Updated: Jul 20
Doshas are the representation of the five elements in our body, mind & soul. We all are a unique composition of all three Doshas – Vata, Pitta & Kapha – since we, as all living and non-living beings, consist of the five elements.
We need Space in our empty cavities, Air that streams into our lungs, Fire that starts our metabolism, Water that fills our cells & Earth that gives us structure. But the Elements, and therefore also the Doshas, have much more meaning than simply shaping the vessel that we live in. They also determine how our mind works, which preferences in regards to food or weather we have and what our challenges are in life.
The interplay of the Doshas of each person is summed up in their Mind-Body Type, which is translated from the Sanskrit original "Prakruti". It reflects your natural state at conception; your true essence. The Prakruti is unique and totally individual for each person, because there are no two people on this planet who share the exact same constitution. This is one aspect of Ayurveda that truly fascinates me: The awareness that each person needs to be treated as individual.
Usually, people have one or two Doshas that are predominant within their constitution but it is also possible that all three Doshas are present in equal quantities, which then would be called “Tridoshic”.
All Doshas can occur in a state of balance - meaning that everything functions at its very best - or they can shift out of balance and therefore cause the development of disease in our body, organs and mind. I need to mention that right now I am using the word “disease” literally as the absence of "ease" but if the imbalance is denied or avoided and balance is not restored in the long term, then this right here is the source of all illness: no matter if we talk about skin issues, indigestion, diabetes or arthritis.
Imbalances occur whenever the natural balance of the elements within us gets shaken up, which usually occurs through external influences like food, weather or lifestyle choices. It means that we introduce more of a certain element into our system than we actually need or our body can handle.
This is why balance is so important in Ayurveda: Balance of the elements, of the Doshas, not only improves your health but actually maintains it, offers longevity and enables you to live up to you full potential.
The tricky part is that not just the food we take in or the wind that blows outside have an impact on our personal balance: Also people around us, our daily habits & lifestyle choices, seasons, our age and even the time of the day need to be considered to level things out. As mentioned, everything is connected to a certain element or Dosha and therefore has an impact on us humans. We are basically like plants, we soak up what is around us and it either inspires us to grow or to shrink.
The good news: Your body already knows exactly what it needs. Your intuition, your instincts, will give you great advice on how to manage balance - all you need to do is truly listen.
But now, without further ado, let me tell you a little something about the three Doshas - Vata, Pitta & Kapha – followed by a quick quiz that aims to help you to gain more understanding about your predominant Dosha or Mind-Body Type.
Short Description of the Doshas
Consisting of the elements space & air, Vata is everything that moves. It's responsible for the blood running through our veins, regulates breathing and the movements of our stomach & bowel to digest and eliminate food. Vata bodies are usually either very small or very tall and very thin with typically weaker muscles.
In your mind, Vata manifests as creativity and enthusiasm. Vatas are artists, travelers & free-spirited innovators that are filled with enthusiasm & excitement. They love to switch things up, because they get bored easily, and quickly adapt to new situations. They learn very fast but also tend to forget things quickly. You see, this is caused by their fast pacing thoughts.
When things shift out of balance and the wind takes off, the mind starts racing, preventing you from making decisions, thinking straight and having a restful night's sleep. You worry too much and feel so lightheaded that you easily lose touch with the ground. Fear is the main emotion present, filling your body & mind with stress, anxiety & restlessness. Your body gets dry, inside & out, you feel bloated and even constipated.
Consisting of the elements fire & water, Pitta is the transformer in our body & mind. It regulates our digestion, metabolism & body temperature. In your physical body, you will experience a predominance of Pitta as having a strong digestive fire (called Agni in Sanskrit), a medium-sized body type & building up muscles quicker than others.
In your mind, Pitta manifests as ambition, intelligence & the sharp ability to focus. Pitta types usually are leaders, hard workers and the typical over-achievers. They easily get obsessed over things: may it be work, relationships or toxic patterns like over-eating & addiction. This is why it is incredibly important to practice moderation in all aspects of life to prevent yourself from burning out.
