The Three Doshas of Ayurveda

According to the system of Ayurveda (the “knowledge of life”), every person is comprised of 3 energies that govern the functions of the body. These energies are the doshas, and are referred to as the Vata, Pitta, and Kapha doshas, respectively.

Each dosha maintains a set of certain qualities, both when in balance and out of balance. What’s more, because each person is uniquely composed of these energies, Ayurveda stresses an individualized approach to health and wellness that starts with an understanding of your own doshas (while everyone has all three energies, one or two tend to dominate).

Vata: The Energy of Movement

Vata is the energy of movement. It is made up of the elements of Ether (space) and Air, and those who are Vata by nature take up the characteristics of these elements. The Vata dosha regulates movement in the body,  including circulation, breathing, and your heartbeat.

Vata heavy individuals tend to be thin, talk and think quickly, and always seem to be doing a million things. When Vata is in balance, it’s a great source of creativity and vitality – music, art, and storytelling are just some examples.

However, when out of balance, this dosha is the source of fear and anxiety. It can cause one to be excessively impatient, distracted, or feeling like they’re constantly in pain. Like the element of air, Vata heavy individuals may wrap themselves in so much energy (or, obligations) that they eventually exhaust themself.

To balance against Vata, practice grounding, stabilizing asanas. Value slowness and centeredness in your actions – take your time! Each foods that are warm, heavy, and mildly spicy, and be sure to get plenty of quality sleep.

Pitta: The Energy of Transformation

Pitta is the energy of transformation. In Pitta, Water and Fire elements come together. This dosha controls the metabolic functions in the body, including digestion, absorption of foods and nutrients, and body temperature. It also is the source of transformation for our mood and thoughts.

Individuals heavy in Pitta tend to maintain to a medium build and tend to excel in things with a competitive edge, from sports to politics. They also tend to be leaders, attracting people in a paternalistic fashion. When in balance, Pitta encourages contentment and intelligence.

When Pitta is out of balance, individuals tend to ‘burn out.’ Stress, high body heat, acne, rashes, and eye irritation are all symptoms of imbalance. To combat these, individuals should attempt to remain calm, cool, and grounded. Eat cool, heavy foods and complement your diet with extra fruits and vegetables.

Kapha: The Energy of Fluidity & Structure

Kapha is the energy of rigidness – both in terms of little or low rigidity (fluidness) and high rigidity (structure). It’s made up of the elements water and earth, controlling growth and immunity in the body. This energy also supplies water to the entire body, providing moisture for the skin and organs.

When heavy in Kapha energy, individuals tend to be heavy and strong, both in mind and build. They tend to avoid movement and favor stableness. This dosha is also associated with a  forgiving, loving attitude and personality – these individuals are often the “glue” that hold things together.

When out of balance, kapha propagates grogginess, fogginess of mind, and lethargy. It can lead individuals toward insecurity and envy, while also preventing them from enacting change. Combat this by encouraging laughter, eating light vegetarian foods with little to no oil or fats, and enjoying light, brisk exercise like cardio or yoga.

What Your Energy

Take a moment to reflect on these qualities and how they relate to your own life and personality. By understanding the make up of your energy, you should work to constantly maintain balance. Ask yourself what symptoms you tend to experience often, and try a few of the suggestions that are included for each dosha. From asanas to dietary changes, aligning yourself wiht your energy can open up the door to healthy, happier living!

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