What is Dosha & Its Types

Sep/26/2021 / by Team SEEMA
Image credits: Honey Fur

Sebastian Pole, in describing Ayurveda, once said “Because we cannot scrub our inner body we need to learn a few skills to help cleanse our tissues, organs, and mind.” Hence, Ayurveda Doshas 5,000-year-old practice can help you optimize healing without harsh medications and chemicals.

In exploring ways to keep the mind-body connection balanced, it’s important to understand that Ayurvedic medicine is built around 5 essential elements. These are water (Jala), earth (Prithvi), fire (Teja), air (Vayu) and space (Aakash). Because they make up the 3 ayurveda doshas, it’s helpful to discuss the doshas/humors to better understand your Ayurveda body type and composition.

Ayurveda Doshas
Image credits: Samatva Yogalaya

Ayurveda 3 Body Types / Doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha

Maybe you are wondering what is dosha? According to Ayurveda, the doshas which balance the world’s elements are responsible for your mental, physiological, physical and emotional health. Ayurveda doshas contribute to how you control your emotions, love and express yourself. They’re also responsible for how you break down bodily tissue, digest food and eliminate waste.

When your doshas are in balance, your body and internal system are maintained. However, if a dosha increases because of a lifestyle or dietary change, it can create an imbalance. And, that’s why you need to keep them in balance and understand how to restore harmony if you find yourself out of balance.

Doshas include three different corresponding qualities, Vata, Pitta and Kapha, that define your constitution or makeup. These are the mental, emotional and physical aspects that make up your nature, being and personality. While you might have one dominant dosha, it is possible to have two where one stands out significantly.

The Dosha Ayurveda Types are:

  • Vata (Air): Includes the respiratory and neurological functions
  • Pitta (Fire and Water): It includes the alimentary canal
  • Kapha (Earth): It includes the fluid and mucus in the body.

Do You Know Your Dosha?

But why study the doshas? Why do you need to know about your dosha? And, what is your dosha like? Want to know your dosha type? Take a Dosha quiz here.

Ultimately, learning about your dosha can help you create a blueprint that optimizes your physical and mental health. Having one dosha dominant in your body is called your body constitution, body type or Prakriti. Let’s explore the doshas with an overview of each one as this can help you to understand your particular makeup more. You’ll also learn what causes a fiery temper, why you might be so organized and we’ll cover the best foods to eat based on your dosha (and what to avoid).

Image credits: ShutterStock

Vata: Space (Ether) and Air Elements

The meaning of Vata is something that brings movement. It governs the body and mind and is responsible for walking, talking and inspiration. It also includes parturition and excretion. A short description of Vata characteristics are light, flowing, spacious, dry, subtle, clear, cold, mobile, rough and the Autumn season. As we need air to survive, we need Vata in our bodies. Hence, it’s the king of all doshas.

Vata governs quick thinking, flexibility and speech. It also governs menstruation, muscle movements, tissues, circulation and nerve impulses. Vata in the body includes the urinary bladder, hips, thighs, bones, ears, large intestines, lumbar region, feet, colon and organs.

Because Vatas are on-the-go by nature, you should find ways to enjoy activities that get you up and active. Try cycling, jogging, running, walking, Tai Chi or yoga. Even window shopping at the mall with friends is meditative for you.

Physical Makeup of Vata

If you have a Vata dosha, you might be slim in build with a thin body frame. It’s very hard for you to gain weight but with a high metabolism, you lose weight easily. Your hair is thin, dry and frizzy at times. Your skin may be colder to the touch and it stays dry. Your eyes are an unusual color and you may have very thin or fine eyelashes.

Vata Strengths

A creative type, you are full of energy, quick on your feet and able to think outside the box. You’re likely a multitasker, quick thinking and you have a big heart because you forget easily. You may not like routines but prefer lots of variety. Hence, you are sometimes very active and can be restless.

A very social person, you have lots of friends, love talking and your speech pattern can be fast and very active or high-pitched. However, you might also lose your train of thought easily as you are sometimes nervous or indecisive. Your mood may often change based on the weather and those around you.

Here’s what Vata needs to know about dis-ease.

Vata Weaknesses

Aside from being sometimes forgetful, you might be anxious at times or easily become overwhelmed. Sensitive to cold weather, you don’t sweat a lot. You may have trouble sleeping and might have poor circulation where your hands and feet stay cold. With irregular eating patterns, you might have occasional digestive problems and occasionally suffer from constipation and gas. Vata is prone to sore throats, headaches, diarrhea, constipation, cramps, back pain, nervous and joint-related problems and for males, ejaculation problems.

Image credits: ShutterStock

To Keep Vata in Balance

Based on Ayurveda, if you have Vata as your predominant makeup, you should stick to similar routines each day. Have regular mealtimes and your sleep and awakening schedule. Meditate and exercise around the same time each day. Even if you travel to a different time zone, stick to your schedule. 

