Did you know that there are energies at work within you, performing different physiological functions, guiding you throughout your day to day life? At least, that’s the idea behind one of the main principles of Ayurveda, a 5000-year-old holistic science of health based primarily on maintaining physical and emotional balance.
The Ayurveda principle we’re referring to is the doshas or energies that make up every individual. Everyone has all three doshas within them, and one energy will usually take dominance, guiding your personality and actions. Many people may find they’re bi-doshic, with two energies having close to the same amount of dominance; some, who are more inherently balanced by nature, may even be tri-doshic. The proportions of these doshas are what determine your physiological and personality traits.
The 3 Doshas
But just what are these doshas? What does it mean to have one more dominant than the other? And why does it matter whether or not they’re balanced? Well, first things first, the dosha types:
- The Vata dosha, represented by the element air, is an energy that controls bodily functions associated with motion, like circulation, blinking, and breathing. When your Vata is balanced, you feel revitalized, creative. When it’s out of balance, you’re left feeling anxious and possibly fearful.
- Representing the fire element is the Pitta dosha, an energy that controls your metabolic systems, like digestion, nutrition, and even your temperature. A balanced Pitta can lead to contentment and intelligence, while an imbalanced one can cause anger and ulcers.
- Last but certainly not least is the Kapha dosha, which is represented by the element earth. It’s an energy that controls your body’s growth by supplying water to all your body parts and maintaining your immune system. When it’s in balance, Kapha energy is expressed as love and forgiveness. Out of balance, it can lead to insecurity and envy.
Characteristics of the Doshas
While it’s important to balance all of your doshas, keeping your predominant dosha balanced is what’s going to make you feel your absolute best, like your most genuine you. Knowing which dosha drives your life force is the first step to achieving that balance.
If you’re predominately Vata, just like the air, movement and change are characteristic of your nature. Vatas are lively, enthusiastic, and always on the go, following their energetic and creative minds.
- Physical characteristics: Vata types tend to have a thin, light frame and are very agile, with dry skin and hair and cold hands and feet. Vatas are light sleepers and can have sensitive digestion.
- An imbalanced Vata manifests in the body as weight loss, constipation, hypertension, arthritis, and restlessness
- Emotional characteristics: Vatas are the go-getters of the doshas; they love excitement and new experiences and are energetic and creative. They can get angry quickly but forgive just as quickly. They’re also more likely to take initiative and are known as lively conversationalists.
- When unbalanced, Vata manifests emotionally as anxiousness, sometimes to the point of insomnia, stress, and feeling overwhelmed.
The Pitta dosha is fed by your inner fire, and those who are Pitta-predominant know just how to fan their internal flame. Pittas generally exude a fiery nature that manifests in their body and mind.
- Physical characteristics: Pittas are typically of medium size and build, with a warm body temperature and excellent digestion. They have a lustrous complexion, abundant energy, and a strong appetite.
- Out of balance Pittas may experience heat-related physical manifestations like skin rashes, excessive body heat, peptic ulcers, and heartburn.
- Emotional characteristics: Pittas are the leaders, the controllers, of the doshas. They have a powerful intellect and strong ability to communicate, often sharp-witted, direct, and outspoken. When balanced, they’re excellent decision makers.
- An imbalanced Pitta, however, can be short-tempered, argumentative, and likely to blame others in stressful situations.
Those with a predominant Kapha dosha, guided by the element earth, will often have characteristics we associate with home, like protection and support. Kaphas are calm and thoughtful, go-with-the-flow types.
- Physical characteristics: Kaphas have excellent stamina and a strong build, typically with large eyes, smooth skin, and thick hair. When balanced, they sleep soundly and have regular digestion.
- Kapha, when out of balance, is drawn to excess. This can manifest in the body as weight gain, fluid retention, allergies, oversleeping, diabetes, and depression.
- Emotional characteristics: It comes naturally to Kaphas to be cool, reliable, and loving. They’re generally content with life and are comfortable in a routine. When balanced, Kaphas are strong, loyal, and patient.
- Unbalanced Kaphas hold onto things too long, becoming stubborn and resistant to change. They’ll stay at jobs or in relationships long after they’re no longer beneficial or necessary.
Learning Your Dosha
Reading about the doshas and their characteristics may have given you an idea of which energy dwells most predominantly within you. But if you’re still not sure which one (or ones) are the most prevalent, most books and websites on Ayurveda have a quiz or questionnaire that can help determine your constitution. Once you know your dosha, you can take the Ayurvedic steps toward a sense of balance and well-being.
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