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Ayurveda's Three Doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha

Updated on June 10, 2013

Which Dosha Are You?

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Ayurveda--A Sister Science to Yoga


Ayurveda is the sister science to yoga. Ayurveda dates back 5,000 years to the Vedas, ancient Sanskrit texts that explain how everything in the universe functions philosophically and empirically. Ayurveda developed alongside yoga, influencing yoga as well as being influenced by it throughout the millennia. Both yoga and Ayurveda resulted from the Vedas, which detail knowledge that comprehends the universe as Oneself.


When yoga first arrived to the United States in the mid 1900s Ayurveda was left behind. However, it has gained momentum and has begun to permeate our culture under the guise of alternative medicine.

The Body

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Ayurveda--System of Healing the Self


Ayurveda understands the body as a system of healing that includes: 1) physical constitution; 2) emotional nature; 3) and spiritual outlook in the context of the universe. According to Ayurveda, there are three different energies, or doshas, known as VATA, PITTA, and KAPHA which combine in different ratios within a human being.

In other words, each one of us consists of a unique combination of these three energetic forces. Though everyone has some of each, most people tend to have an abundance of one or two doshas.

Doshas

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Understanding the Doshas


Understanding your individual dosha allows a person to fight disease, remain healthy and maintain equanimity as s/he moves through the various stages of life. The doshas fluctuate depending on the environment, one’s diet, the seasons, the climate, one’s age, as well as other factors. As these external factors change, our doshas can be knocked out of balance which in turn affects our health, energy levels, and general mood.

The key to maintaining one’s balance is to narrow in on potential imbalances that may arise from the environment or from dietary or emotional imbalances, and to adopt practices that will counteract these influences. These may include changes in one’s diet, type of exercise or kind of social or spiritual activities in which one chooses to participate.

VATA DOSHA


Vata means wind, it exists as air that is held in the body such as in the joints, the hips and lower back. Vata folks are usually thin and tall, possibly even lanky. They are mentally and physically active. Vatas prefer creative activities, meeting new people, and traveling to exotic places. When they are balanced, vatas are flexible; they enjoy lively imaginations, and are original thinkers. When imbalanced they can get anxious. They tend to suffer from dry skin and prefer warm, humid weather. It is normal for vatas to suffer from cold extremities and cracking joints. The influence of the air element in their constitution allows for dramatic fluctuations in appetite, energy, mood. Consequently, vatas tend to forget to eat or sleep. As a result, they may range from eating heavy foods or ingesting stimulants like coffee to sustain intense physical or mental activity.

PITTA DOSHA


Pitta energy empowers us with intelligence, courage and vitality. Pitta gives us decisiveness and the motivation to move forward to accomplish our objectives. Pitta is located in the digestive tract, in particular, in the small intestine and the stomach. Pitta is the fire for digestion, hence many yogic traditions mention “stoking the agni” to improve digestion. Pittas are dominated by the fire element (agni) which endows them with natures that are aggressive, intense, and irritable. They usually are of medium build with developed muscles. It is common for pittas to sunburn easily, to freckle and become over-heated when exercising or outside on a hot day. Pittas are strong willed and tend to be stubborn. Pittas approach work and fun with the same level of intensity and competitiveness. They are prone to lead and learn quickly demonstrating an ability to easily comprehend and master new skills while simultaneously losing patience with those that cannot grasp new concepts as readily as they can. They tend to display intense appetites, both for food and challenges. It is typical for pittas to suffer from inflammation, rashes, acne, and loose stool. To stay in balance, pittas need to manage their aggressive tendencies, channeling their energy into productive opportunities and learning to recognize their destructive power, especially in relationships.

KAPHA DOSHA


Kaphas are emotional, loving, caring, devoted people. Internally they are in harmony and are very social. Kaphas tend to be large and typically overweight. The physical site in the body where kapha is stored is the stomach, the lungs and the lymphatic system. Typically kaphas suffer from obesity, edema, lung diseases and swollen glands. Kaphas are naturally athletic and tend towards a large shape. Kaphas must exercise consistently to manage their weight. The influence of the earth and water elements contributes to their inherently stable, compassionate, and loyal nature. They tend to be methodical in their approach to their personal and professional lives. Kaphas are difficult to motivate, stubborn, and complacent even when they realize intellectually that they should change their behavior. Their metabolism tends to be very slow. Ironically, kaphas do not enjoy large appetites for either food or other stimulants. Kaphas will do well to fast occasionally.