For ways to manage your stress level, try mediation, walking or other calming activities. Stay out of the cold weather (always have a sweater that covers your fingers or has pockets and wear comfy socks). Keep a warm environment in which you can relax. You will benefit from warm drinks and foods.

Use almond, Vata-based or sesame seed oil to massage yourself with each day. Avoid shifting schedules on short notice. Stay away from stimulants and dry or cold climates or areas where the air conditioning is full blast.

Avoid areas with too much distracting noise like loud music or flashing lights. If you must go in these environments bring sunglasses and earplugs or noise cancellation headphones.

Here are a few extra Vata balancing tips to warm up to.

Foods Vata Should Have and Avoid

With Vata dominance, you should eat more cooked vegetables, nuts and fruit and you can add dairy into your diet. To keep Vata balanced, look for food that is cooked and moist and enjoy sweet, salty and sour flavors.

Avoid eating a lot of cauliflower, peas and dry grains in larger quantities as these can disrupt Vata. Skip the coffee, black tea and alcohol. But don’t worry. Here are a few foods perfect for Vata Dosha to enjoy! Insert Vata Diet Banyan Botanicals video here

Ayurveda Doshas
Image credits: Black Friday

Kapha: Water and Earth

Pronounced “kuffa”, Kapha means something that holds things in place/together. Kapha qualities are slow, steady, stable, dull, smooth, wet, cold, heavy and soft like the earth. Springtime is the Kapha season as it’s a time when nature emerges from hibernation.

Kapha in the body is the lungs, throat, chest, waist, stomach, head, pancreas, fat stomach and lymph area. Physiologically, Kapha moistens food and helps convert it into a bolus. Additionally, it stores energy and gives strength to the tissues in the body. Kapha also provides synovial fluid which lubricates the joints.

If Kapha is your dominant dosha, you are likely thick-structured, sturdy, caring and strong. You are the go-to person for friends and family as you support others. Down to earth, you are a good thinker, rarely overreact and can be very slow and deliberate with making decisions.

Physical Makeup of Kapha

Kaphas have physical body frames that are broad and curvy. They are very strong or “big-boned” in that they have thick joints and bones. It’s easy for them to gain weight but hard to lose it. Their skin is often oily, soft and smooth. It’s thick and they have hair that is also thick and oily. Their hair type might be wavy while they have thick eyelashes and big round eyes. With a steady appetite, their digestion is slow at times and they sweat a moderate amount.

As for their temperament, Kaphas are very calm and stable. At times they can be stubborn and greedy if there’s something they want. Slow learners, Kaphas also tend to forget slowly, while their speech is also slow. It can sound deep and low or melodious.

Kapha Strengths

Grounded and calm in temperament, Kaphas are strong, generous, caring, stable, empathetic, happy, patient, calm, energetic, trusting, wise and romantic. They have very healthy immune systems and are very active.

Kaphas are always calm and they enjoy leisurely activities like a late-day stroll around the lake with friends or a weekly yoga class as they enjoy routines.

Have 5-minutes? Check out this Kapha yoga workout.

Kapha Weaknesses

Kaphas are prone to gaining weight and sometimes have sluggish or slow metabolism levels. They tend to sleep a lot and will oversleep if their alarms aren’t set. Kaphas might suffer from mucus buildup, asthma, respiratory problems and different allergies. They are at risk for colds, coughs and heart disease.

Here are a few ways to get into a balanced Kapha routine.

Kaphas need regular exercise and motivation reminders but dislike cool and damp weather. Prone to bouts of depression, Kaphas need encouragement.

Ayurveda Doshas
Image credits: Black Friday

To Keep Kapha in Balance

If Kapha is dominant in your makeup, focus on routines and getting regular exercise. To maintain good cardiovascular health, get up early (before the sun is up) and don’t take naps. Mix up your routine so you won’t get bored and keep some form of exercise in your routine every day. Set up a good sleep schedule so you don’t oversleep as it can lead to a weight increase. Do exercise and fat-burning yoga sessions to keep the extra calories off.

Kaphas work best in pairs so have a partner or buddy that you exercise with. Focus on weight-resistance exercises and cardiovascular exercises that keep your attention. If exercise seems boring, take your friend and go shopping and have an energy drink or salad.

Take note if people are being nice to you versus someone trying to use you. That way you know who your true friends are. Set aside time to write and meditate and try not to be too possessive with things or people. Attach less and lighten up. Avoid staying closed in or shut out from others. You are fun-loving but don’t stay indoors all the time. Get out where it’s cool.

Avoid Kapha imbalances with these top tips.

Foods Kapha Should Have and Avoid

To avoid packing on the pounds, eat light in the morning and at night. Have your biggest meal at lunchtime. Hence, have a healthy diet and keep a warm temperature in your home and your body. Eat warm foods like soups and enjoy a sauna or sitting by the beach.

Unsure what to snack on? Here are 10 Kapha foods that promote balance. Insert Kapha Diet Plan Banyan Botanical video

Avoid foods like sweets and dairy that can aggravate Kapha. With a Kapha dominance, eat fruit and fibrous foods. Look for foods that are cooked, warm and light. Kaphas like astringent, bitter and pungent flavors. Here’s more on Kapha diets.

