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The Three Ayurvedic Doshas:

Vata, Pitta, Kapha

Vata Dosha

In Ayurveda, Vata is one of the three doshas (mind-body types). The qualities of Vata are: dry, light, cool, rough, quick, irregular, subtle and mobile. Vata is associated with the air and space elements.

Vata Dosha represents the abstract quality of movement at the finest level of creation. This corresponds to breath, circulation, mental activity, passage of food through the gastrointestinal tract, joint function, and virtually all movement and communication in the physical and subtle bodies. Vata gives rise to the primordial “elements” known as Space and Air. Vata is inherently unstable. Since it is much more prone to go out of balance than Pitta or Kapha, at some point nearly everyone, regardless of constitution, will need to balance Vata.  Pain is a typical sign of Vata aggravation. So are gas and bloating, nervous disorders and insomnia.  Traveling, stress, grief, surgery, child birth, late night activity, irregular schedules, suppression of natural urges, excessive exercise, work or sex, constant moving, and a raw/dry diet are  common causes of a Vata imbalance.

Physical Characteristics:
Those who are Vata in nature are usually very tall or very short, non-muscular, with thin, bony limbs and have a quick gait with short, fast steps, and above-average agility. Vatas are quick to spend their energy as it comes in short bursts followed by fatigue. Vatas tend to have thin skin that is both dry and cool especially the hands and feet. Their hair is thin, dark, curly and coarse. Face is usually long and angular, often with an underdeveloped chin. The neck is thin and scrawny. Nose is small and narrow or sunken. The teeth are irregular often set in receding gums. Those with Vata dosha typically have a weak, low voice and their speech is fast, often with interruptions. Their digestion can often be sensitive and their sleep light.

Mental/ Emotional Characteristics:
Vatas thrive on new experiences and are enthusiastic to change. Though often quick to anger they are also quick to forgive. They tend to have restless minds and weak memories. Often Vata types avoid confrontation and are sensitive in nature. They have a tendency to overindulge in pleasures. Vatas are prone to near-obsessive questioning, theorizing, and over-analysis. They are often dissatisfied with and unable to sustain lasting friendships. It is typical for a Vata type to express himself in sports and creative pursuits. They are likely to highly artistic and imaginative.

Vata in Balance: 
When Vatas are in balance, they are energetic, creative, lively and flexible. They are likely to take initiative and are animated conversationalists. Flowing with vitality, generosity, and joy, their enthusiasm is contagious and they tend to be the life of a party or the catalyst for a new creative idea. When in balance, Vatas have a strong ability to multi-task.

Vata out of Balance:
When Vata falls out of balance, it is evident through weight loss, cracking joints, arthritis, osteoporosis, muscle wasting, constipation, dry skin, low immunity, and irregular digestion. Excess Vata manifests as dry, brittle skin, lips, hair, and nails. They are more likely to show signs of anxiety, fear, nervousness, and restlessness. It is not uncommon for a Vata individual to suffer from insomnia when out of balance. A typical Vata response to stress or overwhelm is to blame and question themselves and to worry.

How to Balance Vata Dosha

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Pitta Dosha

In Ayurveda, Pitta is one of the three doshas (mind-body types). The qualities of Pitta are: hot, light, intense, pungent, penetrating, sour, and sharp. Pitta is associated with the fire and water elements.

Pitta governs transformation and the digestion of ideas, emotions, sensations and food. It regulates the actions of the digestive system and is responsible for the processes of metabolism and energy production.

If Pitta is your primary dosha (are you kapha? find out here), passion and courage are basic to your nature; you will tend to be muscular, intelligent, and ambitious. As long as Pitta is kept in balance, you will be warm, intelligent, and provide good leadership. Out of balance, Pitta is critical, easily frustrated, and aggressive.

Physical Characteristics:

Those who are Pitta in nature have a moderately well-developed physique with muscular limbs and a purposeful, stable gait of medium speed. With a loud, strong voice and precise, convincing speech, the skin is fair, soft, lustrous, warm, and tends to burn easily. Pitta types tend to have freckles, moles and a tendency towards rashes. The body is hot and sweaty. The hair is fine and soft and may be reddish. The hair tends to grey early or become prematurely bald. The face is heart-shaped, often with a pointed chin, while the neck is proportionate and of average size. A neat, pointed and averaged size nose matches the average- sized eyes that are light blue, light grey or hazel in color. The eyes have an intense luster and may get red in the summer or after bathing. The mouth is of medium size with average sized lips. The teeth are also medium in size and the teeth are yellowish.

