Ayurveda identifies three bodily/metabolic types, called doshas. These doshas—known as Vata, Pitta, and Kapha—are biological energies that govern the physiology, psychology, and subtle energy of the body. The doshas can show us the best path to transit, so that our bodies satay or regain their ideal balance. They are essentially our guides for choosing foods, activities, and lifestyle habits that create and maintain balance within our unique constitution.
The three doshas derive from the five mahabhutas—the elements of nature—and are closely related to the qualities of each element. Here’s how the five mahabhutas combine to create the three doshas:
Vata = Space + Air
Pitta = Fire + Water
Kapha = Water + Earth
According to Ayurveda, we’re born with a proportion of the doshas that’s unique to us. While everyone has some proportion of all three doshas on a cellular level, we typically have one predominant dosha along with a strong secondary dosha.
Our physical and mental characteristics will be associated with these two doshas. They are also the doshas most likely to be affected by dietary and lifestyle imbalances. It’s also possible, though rare, that someone might be “tridoshic”—in other words, that person has an equal amount of all three doshas.
A central theory in Ayurveda is that when the birth constitution and current constitutional state align closely, greater overall health will be achieved. However, a large divergence between these states indicates imbalance.
Using the principles of Ayurveda, we can identify our primary mind/body type and use that understanding to make the wisest, most nourishing choices for ourselves.
Overview of balanced and imbalanced Doshas
VATA types tend to be thin, light, and quick in their thoughts and actions. Change is a constant part of a Vata’s life.
When Vata types are balanced, they are creative, enthusiastic, and lively.
Out of balance, a Vata may develop anxiety, insomnia, or irregular digestion.
PITTA types tend to have a medium to muscular build and are often intelligent and determined.
In a state of balance, Pittas are warm, humorous, and good leaders.
If out of balance, Pittas can be overly critical, irritable, and may demonstrate an overbearing Type-A personality.
KAPHA types naturally have larger physical structures and are slower moving and methodical.
Balanced Kaphas are extremely loving, compassionate, and calming to be around.
When out of balance, Kaphas can be lazy, lethargic, and overly stubborn.