I first discovered Ayurveda whilst researching for my first Yoga Teacher Training back in 2013. Back then, I knew little about Ayurveda but I was fascinated by the Ayurvedic way of cleansing your body and how to heal your body with food and a lifestyle specific to your mind-body type.
Since then I’ve been learning a lot about Ayurveda and more I studied, the more I realized that understanding the concept of Dosha can really lead to a healthier happier life.
Read on to learn more about the Dosha, the foundational concept in the tradition of Ayurveda.
What is Ayurveda
Ayurveda is a traditional Indian system for health and healing and can be traced back to 5,000 BC, focusing on maintaining a physically and emotionally balanced state by eating specific foods and maintaining a lifestyle unique to the individual.
The word ‘Ayurveda’ is made up of two Sanskrit words: ‘Ayu’ means life and ‘Veda’ means the knowledge. Therefore Ayurveda is often translated as ‘Art of Living’ or the ‘Science of Life’.
The 5 Elements and The Doshas
Every individual is made of a combination of Five Elements, Air, Ether (or Space), Fire, Water and Earth and these elements combine in the human body to form three Doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Doshas are the energies believed to circulate in the body and mind that make up every individual, which perform different physiological functions in the body and mental process. The differing portions of these doshas determine individual characteristics and physical constitution.
The 3 Doshas
Vata is comprised of Air & Ether (space) element. Vata means ‘wind’ and is the energy that controls movement in the body.
Pitta is comprised of Fire & Water elements. Pitta means ‘the power of digestion’ or ‘cooking’ and it’s the energy that controls transformation.
Kapha is comprised of Water & Earth elements. Kapha means ‘what sticks’ and it’s the energy that controls cohesion and stability.
Prakriti – ‘True Nature’: Individual Constitution
Each individual has all three Doshas, but usually one or more of the three Doshas is predominant and this becomes your Prakriti, your ‘true nature’ (your individual blueprint or natural constitution). Your Prakriti is determined at conception and stays the same throughout your life.
An important thing to understand is that no one Prakriti is better than another. The goal is to maintain the best balance possible by being more conscious of who you truly are and knowing the best diet and lifestyle for your Dosha.
Vikriti: Unbalanced State
Your Prakriti can get knocked out of balance over time through environment, society, your diet and your lifestyle.
It is understood that when your Prakriti is not balanced, it becomes Vikriti (unbalanced state) and this can cause particular physical and mental disorders.
The way to bring yourself back from Vikriti (unbalanced state) to your Prakriti (individual nature/balanced state) is applying the concept of ‘like increases like’ and ‘opposites decrease each other’ by the use of Gunas, ‘the qualities’.
Gunas: The Qualities of each Dosha
Each Dosha is characterized by a set of qualities (Gunas) below.
Vata: light, cold, dry, mobile/erratic, rough, subtle
Pitta: are hot, light, penetrating, oily, mobile
Kapha: heavy, cold, humid, stable, softening
When an imbalance occurs in the body, you can treat it by increasing opposite qualities.
For example if you are susceptible to feeling the cold you wouldn’t drink cold water, which would make you even colder. You would drink something warm and feel the benefit.
Here is the list of 20 common qualities based on Ayurveda as a guideline to treat your imbalance.
When you understand the elements and qualities of each Dosha you can start to understand how you can pacify the aggravated Dosha by eating a food that have the opposite qualities, as well as changing your lifestyle in a way that will create an opposite energy or experience.
As the name suggests, Ayurveda gives you the knowledge to tune into your own body, become more aware of your true nature and what action you need to take to bring yourself back to a balanced state to live a healthier happier life!
If you don’t know your Dosha yet, the first step is to take my Dosha quiz to find out your mind-body type.
You’ll then receive some practical tips & advice on which foods, yoga postures and lifestyle habits that are best for your specific mind-body type!