16 Nov '18
Understanding Your Doshas
Are you Vata, Pitta, or Kapha? We’ll help you find out.
You are unique, but you also share common physical and emotional traits with others. Whether it’s the way you move, your default mood, the kinds of foods that do or don’t agree with you, or the habits you tend towards, each of us has a specific bio-psychological makeup. In the holistic Indian healing system of Ayurveda, people can be categorized by their doshas, or biological energies.
The three doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. While some people exhibit elements of all three, most people have a dominant dosha that is evident in their physical body shape, their personality, their appetite, and their mental faculties. People are either balanced, in excess, or deficient in, their doshas. These levels can be affected by many factors, including the seasons, stress, and diet. By understanding your dosha and adjusting your lifestyle to align with it, you’ll set yourself on a positive path toward better health.
Vatas correspond to the air and space elements, meaning they are all over the place. Vatas think fast, move fast, and their energy is erratic. They can converse on any number of topics (and often use hand gestures when they do), though they tend to repeat themselves. Rather than systematic mealtimes and big servings, Vatas prefer to graze or nibble on food throughout the day. Their appetites often vary from one day to the next and they may experience gastrointestinal distress and bloating. Vatas are often thin, with dry skin, and may complain of cold hands and feet. Vatas experience energetic extremes and have inconsistent sleep patterns, likely because their minds are so active. Anxiety and nervousness are common in Vatas, and they can be flighty and forgetful. Vatas have artistic temperaments and love creative expression. They are eager and quick learners, and no two days in their lives are alike.
When Vatas become unbalanced, the most important thing (and perhaps the most difficult) for them to do is slow down. A structured schedule, including consistent bedtimes and wake-up times, will help them do that. Warmth will also help Vatas return to equilibrium; layering clothes, gentle exercise like yoga, massage, and drinking tea will all help turn up a Vata’s temperature.
Pitta people are made of fire and water. They have strong appetites, hearty digestive systems, and high energy. They are smart and eager to learn new things. Pittas are headstrong; when they set their minds on a goal, they will achieve it, no matter what. They are natural leaders and have a competitive and perfectionistic spirit. The flipside of this is that Pittas can become irritable, impatient, and lose their temper with others easily. They tend to be outspoken, stubborn, and critical. Because of their fiery nature, pittas may sweat a lot; their complexions tend toward oily and their skin may have a reddish tone. Pittas have medium builds, are of average height, and may have red hair or experience balding. They have robust libidos and tend to sleep well in short intervals.
When Pittas become unbalanced, their priority should be to cool down. Pittas can do this by adding cool foods like melon and cucumber to their diets; spending time in nature, especially by the water; and using sweet aromatherapy scents like chamomile, lavender, and jasmine.
Kaphas come from the Earth and water elements. They are calm, compassionate, and sink into sentimental nostalgia easily. Kaphas are sympathetic listeners; they’re the ones people go to for advice. Because of their sturdy body types and their tendency to gain weight, they move more slowly than others, but are strong and have impressive stamina. After eating, Kaphas often feel heavy, but their digestion is like clockwork. They also sleep deeply. Kaphas prefer a gentle pace of life yet are methodical about their to-dos. They are protective of themselves and their loved ones; when they commit, they keep their promises. The downside is that Kaphas may suppress their own feelings, resist change, and avoid confrontation. The status quo is their preferred mode of operation, but this rigidity can also be their downfall. Kaphas are also prone to depression.
When Kaphas are unbalanced, their goal should be to get moving They need to immerse themselves in new experiences, do higher-intensity forms of exercise like running or cycling, and declutter their physical surroundings. A neti pot will help Kaphas clear their sinuses and facilitate deeper breathing while stimulating scents like cinnamon and cloves will wake them up and sharpen their senses. Kaphas are advised to avoid sweets and dairy products and reduce red meat consumption while increasing their intake of vegetables and beans.