Ayurveda or “the science of life” recognises that a balanced living is an integration of our environment, body, mind and spirit. We are all part of nature. According to Ayurveda, our inner and outer environment is governed by three fundamental energies or doshas.
The three doshas are known as Vata (Wind), Pitta (Fire), and Kapha (Earth) – these primary forces are responsible for the characteristics of our mind and body.
Each of these energies circulate in the body and govern physiological activity, their differing proportions determining individual temperament and specific mental and physical characteristics.
These doshas are derived from the five elements of nature. Fire element is fierce, dry and sharp as the name suggests, Earth element is grounded, slow and subtle. Water element is the most blending, cool, moist and soft, air element is weightless, cool and mobile and Ether or space element is abundant, light and omnipresent.
When Space and Air meet, Vata is born, when Fire and Water meets, it steams out Pitta and when Water and Earth meets, Kapha is born.
Dr. Svoboda in his book ‘Prakriti, Your Ayurvedic Constitution’ mentioned, “Vatta, Pitta and Kapha are called Doshas because the word Doshas means “things which can go out of whack.” When Vata, Pitta and Kapha are out of balance with one another the system is bound to lose its own balance. Vata, Pitta and Kapha are all essential to life, but can cause great harm if they are allowed to fall out of harmony with one another.”
Each body will have one predominant dosha and the other two in wavering quantity. Fundamental to the Ayurvedic medicine form, this tri-dosha theory, if understood, we can experience mental, physical and emotional bliss.
As per Ayurveda, each body type governs certain parts of the body. Vata governs small and large intestines, feet, forehead, nervous system and movement of the nutrients in the body as well as the expulsion of waste.
Physical appearance: A dominant vata is characterized by a thin, lean body frame. They have dry skin, a typical Vata may have some dry patches & some oily patches due to the quality of variability. They sweat scantily even in hot weather conditions. Hair is dark/black, less, frizzy, dry and lacks luster & nails too depict brittleness.
Personal attributes: Fearful and anxious by nature, Vata types when confronted by a stressful situation their foremost reaction is panic due to their dry nature. They are not punctual, love changes, sensitive, flexible and high-strung. They have variable hunger pangs with a considerably small appetite. Low body heat makes them a summer lover. They are light sleepers, often prone to insomnia and poor digestion.
Imbalances in Vata dosha: Eczema, corns, can be accounted to their dry skin type. They may also face constipation and irregular bowel movement. Vata women have a scanty flow during menstruation and their cycles are often irregular, painful and occur after more than a month. Long term vata imbalance can lead to arthritis, osteoporosis, gas and low muscle strength.
Ways to balance Vata dosha: Consuming herbs like Cumin, Ginger, Fennel, Coriander, Cinnamon, Nut-Meg, Basil is also useful due to its hot properties.
Yoga practice is always beneficial and nullifies any kind of imbalances. Add these simple asanas to your practice: Child’s Pose, Wide Angle Seated Forward Bend, Seated Forward Bend, Butterfly and Corpse Pose. Meditation daily can help relieve the mental fatigue and the issue of over thinking.
Pitta is composed of two elements – fire (agni) and water (jal). This dosha manifests itself as energy or the fire we need to stabilize biochemical processes in the body. It controls metabolism, body temperature, nutrition, intelligence, and understanding.
Pitta also controls the psychological feelings of hate and jealousy. The stomach and small intestine are two common sites for pitta dosha to accumulate, that’s the reason they have excellent digestion.
Physical Appearance: People with a dominant pitta have a delicate, slender body frame and are usually of medium height. Their skin is soft and warm and they have lot of body heat, so they sweat even in cold weather conditions. Hair colour is red, blonde or brown with easy baldness or light, fine and thin hair.
Personal Attributes: Hot, intense and irritable, the fire in them generates the tendency to get angry easily. They are determined, dominating, forceful and believe in fair dealings.
They have a very strong metabolism, because of which they have huge appetites. Their sleeping pattern is balanced in comparison to Vata, so they get sound sleep for short periods of time and have a strong sex drive.
Menstruation is normal, regular, heavy and occurs in shorter than a month time with no or less pain. Pitta people also have great management and leadership skills.
Imbalances in Pitta Dosha: Exposure to sun can easily burn their skin and they get tanned easily. Physical problems include rashes or inflammations of the skin, acne, boils, heartburn, acid stomach, nausea, migraine insomnia, dry or burning eyes. People with an imbalanced pitta can be argumentative and short tempered.
Ways to balance Pitta Dosha: Herbs like Jasmine, Rose, Lavender, Aloe Vera, Turmeric, Mint, Cumin, Lotus Seed etc. is useful.
Asanas like Camel pose, Extended Side Angle, Fish Pose, Diamond Pose, Shoulder Stand, Corpse Pose etc. are most beneficial to counter the imbalances of Pitta constitution. Wear cool & soft colors, spend time in nature and mediate regularly to keep your cool.
Governed by potential energy, Kapha is a combination of Water and Earth and controls lubrication and stability in the body. A generic pre-disposition to save and store, they are stable, easy going, calm and humble. The body parts governed by Kapha dosha are nostrils, lungs and throat.
Physical appearance: A larger or broader body frame in comparison to all, they find it easy to put on weight. Their skin is comparatively hotter and is thick, smooth and soft. They are naturally away from any form of skin diseases and they usually do not tan easily but can burn due to overexposure.
They usually have thick, lustrous hair, and are emotionally and physically strong. Eyes are large and soft. The mouth is large, teeth are healthy and rarely needs tending.
Personal attributes: Cold and sweet in nature, they avoid any harsh conversation and are sensitive, stable and resistant to change. Easily hurt by petty situations, they have great memory. Patience, seriousness and humility, they enjoy a slow paced family life.
They do not desire food as much & have a moderate appetite, but the digestion is slow, regular and with a healthy bowel movement. Women have regular, medium, effortless periods with less or no cramps. Sex drive is steady but they are not so drawn to it as Pitta due to their desire to store energy. They sleep for long hours.
Imbalances in Kapha Dosha: Obesity is a common cause of worry for this type & they also experience extreme lethargy. Congestion, sinus issues with nasal allergies, depression and asthma are commonly observed as well. Because kapha is the slowest dosha, it takes a long time for kapha to go out of balance. It also takes a long time to bring it back into balance once it is disturbed.
Ways to balance: Black Pepper, Mustard, Saffron, Cloves, Aloe Vera, Dry Ginger, Sage, Rosemary etc. are beneficial for you.
Try Surya Namaskar, Bow Pose, Head Stand, Bridge Pose, Camel Pose, Locust Pose, Plow Pose, and Corpse Pose for creating a balance in your body type. Wake up with the sunrise, avoid binge eating, wear bright colors and meditate everyday for better results.
It is common for people to have a blend of characteristics and usually one tends to dominate. Once you have identified your mind-body nature, you can make the required changes in your life – diet, habits, patterns – and restore the balance using herbs, aromatherapy, massage treatments, meditation, yoga and music.