What Are the Ayurveda Doshas?

What Are the Ayurveda Doshas?

According to Ayurveda, body constitution depends on the metabolic pattern of an individual. This metabolic pattern depends on the Ayurvedic concept called Dosha.

Ayurvedic medicine is based on the idea that the world is made up of five elements — Aakash (space), Jala (water), Prithvi (earth), Teja (fire), and Vayu (air). A combination of each element results in three doshas, known as Vata, Kapha, and Pitta. These doshas are believed to be responsible for a person’s physiological, mental, and emotional health. Different body constitution is the reason why two people may have different responses towards the same food and lifestyle.

A person’s unique ratio of vata, kapha, and pitta is said to define their Ayurvedic constitution, a blueprint to achieve optimal health. The dominance of elements in the dosha defines their character and functions.

For example -

Space and air elements dominate Vata dosha
The energy of fire dominates Pitta dosha
Water and earth dominate the Kapha dosha

Doshas are naturally characterized by causing imbalances or corruptions in the metabolism.

Ayurvedic medicine is widely used today for its focus on whole-body healing.
According to Ayurveda, an imbalanced dosha leads to poor health and disease. Therefore, opting for food, exercise, and lifestyle habits based on your dosha is believed to promote optimal health and balance.

Where do dosha exist?

Vedic philosophy believes that a particle represents all the qualities of the universe. Each particle is a mini-universe. Charak Samhita says that as the sun, moon, and air maintain the environmental balance; similarly pitta, kapha and vata balance the body metabolism.The essence of this statement is that vata, pitta, and kapha are not something exclusive to the human body or bodies of living beings. Every particle contains the three bio-physical energies – vata, pitta, and kapha. Dosha is not a physical entity. We might not be able to see vata, pitta, or kapha dosha in a dissected cadaver. But doshas are systems or patterns that help the body to function.

The concept of dosha is not exclusive to Ayurveda. Even ancient Greek and Roman medicine, traditional Chinese and Iranian medicine, homeopathy, and many other ancient medicinal systems shared this concept.

What does each dosha look like?

Based on centuries of Ayurvedic practice, one can determine dosha based on physical, emotional, mental, and behavioural characteristics. Let’s look at a general overview of the dosha characteristics:

Vata consists mostly of the two elements air and space (also known as ether) and is generally described as cold, light, dry, rough, flowing, and spacious. Charak Samhita says – “The pitta and kapha dosha are immobile. Like the way the powerful wind drives the clouds everywhere and creates rain; similarly, vata dosha drives the other two doshas (kapha and pitta) throughout the body.”

In another reference to vata dosha, the ancient texts say “vata is the controller of the system called body.”

It signifies movement, enthusiasm. the vata in nature creates rain and wind currents, even cyclones. In the body, vata can create glandular secretions, movement of the muscles, and even dizziness. vata is not matter/mass. It is an energy that works on the matter.

Those with the vata dosha are usually described as slim, energetic, and creative. They’re known for thinking outside the box but can become easily distracted.

What’s more, their mood is highly dependent on the weather, people around them, and foods they eat.

Strengths: learn quickly, highly creative, multitasker, kind-hearted, flexible, “on the go,” naturally slim

Weaknesses: forgetful, anxious, unstable mood, can get overwhelmed easily, highly sensitive to the cold, has trouble sleeping, irregular appetite and eating patterns, prone to digestive issues and gas, poor circulation

According to Ayurveda, for optimal health, a vata-dominant person should follow a regular daily routine, manage stress through meditation and other calming activities, and maintain a warm body temperature by avoiding cold weather and consuming warm foods and drinks. Due to their “on-the-go” nature, those with vata-dominant doshas should focus on activities that involve constant movement, such as cycling, running, walking, yoga, tai chi, etc.

Kapha is based on earth and water. It can be described as steady, stable, heavy, slow, cold, and soft. Spring is known as kapha season, as many parts of the world slowly exit hibernation. The Sanskrit word Kapha means "to increase, fructify or to grow.” Kapha is the metabolic pattern related to anabolism (building up the process) in the body. It is the system that maintains all the water and earth-related functions. For example, kapha maintains the tissue fluids, mucus, lymph, etc. in the body. Kapha dosha is the ground for our metabolism. It is the biophysical energy that produces and sustains the body.

People with this dosha are described as strong, thick-boned, and caring. They’re known for keeping things together and being a support system for others. Kapha-dominant people rarely get upset, think before acting, and go through life in a slow, deliberate manner

Strengths: empathetic, caring, trusting, patient, calm, wise, happy, romantic, strong bones and joints, healthy immune system

Weaknesses: prone to weight gain, slow metabolism, sluggishness, over-sleeping, breathing issues (i.e., asthma, allergies), higher risk of heart disease, mucus buildup, susceptible to depression, needs regular motivation and encouragement

For good health, a kapha-dominant person should focus on regular exercise, a healthy diet, maintain a warm body temperature (e.g., by sitting in a sauna or eating warm food), and establish a regular sleep routine. Kapha doshas work best with a workout buddy and should focus on a combination of cardio and weight-resistance exercise to stay interested and motivated. Any type of movement is beneficial for this group.

Pitta dosha is based on fire and water. It’s commonly described as hot, light, sharp, oily, liquid, and mobile. Summer is known as pitta season for its sunny, hot days. The Sanskrit word pitta signifies heat creation, burning up, or color change. In short, any kind of change in the quality of the substance is a result of pitta action. Unlike vata dosha, pitta does not cause any movement, but it transforms the very nature of the substance. Pitta has some unique characteristics that make it indispensable for the body.

Pitta dosha is a complex bio-physical pattern that works to balance the heat-based transformative processes inside the body. All chemical reactions, minor or major are a part of pitta metabolism. Ayurveda groups all heat exchange and chemical reactions together as a single metabolic pattern -pitta as they all share the fundamental principles.

Pitta dosha has many other properties, functions, special sites inside the body, and subtypes too.

People with pitta are said to usually have a muscular build, be very athletic, and serve as strong leaders. They’re highly motivated, goal-oriented, and competitive. Still, their aggressive and tenacious nature can be off-putting to some people, which can lead to conflict

Strengths: intelligent, purposeful, learns quickly, self-determined, masters skills easily, strong desire for success, strong, natural leaders, quick metabolism, good circulation, healthy skin and hair

Weaknesses: impatient, prone to conflict, always hungry, mood swings when hungry, prone to acne and inflammation, sensitive to hot temperatures
Those with a pitta-dominant dosha should focus on work-life balance and avoid extreme heat (e.g., weather, spicy food)

Pitta doshas tend to push themselves too hard and should avoid exercising in the heat. Team sports are an excellent way to stay active while satisfying pitta’s natural competitiveness.

Once someone determines their dosha or doshas according to Ayurveda, the next step typically involves incorporating lifestyle practices, dietary adjustments, and potentially herbal remedies to balance the doshas and promote overall well-being. Ayurvedic medicine encourages whole-body healing, which includes physical, mental, and emotional health. This can include practices like yoga, meditation, mindful eating, sleep hygiene, spending time by yourself and with others, and managing your work-life balance

In particular, it’s recommended to have a daily routine that encompasses these healthy lifestyle practices. In Ayurveda, a regular routine is believed to keep you in sync with the elements and promote good health. Ayurvedic medicine believes “like attracts like,” as well as that opposites help a person achieve balance and harmony. When a person feels unbalanced, it’s recommended they avoid functions that are similar to their dosha.

To know more stay tuned for more such blogs to come.


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