While we are all unique snowflakes (yes, you are special!), Ayurveda recognizes that we all exist within a system of just three doshas—vata, pitta, and kapha—that are based on the five elements (ether, air, fire, water, and earth). This makes up our mind-body constitutional type, which expresses a distinct blend of physical, emotional, and mental traits. Doshas are manifested through the body type, temperament, personality, habits, preferences, skin and hair color, and more.
A Quick Low-Down On Doshas
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary, integrative neurologist and author of The Prime: Prepare and Repair your Body for Spontaneous Weight Loss, offers a few typical characteristics of each dosha.
- Vatas: They tend to be thin and fine-boned. They are highly creative and intuitive. Out of balance, they can experience anxiety, nervousness, insomnia, digestive disturbances, and, eventually, neurological issues like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Warm foods and liquids and calming exercises and situations keep vatas balanced.
- Pittas: They tend to have a medium and muscular build. They are ambitious and driven. Out of balance, they can experience anger, irritability, and inflammation throughout the body. Cooling and juicy foods, creative activities, and fast-moving exercises keep pittas balanced.
- Kaphas: They tend to be stocky and big-boned. They are mellow and have a calming, positive presence. Out of balance, they can be lazy, lack motivation, and gain weight easily. Light and warm foods that are low in fat and sugar and stimulating activities keep kaphas balanced.
We each are a mixture of these three types, though one or two often predominate. You can be born with one dosha—this is the one that typically goes out of balance most—but you can also develop a secondary imbalance due to things like diet, lifestyle, and environment.
If you’re busy, stressed, overworked, sleep-deprived, and struggling with staying active and maintaining a well-balanced diet, you will have a dosha imbalance. Such imbalances lead to diseases. Each dosha is predisposed to certain types of disorders (for example, a vata imbalance is often linked to Alzheimer’s disease), but it doesn’t mean other doshas aren’t at risk.
Identifying Your Dosha
“Your dosha provides a template for a much more individualized approach to self-care,” says Dr. Chaudhary. To figure out your dosha, you can take her Dosha Quiz. But to get a true understanding of your dosha, it’s best to see an Ayurveda practitioner.
The goal of Ayurveda is to recognize which dosha type is predominant in each individual and focus on keeping it balanced. Many of our tendencies and personality traits don’t necessarily reflect who we are but how out of balance we may be (like when a pitta gets fired up, a vata gets uncontrollable nerves, or a kapha remains a little too chill). Of course, your dosha type, just like your health, exists as a dynamic state, constantly fluctuating depending on the season, time of day, and what you eat.
Focus On Detox Over Dosha
Because our modern lives are so stressful and toxic, detoxification should be your first order of business in attaining a healthy existence, even before considering your dosha type, according to Dr. Chaudhary. Because a toxic body will be extremely out of balance, it needs to be cleared out and stabilized before you can fine-tune it to your dosha.
This means you must work to purge toxins in a slow, gentle manner in order to flush out the lymphatic system, clean the gut, and get your body’s natural detox systems and energy pathways moving and flowing properly. This will help you become more attuned to the dosha you were born with and keep it balanced for optimal health.
To know more about Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary and her Ayurvedic treatments, visit her web site.