Mental/ Emotional Characteristics:

Pittas are known for being highly ambitious, confident, and courageous. They have a propensity for focused concentration and have an enthusiasm for knowledge. They are sharp-witted and intelligent. Pittas have an intellectual disposition with an alert, sharp, and focused mind. When out of balance, they have a tendency to anger and become easily frustrated. This manifests as irritation, jealousy, and aggressiveness. They may be knife-like with their intellect when angered. Pitta-types are more likely to be discriminatory, judgmental, and proud. On the plus side, Pittas have a developed sense of responsibility and are able to make decisions and organize affairs well. Though they tend to be argumentative they also tend to have a keen sense of humor which, when in balance, is highly redeeming quality. They have selective memories which help them learn fast. Pittas are moderate in spending tendencies though they usually seek to spend on high quality products and luxury items rather than frivolous and fleeting thrills.

Pitta in Balance: 
When Pittas are in balance they have a lustrous complexion, strong digestion, plentiful energy, and a healthy appetite. They are precise, direct, articulate, and able to make important decisions even under pressure. Their high degree of organization coupled with their strong sense of direction, ambition, and confidence enables them to be movers and shakers. They make excellent teachers and speakers and are often looked to as leaders in their community.

Pitta out of Balance:
When Pitta falls out of balance it is evident through skin rashes, acne, hair thinning, peptic ulcers, excessive body heat, indigestion, and heart burn. Emotionally, Pittas can be short-tempered and argumentative angering over even seemingly “small” issues. The tendency is for Pittas to blame others, external circumstances, even the weather for their foul mood.

How to Balance Pitta Dosha

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Kapha Dosha

In Ayurveda, Kapha is one of the three doshas (mind-body types). The qualities of Kapha are: slow, heavy, steady, cool, solid, soft, and oily. Kapha is associated with the Earth and Water elements.

Kapha governs the structure and stability of the body. Its primary function is to protect the body and mind by overseeing the formation, growth, and lubrication of the joints, muscles, bones, fat, marrow, nutritive fluids, and reproductive tissues.

If Kapha is your primary dosha (are you kapha? find out here), groundedness and contentment are basic to your nature; you will tend to be calm, steady, and slow to anger. As long as Kapha is kept in balance, you will be stable, compassionate, and loyal.

Physical Characteristics: 

Those who are Kapha in nature have thick, broad, and well-developed frames with large, long limbs. They have excellent stamina to support their strong build. The skin is usually smooth, oily, pale, and cool. They have plentiful thick, wavy, lustrous hair that is generally brown. Speech is generally low, slow, and rhythmic (monotonous) with a pleasant deep and resonant voice. Kapha-types have solid necks, large rounded and full faces, large round noses, large mouths with big full lips. Their teeth are also large and set into strong gums. Their eyes are big and often blue or light brown in color. Those who are Kapha in nature sleep soundly and have regular digestion.

Mental/ Emotional Characteristics: 

Kaphas are known for being caring, centered, compassionate, content, faithful, grounded, patient, stabile, supportive, and tender. They have a sense of being well nourished in terms of body and mind. Those that are Kapha predominate have calm, steady, considerate, stable, and patient personalities. They are comfortable with structure and routine. They are slow to anger but once angry they do not calm down easily. They are honorable and avoid lies. Loyal, forgiving and understanding, they can be lethargic even lazy if not driven by others or the external environment. Learning may be slow but memory will be strong. They are excellent in logical analysis. They take time before reaching conclusions. They enjoy long hours of deep sleep and have a difficult time sacrificing sleep for nearly any reason. They have a naturally strong sex drive. While they do save money, most spending will go towards food.

Kapha in Balance: 
They have resilient, strong bodies and minds that will protect them from illness and instability. With a calm, grounded disposition they create and maintain loyal friendships and relationships, enjoy financial abundance, and feel generally content in life.

Kapha out of Balance: 
When excess kapha builds up they are prone to weight gain, fluid retention, and allergies. When out of balance Kapha types may easily become overweight, suffer from asthma, and are at risk for diabetes and depression. And, given that the kapha mind is usually too content to seek fresh, mental stimulation it is prone to dullness and lethargic thinking. Those with an excess of Kapha tend to hold onto things, jobs, and relationships well after they are no longer serving them. When Kapha is out of balance they have a tendency to resist change and respond to stress with apathy.

How to Balance Kapha Dosha

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