Ayurveda Doshas
Image credits: Honey Fur

Pitta: Water and Fire

A fiery balance, Pitta means to digest things, and it is represented by qualities like sharp, mobile, light, hot, liquid and oily. Summer is the primary season as it encompasses hot days and weather.

If you have a Pitta dosha, then you may have a hot temper or run hot as Pittas are known for their tenacious appetites. They can cause conflict because they tend to be confrontational in their aggressive pursuits. It’s not intentional but they are competitive, very motivated and goal-oriented.

Pitta in the body is represented in the stomach, small intestines, blood, organs like the eyes, sweat, sebaceous glands, and lymph.

Physical Makeup of Pitta

People that have a Pitta dosha are strong with a muscular build. They are very athletic and may have a medium body frame and musculature. It’s easy for them to both gain and lose weight as they have a high metabolism. Hence, they are always hungry. They may have loose bowel movements and are prone to sweating profusely.

Often redheads, Pittas may have fair to warm healthy skin that’s prone to occasional acne and they may have freckles. They can sunburn easily and have fine hair that’s usually straight. They may show signs of premature gray hair while their eye color is bright and their eye shape is almond.

Pitta Strengths

If there’s any dosha that’s determined, loves organizing and planning, it’s Pitta. They’re purposeful, intelligent, self-determined and they learn very quickly. They have a strong need to succeed and are natural leaders despite bucking heads with others. Mastering skills easily, Pitta doshas are driven, witty, very blunt, direct and at times they can be very decisive as they are quite sharp and clear.

Pitta Weaknesses

Pitta is sometimes misunderstood because their moods make it look like they are arrogant, impatient and confrontational but sometimes they are tired, hungry or it’s too hot and they need space to cool down. They push themselves very hard and can sometimes push others away. If Pitta dominates in your life, avoid exercise in excessive heat as Pittas are sensitive to hot weather. While they may enjoy warm weather they don’t like high heat or humidity.

Because Pitta is prone to skin cancer, acne, and skin-related diseases, they need to watch what they apply to their skin. They may also have vision problems, and suffer from anemia, insomnia and stomach acid. 

Pittas are governed by will-power and while highly intelligent, they need to be cautious about jealousy, anger and greed.

Image credits: Honey Fur

To Keep Pitta in Balance

Pittas tend to suffer from inflammation and because they are active and love to compete. They do well with walking as it’s time for self-reflection. Pittas also need time in nature and time for themselves to complete self-care. Because they are competitive and like team sports, they can benefit from diets that include anti-inflammatories like ginger. However, to avoid burnout, Pitta shouldn’t be too competitive or overworked to exhaustion.

Pittas get very moody when they’re hungry so if you’re traveling or away, bring snacks and stay in the cool. Keep your body cool to avoid sunstroke/overheating. With a Pitta-dominance, maintain a good life-work balance and avoid high heat. Stay in peaceful environments even if you have to create them. Do calming yoga, exercise and choose relaxing meditation techniques.

What’s on your plate? Here’s how to balance foods with Pitta dosha. 

Foods Pitta Should Have and Avoid

Look for foods that are astringent, bitter or sweet and avoid highly acidic foods and stimulants.  Avoid eggplant, sour foods, red meat, coffee, black tea, smoking and alcohol. To reduce Pitta, eat barley, oats, rice and wheat.

Avoid fermented foods like yogurt, cheese and sour cream. Eat cool salads, cold foods, vegetables, beans, shakes and ghee while avoiding spicy foods. Have some exercise that is non-competitive on a routine basis.

Not sure what to eat? Check out a Pitta sample diet plan here.

FAQ

What does your dosha mean?

Your dosha is the energy in your body and it helps you to exist. It’s responsible for your emotional, physical, mental and psychological health. It contributes to how you express yourself and also how your body digests food and expels waste.

What are the 3 doshas?

The first dosha, Pitta (water and fire), is fiery, highly intelligent and intense. These are sometimes red-headed people with fair skin who have big appetites but are impatient. Vata (air and space) is warm and well-spoken and can graze on food but should not oversleep. Kapha (water and earth) is relaxing, supportive and loves friends and family. They’re more the mothering type.

How do you know what your dosha is?

For starters, consider the size of your body (small, medium, full). Then look at your skin (oily, dry, prone to acne). Explore how you relate to cold and hot weather and if you find yourself cool/cold, warm or hot all the time. Note that everyone is beautiful and unique regardless of your dosha.

What is Kapha type?

Kaphas are talkers who love sleeping late. They have a slow metabolism and it’s hard for them to lose weight. With larger frames, they have oily skin and strong bone structures.

What is Pitta body type?

Pittas have a medium build and are not too fat or thin. It’s easy for them to gain and lose weight and they are very strong. They are generally physically stronger than Vatas. They have oilier skin and few wrinkles but suffer from yellow teeth and possibly bleeding gums.

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