The Foundation of Ayurveda-
Understanding our individual constitution (also know as our Dosha) gives us a deeper understanding of how we can take care of ourselves as we navigate through our daily routine and it also allows us to better understand those surrounding us. The three doshas are: VATA, PITTA, and KAPHA; they are derived from the five elements: space, air, fire, water, and earth. Also known as mind-body types, the Doshas express unique blends of physical, emotional, and mental characteristics.
How to Understand your Dosha
The best way to understand Doshas is by observing the qualities in your own body. Let’s take a look at the properties of the three Doshas and you will be amazed at how you can better manage many situations as your knowledge of someone’s (or your) unique essence helps to maintain balance.
Qualities of VATA – Air
- Functions: Movement, breath, expansion
- Bodily seats: Colon, nervous system, skin
- General appearance: Thin, tall or short, bony; dry, rough, cool skin; scanty, dark, curly, coarse hair; dry, small, dull eyes; thin, dry lips, crooked teeth.
- Balanced traits: Resilient, imaginative, sensitive, spontaneous, positive, helpful, flexible, quick, enthusiastic, energetic, communicative, fast to learn, fast to forget.
- Imbalanced traits: Anxious, empty, agitated, fearful, ungrateful, nervous, indecisive, hyperactive, servile, secretive, dishonest, addicted.
- Physical symptoms: Insomnia, low appetite, gas constipation, cramps, arthritis, muscle spasms, low back pain, varicose veins, popping joints.
- Skin problems: Dry, dehydrated skin, fine wrinkles, dry eczema.
Qualities of PITTA – Fire
- Functions: Metabolism, digestion, intelligence
- General appearance: Medium build & weight; warm, reddish, freckled skin; moderate, fine, soft, reddish or premature balding or gray hair; sharp green, gray, or hazel eyes; red or pink moderate lips & teeth.
- Balanced traits: Sharp, intelligent, confident, clear, enterprising, joyous, ambitious, perceptive, friendly, courageous, warm, independent, good memory.
- Imbalanced traits: Angry, cruel, irritable, critical, jealous, aggressive, hostile, vain, willful, impulsive, dominating, arrogant, vindictive, psychopathic.
- Physical symptoms: Hot flashes, heartburn, acid stomach, ulcers, hemorrhoids, burning eyes & feet, allergies, colitis.
- Skin problems: Inflammation, acne rosacea, moles, burning eczema, rashes, sunburn.
Qualities of KAPHA – Earth
- Functions: Structure, secretions, attraction
- General appearance: Short, stout, well developed; oily, soft, smooth, cool skin; abundant, thick, oily, lustrous, wavy hair; wide, prominent, attractive eyes; strong, white teeth, thick firm lips.
- Balanced traits: Calm, loving, forgiving, serene, wise, compassionate, insightful, resourceful, loyal, persistent, patient, nurturing, content, stable, faithful, receptive, shy, slow to learn, slow to forget.
- Imbalanced traits: Depressed, possessive, lethargic, attached, greedy, slow to change, controlling, insecure, apathetic, vulgar, dull, slothful, materialistic, thieving.
- Physical symptoms: Sinus congestion, cough, cold, high cholesterol, asthma, weight gain, obesity, diabetes, bronchitis, emphysema.
- Skin problems: Cystic acne, wet eczema, deep wrinkles.
In Ayurveda, health is defined as the dynamic state of balance between mind, body, and environment. You can achieve and maintain a vibrant and joyful state of health by identifying your mind-body type, your Dosha, and creating a life that supports your unique nature. This balancing act is done through the use of herbs, diet, colors, aromatherapy, lifestyle changes, yoga, and meditation. When we follow diet, food and lifestyle choices that support our unique dosha then we will be healthy and have less of a need to cleanse in any drastic way. However once there is a build up of ama or toxicity in the body that cannot be eliminated, a cleansing process (panchakarma) is recommended.