A childhood friend spent the weekend with us, and it was so interesting to catch up. She’s a seeker, a world traveler, a restless spirit. She has about as diverse a background as anyone I’ve met and just has a very interesting, unique approach to life. One of our key topics of conversation was the Ayurvedic concept of doshas. She strongly believes and follows these governing principals in all areas of her life. When she saw Vi singing and wanting to play instead of eating her lunch, she remarked, “Makes total sense. She’s so Vata.” So I picked her brain a bit.

Doshas are the 3 energies that govern the body. Ancient Indians believed that man is a part of nature, as he evolved from it and ultimately goes back to it. Therefore, the major forces of nature are at work inside our bodies as much as they are in the world around us. So each of us is made up of a certain balance of Wind (Vata), the Sun (Pitta) and the Moon (Kapha). It is said in major ayurveda texts that the three Doshas maintain the body when they exist in harmony and destroys it when the harmony is lost.

What this means is that in order to understand how you are best balanced mentally, physically and emotionally, it is important to understand your unique make up. When you feel out of balance, you need opposing elements (such as food types/temperatures or sleep patterns/timing) to bring you back into balance. Most people are a combination— for example, I am primarily a Vata-Pitta with a small percentage of Kapha.

According to this source, these are the three chief characteristics of each dosha:

VATA:   Vata-type people are generally thin and find it hard to gain weight. Because of this, Vatas have very little energy reserve and can tire easily and get themselves out of balance. Vatas need to get sufficient rest and not overdo things, stay warm, and keep a regular lifestyle routine.

The Vata dosha controls all movement in the body, including breathing, digestion, and nerve impulses from the brain. When Vata is out of balance, anxiety and other nervous disorders may be present. Digestive problems, constipation, cramps, and even premenstrual pain usually are attributed to a Vata imbalance.

The most important thing to know about Vata is that it leads the other doshas. Vata usually goes out of balance first, which causes the early stagesof disease. More than half of all illnesses are Vata disorders. Balancing Vata is important for everyone, because when Vata is in balance, Pitta and Kapha are generally in balance as well.

PITTA:   Pitta-type people are generally of medium size and well proportioned. They have a medium amount of physical energy and stamina. They also tend to be intelligent and have a sharp wit and a good ability to concentrate. Fire is a characteristic of Pitta, whether it shows up as fiery red hair, pink-toned skin or a short temper. Since Pittas’ body temperature is generally warm, Pitta types can go out of balance with overexposure to the sun or heat. Their eyes are sensitive to light. They are ambitious by nature but also can be demanding and a types are known for their strong digestion but should be careful not to abuse it. Their heat makes them particularly thirsty, and they should take caution not to douse their agni, or digestive fire, with too much liquid during meals. Pitta dosha leads us to crave moderation and purity. We rely on Pitta to regulate our intake of food, water, and air. Any toxins, such as alcohol or tobacco, show up as a Pitta imbalance. Toxic emotions such as jealousy, intolerance, and hatred also should be avoided to keep Pitta in balance for optimum health.

KAPHA:   Kapha-type people tend to have sturdy, heavy frames, providing a good reserve of physical strength and stamina. This strength gives Kaphas a natural resistance to disease and a generally positive outlook about life. The Kapha dosha is slow, and Kapha types tend to be slow eaters with slow digestion. They also speak slowly. They are calm and affectionate but, when out of balance, can become stubborn and lazy. They learn slowly, with a methodical approach, but also retain information well with a good understanding of it.

Kapha dosha controls the moist tissues of the body, so a Kapha imbalance may show up as a cold, allergies, or asthma. This is worse in Kapha season, March through June. Cold and wet weather aggravates Kapha. They should not dwell in the past or resist change. They need lots of exercise and need to be careful not to overeat. Kaphas need stimulation to bring out their vitality. Kapha dosha teaches us steadiness and a sense of well-being.

With this newfound knowledge, take your own test here. Or better yet, download this awesome app that my friend pointed me to this past weekend. It has an incredible amount of insightful tips on how to adjust your life (and its elements) to better maintain your balance.

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