Doshas 101: Which One Are You?

3rd Nov 2022

What Are Doshas?

Doshas are predominant energy types believed in Ayurvedic medicine to govern the body and wellbeing of each person. These three life forces are thought to be a manifestation of a universal life force, each balancing out the other.

In Ayurveda, the doshas are essential to life. Our natural constitution tends to be dominant in one of the three: Kapha, Pitta, and Vata. Each of us requires a specific balance to maintain homeostasis and feel and live our best lives.

When the doshas are imbalanced, there is sickness. Ailments and problems may manifest in the body or in the emotional self as a symptom, indicating the imbalance of energies. In Ayurvedic medicine, it is thought that an individual’s unique combination of doshas makes up their personal nature – also called Prakriti.

You can also find these elements in nature, as well as the seasons. By identifying which doshas are out of balance, one can make changes to their routine or diet that rebalance these energies according to the season and restore harmony to their lives.

Elements of Kapha

Kaphas are the big, lovable bears who can’t help but wear their heart on their sleeve. These individuals tend to be steady support pillars of any group and add an often-needed dose of careful thought and compassion.

Based on the combined elements of earth and water, the steady and stable kapha is headstrong but gentle. Deliberate and slow in each decision, they are hard to upset and often described using words like thick-boned, strong, or caring. Spring is known as kapha season, as it is slow to wake up from the cold, but tender and nurturing.  

To keep kapha healthy, you should exercise regularly, maintain a healthy diet and sleep routine, and focus on regularly warming up the body.

Weaknesses of kapha include a propensity to gain weight, breathing issues, heart disease, depression, sluggishness, or slow digestion and metabolism.

Strengths of kapha, on the other hand, include their caring and trustworthy attitude, healthy immune system, and strong bones. They are happy romantics who tend to be highly empathetic and wise.

Elements of Pitta

Pittas are the steadfast individuals with a semi-athletic build that always tend to emerge as the leader in a group. Highly goal-oriented, the motivated pitta can often be construed as aggressive.

Pitta dosha is derived from the elements of fire and water. When combined, these elements are quite formidable, often described as hot, sharp, and oily. Summer is typically known as pitta season for its sunny, hot days that can be both fun and intense.

To keep pitta healthy, you should avoid hot weather or spicy foods that warm the body too much. Likewise, pitta tends to struggle with their work-life balance, so it is important to maintain a healthy equilibrium.

The weaknesses of pitta are typically described as impatient and conflict-prone, especially when they are hungry. Pitta types are also prone to heartburn, acne and other types of inflammation and sensitive to hot temperatures.

Pitta’s strengths, on the other hand, are being intelligent and purposeful individuals who learn quickly. They are strong, natural leaders who often have a good metabolism along with healthy hair and circulation.

Elements of Vata 

Vatas are naturally slim individuals who always seem to be following a creative muse and learning as they go, never slowing down for a second thought. Vata dosha comes from the elements of air and space, which are typically described by words like flowing, dry, light, quick-moving, and cold. Autumn is often described as vata season for its breezy, cool qualities of summer transitioning into winter.

A healthy vata should follow a routine and try to proactively manage stress and anxiety by pursuing calming activities such as yoga or meditation. Vatas should also avoid cold weather and consume warm beverages to help warm the body.

Weaknesses of vata include anxiety, forgetfulness, and cold sensitivity. They may also become quickly overwhelmed or overstimulated and have irregular sleeping and eating habits. Prone to digestive issues, vata typically has constipation and poor circulation.

The strengths of vata, on the other hand, are being highly creative multitaskers who are very flexible in their way of thinking and learn best by jumping right into a project.

Can You Have More Than One Dosha?

Yes, you can have more than one dosha. It is believed in Ayurvedic medicine that every individual has a mixture of all three energies, though many people will only have one primary dosha – this is the dosha that is strongest within their body and mind.

It is not uncommon for individuals to also have two primary doshas. Both doshas may manifest in physical and mental traits, but it is not required they are co-dominant; rather, one dosha may be more dominant in mental traits, while another is most dominant in physical aspects, as an example.

