Knowing your doshas is the key to unlocking and maintain a high spirited and happy state of health. Understanding your unique dosha and the specific needs that derive from it allows you to make the necessary choices to create a lifestyle that assists your unique nature. Every individual has a unique and distinctive body constitution, or body type, which changes over time. It affects how a person feels and behaves, and how his/her body responds to the causes of illness.
Your Ayurvedic Doshas help in determining conditions of growth, ageing, health and disease. So to know yourself, it is essential to understand the dominant dosha of your body.
“Ayurveda teaches us to cherish our innate nature to love and honour who we are, not as what people think or tell us, who we should be.”
Prakriti is the basic fundamental constitution of one's body, and it is based on the natural balance of Tridosha or the three doshas of Ayurveda: Vata, Kapha and Pitta. We all have a unique combination of three Doshas (life forces) right from the time we take birth in this world. The constitution is also known as Ayurveda type to see this combination is critical in Ayurvedic medicine. When a body comes in contact with this environment sometimes this balance is disturbed, if not taken care of, it may lead to various illnesses. This disturbance of doshas is known as Vikruthi. To realize one’s Prakruti and Vikruthi is the foremost and basic step towards leading a healthy life.
The proper knowledge of Tridoshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) can help you acquire an appropriate lifestyle and food habits and consequently have better chances of staying fit, leading a healthy life at all levels of mind, body and spiritual well being.
We all have a unique combination of the three Doshas (life forces) right from the time we take birth in this world: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Let's dive deeper to understand each Dosha, its characteristics, what happens when it is imbalanced and techniques & diet for individual dosha types.
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The Vata Dosha consists of the properties of the elements ether and air. Vata is responsible for one’s energy and movement as well as for nerve impulses. Breath, speech, blood circulation, and digestion are all indicators of Vata.
The people with dominant Vata Dosha are enthusiastic, light-hearted and creative. These types of people are intelligent and ready to explore new experiences. Also, they are active and like to travel. Vata people are music and dance lovers they rejuvenate themselves by listening to classical music, enjoy warm and relaxing oil massages and can forget themselves and the world around them.
A restful, comfortable ambience and fabrics soft to touch such as silk, silk-wool blend, and cotton on the skin provide for basic inner balance. The rooms they live in should be warm and comfortable. A relaxing rocking or easy chair or sofa with a soft fleece blanket helps them to relax quickly. Their naturalness sometimes leads people with a Vata constitution to rash, meaningless money transactions. On the other hand, Vata people lead an equilibrium life, they remain vibrant, friendly and creative beings for their entire lives. They are highly influenced by spirituality, which makes meditation easy for them, they only need to take time for it.
Physical Characteristics of the Vata Dosha Type
People with Vata dominance are either very small or very large people. Their physique is rather delicate and strong like that of marathon runners or models.
Vata people mostly have thinner skin, frizzy hair, tooth problems and irregularities. Their eyes are often small and move quickly back and forth. Summers sun’s scorchy heat turns Vata dominant people darker, resulting in damage to their skin that might be prone to early ageing.
Symptoms when your Vata Dosha is not balanced
When Vata is out of balance, the person may be worried, restless, show general fatigue, be stressed out, anxious, intolerant and low in self-confidence.
How to Balance the Vata Dosha?
A proper diet and lifestyle can help fight the imbalance in Vata dosha. If one wants to maintain Balanced Vata he/she should incorporate warmth, stability and consistency in body, mind and life as a whole.
Diet for people with strong Vata Dosha
Ayurveda recommends a specific diet inorder to maintain the balanced Vata Dosha permitting certain food type while avoiding certain others.
- Fruits: Fruits that are sweet e.g. bananas, coconuts, apples, figs, grapefruits, grapes, mangos, melons, oranges, papayas, peaches, pineapples, plums, berries, cherries, apricots, and avocados. Some dry fruits can also be included in the diet but not too many. A general rule that applies while consuming fruits should be kept in mind: fruits should be taken at least one hour before or after meals, but to be avoided late in the evening.