If you experience irritability, anger & impatience, find yourself being really critical & competitive and in desperate need to control everyone & everything around you, this implies an excess of Pitta in your system. Physically, the excess fire manifests, for example, as skin rashes, inflammation, acidity or diarrhea.
Consisting of the elements water & earth, Kapha is everything that "sticks". It's the 70% water that fills our cells, the dense tissue of our muscles, our skin, our bones & responsible for giving us structure & strength. People with a predominance of Kapha are usually broadly build & have excellent stamina.
In the mind, Kapha manifests as patience, loyalty & resilience. Due to their sweet nature, they are literally our "big shoulder to cry on", offering love & kindness to those around them. They are relaxed & like to take things slow, to embrace the beauty of life instead of rushing to get the job down.
An excess of Kapha, on the other hand, manifests as being stubborn or lazy - from having a lazy digestion & building up excess weight, to staying stuck in a rut and not being able to move forward in life. Feeling depressed, lethargic or heavy (especially in the morning or after meals) are prominent signs of a Kapha imbalance.
Which is your predominant Dosha?
Quick test: Check out the following questions and answer with either "yes" or "no" (I suggest to note down the positive answers for each category on a notepad or your phone to be able to count them better). The category with the most positive answers is most likely your predominant Dosha. Should you have an equal amount of “yes” answers in two or even all of the categories, are you probably a “Dual Dosha” or “Tridoshic”.
Knowing your predominant Dosha can be a very helpful tool to guide you towards lifestyle and food choices that enrich your life and bring forth health, wellbeing & contentment.
o Would you consider yourself to be either very tall or very small?
o Do you have a rather thin physique and need to work hard to build up muscle strength?
o Do you often suffer from dry skin, hair or nails?
o Do you sometimes/often experience bloating or constipation?
o Do you like or even embrace change?
o Do you often feel bored of repeating tasks or routines?
o Are your eating habits rather irregular?
o Are you a light sleeper or often struggle falling asleep?
o Would you say that you have a vivid imagination?
o Do you often worry a lot and struggle taking decisions?
o Would you consider yourself to be very creative?
o Do you often feel cold, especially your hands & feet?
o Would you consider yourself medium build and well proportioned?
o Do you gain muscle rather easily?
o Is your skin prone to sunburns?
o Is your skin rather oily, maybe even prone to break-outs?
o Do you sometimes/often experience heart burn or diarrhea?
o Would you consider yourself to be very effective and focused?
o Do you feel irritated or even angry when you haven’t eaten in a while?
o Do you like structure and being in control of situations?
o Would you consider yourself to be impatient?
o Do you feel very tired after a day out in the sun?
o Are you sweating more than other people?
o Are you detail-oriented and rather perfectionist?
o Would you consider yourself to be broadly build?
o Do you gain weight quicker than other people (and have a hard time losing it again)?
o Do you have a naturally moist and glowing skin?
o Would you consider yourself to be rather relaxed and at ease?
o Can you skip meals without feeling discomfort?
o Do you often feel heavy in the mornings and after meals?
o Do you sleep very deep and long?
o Do you practice movement in a slow, calm & graceful fashion?
o Do you have a hard time lettings things or people go?
o Would you consider yourself to be very loving, kind & compassionate?
o Do you love routines? So much so that you sometimes avoid trying new things or making new experiences?
o Is it true that it takes you a little longer to learn new things but then you will never forget them again?
Congratulations, you've made it! Now simply add up your "yes" answers and you have more clarity about your Mind-Body Type. Which one is your predominant Dosha?
I am curious to find out more about your personal Mind-Body Type, so feel free to leave a comment with your strongest Dosha! Personally, I am a Pitta-Vata Type and have spend the last two years including more grounding Kapha energy into my life to find balance. I am excited to share more about this journey with you and provide you with the best course of action for each Mind-Body Type in my following posts.
Sending love & light,