Ayurveda and Dosha Types for Beginners
"Energy is all there is" - Albert Einstein
Okay, so it’s time to confirm something that your mother has been trying to convince you of for years… Darling, you’re not like everyone else! Ayurveda wants you to not only love that about yourself but also to embrace it as the secret to your health and wellbeing.
Ayurveda holds that each of us is completely different from every other living thing on the planet! And we need to live from this understanding. Doing that starts with inquiring into who we are, what we’re made of and why we do what we do, think what we think and choose what we choose. In other words, the secret to wellbeing (and authentic living) is understanding your true nature or what Ayurveda would call your dosha.
Dosha is a Sanskrit word meaning “something that can be disturbed, disordered or deranged”.
Dosha is the natural tendency of all things (including us) to fall into and out of order. It’s also a reminder that our wellbeing is a delicate balance of the internal and external energies that move, transform, and build our bodies and beliefs.
Ayurveda defines the three doshas as the natural intelligence that directs how everything in the body-mind behaves. They are the energies that act and interact to define everything about you from your shoe size to your favorite food, to the areas of life where you’re likely to excel or struggle.
Your dosha is your unique combination of each three dosha types:
- Vata - the energy of movement
- Pitta - the energy of transformation and metabolization
- Kapha - the energy of structure and cohesion.
It’s your personal living signature and a beautifully authentic picture of how you operate and express yourself in the world. It’s also a set of signposts that mark your potential path to imbalance.
How To Familiarize Yourself With Each Dosha
Think of each Dosha as “working energies” within you. Each one has a specific function and set of characteristics or qualities that inform how it does its job.
Vata: The Energy of Movement
It’s light, cool, dry, and moving like the wind. Its primary function is to move everything from thoughts and ideas to nerve impulses, blood, and oxygen in and around the body. Vata is the energy that drives creation, expression, wanderlust, and change. When balanced in the mind, it brings creativity, spontaneity, enthusiasm, and expansiveness. And when balanced in the body it creates a feeling of lightness, clarity, and flexibility, with just the right amount of movement and flow.
Anxiety, fatigue, digestive issues, foggy brain, constipation, and insomnia are some of the signs of imbalanced vata energy. Often brought on by change, stress, travel, seasonal transitions, or simply having too much to do. Imbalanced vata energy is a hallmark of our busy modern lives!
Pitta: The Energy of Transformation and Metabolization
It’s hot, intense, sharp, light, and spreading. Its primary function is to metabolize and digest the ideas, information, emotions, and food you consume. Pitta heats the body, sparks insight and joy, and transforms your understanding of yourself and the world. When balanced, it’s the bright, bouncy, charismatic energy that gets things done with precision and poise, and the fiery discipline that keeps your wellness efforts on track.
But when pitta’s flames are intensified by warm temperatures, rising tensions, or high expectations (of ourselves and others), the body-mind’s heated response may look like anger, hunger, rage, or condescension. Inflammation, diarrhea, skin rashes, and hair loss are other signs that pitta energy needs cooling.
Kapha: The Energy of Structure and Cohesion
It’s cool, wet, heavy, and slow. And it’s primary function is to build us (literally) and ground us in ourselves. Kapha is the energy that holds us up and together. It’s the energetic “glue” that enables the physical structures of the body and provides lubrication to keep things moving smoothly. Balanced kapha is the definition of bliss. Nurturing, compassionate, soft, calm, and dependable. It’s the stability that keeps us anchored in our truth and the equanimity that allows us the meet life’s challenges with a gentle, knowing smile.
But life can get heavy when kapha balance falters. Weight gain, congestion, colds, and flu are signs that the watery kapha tide is rising. And if lethargy, water retention, stubbornness, or depression show up, you’ll know that kapha’s heels are firmly stuck in.
Can You Recognize Aspects of the Doshas in You?
The beauty of the doshas is that they give us a window into our current and potential selves. They remind us of our most balanced and blissful qualities and give us clues for recognizing when the wheels of our wellness are starting to fall off.
But more than anything, as a portrait of your true nature, your dosha is an invitation to wake up to who you are, mind, body, and soul… and who you’re not. It turns the light of awareness on your natural tendencies for out of the box thinking and overwhelms, passion and perfectionism, unconditionally loving and apathy. And your dosha gives you the power to choose foods, environments, and self-care that ground you when your light and airy nature threatens to blow you off course; cool and calm your internal heat before it burns your life down, or warm, dry, and lighten you up when you’re starting to feel stuck.
Ready to discover what’s running your show?
If you’re ready to experience the power of knowing yourself and the energies that are running your show, check out Chara's new series on Food Matters TV.
Chara Caruthers will take you on a journey through the seasons to discover how we change, how we’re challenged, and how what we eat can help us to reestablish harmony in the mind, body, and soul. Start watching here.