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Intro to Ayurvedic Doshas

June 5, 2014

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At some point in your life you’ve probably struggled to find balance. This could mean you were physically unhealthy, mentally exhausted, or even emotionally drained. Whatever the cause, we’ve all gotten to the point where something has to change in order for us to reach our healthiest, happiest self. When you’re at this point, it can be hard to know exactly what you need to do to change. For me, the solution was the ancient Indian practice of Ayurveda.

Ayurveda was first developed 5,000 years ago by Indian monks seeking to explain the mind-body connection as it relates to physical and mental wellness. In fact, the first of the two main principles of Ayurvedic medicine states that the mind and body are intricately connected. It’s nearly impossible to be physically healthy if your mind is not and vice versa. 

The second principle asserts that nothing has more power to physically heal and transform your body than your mind. Keeping your body healthy and free from illness depends upon the total balance of your body and mind. Of course, the foods that you put into your body, and your level of physical exercise is a crucial part of being physically healthy, as is meditation and keeping a peaceful mind. What is good for your mind, like relaxation and meditation, is also good for your body, just as what is good for your body, nutritious foods and exercise, is also good for your mind.  

Each person has their own unique mind-body connection, which Ayurveda explains through three different energies called doshas. Each of the three doshas—Vata, Pitta, and Kapha—represent the different energy that makes up a person. Understanding doshas will help you to recognize when one part of your life is off balance, and allow you to find your center again. 

Dosha Types

Vata Dosha

This dosha is associated with movement, specifically your heartbeat, blood flow, air circulation, and breathing.

Those who are Vata-dominant tend to have energy that comes in bursts and are likely to experience sudden bouts of fatigue. They often have thin features, have trouble sleeping, and can have sensitive digestion. Emotionally, Vata Doshas tend to be very creative, energetic, and lively.

Pitta Dosha

Pitta is the ruler of your body’s metabolic systems. This includes nutrition, digestion, and absorption of nutrients. 

Pitta-dominant individuals are usually medium weight. They often have a warm body temperature and sleep very soundly, but for a short amount of time. Emotional attributes of a Pitta include intelligence and a strong ability to concentrate. They are good decision makers and speakers.

Kapha Dosha

This dosha supplies water to all of your organs and keeps your immune system healthy.

A person who is Kapha-dominant tends to have a larger, stronger build and often has smooth skin and thick hair. They tend to sleep very soundly for long amounts of time and have regular digestion. Mentally, Kaphas are calm, thoughtful, and caring. They enjoy life and are very comfortable with a routine.

To find out which one is most dominant in your body, take this short test from Ayurveda expert Deepak Chopra. For a more in-depth look at your dosha, try this quiz from Holistic Online.

Keep in mind that you may be a mix of two different doshas, as your body could be strong in one while your mind is stronger in another. That’s perfectly normal. In fact, some people have an even split across all three types of doshas (this is very rare and called tri-doshic)!

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll explore each dosha and how understanding yours can help you live a healthier life. Check back next week for Thursday for the initial installment. First up: Vata!