What are Ayurveda and the Doshas?
I recently finished a course in Nutritional Therapy, during which I learned a lot about Ayurveda and how this millenary science can help us live better.
Ayurveda is one of the world’s oldest forms of holistic medicine and is still widely used today.
Combining physical, psychological, and spiritual practices, Ayurveda focuses on whole-body healing and states that a person’s dosha, a type of bodily humor, determines their personality and health.
Ayurveda translates to “the science of life” in English, and it claims that adopting dosha-specific health practices leads to balance and well-being.
Ayurveda and the Doshas
Ayurvedic medicine is based on the idea that the world is made up of five elements — Aakash (space or ether), Vayu (air), Teja (fire), Jala (water), and Prithvi (earth).
A combination of each element results in three humors, or doshas, known as Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. These doshas influence a person’s physiological, mental, and emotional health.
Every person is said to have a unique ratio of each dosha, usually with one standing out more than the others. For example, a person may be mostly Pitta while another may be mostly Vata.
A person’s unique ratio of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha defines their Ayurvedic constitution, as a blueprint to achieve optimal health.
Based on centuries of Ayurvedic practice, an Ayurvedic practitioner can determine one’s dosha based on physical, emotional, mental, and behavioral characteristics. Here’s a general overview of each dosha:
Vata consists mainly of the two elements air and space (also known as ether), and it is generally described as cold, light, dry, rough, subtle, mobile, and clear. Autumn/Winter is called the Vata season for its cool, crisp days. Vata represents all the mobility and movement inside our bodies.
Those with predominant Vata dosha are usually physically slim, energetic, and flexible. They’re known for thinking outside the box, enjoy daydreaming but can become easily distracted – or “airy.” What’s more, because they tend to change they can get bored quickly. In terms of their behavior, Vata persons learn quickly, are highly creative, multitaskers, kind-hearted, and always “on the go.”
When data is not in balance, this person can become forgetful, anxious, unstable, overwhelmed and lonely, have insomnia, irregular appetite and eating patterns, prone to digestive issues and gas, and poor circulation (cold hands and feet).
According to Ayurveda, for optimal health, a Vata-dominant person should follow a regular daily routine, manage stress through meditation and other calming activities, and maintain a warm body temperature by wearing layers and consuming warm foods and drinks. Sweet, salty, and source tastes help balance Vata. Choose sweet fruit such as bananas, grapes, peaches, plums, cooked vegetables, and easily digestible grains, such as cooked oats, white rice, and oats.
Known for being associated with a tenacious personality, the pitta dosha is based on fire and water. It’s commonly described as hot, light, sharp, oily, liquid, and mobile. Summer is known as the pitta season for its sunny, hot days. That’s when pity individuals are more prone to get unbalanced.
Pitta people are said to usually have a muscular build, be very athletic, and serve as strong leaders. They’re highly motivated, goal-oriented, and competitive. Still, their aggressive and tenacious nature can be off-putting to some people, leading to conflict. They are usually intelligent, purposeful, learn quickly, self-determined, masters skills easily, have a strong desire for success, strong, natural leaders, quick digestion, good circulation, and oily skin and hair.
When Pitta is not balanced, the person can be impatient, moody when hungry, prone to acne and inflammation, heartburn, and sensitive to hot temperatures.
Those with a pitta-dominant dosha should focus on work-life balance and avoid extreme heat in terms of weather and food. Favor sweet fruit such as apples, dates figs, sweet and bitter vegetables such as asparagus, beets, cauliflower and granola, bran, quinoa grains.
Kapha (pronounced “kuffa”) is based on water and earth. It can be described as loving, compassionate, static, slow ( digestion, talk, metabolic), dense bones, cold, smooth skin, thick hair, and soft. Spring is known as Kapha season, as many parts of the world slowly exit hibernation.
People with this dosha are described as jolly, easy-going, and caring. They’re known for keeping things together and being a support system for others. Kapha-dominant individuals rarely get upset, think before acting, and go through life in a slow, deliberate manner. They are caring, trusting, patient, calm, wise, happy, romantic, with strong bones and joints and a healthy immune system.
When Kapha is not in balance, the person is prone to gain weight due to the slow metabolism, sluggishness, oversleeping, breathing issues (i.e., asthma, cough, allergies), higher risk of heart disease, mucus buildup, susceptibility to depression, needs regular motivation, and encouragement.
For good health, a Kapha-dominant person should focus on regular exercise, a healthy balanced diet, maintaining a warm body temperature (e.g., sitting in a sauna or eating warm food), and establishing a regular sleep routine. To balance Kapha, choose to avoid sweet and sour fruits. Favor apples and cherries. Pungent and bitter vegetables such as asparagus, beets, broccoli, and grains such as dry oats, quinoa, and bran.
Not many foods for Kapha and Pitta people are similar as these constitutions have the water element.
Talk to your doctor about your diet. While there is no cure for lupus, we can make it less aggressive to our bodies with our lifestyle and diet.
Stay safe, healthy, and love yourself.