When discovering the knowledge of Ayurveda, you’ll surely come across the word ‘Dosha’ sooner or later. Depending on the author, the perspectives on the topic can vary greatly. At times, it even comes across as esoteric, and sometimes medicinal. We thought to make an attempt on bringing the philosophy of Doshas closer you, in a more neutral way. But even more importantly –how you can integrate the concept of Doshas into your everyday life.
Ayurveda sees every human being having an individual constitution–‘Prakriti’ (nature in Sanskrit), which is defined by their respective Doshas. The Doshas are the results of basic elements of the universe coming together. These five elements– ‘Panchamahabhuta‘, are Air ‘Vayu’, Water ‘Jal’ , Fire ‘Agni’, Earth ‘Bhumi’ and Space/Ether ‘Aakasha’. The elements mix together in multiple ways and proportions, creating unique forms of matter, to form three kinds of mind-body types or Doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha, each with its physical and psychological characteristics.
Vata is dominated by elements air and space. It has characteristics of constant motion and energy. This means that people with the Vata Dosha are creative, communicative, quick-learners and constantly on the move to the next interesting thing. They are kind-hearted, can multitask and are flexible. On the other hand, they get bored quickly, are moody and are quickly overwhelmed. They are not likely to be grounded and tend to change their minds often.
Vata types have a delicate bone structure and do not carry much weight. Their skin tends to be dry and their hand and feet are constantly cold. Their sensitive immune system and a weak digestion require regular meals that are not too heavy, and are simple in their composition. Combining too many of different foods is better to be avoided. It’s good for a Vata person to drink warm beverages often, however, it is highly recommended to avoid caffeine in order to not stimulate an already active nervous system too much.
A Vata imbalance that usually accelerates in cold, windy weather, would increase the restlessness and the wind can become a hurricane! Raw food can too, aggravate an already imbalanced Vata. To restore this balance, it is recommended to switch to a diet that is on the heavier side, consisting of rice, oatmeal and vegetables like potatoes, spinach etc.
Pitta is dominated by the elements fire and water. Characterised by life energy, a Pitta person is passionate in their personal and professional life. They are quick to learn and enjoy working hard. On the downside, this can lead to them being too competitive, become impatient and have low tolerance for someone who does not live by their pace.
Pitta’s strength is the robust metabolism that gives them the strength they need to achieve their ambitious goals. This however, calls for respect so as not to cross their physical and mental limits. Pitta types have a good appetite, they perspire heavily and gain and lose weight quickly.
A Pitta imbalance, that usually happens summer, may result in heartburn and added irritability. This can be balanced by avoiding spicy and salty food and a cooling diet with lots of raw food, veggies and legumes.
Earth and water constitute the Kapha Dosha. Characterised by stability and patience, the Kapha person is grounded and not easily thrown out of balance. They are loving, caring and find happiness in small things. The stickiness that you get by mixing earth and water means that they tend to be tenacious and never in a tearing hurry.
Kapha personalities value inner peace and harmony. On the other downside, they can become stuck in the rut with fear of change, delving in the past that can sometimes even result in becoming possessive with their loved ones.
People with a Kapha dosha have a low metabolism, consequently they need a diet that is easy to digest. Greasy and deep fried food are to be avoided, while pungent and bitter flavours like ginger and pepper, have a stimulating effect on the digestion and help reduce the heaviness of Kapha.
It is important to know that the Doshas are not exclusive, meaning that you could have more than one Dosha. In addition, your dominant Dosha can change depending on several factors such as the season, your diet and your lifestyle.
According to Ayurveda, wellbeing is the state when all the Doshas are in balance. Stress, poor eating habits or other factors that affect us negatively, can disrupt this balance, often resulting in sickness. Ayurveda teaches us how to prevent this from happening, naturally meaning that is highly important to be conscious of your Doshas. It is equally important to be aware of what is happening with your body and mind in order to make the necessary changes to your nutrition and mental wellbeing so that you remain in balance.
The above short description is meant to give an overview of the concept of Doshas. We will dive into more details about how to take care of your Doshas in the winter season in upcoming posts.