These different mixtures of doshas allow each of us to maintain our individuality as well as better predict how we will respond to different environments physically and mentally.

Can Someone Have All Three?

Yes, it is rare, but some individuals have a strong influence from all three doshas. These tridoshic individuals make up an estimated five percent or less of the whole population. They must balance all three doshas at once to maintain equilibrium in their lives.

Again, it is important to remember that everyone has some of all three doshas within them, so the presence of all three is not rare. The equal strength of all three, however, is quite rare.  

Just like bidoshic individuals, tridoshic individuals feel influences from each dosha strongly and must always be aware of how these energies affect them on a regular basis.

Understanding How Ayurveda is Connected

Ayurveda is one of the world’s oldest philosophies of whole-body healing systems which translates from Sanskrit as ‘the knowledge of life’, or ‘the science of life’.

Much of the understanding we have today of Ayurveda comes from ancient sacred texts from India. These texts, or Vedas, are the oldest Sanskrit literature ever found. Also known as Vedic texts, these scripts – written in Vedic Sanskrit – gave way to early forms of medicine that addressed the root cause of disease rather than the symptoms alone.

Ayurveda continues today to work as a widespread philosophy of how to care for oneself for its acclaimed ability to heal or benefit the practitioner.

The idea behind Ayurveda is simple: everything in nature has its own mix of elements, and by balancing the three energies (doshas) in a person’s life, they can remove disease, stress, and other imbalances.

How Does Knowing Your Dosha Help?

Understanding your dosha helps you navigate life by better understanding the basis of your imbalances. Knowing your dosha also helps you understand your unique perspective on different situations and encourages you to accept your body and mind as you are, rather than struggling to seek something beyond yourself.

By seeking balance, you help smooth out any rough patches as you interact with your environment and harmonize the body and mind with the food you eat and the people you interact with.

Bringing the body and mind back into balance with each other is essential if you want to overcome obstacles in life. Eating the right diet and maintaining a daily routine according to your dosha is said to increase your vitality or life force, which enhances your energy and strength, allowing you to live life to the fullest.

How Doshas Influence Everyday Life

Doshas influence everything in life, from how you are likely to feel after eating certain types of food to what you need on a daily basis to maintain your equilibrium.

Like you, the seasons also have their unique energies, with kapha predominant in the spring, pitta in the summer, and vata in the autumn. These external forces are ones you will also have to contend with, altering your own balance to compensate for the environment’s effects.

You can also learn the attributes of each dosha and how to recognize them in other people. By learning how doshas affect everyone around you, you can make better connections with loved ones and interact on a more holistic level with people in your life.

Kerala Ayurveda promotes well-being through the Ayurvedic system of belief and healing, helping everyone find their balance in an accessible and sustainable manner. Learn more about your dosha and the philosophies of Ayurveda that emerged out of the Kerala, India region by exploring everything Kerala Ayurveda has to offer.

When Your Doshas are Out of Balance

When a dosha is thrown out of balance – often called aggravation – you may begin to experience predictable outcomes in both mind and body. Imbalances can indicate too much or too little of a particular dosha.

These are called diseases (as in dis-ease) or ailments from certain doshic imbalances. For example, kapha disorders may include excessive sleep, lethargy, or respiratory disorders to name a few.

An imbalanced pitta, on the other hand, may experience heartburn, skin inflammation, or irritability. Vata diseases may include headaches, insomnia, and tinnitus as a few examples.

Each of these may be treated with different Ayurvedic remedies that have been identified as pacifying ailments of this dosha.

Finding Balance Between Mind, Body, and Spirit

Ultimately, learning about different doshas and understanding which doshas are predominant in your Ayurvedic constitution – or Prakriti – is an important aspect of understanding how to balance yourself amid the ebb and flow of the world. Whether you are determined to stay afloat in a fast-paced world or need to stimulate the senses to encourage yourself into a more energetic lifestyle, it all comes down to balance.

Ayurveda is an ancient philosophy that has withstood the test of time. Above all else, it teaches that balance is essential to a healthy and fulfilled life.

Learn more about the doshas and how you can find balance with Kerala Ayurveda’s resources today.