The Doshas: Vata, Pitta & Kapha
By nature, each person is a combination of three bodily humors, or “doshas,” called Vata, Pitta & Kapha. Our bodily constitution, or “Prakriti”, depends on the varying proportions of each energy and is determined genetically at the time of conception. Innumerable Prakritis exist from the various amounts of the 3 doshas present in the manas (mental) and sharira (physical body) of the person. Some examples include: Vata Pitta, Pitta Kapha and Kapha Pitta. Below are examples of the predominant dosha in 3 practitioner’s Prakritis. Over time, our environment influences the dynamic balance of these doshas and we require some extra effort to stay well and ward off disease. In Ayurveda, we aim to balance each constitution through diet and lifestyle. By understanding our Ayurvedic constitution we can better guide our daily choices for complete wellness and self-healing.
Persons with Vata constitution have strong elements of air and ether. They are lithe with thin frames, have variable appetites and are subject to rapid speech, movement and multiple dispositions.
Typically, they are cold in body temperature, have dry skin and hair and pronounced facial features. Vata’s best friends are herbal oils and massages. Vatas love to be warm cozy and soothed. When in balance, persons of Vata nature are highly creative, active and excellent communicators. They fill the world of art and music, are wonderful teachers and make great salespeople.
An imbalanced Vata however, often suffers from skin, mental or neurological diseases. The have extreme sensitivity to cold and dryness and benefit from a diet rich in heart healthy omega 3 oils, warm soups and drinks, heavy sustaining protein and appetizing herbs and spices.
Pitta constitutions are of medium build, weight and height and tend to have well-developed musculature. They have reddish, coppery or fair skin and similar hair color. Overall, their skin is softer than Vata and their hair texture is typically straight.
Pitta persons are blessed with good metabolism and a powerful digestive agni. Since the elements of fire and water predominate in Pitta dosha, they are often hot and metabolic activity in all their tissues (dhatus) is strong. Pittas are said to have excellent vision and bright, piercing eyes. Mentally, Pitta prakritis are intelligent, have excellent comprehension and are sharp in thought and speech. They make great leaders, orators, lawyers and physicians.
An imbalanced Pitta, however, is prone to negative emotions, anger, impatience and jealousy. Pittas must pay particular attention to their appetite and emotions, eat regularly and providing themselves with quality personal time to stay in balance.
Persons of Kapha prakriti have a strong frame and are physically well-developed individuals with luminous complexions. Their skin is soft and lustrous, their hair is thick, shiny and wavy and they have large, beautiful eyes.
They typically have jovial dispositions and tend to be calm, loving and forgiving. Kaphas have regular appetites, but a much lower metabolism than Vatas and Pittas and are slow to exercise and movement. They have a sensitivity to cold and dampness and are prone to sinus congestion, lethargy and excess weight gain.
An imbalanced Kapha builds excess dhatus (tissues), possibly resulting in obesity, diabetes or cardiovascular disease.
Balanced Kaphas however, have excellent long-term memory and are largely stable and peaceful people. Because of their earth and water elements, they often gravitate towards professions in caretaking, counseling and home-making.