In Ayurveda, there are three doshas, or principles that all metabolic activities. These are Kapha – anabolism, Vata – catabolism, and Pitta – metabolism. Each person has a unique constitution of the doshas, but one tends to be dominant. Each of the doshas are associated with the fundamental elements of fire, water, earth, air, and space. We will explore each more in-depth.
Vata (air, space) governs all movement including blood flow, elimination of waste, movement of air, as well as the movement of thoughts in the mind. Functions are energy movement, endocrine function, and nutrient distribution. Vata is located in the bladder, colon, thighs, feet, lumbar region and skin.
People with Vata dominance are slender and with smaller frames, their skin is cool and dry as is their hair. They love sweet, sour, and salty tastes. They tend to perspire less and also sleep less than other types. Memories are short but quick mental understanding. They may lack willpower and be somewhat unstable, nervous, fearful. They are quick to earn and spend money. Other characteristics include:
- Creativity and imaginative, mentally quick
- Excitable, lively but changing moods and impulsive
- Quick to talk, walk with high but short energy bursts
- Discomfort in cold climates
- Irregular routines and variable appetites
Vata health issues include headaches, hypertension, dry coughs, sore throats, earaches, anxiety, irregular heart rhythms, muscle spasms, lower back pain, constipation, abdominal gas, diarrhea, nervous stomach, menstrual cramps and neurological disorders.
Beneficial foods include nuts, fruits, cooked vegetables, and dairy. Foods to avoid include broccoli, cauliflower, dry grains, peas. Exercise regimen is yoga, walking, slower exercise.
Pitta (water, fire) moderates transformation, governing digestion, absorption, metabolism, body temperature, skin coloration, luster of the eyes, and intelligence. Pitta is responsible for anger, hate, jealousy. It is located in the small intestine, stomach, sweat glands, blood, fat, eyes and the skin.
People with Pitta dominance are medium proportioned, slender with moderate muscle development. The nails and skin are soft and warm, and not as wrinkly as Vatta. Hair is thin and silky, with a tendency towards premature graying and loss. Metabolism is strong, sleep is medium duration but uninterrupted. There can be excessive perspiration. There is good power of comprehension, intelligence and communication. There can be tendencies to show off prosperity. Other characteristics include:
- Assertive and self-confident, competitive
- Like to be in command, leadership positions
- Uncomfortable in direct sunlight or in hot weather
- Fair skin, reddish, often with freckles
- Can be seen as stubborn, pushy, opinionated
Pitta health issues include rashes of the skin, inflammatory diseases, heartburn, insomnia, anemia, and vision problems.
Beneficial foods include beans, soaked almonds and vegetables. Foods to avoid include sour fruits, red meat, potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplant.
Kapha (water, earth) is for structure and lubrication, maintaining the body’s resistance and lubricating joints and the skin. Healing wounds is also a function of this dosha, as is memory retention and immunity. Kapha resides in the chest, throat, sinuses, mouth, stomach, joints, plasma, liquid secretions. Emotionally, this dosha is responsible for attachment, greed, envy, but also calmness, forgiveness and love.
Kapha dominant people have a heavy, or stocky body build, sometimes resulting in obesity. The skin is soft, lustrous and oily and hair is thick, dark, wavy. Eyes are dense and darker. Digestion is slower, and perspiration is moderate. Sleep is sound and prolonged. Kapha people have good stamina and are generally healthy and happy. The can be a tendency towards greed and possessiveness. Comprehension is slow but definite, good in retaining knowledge – also plays out in retaining wealth. Other characteristics include:
- Easy going, slow paced and deliberate
- Steady and enduring energy levels
- Softer eyes, slower and softer voice
- Slower to anger, able to maintain harmony
- Dislike of cold, damp weather
Kapha health issues include congestion and sinus or respiratory problems like asthma, hay fever and allergies.
Beneficial foods include all fruits except bananas and citrus in moderation. Foods to avoid include dairy products and sugar.
While all doshas are present in everyone, there is typically a dominant and a recessive dosha. As in all things, the best health is achieved through balance. There are ayurvedic formulations and yogic practices to accomplish this.
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