the elements and the doshas

What is A Dosha- Your Guide to Ayurvedic Wisdom

The doshas in Ayurvedic medicine offer a deep understanding of energy through the lenses of opposites: balance and imbalance.

Not only do they influence our emotional and physical health but also give us insight into our bodies wants needs and tendencies. We can use nature to influence our health because the elements and the doshas show up in the environments that surround us.

Understanding your makeup helps you to heal naturally and prevent dis-regulations in the body and mind. It also allows you to personalize your morning ritual, meal plan and yoga practice. You might find many of the dosha balancing practices already suits you – like waking up early, having a self-care routine and a mindful movement practice.

Shown above, the five elements found in nature ( earth, water, fire, wind and space) combine in varying amounts to create each of the doshas. These elements and doshas have unique qualities that give us insight into our bodies needs so that we can naturally heal and address a potential imbalance. Ayurvedic wisdom states that “like creates like” and too much of anything can lead to dis-ease. This means we use opposite qualities to create balance and harmony.

Everyone has an individual expression of the doshas– each one being present within us in varying amounts. We all display aspects of each one but our natural set point or “prakriti” will remain constant throughout our lives.

So how can you identify your unique elemental makeup? Ayurvedic practitioners use a variety of tools to diagnose doshas and imbalances. We evaluate physical characteristics, symptoms, and daily routines to get to the source of any over activity. Once this is determined, you, along with your practitioner, will be able to form a clear direction in which to take your unique treatment and nutrition plan.

Here are some characteristics of each of the doshas, read through and decide which ones you expressed at a time in your life when you felt healthiest. This will give an indication of your bodies natural set point.

Vata Dosha

The vata dosha is comprised of air and ether. It is characterized as being irregular, flowing, spacious, cold, light, and dry–think of autumn as a seasonal representation.

This dosha is responsible for the flowing energy within our bodies–our circulation, breath, and the flow of energy along the nervous system.

Vata-dominant individuals tend to be:

  • Creative
  • Highly insightful
  • Vivacious
  • “Loner” types
  • Quick to forgive
  • Empathetic
  • Anxious
  • Impulsive

Those with a prominent vata dosha are creative, communicative, and have a lot of ideas. Vatas are entertaining, dynamic, and enthusiastic. They are also highly perceptive and sensitive, making them empathetic and understanding of those from all walks of life. Due to their overflow of ideas, they’re often multi-taskers and tend to talk quickly.

As the dosha of fluidity, vata is marked by change and transitions. Owing to this characteristic, those with this disposition are prone to changeable moods and variable appetites–often eating little or forgetting to eat all together. They have a nervous energy and experience emotions of fear and anxiety when imbalanced. They’re also at risk to spread themselves too thin, resulting in overwhelm, and they can lack strong willpower.

Physically, vata dominant people are frail or moderate in weight. They have fine hair and their skin is dry. Since the vata dosha is connected to our circulatory system, individuals that are vata-dominant may experience bad circulation and joint pain. They also frequently have cold hands and feet and are sensitive to cold weather.

To maintain balance these individuals should engage in activities that are calming and soothing (yoga, meditation, reading) and eat foods that are warm, heavy, moist, and easily digestible to counteract the cold and lightness that are characteristic of vata. They should also avoid caffeine or limit its intake.

Pitta Dosha

The pitta dosha is comprised of fire and water (not in equal parts– fire is more present). It is recognized as being hot, light, sharp, oily, liquid, and mobile and is embodied in the hot, humid days of summer.

Within our bodies, the pitta dosha manifests itself in the metabolic fire that converts our food into energy– the digestive system.

Pitta-dominant individuals tend to be:

  • Bold
  • Eccentric
  • Enthusiastic
  • Strong leaders
  • Highly motivated
  • Proud
  • Jealous

Those with a prominent pitta dosha have a fiery aura– they radiate self confidence and are highly ambitious and charismatic. Driven by passion, pittas will always happily engage in a challenge and heated discussion. In feeding their boundless curiosity, they are highly focused and quick to learn– their intellect is their power.

These types are leaders, but in their strive to be on top, they can succumb to perfectionism. They tend to be short-tempered with low tolerance for those that can’t keep up–leading to competitiveness and bossiness. When imbalanced, they can display aggressiveness and hostility.

In build, these types are muscular and athletic. In the summer, they’re prone to freckles and they often have light hair. Regardless of the environment, their hands and feet stay warm.

To maintain balance it’s recommended for pittas to engage in mental challenges, sports, and eat foods that are fresh, cooling, and energizing.

Kapha Dosha

The kapha dosha consists of earth and water. It’s described as steady, stable, heavy, slow, cold, and soft– the bright and breezy days of spring embody its aspects.

Based in the heart center, this dosha is responsible for the material development of the various types of tissue that make up our bodies, as well as the storage of energy. It gives individuals cohesion and brings with it a promise of strength.

Kapha-dominant individuals tend to be:

  • Tolerant
  • Sympathetic
  • Affectionate
  • Steadfast
  • Content
  • Prone to ignorance
  • Inflexible

As the dosha of strength and stability, those with this disposition exhibit a great amount of patience and tend to work through life methodically and slowly. They are thorough and ponderous– inner peace and harmony is of high value to them. They revel in the simple pleasures life offers.

Since going the tried and tested way is preferential, these types can be stubborn and unchanging. They want to stick to what they know and can close themselves off to outside input. When imbalanced, they can become mentally overloaded and lethargic.

Kaphas have a strong, solid build and can easily gain weight– but due to their love of eating, they can often become overweight. Their skin is smooth with few wrinkles and their hair is strong and full.

To maintain balance kaphas should be careful to get enough sleep without oversleeping. In their diet, they should eat smaller meals with minimal snacking and an abundance of fruits and veggies. They should engage in regular exercise, both physically and spiritually

The core of what we do at Unify Mind Body is evaluating and determining your dosha– and doing so correctly. It’s easy to get a general understanding of where you fall based on an online quiz, but to really identify your prakruti (your set point), it’s best to seek out a practitioner.

Here at Unify Mind Body, we take care to provide an extremely personalized and thorough evaluation. By booking A Breakthrough Call you will come to a better understanding of your unique type, how to raise your vitality, and what therapies you can use to support your journey, such as yogic practices.


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