The three doshas; Vata, Pitta and Kapha are explained here.
In Ayurveda, we often make reference to the three doshas. These three concepts underpin much of Ayurveda. They are born out of the 5 elements:
EARTH – WATER – FIRE – AIR – ETHER
Vata is derived from Ether and Air – and is responsible for movement and communication
Pitta is derived from Fire and Water – and is responsible for digestion and transformation
Kapha is derived from Water and Earth – and is responsible for cohesiveness and lubrication
Most of life can be described through the lens of these three concepts as they are all vital for life to take place.
Prakruti – Our Constitution
As individuals we are born with a greater dominance of certain elements over others and this gives us our base constitution or Prakruti. Our Prakruti might be dominated by of one of the above doshas, albeit two or even all three may dominate equally together.
Here are examples of what traits we might see expressed in people with these dominant doshas;
- A vata dominant constitution may prefer to be on the move all the time, creatively thinking and expressing themselves.
- A pitta dominant constitution may digest well and feel warm most of the time. They can be very passionate and expressive.
- A dominant Kapha constitution may be prefer grounding and nourishing activities. They may be very patient and naturally loving.
Most of us generally exist though in some state of vikruti or imbalance and this is when some of these concepts become more dominant in us than others, making us look like we actually have a different constitution.
Don’t worry if you are, a lot of this is more relevant to Ayurvedic Practitioners as we use this information to help us in diagnosis, treatment and health plans for our clients.
So what do balanced doshas look like according to Ayurveda?
We know we are experiencing good health when we have the following:
- Good appetite, digestion and elimination
- A light and happy feeling on waking and after meals.
- A zest for life and a feeling of longevity
- A good lustre to the skin
- An ability to reproduce if desired
- Comfortable menstruation and good quality semen
- Free from any kind of DIS-ease
- Good immunity
If we can’t quite tick all the boxes above then the chances are we have deviated from our natural state of inner harmony and our personal doshic balance. This is when the concept of doshas become more relevant. The word ‘Vikruti’ is used to describe this state.
Determining your prakruti
To determine your prakruti it is best to seek out a qualified Ayurvedic Practitioner who can determine your prakruti through your pulse or via an Ayurvedic Astrologist who can determine it from your birth chart. If you live locally to me feel free to get in touch for an appointment so I can determine it for you otherwise checkout the APA for your local practitioner.
Determining your vikruti
Your state of imbalance can sometimes be easier to determine yourself. You yourself will be able to identify some of these traits and can take steps yourself towards counterbalancing them, some almost by your own intuition. The tables below will give you a brief idea about how to do this.
|Dry skin||Oleation both externally and internally; add more healthy fats to your diet and daily apply oil to your body before showering|
|Poor concentration||Meditation and other grounding techniques|
|A tendency towards constipation||Adding more ghee and fats into the diet as well as fibre. Supporting with herbal preparations where necessary such as Triphala, Psyllium husk, probiotics etc|
|Erratic eating and hunger patterns||Setting regular mealtimes and boosting your digestive fire with fresh ginger, salt and maple syrup|
|A feeling of thinness/lightness||Eating grounding nourishing foods|
|Feeling cold all the time||Eating regular warm/hot foods and hot herbal teas|
|Red skin conditions||Apply cooling liquid both in temperature and quality, i.e. aloe vera, neem, rose|
|Loose bowel movements||Enjoy a cooling diet with sweet, bitter and astringent tastes dominating|
|Feelings of anger or irritation||Sit and do a cooling breathing technique such as Sitali Pranayama – breathing in through a curled tongue and out of the nose|
|A tendency towards loose bowels||Minimise acidic and heating foods and drinks such as alcohol, vinegar, chilli etc|
|Feeling hot and bothered||Lie down in a cool dark place, maybe on the floor and listen to some calming music; such as sound of waves|
|Slow, sluggish and lethargic feelings||Keep the meals light; wheat, fried foods and fatty meats low.|
|Easy weight gain, hard to shift||Eat less, move more and introduce more heating spices into the meals|
|Excessive salivation||Try eating barley regularly|
|Desire for excessive sleep||Increase cardiovascular exercise during the day|
|A heavy coldness in the body||Go to a sauna regularly or use a hot mat to lie on after vigourously rubbing the body with kapha body oil.|
Importance of Inner Harmony
Ultimately, by living a life that is harmonious and in a state of inner equanimity one is less likely to become out of balance.
As Ayurvedic Practitioners we look at Doshas in and amongst many other things such as Dhatus (tissues), Malas (waste matter), Ama (metabolic waste), Prana (life force) and Agnis (metabolism on different levels).
Coupled along with your state of mind (in the form of Sattva, Rajas and Tamas) and emotional balance. Simple remedies like the ones above can often work. However, some physical treatments may help temporarily relieve symptoms but to get long lasting relief sometimes a deeper approach is required, especially with more manifested illnesses.