Seasonal Doshas

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    • Lady Enchantee profile image

      Lady Enchantee 4 years ago from My Enchanted Garden

      Dear yoginijoy...

      Sat nam, sister yogini!

      Thank you so much for this content-rich, well composed hub on the doshas. I am looking forward to sharing your excellent work with my fellow yoginis!

      Your work has already enhanced my daily practice of yoga, on & off the mat, & I look forward to enjoying more of your work, so that my practice will deepen, connecting me more fully with Life Force, our Source.

      I enjoyed the smooth transition from text (full of great info, by the way!) to charts in a way that locks in the information surely in the memory.

      Your work is lovely, important, & very well done. I have voted "Up" & for every characteristic, except "funny". I have also chosen to follow your work here on HubPages, & I trust that you will not mind that at all.

      Brightest blessings to you & yours, personally & professionally, always!

      Namaste.

      Warm regards...Lady Enchantee

    • yoginijoy profile image
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      yoginijoy 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      Welcome Lady Enchantee. I am humbled by your extensive comments and most grateful to you for reading my hubs and writing your thoughts. You are most generous. Thank you.

      Of course I appreciate your follow. You are terribly sweet. I appreciate your votes.

      May you be blessed with compassion, mindfulness and equanimity.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

      This hub is well-written, well-organized and well-received! I've always been fascinated with Ayurveda, especially when applied to healthcare. Voted up and shared!

    • yoginijoy profile image
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      yoginijoy 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      Hi Vespawoolf! How is Peru treating you? Have you been to Jack's lately for breakfast?

      Thank you very much for the votes and the sharing! I am most appreciative.

      I agree Ayurveda is a fascinating subject! I love learning about it as well. There is so much information to acquire and absorb. Thanks for coming by too.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

      We're happy as clams in Peru. Funny you should ask about Jack's. We went there last month! It's not as good as it used to be, but still worth a visit. Nice to talk to you!

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 4 years ago from United States

      well informed hub, yogini.

      I am a firm believer that if ayurveda works...it can remove the disease from the root.

      namaste!

    • yoginijoy profile image
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      yoginijoy 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      Namaste Ruchira! So true--ayurveda is so full of knowledge that really works! I wish more of us knew about it.

      Thank you for you comment. Take care!

    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 4 years ago

      Thank you for this wonderful information on Ayurveda, which I have started looking at, by reading this hub you have given me a nudge in the right direction. Superb work - Thank you. Voted up, interesting and useful.

    • yoginijoy profile image
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      yoginijoy 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      Hi CyberShelley! I have to thank you for sharing such wonderful hubs lately. I am learning so much. I am glad you find Ayurveda helpful. There is so much knowledge that we just need to access in order to live healthier lives. Thanks for the compliments--right back at ya!

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 4 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      Wow..never heard of this before..or maybe i have, your work refreshes my mind.

    • yoginijoy profile image
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      yoginijoy 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      @unknown spy, Thank you for your comment. Ayurveda has been around for millenia but gets very little press in the West. I am grateful to hear that my hub brings something new to your mind. That is wonderful!

      Say hi to Tinkerbell and Peter for me! Peace.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

      I believe Ayurveda is the oldest healing method still widely in use. When I was a child, my father never administered alopathy medicines, because of their side effects. An an adult, I have learned some things about medicines, and believe Ayurveda is the best healing method for chronic disease.

    • yoginijoy profile image
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      yoginijoy 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

      Without a doubt Vinaya Ayurveda is the oldest system of healing in existence and perhaps the best as it is so natural. I am happy to hear that your father is well-versed in it. I wish there were more doctors in the West that study it than do presently. There is so much to be said for eating well and understanding our bodies reactions to our food as well as our surroundings. Antibiotics are not the best as they kill our own probiotics in our intestines--where most of our immune system resides. You are lucky to have both meditation and ayurveda in your life! Namaste!

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      Benjamin Chege 3 years ago

      Hi yoginijoy. Nice tips on yoga. I have learned a lot from you on the topic. Voted up, awesome and useful.

    • Jewels profile image

      Jewels 2 years ago from Australia

      Great hub. I like Ayurveda and combine it with TCM. I've been trying out Lajin also, that is a powerful practice - you must try it for knowledge sake if nothing else.

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