Are you intrigued about Ayurvedic doshas and how it impacts your health and overall wellbeing? or you are new to Ayurveda and want to understand the concepts of dosha? or you are having a terrible time dealing with aches or rashes and you know something is not right deep down?
Ayurvedic doshas require deep understanding which unfortunately many people fail to offer. Half-baked knowledge of Ayurveda is more disastrous than no knowledge. In this article, we have tried to explain the concept of ayurvedic doshas in much detail.
It will not only give you a proper understanding of what ayurvedic doshas are but will also help you understand what your dosha type is.
What are the benefits of knowing Ayurvedic doshas?
Understanding your ayurvedic doshas gives a good inference of your psychologic strengths and weaknesses, mental strengths and weaknesses and susceptibility to illnesses.
In Ayurveda, your body type or Prakriti is of great importance in maintaining optimum health and vitality. It is like your personal guide to living a healthy and fulfilled life.
Most illnesses in the bodies occur due to imbalance in these doshas. Simple knowledge of their dominance, functionality, their state at a given moment can prevent diseases and restore health efficiently.
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is a cohesive system of medicine that takes into account your body as well as mind for health. According to Charak Samhita, one of the first books on Ayurveda, healthy life is the one where your body is disease-free, active, stable, your mind is free of greed, lust, envy.
A happy life is the one where our efforts are paying well and everything is in order for your life.
In Ayurveda, the human body is made out of the exact same elements the universe is made from. It is these 5 elements that form the basis of life in Ayurveda.
The five basic elements are Earth, fire, water, air and ether. These five elements are responsible for the formation and degradation of the human body.
These 5 elements are responsible for the formation of ayurvedic doshas as well. It is the ratio of these five elements in the body that defines the dominant dosha in your body.
What are the three Ayurvedic doshas and how are they related to the 5 elements?
Doshas are body energetics that governs bodily functions. They are responsible for optimum health in the right amount and destroys your health when imbalanced.
The three doshas that govern our bodies are Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Every living being possesses these three doshas either in the normal or abnormal state.
A person’s bodily makeup or doshas are predisposed at the time of conception. The quality of eggs and sperm, time of conception, the weather, the external environment, food that the mother eats and the types of thoughts that the mother thinks are all responsible for the dosha predominance.
The doshas that attach at the time of birth becomes the bodily constitution or Prakriti of that person. Some people have one dominant dosha while others may be bi-doshic (2 dominant doshas) or tri-doshic ( all three doshas in equal ratios).
The doshas are also generated from the food you eat and is affected by the climate you live in or the emotional state you are in.
When you eat food, the nectar or juice from the food is absorbed in the body and nourishes it. The body excretes waste in the form of sweat, urine, faeces and also the three bodily humours Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
It is during the digestive process that these three humours are generated.
Types of Ayurvedic doshas
There are 3 types of doshas in Ayurveda,
These doshas are a combination of the five elements. Vata is the combination of air and ether, pitta is the combination of fire and water, Kapha is the combination or eath and water.
In the body, Vata corresponds to air, Pitta corresponds to digestive fire and Kapha corresponds to the mucus. Each dosha has an important role to play. When one or more doshas are out of balance your body becomes susceptible to diseases.
Qualities of Vata:
Dry, cold, light, subtle, mobile, non-slimy and rough.
Qualities of Pitta:
Slightly dry, hot, sharp, liquid, sour, mobile and pungent.
Qualities of Kapha:
Heavy, cold, soft, oily, sweet, immobile, slimy.
Because of the combination of doshas, characteristics are found accordingly in everybody. In people having an equilibrium of all doshas, the character of all of them is found equally.
Vata, the combination of air and ether is probably the most important of the ayurvedic doshas. Vata dosha maintains movement in the body. It is responsible for agility, strength, happiness and also life force or Prana. Vata is basically air or Vayu.
When the air is balanced in nature, our Earth behaves accordingly.
Air supports our entire planet, their breath, the clouds, the rains, the proliferation of seeds or waves in the ocean and cooling the Earth.
But when air is out of control, it causes hurricanes, tornados, devastation, fires, tsunamis and churning of mountains.
Similarly, the air has an important role to play inside your body. It is the basis of life, your breath. It is responsible for the circulation of fluids inside the body, the movement of joints, movement of excreta.
