The three doshas, or bio-energies—Vata, Pitta, and Kapha–are at the heart of Ayurveda. They are dynamic forces that help us understand our physical and emotional state; the effect of environment, seasons and surroundings on health; and impact of nutrition, exercise, meditation and other actions on health. Doshas represent the functional, qualitative, and elemental aspects of the body and mind. There are three doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
According to Ayurveda, Vata is associated with the elements of space and air and controls movement. It enables respiration, heartbeat, nerve impulses, and muscle contractions. It also circulates blood and lymph; pushes food through the digestive system; and removes wastes.
Vata types tend to be thin and lanky. The influence of the element air affects energy, mood, and appetite levels and can cause dramatic fluctuations in individuals. The result is Vata types often neglect to eat and sleep regularly. Insomnia and low immunity are common problems for them as are dry skin and constipation. Due to their cold quality, they hate the winter and love the summer.
Vata increases in dry climates or in cold autumn winds. It takes precedence in old age when our bodies lose height and our bones tend to dry out.
Vata types are excellent communicators with ample creativity and intuition, but is also burdened with emotional and physical downers such as nervousness, fear, anxiety, pain, and tremors
Associated with fire and water, the Pitta dosha is intimately related to change or transformation. Pitta directs the enzymes that digest food and the hormones that regulate metabolism as well as the chemical/electrical impulses in our mind (they later evolve into thoughts and ideas). With its natural heat, which revs up the appetite, Pitta persons who are hungry must eat soon or they become irritable and hypoglycemic.
Another quality of Pitta is a strong smell and bent toward criticism and competition. Pitta people, who have a medium build, tend to be perfectionistic and judgmental. They often get acne, rashes, and inflammatory diseases.
Hot summers or hot climates in general increase Pitta, which predominates during the teenage years when raging hormones take people from rebellious adolescents to mature adults. Psychologically, Pitta people demonstrate organization, intelligence and determination, but Pitta is also an umbrella for anger, hate, and jealousy
Kapha originates from a combination of earth (structure) and water (lubricant). Its busiest time is in childhood when the skeleton, muscles, organs, ligaments, tendons and skin tissues grow and develop. It promotes stability or resistance to potential invasive enemies such as bacteria into the immune system.
Kapha types have strong frames and are athletic, but endowed with a slow metabolism, they tend to put on extra pounds if they don’t exercise regularly. Because of a cloudy quality, their mind is often foggy after a full meal or in the early morning. Their slow, plodding aspect makes them walkers rather than joggers, but their methodical nature makes them loyal both professionally and in their personal lives. They often indulge in coffee or other stimulants to rev up their body and mind.
Out-of-balance Kapha types may be prone to sinus problems and respiratory diseases due to their cold quality. For that reason winters and damp climates can increase the Kapha effect.
Psychologically Kapha takes credit for calmness, forgiveness, and love but also expresses itself in such emotions as attachment, greed, and envy.
Prakriti, or body constitution, relates directly to the three doshas represents those basic physical and mental characteristics that make you who you are. They equate with your genetic inheritance.
Most people are bi-doshic–that is they share qualities of two doshas. Others are tri-doshic—their body types or constitutions are influenced equally by each dosha. Still other people are mono-types in which one dosha predominates. For example, the Pitta person, biologically tied to the elements of fire and water, is usually dominated by fire. For this reason he or she tends to be strong, intense, and irritable with freckled skin susceptible to sun burns.
Seasons as Managers
Because most people combine two or more doshas, the best way to balance your body is to use the seasons as your guideline. For example, people with Vata-Pitta or Vata-Kapha constitutions might follow a Vata-decreasing diet during autumn (a Vata season). During warm weather, they might follow a Pitta-decreasing regimen. Cold weather? Let Kapha take a back seat.
In this way, you can more easily balance your doshas and improve your total health.