Body,  Mind

An Introduction to Doshas and How to Discover Your Own

Learning about doshas and your unique dosha composition can help you to make the most out of your Ayurvedic practise. Everybody is unique, so therefore shouldn’t your treatment be too? 

Learning more about our doshas can encourage us to learn more about ourselves as individuals and discover in what circumstances internal issues are created and in what circumstances our healthy and vitality thrive. 

Your lovely author is Vata dominant and Kapha secondary in Body, and Vata dominant and Pitta secondary in Mind. 

But what does this mean? What is your unique dosha? 

First - What On Earth Are Doshas Anyway?

Doshas are three biological energies that govern and control our physical and mental processes. Similar to the world, the five energies of fire, earth, water, air and ether are found in all living beings and are considered building blocks for life.

However, they can manifest themselves in differing quantities and strengths which in turn provides us with our unique qualities to give us our unique blueprint. Just like a snowflake, no human being is alike. Sometimes the treatments that suit one person might make the issues worse in another. Ayurveda teaches us that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to health and treatments, and this is where doshas come in!

The Three Different Doshas

There are three different doshas that present themselves and they can all exist in the body. However, one is more prevalent within ourselves than the others and this leads to it having more influence over our mind-body make up. You will have one dominant dosha, one secondary dosha and one least-dominant dosha. The three doshas are ‘Vata’, ‘Kapha’ and ‘Pitta’. Find out more about them below!

VATA: Air & Space

Characteristics

  • The Vata dosha possesses qualities that reflect air and space and translates to ‘wind’ or ‘that which moves things’.
  • When the wind is in balance, it provides the natural world and earth with movement and expression. Similarly, when Vatas are in balance, they are creative, active and have an innate ability to communicate with others and express themselves. 
  • When the wind is unbalanced, it can become a tornado. Similarly, if a Vata is unbalanced, they become anxious and manifest bodily disorders that relate to ‘dryness’, including constipation and dry skin. 
  • Vata qualities include cold, light, mobile, active and dry and will demonstrate physical and mental characteristics that possess such qualities. 
  • The locations of Vata in our bodies include our bones, joints, brain, skin, ears and colon. 
  • Physiologically, Vata has influence over any ‘movement’ functions, for example, breathing, muscle movement, eating, blood circulation and talking. 
  • Psychologically, Vata influences creativity, communication and flexibility. 

Causes of Vata Imbalances

  • Eating whilst moving
  • Eating whilst anxious
  • Eating foods known to aggravate Vata
  • Smoking 
  • Drinking alcohol 
  • Drinking coffee or black tea
  • Going to bed late nightly
  • Not having a regular routine

How to Balance Vata

  • Eat in peace
  • Eat a Vata-balanced diet
  • Spend time in nature
  • Meditate daily
  • Partake in gentle physical exercise, including yoga, walking or swimming
  • Go to bed early
  • Follow a consistent daily routine

KAPHA: Earth & Water

Characteristics

  • The Kapha dosha possesses qualities that reflect earth and water, and translates to ‘that which sticks’.
  • Kapha is the building energy, which gives the body its structure, form and  ease of movement. 
  • Similar to how rainstorms can turn to tropical storms and floods, if a Kapha is unbalanced, their bodily tissues can become saturated with fluids and this heaviness can take its toll on the mind as well as the body. As a result, this dense environment can breed a variety of issues and problems such as congestion, sinus issues and obesity.
  • Kapha qualities include soft, heavy, static, sticky and moist, and will demonstrate physical and mental characteristics that possess such qualities. 
  • The locations of Kapha in our bodies include our lungs, chest, throat, lungs, fatty tissue and ligaments. 
  • Physiologically, Kapha stores energy, gives definition to tissues and is associated with cool waters in the body including mucus and lymph. 
  • Psychologically, Kapha influences forgiveness, greed, love and patience. 

Causes of Kapha Imbalances

  • Overeating
  • Eating foods known to aggravate Kapha
  • Indulgent and emotional eating 
  • Spending too much time in climates that are cold and damp
  • Lack of exercise
  • Spending too much time inside 
  • Not challenging your brain enough

How to Balance Kapha

  • Eat in a calm and nurturing environment
  • Eat a Kapha-balanced diet
  • Avoid a sedentary lifestyle
  • Perform ’emotional housekeeping’ to help clear your mind
  • Perform calming activities such as meditation, art and writing.
  • Know when to stand up for yourself – don’t get taken advantage of
  • Avoid daytime napping. Go to sleep early and wake early 

PITTA: Fire & Water

Characteristics

  • The Pitta dosha possesses qualities that reflect fire and water, and translates to ‘that which cooks’.
  • Pitta is the energy of digestion and metabolism. 
  • Similar to how fires can get out of hand, if a Pitta is unbalanced, they become agitated, angry and bitter with an overwhelming ego. 
  • Pitta qualities include light, acidic, sharp, hot and oil, and will demonstrate physical and mental characteristics that possess such qualities. 
  • The locations of Pitta in our bodies include our liver, small intestine, blood, sweat and stomach. 
  • Physiologically, Pitta provides our bodies with energy and heat.
  • Psychologically, Pitta influences anger, jealousy, willpower, courage and joy.

Causes of Pitta Imbalances

  • Eating whilst angry
  • Eating foods known to aggravate Pitta
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Drinking coffee or black tea
  • Smoking 
  • Being overly competitive 
  • Working too much and burning yourself out

How to Balance Pitta

  • Eat in a calm and peaceful environment
  • Eat a Pitta-balanced diet
  • Spend more time in nature
  • Meditate daily
  • Perform calming exercise, for example, walking, yoga or swimming

Working With Your Dosha

Doshas are ever-changing in a world that doesn’t seem to stand still! They vary in response to the actions and thoughts we produce, stressful situations we find ourselves in, changes in the weather and seasons, and even change depending on the foods and drinks we consume! 

The positive and negative habits you create for yourself can either foster balance or create unhealthy patterns which in turn create physical and mental imbalances. Whatever negative habits you possess can alter your internal make-up, and could potentially lead to illness or disease later in life. 

Getting to know your doshas and getting to know yourself are one and the same. Such imbalances can be avoided with proper care and paying attention to your doshas in different circumstances. Understanding your own unique state will allow you to live a vibrant, healthy life. 

The Three Primary Doshic States:

    • Increased: A specific dosha is presenting itself in a greater-than-normal proportion. This is also known as the dosha being in an ‘aggravated’ or ‘excess’ state.
    • Decreased: A specific dosha is presenting itself in a lower-than-normal proportion. This is also known as the dosha being in a ‘reduced’ or ‘depleted’ state.
    • Balanced: All doshas are presenting themselves in their natural, equal  proportions. This is also known as the doshas being in ‘equilibrium’

Find out & learn what dosha combination you are with the lovely Sahara Rose Ketabi by clicking here!

There is so much to learn about these earthly energies and their unique role in your own lives and wellbeing. If you have enjoyed learning the basics about doshas, you might find it useful to do some further research into this aspect of Ayurveda and decide whether this holistic approach to health is the right one for you. 

If you have any questions – start a conversation! Have you used Ayurvedic practises before? What is your dosha? How has being more intune with your own unique make-up aided you to feel better within yourself? 

To understand how doshas can improve your Ayurvedic practise, read my Introduction to Ayurveda: The Basic Principles!

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