Health 101: Understanding Ancient Ayurvedic’s 3 Main Doshas

Ayurvedic Health Dosha Hindu Balance

It is not limited to just the science of Ayurvedic, the key point of everything in this life is to have a good balance in everything we do, say and eat and we have seen this from our lifestyles, diet and even how we manage ourselves. This is not something new and in different aspect of health, balance Image source: Taste For Life.

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Ayurvedic Health Hindu Dosha

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The Three Types of Doshas

Frankly speaking, I always wondered why I always felt cold when my wife & kids felt warm at nights – I would be freezing when they leave the air-conditioner running throughout the night and when I complained about it, I realise that they were actually feeling and sweating and had no choice to switch the air-conditioner to full blast. On any given days, I always feel thirsty and drink a lot of water even when it is cold and raining heavily on the outside.

In the end, the ancient art of Ayurvedic provided me with an answer – I am simply having the Kapha Dosha body type which explains my diet, body shape and even personality. You see, in Ayurvedic, there are mainly three types of body types—Vata, Pitta & Kapha and these should be in balance in Ayurvedic.

According to Ayurvedic, an imbalance dosha will cause sickness and other problems to health:-

Vata is the subtle energy associated with movement — composed of Space and Air. It governs breathing, blinking, muscle and tissue movement, pulsation of the heart, and all movements in the cytoplasm and cell membranes. In balance, vata promotes creativity and flexibility. Out of balance, vata produces fear and anxiety.

Pitta expresses as the body’s metabolic system — made up of Fire and Water. It governs digestion, absorption, assimilation, nutrition, metabolism and body temperature. In balance, pitta promotes understanding and intelligence. Out of balance, pitta arouses anger, hatred and jealousy.

Kapha is the energy that forms the body’s structure — bones, muscles, tendons — and provides the “glue” that holds the cells together, formed from Earth and Water. Kapha supplies the water for all bodily parts and systems. It lubricates joints, moisturizes the skin, and maintains immunity. In balance, kapha is expressed as love, calmness and forgiveness. Out of balance, it leads to attachment, greed and envy.

(Source)

And another perspective of the three doshas in Ayurvedic is as follows:-

Composition of doshas under Ayurvedic are as follows:-

Vata: It is composed of space and air
Pitta: It is composed of water and fire
Kapha: It is composed of water and earth

Mostly one dosha is predominant in most individuals, however, sometimes a second dosha can also have some influence on a person. This is referred to as dual-doshic constitution.

Vata type people
People whose vata constitution is predominant have physical and mental qualities that reflect the elemental qualities of space and air. Thus, these people are quick, thin and fast moving.

Pitta type people
People who are pitta type have qualities that are reflective of fire and water. These people have a fiery personality and have oily skin.

Kapha type people
People with predominantly Kapha constitution usually have a solid body frame and calm temperament, reflecting the element of water and earth.

(Source)

Determining Your Personal Dosha

There are a number of quizzes related to Ayurvedic on the internet that will assist you to identify your doshas but there are some general characteristics in Ayurvedic that will you can use to identify the dosha.

Vata Dosha

  • thin build
  • does not gain weight easily
  • quick to learn, quick to forget
  • enthusiastic & vivacious
  • becomes cold easily
  • learns easily
  • clear & alert mind
  • falls asleep easily at bedtime
  • balanced digestion & elimination
  • good circulation & even body temperature

Pitta Dosha

  • medium build
  • balanced weight
  • sharp intellect
  • goal-oriented
  • becomes hot easily
  • perfectionist
  • strong intellect
  • strong digestion
  • radiant, glowing skin
  • sleeps through the night
  • inner peace & happiness

Kapha Dosha

  • larger build
  • a tendency for weight gain
  • slow to learn, slow to forget
  • sweet & even-tempered
  • dislikes cold & damp weather
  • stable temperament
  • good long-term memory
  • healthy robust physiology
  • strength & stamina
  • compassionate & affectionate
  • sound sleep

Personally, I count myself having a mix of these Ayurvedic doshas:

  • falls asleep easily at bedtime (Vata)
  • goal-oriented (Pitta)
  • becomes hot easily (Pitta)
  • sleeps through the night (Pitta)
  • larger build (Kapha)
  • a tendency for weight gain (Kapha)
  • dislikes cold & damp weather (Kapha)
  • compassionate & affectionate (Kapha)
  • sound sleep (Kapha)

Ayurvedic Kapha Dosha Health Hindu

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Closer View of Kapha Dosha

Considering that I have a mixed Vata-Pitta-Kapha body type with Kapha being the dominant dosha, I probed further on what constitutes Kapha in Ayurvedic and what I need to do to ensure balance for Kapha body types:-

Kapha types are blessed with strength, endurance and stamina. In balance, they tend to have sweet, loving dispositions and be stable and grounded. Their skin is oily and smooth.

