We are all unique. Our bodies, our personalities, the way we view the world, and specific issues we are trying to combat. Each and every one of us has our own specific blueprint that shapes us into who we are. Ayurveda recognizes this uniqueness through the doshas… but What are the Doshas? Vata, Pitta, Kapha – and why are they important for you?
Doshas, one of the foundations of Ayurveda, are energies used to express our individual physical, emotional, and mental characteristics, which influence our personal well-being.
The doshas help us define who we are through our own personal makeup, helping us to better understand ourselves, and also the world around us. They guide us toward what we should eat, how best to exercise, how to schedule our day, when it’s most beneficial to sleep, but that’s only the beginning.
Doshas Are Everywhere
All three doshas — Vata, Pitta, and Kapha — are represented in everyone, in varying amounts. You might be naturally small-boned, be naturally creative and artistic, yet have dry hair and skin (Vata). While your friend is naturally muscular, organized, and hot-tempered (Pitta). Your sister has beautiful curves, luscious skin, is extremely loving and caring, but has a hard time finding the motivation to be active (Kapha). But how the three doshas appear, and in what proportion, is what makes each of us unique, and no one dosha is better than, or superior to, any other. Each has a specific role and is based on the elements in nature.
In Ayurveda, the five elements, earth, water, fire, air, and ether (space), are the building blocks of life and are found in all living things.
These five elements make up the three doshas: Vata (air + ether), Pitta (fire + water), and Kapha (earth + water).
The doshas can be used to explain all aspects of life… food, the body, the mind, the environment, yoga poses, everything! We are all a combination of all three doshas and these are fluctuating constantly depending on:
- What’s going on in your life
- Your Diet
- What phase of life you’re in
- External or environmental factors
Once we discover our Doshas, we are then able to create the balance needed specifically for us that allows us to thrive physically, mentally, and emotionally.
VATA Dosha (Air + Ether)
If you think of wind or air, Vatas are all about movement, lightness, creativity, and are free-flowing spirits.
- Mind: Extremely creative, free-spirited, often thinks outside of the box
- Body: Naturally lean, small-boned, dry skin, nails, and hair, often feel cold
- Obstacles: Indecisive, restless energy, tend to overanalyze
- Imbalance: Nervous system imbalances and digestive issues
For Vatas it’s important to balance the cool, dryness with warm, moist, cooked foods, avoiding dry foods like crackers and raw vegetables. Vatas benefit from finding stability and grounding. Whether it is through meditation, simply placing your bare feet on the earth, or establishing a strict daily routine, these practices are simple ways that begin to shift Vatas back into balance. Since Vatas are prone to anxiety and stress, supportive adaptogens such as Ashwagandha, found in YouVeda’s My Essential Oils Mood, help the body naturally adapt and support calmness throughout the day.
PITTA Dosha (Fire + Water)
Pittas embody the transformative power of fire energy.
- Mind: Ambitious, mentally driven, highly organized, often high-achievers
- Body: Naturally athletic, medium-build, gains muscle easily, oily skin and hair, reddish tint in skin and/or hair, hot body temperature
- Obstacles: Prone to burnout, adrenal fatigue, inflammation, perfectionism
- Imbalances: Anger, aggression, excess stomach acid, red spots on the skin
Those with a fiery pitta imbalance will benefit most from cooling activities and foods. Cold showers, loose clothing and cooler environments are super beneficial for pittas. Since pittas are highly driven and tend to work excessively, looser schedules will help balance their need to control. It is wise to avoid spicy foods and caffeinated drinks, especially during the summer months. Sweet fruits, refreshing drinks like coconut water, and grains all assist in pacifying a pitta imbalance. Support your digestion with Ayurvedic herbs such as YouVeda’s My Essential Oils Digestion to aid with digestive discomfort.
KAPHA Dosha (Earth + Water)
Because Kapha is related to earth and water, it’s a wonderfully grounded, stable, nurturing energy.
- Mind: Very compassionate, calm, and peaceful, interested in teaching, nursing, therapy, or service-based professions
- Body: Round faces and bodies, naturally bigger-boned, thick luxurious hair, skin, and nails, maintain body temperature well
- Obstacles: Gain weight easily, tend to have cool, clammy hands and sugar cravings, tend to be lethargic and resistant to change
- Imbalances: Prone to mood imbalances, lethargy, emotional eating, and weight management issues
Self-care is key for kaphas. Their loving, supportive, and caring nature may cause them to put their own needs, words, and love on the back burner, which is why uplifting, stimulating movement, exercise, and fun are extremely medicinal for kaphas! It’s best for kaphas to avoid heavy, oily, or dense foods that increase the feelings of heaviness. An abundance of vegetables, light fruits, legumes and a well balanced diet help Kaphas gain energy, feel more alive, and regain balance.
Can you be multiple Doshas?
Now that we know about the Doshas, we are a combination of all 3 doshas in various amounts. Also, based on what’s currently going on in our lives, we may shift from one dosha imbalance to another. This shift is natural and normal, but what’s important is our own self awareness. When we understand where we currently feel off, we can then make adjustments to then fully support our minds and bodies, bringing our health back into balance.
It is important to remember that we all have innate strengths and gifts, as well as persistent challenging areas. The doshas are a beautiful tool for understanding both, as well as recognizing and correcting any imbalances within and around us. We begin to understand our personal nuances and find guidance in improving self-awareness. Getting to know and appreciate your dosha is key to knowing yourself.
Ayurveda helps us understand how to support ourselves— specifically where and when it matters most. The more you know about what may cause certain reactions or tendencies, the easier it will be to balance them.
By Carolyn Crews – YouVeda Wellness Contributor