The word Ayurveda, which translates to “knowledge of life,” refers to a holistic system of mind, body, and spiritual health that can be traced back more than 5,000 years to the ancient Sanskrit texts called the Vedas.
The Vedas — recorded by the Indo-Aryan civilization of ancient India — examine the physical constitution, emotional nature and spiritual knowledge encompassing all aspects of life.
According to the Vedic philosophy, universal life manifests as three different energies, or doshas, known as Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
Every human is made up of a unique combination of these three forces. Though everyone will have a little bit of earth energy in them, most people tend to have an abundance in one of the doshas. This unique combination is determined at the moment you are conceived, and is your own personal blueprint.
As you go through life, the proportion of each of the three doshas constantly change according to your environment, diet, seasons, climate and many other factors. Moving in and out of balance, the doshas are also believed to have a significant influence on our health and well-being.
The Kapha dosha supplies water to all body parts and maintains healthy function of the immune system.
Kapha body types tend to have strong frames with a sturdier, heavier build.
The influence of earth and water elements make them innately stable, compassionate and loyal. They appreciate doing things in a methodical way, and prefer a regular routine in their personal and professional lives. The balanced kapha dosha is expressed as love and compassion.
When kapha types become imbalanced, they may become unmotivated and stubborn. Their metabolism will become sluggish and their appetite for food and simulation is less intense than the two other types. The out of balance Kapha type can also manifest as insecurity or envy.
Pitta types are dominated by the fire element, which makes them strong, intense and sometimes irritable people. They tend to have a medium build and endurance with powerful musculature.
Their skin is often freckled and easily reddens by the sun or any form of emotion. They are usually strong willed and have a good moral compass.
Pitta types are naturally quick learners who have an ability to easily comprehend new skills and concepts. They have a strong digestion and intense appetite, for not only food, but also for new challenges.
To balance their energy, Pittas need to manage their fiery tendencies, channeling them in productive, non-destructive ways.
Imbalances: If they miss a meal, they might get very grumpy. Common ailments include inflammation and acne.
Vata is the air element. Their bodies tend to be thin and lanky and they enjoy staying active, mentally and physically.
When Vatas are balanced, they have lively imaginations, and are creative thinkers. Their bodies are typically cold and dry, so they enjoy warm, humid weather.
The influence of the air element in the constitution causes their energy, mood and appetite to fluctuate dramatically. Because of this, Vata types often fail to eat and sleep regularly as they swing from eating heavy foods to fasting.
When imbalanced, they tend to get anxious, ungrounded and unable to stick to a commitment. Insomnia and low immunity are common problems for the imbalanced Vata type.
What’s Your Dosha? Take this simple dosha quiz from Yoga International
According to various health journals that have published research about the health benefits of Ayurvedic medicine, here are some attributes associated with the healthy functioning of specific dosha types.
Stay physically active to avoid fatigue, sluggishness, and depression.
Focus on personal development, constant learning, and new experiences.
Avoid processed sugar and incorporate lots of spices into your diet such as black pepper, ginger, cumin, chili and lots of bitter dark greens.
Choose foods that are light, warm, and spicy. Tea with dried ginger and lemon is a great energizer.
Develop a consistent routine of eating and sleeping.
Moderate cardiovascular exercise is recommended.
Sweet berries, fruits, small beans, rice, nuts and dairy products should be well incorporated into diet.
Avoid stressful activities. Meditative practices like yoga and tai-chi are a great way to maintain focus, inspiration, and mind body balance.
Avoid overexposure to direct sunlight and spicy foods.
Adopt practices like meditation to maintain a calm mind, avoid aggravation and negative emotions like hostility, hatred, and jealousy.
Practice patience, honesty, self-control, and generosity.
Fresh vegetables and fruits that are watery and sweet should be abundant throughout diet. Ex: cherries, mangoes, cucumbers, watermelon, and avocado.