You can learn to balance your health by understanding your body’s basic Ayurvedic constitution, or doshas – VATA, PITTA, KAPHA.
Ayurveda is a system of healing that examines physical constitution, emotional nature, and spiritual outlook in the context of the greater universe. It has been practiced for over 5,000 years, is Sanskrit for “knowledge of life”, and is built around the five elements of ether, air, fire, water and earth.
According to Ayurvedic principles, every human being is a unique phenomenon of cosmic consciousness, manifested through a combination of these five elements which come together to make up the three universal life force energies, or doshas— Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. In Ayurvedic medicine, one of the first things you need to know before you can start to balance your health is your prakriti, or basic nature, which is your unique combination of the three doshas that was determined at the moment of conception. We all have some of each, but most people have an abundance of one or two. You could be Pitta-Kapha, Vata-Pitta, Vata-Kapha, etc. Rarely, people can be tridoshic and be a combination of all three.
As you live your life, the balance of the Ayurvedic tri doshas fluctuates depending on lifestyle, diet, seasons, climate, age, your environment, stress, and many other factors. Your overall health, energy level, and mood are affected as your doshas move in and out of balance. Understanding the imbalance of your unique body is the basis for treatment in Ayurveda.
Here is a glimpse of each dosha both in its balanced, and unbalanced states.
Vata is the combination of Ether and Air. The influence of the air element in their constitution causes their energy, mood, and appetite to fluctuate dramatically. They tend to be thin framed, run cold and dry, and enjoy warm, humid weather. When in balance Vata types have dry skin and hair, excellent agility, lively imaginations, and are original thinkers. They are full of energy, creative, flexible, and love to travel to new places and meet new people. When imbalanced they can get anxious, prone to worry, be totally ungrounded, and have insomnia. They can be “flaky” about fulfilling commitments, sticking to a routine, and completing projects. They can develop hypertension, cold hands and feet, cracking joints, have a hard time maintaining weight, or get constipated easily. They are more prone to getting arthritis, having weakness, and having digestive problems.
Pitta is a combination of fire and water, but is dominated by the fire element. They usually are strong and muscular, have a medium build and freckled skin that can easily redden or burn. They are the work-hard, play-hard, type and can be quite competitive. They are natural leaders, quick learners, and easily master new skills. Their sharp quick wit can make them impatient or judgmental toward people they feel are slower or less focused.
In balance, Pittas have perfect digestion, lustrous complexion, and strong appetites (both for food and challenges in life). They have great endurance, are direct, outspoken and intense. Out of balance, Pittas can have excessive body heat, inflammation, rashes, acne, and loose stools. They can be short tempered, easily irritable and argumentative. They are prone to becoming Hangry if they miss a meal.
Kapha is a combination of Earth and Water. They typically have large eyes, thick hair, strong sturdy frames, and are naturally athletic. They need to exercise regularly to manage their tendency to gain weight. They like to do things in a methodical, step-by-step manner, and prefer a regular routine. In balance, they have excellent stamina, smooth skin, and are loyal, steady, patient and supportive. Out of balance, Kapha can become unmotivated, stubborn, and resistant to change. They can sleep too much, have a slow metabolism, and become overweight. They are prone to depression and asthma.
You can find an abundance of quizzes online to “find out your doshas”, but you can probably make a good guess just from the information above! However, the real way, and only accurate way to determine which doshas make up your unique prakriti is to have your pulses read by an Ayurvedic practitioner. Once you have done this first step, you can learn to stay in balance, know what foods to eat in which seasons, and have abundant health.