Ayurveda is an ancient science of life that despite having a history of over 5000 years can be successfully adapted to modern lifestyles. This is why more and more people today turn to Ayurvedic teachings and practices to find and maintain both mental and physical wellness and wellbeing. The Sanskrit word doshas is what ayurveda identifies as the three basic types of energy or principles found within every living being. The focus of ayurvedic teachings is on whole-body healing which is achieved when you balance the doshas or bodily humours for physical, mental and spiritual health..
What are Doshas in terms of Ayurvedic medicine?
The three types of energy found within us are vata dosha, kapha dosha and pitta dosha. Each one of us has a unique combination or ratio which is what determines our Ayurvedic constitution based on which ayurveda helps us achieve optimal health. Each living being has one primary dosha, one secondary and of course the third which is the least prominent. Ayurveda attributes the cause of disease as an excess of deficiency of one of these three doshas due to a lack of proper cellular function which can also increase the presence of toxins within.
The three doshas are according to Ayurveda formed by five elements of the universe:
- Vayu or air
- Jala or water
- Akash or space
- Teja or fire
- Prithvi or earth
Why is it important to identify the right type of Dosha?
As said doshas and their ratios are what make up the blueprint to our bodies and ayurveda helps treat imbalances that occur. To do this your ayurvedic practitioner has to first determine your body type or dosha structure and based on these observations can then prescribe medicine, diet, meditation and lifestyle choices best suited to you.
You are probably experiencing an imbalance in your doshas when you start to feel unwell with dizziness, poor circulation, skin dryness, muscle spams and not in your best physical or mental space.
What are the Doshas?
Vata consists of two main elements that of air and space also known as ether. This dosha is generally described as light, cold, rough, dry, flowing and spacious. People vata dominant dosha are usually energetic, slim and creative, known for thinking outside the box but just as easily distracted. It is considered the autumn of doshas.
Their behaviour and moods are affected by the food they eat, the weather and the people around them.
Strengths include being highly creative, multitasker, quick learner, kind hearted, naturally slim and flexible. Always active, always on the go.
Weaknesses include being overwhelmed easily, forgetful, anxious, sensitive to the cold, irregular appetite, prone to digestive issues and gas, poor circulation which leads to cold hands, unstable moods and trouble sleeping.
Kapha consists of earth and water and is described as stable, steady, slow, heavy, cold and soft. People with kapha dominant dosha are considered as caring and recognised as a support system for others. They rarely get upset and always think before acting in a slow and deliberate manner. This is recognised as the spring of the doshas.
Their behaviour and moods are affected by an excessive consumption of cow’s milk or coconut milk or other liquid foods.
Strengths include being caring, wise, happy, empathetic, romantic, patient and having a healthy immune system.
Weaknesses include a slow metabolism, prone to weight gain, breathing issues owing to allergies, susceptible to depression, needing regular motivation and encouragement and a higher risk of heart disease.
Pitta is based on fire and water and people with the pitta type of dosha as dominant are known to be tenacious and associated with light, hot, sharp, liquid, oily and mobile. These people are athletic and muscular and make strong leaders, being highly motivated, competitive and goal oriented. Pitta is considered as the summer of doshas.
Their behaviour and moods are affected by being exposed to sharp and oily food or experiences and need to balance out with calming food and experiences.
Strengths include being intelligent, self-determined, quick learner, strong desire for success, natural leader, quick metabolism, good circulation, healthy hair and skin while being able to master skill easily.
Weaknesses include being impatient and prone to conflict, mood swing when hungry, being constantly hungry, sensitive to hot temperatures and being prone to acne and inflammation.
How to maintain good health and wellbeing
You will be advised on diet and lifestyle choices to suit your dominant dosha to help even out the imbalance. There are further measures that can be taken to maintain this balance for overall health and wellbeing.
Vata – If you are vata dominant then you should incorporate activities that include constant movement such as walking, yoga, cycling, running etc. It is important that you have regular meals.
Pitta – Owing to a tendency to push yourself too hard you should participate in team sports which will help you stay fit and satisfy you natural competitiveness. Avoid exercising in the heat. It is important that you avoid spicy or hot food and instead focus on more cooling options.
Kapha – Focus on a combination of cardio and weight resistance to stay motivated and interested. Having a workout buddy would be beneficial as well. It is advisable that you avoid dairy products and fats of any kind along with greasy or fried foods.
Regaining balance between your doshas will help you enjoy health, but it needs to be maintained by following diet and lifestyle recommendations, which are not difficult to do. With gradual change you will achieve true physical and mental wellbeing. Find out today how Ayurvedic practices can benefit your health.