- Vegetables: Asparagus, red beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, radish, zucchini, spinach, sprouts, tomatoes (in small quantities), celery, garlic, and onions (mostly steamed) all vegetables should be cooked before consuming.
- Grains: Oats (boiled), brown rice, wheat.
- Non vegetarian: Fish, eggs (omelettes/scrambled ), chicken, and other white meat. Red meat should be avoided at all costs.
- Pulses: A big no to beans, other than moong beans and black lentils.
- Sweeteners: Jaggery (dried sugar cane juice), brown sugar.
- Spices: All spices, peppers and chili can be consumed in small quantities.
- Milk and other substitute products: Fresh milk, Ghee (clarified butter), paneer, soy milk and tofu.
- Oils: All organic oils are premitted.
Recommended Lukewarm water or milk as a carrier substance for the ingestion of herbs (Anupama).
Lifestyle choices to help balance your Vata Dosha
The most important step is to calm your mind with meditation. Simple and moderate, relaxing exercising routine can be undertaken e.g. walking, swimming and yoga. Proper and regular eating habits along with following “Early to bed and early to rise” will be of extreme help. Warm food, soft clothes and tender touch (of loved ones) are inevitable and the dopamine rush is enjoyable.
Every day Abhyangam Ayurvedic massage before a bath is advised to pamper dry skin and enhance blood circulation in the body. Elimination of waste from the body is important not only for a day or two but every day. Triphala is an effective remedy to avoid constipation.
Keep yourself protected from cold and wind with proper clothing and stay warm throughout the year.
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The basic properties of Pitta are of the fire and water element, but fire is more dominant. Thus, it’s more related to heat, light, sharp, oily etc. As the Summer season has hot, sunny days it is known as Pitta Season. An individual’s appetite, thirst and intelligence are also associated with Pitta. Pitta manages all metabolic processes, body temperature and also one’s hormonal balance.
Physical Characteristics of the Pitta Dosha Type
The body with dominant Pitta has the following physical characteristics: medium height and weight, warm body temperatures, strong appetite and excellent digestion and bright and lustrous skin complexion.
Emotional Characteristics of the Pitta Dosha Type
The emotional characteristics of an in-balance body include a sharp mind, enterprising, perfectionist, active, charming, charismatic and being quick and a good decision-maker. On the other hand, when it’s out of balance, they can be short-tempered, argumentative, easily frustrated, impatient, intolerant and resentful.
Symptoms when your Pitta Dosha is not balanced
When a person’s body has a Pitta Dosha imbalance the body suffers from skin rashes, too much sweating, acidity and indigestion leading to peptic ulcers and premature greying, thinning and weakening of hair.
How to Balance the Pitta Dosha?
Pitta Dosha has predominant qualities that are hot, oily, sharp and liquid. In order to balance Pitta dosha, contrasting qualities like coolness, calmness, patience and moderation are important. Hence, the lifestyle and food habits to be followed should be the cooling elements and should be limited in quantity.
Diet for people with strong Pitta Dosha:
Choose cooling foods to balance your Pitta– both energetically and in temperature. Dry foods (not oily) which are naturally sweet, bitter or astringent are suggested.
- Dairy: Butter, milk and ghee help to balance Pitta dosha. They should avoid yoghurt( hung curd) cheese and sour cream. Consume milk an hour before/after a meal but never with the meal.
- Fruits: Fruits that are sweet like avocadoes, grapes, melons, cherries and coconut are beneficial. Least consumption of sour fruits like grapefruit, papaya, unripe pineapple etc.
- Oils: Best suited oils will be coconut and sunflower. Minimize or avoid: almond, sesame and olive oil.
- Vegetables: High fibre vegetables are recommended like: cucumber, green leafy vegetable, cauliflower, broccoli, pumpkin etc. Avoid chilly, tomatoes, onions, garlic and radish as they aggravate Pitta dosha.
- Spices: Cooling spices like cinnamon, coriander, fennel and cardamom are advisable. Avoid ginger, fenugreek, clove, mustard and cumin which have a strong flavour.