Physically, kapha people may gain weight easily and have a slow metabolism. They tend to shun exercise. They have thick skin and their bodies and muscles are well developed.

Their eyes are large and attractive with thick, long lashes and brows. Kapha people evacuate slowly and feces tend to be soft, pale and oily. Perspiration is moderate. Sleep is deep and prolonged. Kapha types are attracted to sweet, salty and oily foods, but their constitutions are most balanced by bitter, astringent and pungent tastes.

Psychologically, kapha people tend to be calm, tolerant and forgiving. However, they may become lethargic. While they may be slow to comprehend, their long term memory is excellent.

When out of balance, kaphas tend to experience greed, envy, attachment and possessiveness. In the external world, kapha tendencies toward groundedness, stability and attachment help them to earn and hold onto money.

They are more likely to have diseases connected to the water principle such as flu, sinus congestion, and other diseases involving mucous. Sluggishness, excess weight, diabetes, water retention, and headaches are also common.

Kapha can become more aggravated as the moon gets full because there is a tendency for water retention at that time. Winter is the time of greatest kapha accumulation and following the kapha-balancing dietary and lifestyle changes are most important during that season.

Dietary Considerations

Dietary guidelines for kapha people stress bitter, astringent and pungent tastes. They actually need foods that will invigorate their minds while limiting their overall consumption of food. They should avoid dairy products and fats of any kind, especially fried or greasy foods.

Those with kapha dominant constitutions need less grain than pitta or vata constitutions with buckwheat and millet (more heating) being optimal grains for them followed by barley, rice and corn.

Roasted or dry cooked grains are best. All vegetables are good for kapha but one should emphasize leafy greens and vegetables grown above ground more than root vegetables while avoiding very sweet, sour or juicy vegetables.

Generally kapha people can eat raw vegetables although steamed or stir-fried are easier to digest. Very sweet or sour fruits should be avoided with the more astringent and drying fruits being preferable such as apples, apricots, cranberries, mangoes, peaches and pears.

Only rarely do kapha people need animal foods and, when they do, it should be dry cooked—baked, roasted, broiled—never fried. They could eat chicken, eggs, rabbit, seafood and venison.

As their bodies do not require large amounts of protein, they also should not overeat legumes although these are better for them than meat because of the lack of fat. Black beans, mung beans, pinto beans and red lentils are best for kapha types.

The heavy qualities of nuts and seeds aggravate kapha as does the oil in them. Occasional sunflower and pumpkin seeds are all right. Almond, corn, safflower or sunflower oils can be used in small amounts as well.

The same holds true for dairy products: in general, kapha people should avoid the heavy, cooling, sweet qualities of dairy. A little ghee for cooking and some consumption of goat’s milk is good for kapha types.

Since kapha people should avoid sweets, the only sweetener they should use is raw honey, which is heating. However, they can use all spices, except salt, with ginger and garlic being best for them.

A person whose dominant dosha is kapha and who has very little influence from the other two doshas can benefit from the occasional use of stimulants such as coffee and tea. They are also not as harmed by tobacco and hard liquor. However, they really do not need alcohol at all. If they elect to use alcohol, wine is their best choice.

General guidelines for balancing kapha:

Get plenty of exercise
Avoid heavy foods
Keep active
Avoid dairy
Avoid iced food or drinks
Vary your routine
Avoid fatty, oily foods
Eat light, dry food
No daytime naps

(Source)

According to Ayurvedic, Kapha body type people tend to shun exercise which explains them prone to gain weight considerably although, on the positive note, they will have strong bones and joints, healthy immune system. This smacks the reality of me having the same problem and this explains my bigger than usual size and weight.

In the last few years, I have tried to include some simple yoga exercises in the morning before I go to take my shower. The duration and types of yoga pose however need to improve nonetheless.

I do drink a lot of water especially at night and just before going to sleep which also explains my unfortunate bathroom calls at odd hours in the morning when I suppose to be fast and in deep sleep. I do tolerate salty and oily food which I should reduce but then it is because there is little I can do when I am eating outside.

Drinking a lot of water seems to be my natural reaction to this salty and oily food or perhaps because I always feel warm even though I had just a very cold shower before going to sleep.

Daytime naps are unavoidable as I have a problem sleeping early on weekdays but nonetheless still maintain the same waking up time of 5 am every morning. Establishing and maintaining a regular sleep routine which is stressed under Ayurvedic is definitely something I need to work on – getting enough 8 hours of sleep every night.

The trick according to Ayurvedic is to find the balance and maintaining it to avoid any imbalance and health problems.

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