Introduction to the Three Doshas of Ayurveda

Before coming to Shree Hari Yoga School a month ago, I was admittedly a layman when it came to the topic of Ayurveda.  I was briefed on some basic facets of the subject in my yoga teacher training, but since then never dover deeper into it.  We were very fortunate to have a guest teacher who specializes in Ayurveda, among other things, teach an introduction course to the yoga teacher trainers.  I still will not claim to be even close to an expert in this vast field of science, but I am happy to say that I learned quite a bit and am happy to share a bit of what I know here, with you all now.

In Sanskrit, Ayurveda means, “The science of life,” and is a time honored art of traditional Indian medicine.  A rigorous and thorough field of study, Ayurveda is a comprehensive look at the natural constitution and disposition of each individual person.  Based on these inherent qualities, this discipline seeks to prevent imbalances in the body and mind so that the person can live a long and happy life.  Ayurveda encourages a specific kind of diet, herbs, and physical practices, based on your dosha(s), to balance the bodily systems.  Its goal is to create harmony within the body and mind.

Central to Ayurveda are the three doshas, or constitutions.  It is very common for people to be a combination of two of the three doshas, although some people are predominantly just one.  The best way to know your type(s) is by visiting an Ayurvedic doctor.  However, since most of us do not necessarily have access to this kind of doctor, you can instead take a dosha quiz online that will help give you a basic idea of which type you are.  You can click on the link at the end of this blog to take your dosha quiz!

The Three Doshas

  • Vata~ Each dosha is related to the five elements.  Vata is related to ether and air.  This means that if Vata dosha is predominant for you, movement and change are characteristic of your nature.  You tend to be creative and artistic; sensitive and indecisive.  You are talkative, but can often go off on tangents, changing subjects and loosing focus.  Irregularity is a key word for Vata—sleep and appetite are not consistent, as could be your moods.  Like air, Vata is ever-changing, so you may move or travel often.  Physically, Vata tends to be thin and agile; dry and cold.  Vata is associated with the colon so your digestion can be sensitive and inconsistent. 
  • Pitta~  Pitta is related to the elements fire and water.  If you are predominantly Pitta, you tend to be incredibly intellectual and self-confident.  You are determined and goal-oriented—there is a great fire burning inside of you.  Passionate and organized, you tend to take leadership roles.  Physically, Pitta tends to be strong and medium-built.  Skin tends to be fair or reddish; hair, fine and light.  Pitta is associated with the stomach and digestion.  Because of this, Pitta tends to have a high metabolism and a strong appetite—its function is to transform.
  • Kapha~ The Kapha dosha is relate to water and earth.  If you are predominantly Kapha, you tend to be grounded and steady; harmonious and enjoy pleasures and comfort.  You are usually in good health and strong.  Because Earth can be heavy and slow, so is Kapha.  This means that Kapha tends to sleep soundly and is consistent in digestion.  You have a lot of stamina, radiant skin and thick hair.  Kapha is associated with the chest, but also governs the structure of the body, holding together and forming the cells, muscles, fat, bone and sinew. 

This is just a quick overview of the three doshas.  There is much to be learned about one’s self once you know which dosha or combination of doshas you are.  Once you know this, you can then begin to dive deeper in the science of Ayurveda and learn how to balance all three doshas in your body and mind to maintain a healthy and happy life.

Next time I will elaborate further on the doshas, talking about what Vata, Pitta and Kapha are like when there are imbalances, as well as foods to increase and avoid depending on your dosha(s).  In the meantime, join in by taking your online dosha quiz so you can start to become more familiar with how these three energies interplay in your body, mind and life.


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