mild herbs and spices such as Dill, Mint, and Cinnamon can also be beneficial.
  • Engaging in consistent, non-competitive exercise like hiking or swimming that also help to meditate and connect with nature. Maintaining a work-life balance and engaging in self-care is also crucial to this workaholic type.
  • Avoiding stimulants like coffee, acidic foods, and foods that are fermented, heavy, or particularly spicy.

Kapha

The kapha dosha is made up of the water and earth elements, making it a stabilizing energy that keeps things together and provides a support system for others. Kapha dosha people experience life in a slow, intentional manner, rarely becoming upset and usually thinking before they act. Their demeanor is typically calm, caring and empathetic, patient, positive, and romantic. Physically, their stability is represented by a strong frame, healthy hair, and clear and smooth skin. Their facial features, like eyes and lips, are typically more pronounced than those of the other doshas. Kapha dosha is drawn to leisurely activity and enjoys routines in their life.

Weaknesses

Unbalanced kapha may feel physically congested, such as in the sinuses and respiratory system. Their usual stamina may be interrupted by periods of sluggishness and depression and a noticeable withdrawal from their social circles.

How to balance kapha dosha

Bring balance to the kapha dosha by trying out these strategies:

  • Eating foods that are flavored with pungent spices like Cayenne and Ginger, and that are warm and nourishing, like Quinoa and colorful vegetables. Lighter proteins such as Chicken and Turkey are also recommended in favor of heavier meats like Beef. These options help stimulate the metabolism and combat the kapha’s sluggish nature.
  • Occasionally shaking up your routine to incorporate more physical and mental stimulation, such as with exercise and meditation. Find ways to maintain a warm body temperature, like in a sauna, for example, or on a walk in the sunshine.
  • Avoiding lethargy by waking up earlier and refraining from taking naps. It’s more beneficial to the kapha dosha to stay active and engaged during the waking hours.

Your combination of doshas

By understanding your unique combination of the three doshas, you can tailor your choices to work toward a healthier, more balanced lifestyle. Once you know how to leverage your strengths and supplement your weaknesses, you can use Ayurvedic medicine’s holistic rituals to get started on bringing equilibrium to your body, mind, and soul. Try some of our skin care rituals to boost your skin’s glow today.

 

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