Discovering the doshas: How to find your ayurvedic body type
Often times, we may feel out of balance, yet we don’t know why. Luckily, there’s a 3,000-year-old tool that can guide you to discovering why you may feel off balance and how to fix this feeling. This tool is known as Ayurvedic medicine. More specifically, the Ayurvedic doshas may help you understand more about why you’re feeling out of whack.
All about Ayurvedic medicine
Originating in ancient India, Ayurvedic medicine is one of the world’s oldest practices. Ayurveda provides a holistic, natural approach to wellness and medicine. It also emphasizes how the mind, body, and spirit all play a role in our wellbeing. In fact, Ayurveda directly translates from the Sanskrit language to mean “knowledge of life and longevity.” According to Ayurveda, everything in the universe is connected. When your mind, body, and spirit are in harmony, they promote balance and good health. Similarly, when one experiences a disruption in their balance, they may feel unsatisfied or unwell. There are five major elements emphasized in Ayurveda: space, air, fire, water, and earth. Combined in different ways, these elements form life forces known as doshas. Doshas help control how your body works and can help uncover ways to find your balance once again.
Three doshas: Vata, Pitta, Kapha
There are three main doshas to be considered, and each of them combines two of the five major Ayurvedic elements. The doshas control how your body functions and how your spirit interacts with other life forces. The three main doshas are known as Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Everyone has a primary dosha, while the secondary dosha also plays a major role in balancing your energies.
The Vata dosha, also known as the most powerful of all three doshas, is a mixture of space and air. The primary function of the Vata dosha is movement and communication. Generally, Vata is associated with basic bodily functions and controls the mind, breathing, blood flow, heart function, and waste removal through the intestines. When it comes to the mind, Vata emphasizes creativity, flexibility, and mental sharpness. Key qualities of Vata dosha include dry, light, cold, rough, subtle, mobile and clear. Because the doshas are associated with the physical body, someone who has a prominent Vata dosha may have a lean, thin frame.
The Pitta dosha is comprised of fire and water. The term Pitta can be translated to mean “that which cooks.” The purpose of the Pitta dosha is to emphasize digestion and transformation. The Pitta energy moves through the body through organic acids, hormones, enzymes, and bile. It is also responsible for heating up the body by breaking down food. In the mind, Pitta concerns joy, courage, willpower, jealousy, and intellect. Key qualities of the pitta dosha are oily, sharp, hot, light, moving, liquid, and acidic. Someone who has a primary Pitta dosha may appear to be of medium build, warm, and muscular.
Finally, the last dosha is known as Kapha. Comprised of the elements earth and water, Kapha means “that which sticks.” The primary functions of Kapha are cohesiveness, structure, and lubrication. Physiologically, Kapha is responsible for storing energy, lubricating the joints, and maintaining bodily fluids like water, mucous, and lymph. Psychologically, Kapha is all about love, patience, attachment, forgiveness, and greed. The key qualities surrounding the Kapha dosha are moist, cold, heavy, dull, soft, sticky and static. Those with a primary Kapha energy may have a sturdy physique and can easily gain weight. They also may have trouble losing weight.
So, how do you find out which is your primary dosha? In most cases, it is easy to discover someone’s primary dosha by looking at their physical characteristics. Still not sure which is your primary dosha? Try taking Deepak Chopra’s quiz, here, for more guidance. Once you find your primary dosha, you can take the necessary steps to recognize which major imbalances occur in your life and how to restore your energetic equilibrium in the body, mind, and spirit.
Someone struggling with Vata energy may experience symptoms of anxiety, loneliness, exhaustion, dry skin, and constipation. Other indicators your Vata may be out of balance include tremors, muscle spasms, and tics. The Vata quickly becomes unbalanced when you eat while anxious or depressed, eat in a hurry, smoke cigarettes, fail to get a good night’s rest and ingest drinks such as alcohol, coffee, or black tea. Luckily, there are also ways you can easily restore balance to Vata. These include daily meditation, spending time in nature, and gentle exercise like yoga, swimming or walking. Vata-boosting foods include ripe fruits, mild spices, teas, rice, wheat, and steamed vegetables.
Pitta imbalances include anger, over-emphasis on the ego, infection, inflammation, ulcers, heartburn, rashes and fever. Those with a primary Pitta dosha can participate in the aforementioned Vata energy-balancing activities, along with doing things in moderation, taking time to participate in play, and not taking yourself too seriously. Foods that can help balance Pitta are raw vegetables, moderate amounts of dairy, barley, oats, and mint. Once the balance is restored to Pitta, one can look forward to feeling joyful, demonstrating courage, and developing an inner drive for life.
Finally, Kapha imbalances may manifest in the form of unhealthy attachments, possessiveness, greed, lethargy, resistance to change, and congestion in the organs. One can restore balance to the Kapha by engaging in regular, vigorous exercise, rising at the same time early in the morning, and meditating. Foods that will help restore balance to Kapha include honey, fat-free buttermilk, corn, garlic, turmeric, and black pepper. Once the Kapha is restored, you can look forward to feeling more loving and calm.