It is responsible for speech and touch and maintains the emotions too. It removes excess pitta from the body and maintains adequate moisture in the skin.
When out of balance, Vata dosha people might face a lot of confusion and anxiety. Their speech might get distorted and their bodies become unstable. It is important to understand here that Vata is air but a lot of it will make you feel bloated and engage in flatulence in the body.
Apart from this, excess Vata in the body changes your complexion. If you have lately realised your ashen complexion, it is because of the vitiated Vata. Vata people are sensitive to changes in weather. They also have a very sensitive digestive system.
Vata Imbalance treatment
Vata is located int he body in mostly lower regions of your abdomen. It accumulates in the urinary tract, colon, waist, legs, bones and intestines.
Vata can be imbalanced by the food, environment or emotions of the similar kind. It accumulates in the rough, dry and hollow parts in the body.
Vata can be pacified by the opposite qualities like heaviness, oiliness, hotness and smoothness.
Yoga is especially beneficial for Vata imbalance. It is during yoga that you go deeper into the body and eliminate the accumulated Vata from the body. It also stabilizes your thoughts and emotions.
Thus Vata moving in such body parts finds no place and as such gets pacified.
Sweet, sour and salty taste favours bring down Vata. Oil is particularly helpful in managing excess Vata. Including it in diet or using oil for body massage is one of the ideal treatments for Vata.
Disorders that might affect Vata
Cracking soles, joint stiffness, pain in abdomen, arthritis, insomnia, psychological disorders, bluish complexion, hemiplegia, dry and cracking skin etc.
Pitta is fire or Agni. It is the force that is responsible for producing energy and burning excess or negative things off.
In nature, fire is the creator as well as the destructor. Fire is the source of energy. Controlled heat gives rise to the food we eat, supports the flora and fauna of the earth, controls the weather and produces energy.
When beyond control, it can devastate entire civilizations and make a place uninhabitable.
Such is the function inside the body. Pitta is the fire that regulates the combustion of food and production of energy in the body.
When balanced, the body has good digestion, glowing skin, prowess and a logical attitude.
When imbalanced, the excess heat in the body can cause inflammation and rashes on the skin, acidity, ulcers and a lot of anger-related issues.
Pitta Imbalance Treatment
Pitta is located in the body in sweat, lymph, blood, and the stomach. Pitta can be aggravated by excess sour, salty or pungent foods. It also aggravates when you are constantly stressed.
Consumption of ghee or clarified butter on a regular basis is one of the most important steps in managing pitta. Favour sweet, bitter and alkaline foods.
Purgation or emesis using saltwater is one of the quickest and the most efficient way to balance pitta. Since pitta is located in your stomach, this process eliminates most of it quickly and your system detoxifies internally.
Disorders that might affect Pitta
Hyperacidity, inflammation on skin, herpes, urticaria, anger issues etc.
Kapha has the qualities of both earth and water and together forms the protective mucus in the body. It is this sticky substance that provides moisture to the joints and binding and firmness in the body.
Kapha provides the first layer of protection against pathogens and dust. In nature, the earth provides grounding and keeps us rooted.
Earth is a system that supports the growth of vegetation, holds the ecosystem together and provides a breeding ground.
Similarly in the body, Kapha is the force of stability, strength, restraint and knowledge.
Kapha is essential to maintain lubrication in the body, to keep the skin soft and glowing.
Kapha people are very calm and rational. They are slow to react & respond and do not take rash decisions. They are very empathising and are good listeners.
When out of balance, the body can become excessively dry, heavy and slow. Excess Kapha can impair digestion and result in the accumulation of toxins in the body. The body becomes loose and muscle mass is reduced considerably.
Kapha Imbalance Treatment
Kapha is located in the body in the head, joints, neck, stomach, fat, and especially in the chest.
Excess Kapha can be balanced with flavours opposite to Kapha like pungent, bitter, astringent, sharp and hot.
Kapha can be substantially reduced by emesis or Vamana. It can be done at home easily once a week to get rid of excess mucus or toxins from the body.
Another remedy for balancing Kapa dosha is breathing exercises or Pranayama- Kapalbhati and Bhastrika. They increase the heat in the body and fastens the metabolic process.
