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The three doshas

Ayurveda believes that all things are made up of the 5 elements- ether(space), air, fire, water and earth, and that these 5 elements combine to create doshasWe as individuals are then a combination of these doshas and their elements and the amount that each of us has will vary from person to person. Most people will have a dual constitutions with one dosha being dominant and a small number of people will have all three dosha in similar amounts. When you are trying to determine your dosha is is best to not only focus on how you are now but also how you have been most of your life, how you were as a child and how you are when you are most healthy and balanced. Your body frame, eyes, skin etc, things that do not really change are good indicators of your true dosha.

Vata is the dosha of ether and air so vata people will have these characteristics. Their body, mind and lifestyle will be dominated by dry, light, cold, rough, fluctuating and mobile qualities.

As movement is one of the dominant characteristics of air, vata people love be very active and will often have a restless nature. Their energy however is not sustainable and they will run around until they are completely depleted then crash. When their energy is back they will jump up and do it all over again. ( I know cause I am one) They love and crave change and will jump into things but rarely finish them as they have already started something new. This tendency to fly from one thing to another is typical of vatas and therefore they need to ground themselves more then any other. A routine is a great way to do this, but more often then not they will resist something that will bring regularity to their lives. Yoga, meditation, warm baths, anything that will slow down their active minds and bodies is essential to bring balance and stability to busy vatas.

Vata people tend to be thin and either small or tall. And everything about them will be dry and variable - just like air. Their skin will be dry and their joints may crack when they move. They will often have dry hair that will split, contain dandruff and look dull. Often it will be curly or frizzy. Their nails too will be dry, often have ridges and will break easily. They will often have cold hands and feet and their skin will be cool to touch. This coolness makes them love to be out in the sun. They will hate being cold, feel drafts and really, really not like winter. As you can imagine, vatas are most happy basking in the heat of summer.

Their appetite is like everything else, variable. One day they will be starving, the next forget to eat. Fasting however is not good for them as they do not store energy easily, maybe due to the fact they they are always using it! They will usually crave sweet, salty and sours tastes, love oily food and mushy soups. Their digestion is often weak and they tend to suffer from constipation, gas and bloating.

Their active mind does not rest when they are sleeping either and vatas tend to toss and turn and wake during the night. They dream a lot but will often not remember them. When they do remember them they are quite active and intense and may include flying or being chased.

Vatas talk quickly and think quickly. They make friends easily and love to expolore the world. They are good theorist because they are quite happy to take old ideas and make them new. Their inability to follow through with things will however stop them for developing these ideas. They are quick to remember and quick to forget. If they get angry they will explode and then move on. Often they will not remember what all the fuss was about once their focus has shifted onto something new.

Pitta is the dosha of fire and water so pitta will have these characteristic. Their body, mind and lifestyle will be dominated by hot, pungent, sharpmoist and light qualities.

When we think of fire we think of intensity, transformation, power and heat, and pittas can be all of these things. Pittas are great leaders because they are strong, sharp and passionate. Their focused and competitive nature will often be rewarded with positions of power. They love a challenge, enjoy a debate and make good public speakers. But be careful, their speech can be filled with cynicism and sarcasm and will cut you down if they are running a little hot! They have a tendency towards anger, hate and jealousy if they are not careful. Their dreams are often filled with these same emotions, with war and violence being common themes. Regardless of these types of dreams they sleep well unless of course they are too focused on their work. This mixture of fire and water is not all bad however, it also makes them passionate and romantic. Their hot-blooded nature gives them a good appetite for sex and the endurance to maintain their desires.

Their bodies are medium height and build and their frame and height will usually be in proportion. They are the more muscular of the three doshas and enjoy exercise. They need to be careful to keep their competitive nature under control or they will overheat. They can gain and lose weight easily and usually store fat evenly across their bodies. Their skin is delicate and warm and they will often suffer from rashes, pimples and other inflammations. They will often have hot hands and feet and this warm body temperature makes them intolerant to hot weather. If they have white skin it will often have red tones, will freckle, have moles and winkle easily. They blush easily and redden after exercise. Pittas, again if appropriate, will also have red tones in their hair and they are more likely to go bald or grey early.

Pittas have good appetites and love eating. When they are hungry they need to be fed or they will become irritable. Needless to say, they do not do well on a fast. They like sweet, bitter and astringent tastes. They have a strong digestion but can suffer from heartburn. They rarely become constipated and their eliminations are quick, soft and loose.

Pitta people make friends easily, are acutely intelligent and are good at putting plans into action. If you want something done ask a pitta! They have a good memory and will hold onto things for a long time, so don't get them angry as they will not forget or let go of past differences easily.

Kapha is earth and water so kapha people will have characteristics based on these elements. Their body, mind and lifestyle will be dominated by coldheavyslowstablefluid and oily.

Just as earth implies, Kaphas are the more grounded of the three doshas. This connection to the earth can make them stuck and motivation is one of kaphas biggest problems. They are kind, calm and steady. They like stability and routine and are less inclined to embrace change. They tended to hold onto things and can suffer from attachment, greed and possessiveness. This can be a positive thing too - give them a job to do and they will see it through to the end. They are also very compassionate, calm and forgiving. This more maternal aspect could be associated with their close bond to the Earth and 'Mother Nature'.

Kapha people have a large frame and will often be carrying a bit of extra weight. Most of their weight is stored around their hips and thighs and it is difficult to shift. Kaphas don't need to do much to put on weight but they really need to work on getting it off. They usually have smooth, oily skin and rarely suffer form skin disorders. Their lips are big and full as are their eyes. This is kapha- big and beautiful.

Kaphas have a steady appetite and can often go all day without eating due to their natural ability to store energy. They do well on fasts. It can take a kapha some time to digest their food and they may produce mucus as a result. Kaphas have the strongest endurance of all doshas but this can be affected by neglect and abuse. They need a lot of physical activity but will often do anything to avoid it, they prefer storing their energy rather than using it.

Kaphas are cool and calm and this is how they dream. Their dreams are romantic and can be filled with water. They are heavy sleepers and often over indulge in bed. They would never be described as morning people! Kaphas are totally opposite to vatas with one being light and airy, the other heavy and earthy. They need what the other has in abundance. Want to bring a vata down form the sky then give them a kapha diet and lifestyle. Want a kapha to flutter in the wind? Hand them the rule book on life according to vatas. Pittas have no opposite but need the coolness kapha and vata share.

So these are the doshas.
These are the 5 elements according to Ayurvedic science.

There is of course now the issue of how to balance them. Here is a good place to start - a list of foods that are best eaten and avoided according to your dosha.
You also need to consider the tastes of the food you are eating as that too can influence the balance of the elements. Have a look at the post i have written about the 6 tastes to get a better understanding of what you should be avioding and favouring in relation to the tastes.

So basically it all comes down to the fact that like attracts like and it you have too much of something and it creates an imbalance or is something that you aready have a lot of due to your doshic and elemental body type then you have to reduce it or eliminate it for a while. It might seem a bit complicated at fisrt but it really does become second nature and you even start to notice how your bory reacts to certain things. It really is quite an amazing science that we can impliment into our daily lives to make them and us a more harmonious and healthy individual.

Happy health to you all.