- Meat: Red meat, highly processed food deep-fried eatables should be avoided.
- Sweeteners: Naturally sweet foods are advisable.
Minimize stimulants like caffeine, alcohol, nicotine etc.
Recommended ghee, cold water, and milk as a carrier substance for herbs.
Lifestyle choices to help balance your Pitta Dosha
Regularity in daily activities like eating, sleeping working etc is important. To keep the body cool and calm relaxation is essential for balancing Pitta Dosha. Regular massage for 10-15 minutes with warm oil is recommended. Every day walk through nature, some moderate exercises like yoga, swimming and biking will be of great help. Wearing light fabric, natural clothes with soothing colours like white, blue and green are advisable.
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Kapha dosha is considered to hold the body together, providing structure and stability. Lubricating the mind, the brain & body, the joints, the lungs and the protective lining in the stomach is basically Kapha’s task. It is mainly found in the stomach, but can also be found in the head, chest, throat and even in the pancreas but in lower quantity.
Physical Characteristics of the Kapha Dosha Type
A Kapha dominant person has a strong build and bone structure, they have thick, shiny and healthy skin and hair. Blessed with wonderful immunity and great stamina, good digestion and sound sleep.
Emotional Characteristics of the Kapha Dosha Type
Some of the emotional characteristics are: being calm and thoughtful, loyal, reliable, patient, slow and steady and willful.
The negative characteristics are inability to let go of unnecessary things, thoughts and relationships, resistance to change, stubbornness, possessiveness and being complacent.
Symptoms when your Kapha Dosha is not balanced
When Kapha Dosha is not in balance, the body suffers from increased weight, congestion, sluggishness, depression and sleepiness.
How to Balance the Kapha Dosha?
Kapha dosha can be mollified with enthusiasm that incorporates anything light, hot and movable. To balance Kapha dosha, keep your body warm and avoid any kinds of dampness that stimulate Kapha.
Diet for people with strong Kapha Dosha:
To balance Kapha dosha, always consume warm, dry and light food as Kapha aggravates with cold and stale food. It is suggested to have freshly cooked warm food in place of stale, reheated processed food. Instead of salty, sweet or sour tastes, it is preferred to have pungent, bitter and astringent tastes.
- Dairy: Avoid or minimize intake of dairy products to balance Kapha. Preferably goat milk and ghee to be consumed in moderation.
- Fruits: Juicy fruits like apples, strawberries, pomegranate and dry fruits* are recommended.
- Vegetables: Bitter and pungent vegetables like beets, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, onions, radish, carrots, eggplants etc. can be consumed.
- Oils: Moderate oils are good for Kapha dosha e.g olive oil, almond oil and sunflower oil.
- Spices: Most spices are hot and dry, so they are beneficial for the Kapha dosha.
- Meat: White meat like chicken, turkey and freshwater fish, shrimp and rabbit are recommended. Read meat to be avoided at all costs.
- Sweeteners: Avoid all sweeteners except honey.
*Nuts to be avoided as they are oily.
Recommended organic honey as a carrier substance for herbs.
Lifestyle choices to help balance your Kapha Dosha
A lifestyle with less physical activity and more sedentary work magnifies and worsens the Kapha dosha. Getting involved in stimulating activities like physical exercises (in a limited amount) e.g cycling, running, aerobics and dancing is highly beneficial. It is important to keep the body warm and to avoid cold stale food or reheated food at all costs.
A Kapha body needs to wake up early in the morning and avoid mid-day naps. The use of bright and warm colours like red, yellow or orange will be of great help. Motivating oneself and exploring and experiencing new things in life is also very important.
Effective implementation and improved understanding of the above suggestions help in balancing Kapha dosha.
Doshas are the basic energies that control the whole body. If you have proper knowledge of your doshas you can control the imbalance at the right time which will improve not only your physical health but mental health as well. Dietary suggestions and recommended changes in lifestyle can balance doshas leading to a wholesome and healthy life. So, know your Doshas and ways to balance them and live your life to the fullest every day!