Doing 5-10 Sun salutations daily is a perfect way to activate your body.
Honey is the best remedy for Kapha.
Disorders that might affect Kapha
Diabetes, Obesity, congestion, goitre, blocked arteries, lethargy and drowsiness.
How to identify the imbalance of doshas?
These doshas can become vitiated by over-indulging in dosha favouring flavours or routines, for e.g., sleeping in late will increase your Kapha if you already are Kapha dominant.
Food also plays a key role in keeping your doshas in check. Your doshas can become vitiated if you eat incompatible food. In Ayurveda, there are a few basic rules of eating, and if you want to balance your doshas it is important to understand what is favourable and what isn’t.
Imbalance in doshas can be identified by observing oneself. Imbalance in your doshas can be seen clearly in your body and your mind.
If your body is cold and slight variation in temperature makes you run for a blanket, your Vata dosha might be out of balance.
If you find yourself indecisive and have a groggy concentration, your Vata might be out of balance. If you are constantly getting anxiety attacks and panic attacks, chances are your Vata is out of balance.
If you are gaining weight, have constant congestion and your skin is breaking out because of excess oil, your Kapha is out of balance.
If you are becoming lazy and have a lot of friction in doing your workout, your Kapha is out of balance.
If you have rashes, acne, boils on your skin or you are experiencing burning in your chest or stomach, you pitta is out of balance.
If you are getting angry, irritated quickly, chances are that your pitta is out of balance.
Seasonal influence on Ayurvedic doshas
Fall and winter is the season of Vata. The winds are cold and dry. This is the season when Vata imbalance occurs in the body. It is advised to take a lot of hot soups, tea, coffee, herbal infusions and warm cooked food during the Vata season.
This prevents Vata from accumulating in the body. Also, since during this season your body is cold and dry, it is important to include a type of workout in your routine even if it is home-based.
Yoga is ideal as it involves deeper muscles removing excess Vayu or air from the body. Massage with warm oil is also beneficial to keep the dosha in check and keep the body hydrated and moisturised.
Eating ghee is especially beneficial during the Vata or the fall season.
Pitta is aggravated during hot months and rainy season. During the hot months, the sun is at its peak and the temperatures are soaring.
This results in an increase in body temperature too. During the rainy season, the chance of acid reflux increases and inflammation increases too. Pitta season is the season of fire.
To balance fire in the belly, it is intuitive to eat cooling foods. Include salads and fruits in your diet. Eat light food during this season. Water-based vegetables like cucumbers, gourds are very good during this period of time.
Do not include cold drinks and ice-based drinks to cool your body. Instead, sip warm fennel tea or mint tea. It will cool you from the inside and balance excess pitta.
Kapha season starts from late winter to spring season, i.e., from January to May. This season is cold and wet.
It is during this season that the chances of infection increases and cold and flu become common. It is the ideal time to eat fats. Fats are common in this season.
Consuming dried fruits, nuts, seeds, ghee etc. in your diet. Consuming hot and warm tea, herbal infusions are good for increasing metabolism.
Since the temperature starts rising during this period, you can impart outdoor workout in your routine.
Taking a walk in the park, running/jogging are some outdoor activities that will keep your heart pumping and help in balancing Kapha. Ginger is especially beneficial for a Kapha imbalance.
Managing ayurvedic doshas with Panchakarma
Once you have identified your dosha or an imbalance in your body, the next step is to manage it efficiently. Read the detailed guides on each dosha to understand what balances your doshas.
Panchakarma treatment in Ayurveda is the ultimate cleanse which has the power to reset the body. It is the most powerful way to cleanse your mind and body and get rid off excess toxins from the body.
You can look for Panchakarma centres near you or you can try a home-based Panchakarma first. This will give you a fair idea about how your body reacts to the treatment.
If you plan on taking a Panchakarma treatment near you or go on an authentic retreat, you can read these guides,
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Comment below and share your story about how you started following Ayurveda, Yoga or natural healing you have learnt anything new about your dosha and how did you balance it.
Chakshu is a US alliance certified yoga teacher, a biotechnologist and an Ayurveda evangelist. Her passion is to help people live a toxic-free life, emotionally and chemically. She loves reading self-help books. When she is not writing, she is busy thinking about life.