Ayurveda is an ancient medicinal practice stemming from Eastern Philosophy and holistic healing practices. Considered the sister science to yoga, Ayurveda encompasses mind, body, and lifestyle practices to bring about longevity, thriving physical wellbeing, clarity of mind, and peace of spirit. To find such goodness, one’s journey in Ayurveda typically begins in discovering their Ayurvedic constitution, otherwise known as doshas.
There are three doshas in Ayurveda: Pitta, Kapha, and Vata. Often folks have one or two ‘main’ doshas they are taught to focus on when first beginning practicing Ayurvedic rituals. The doshas are linked to natural elements, seasons, times of day, and even stages of life.
Today I want to break it down simply for you, so if you’re curious in exploring your dosha, it’s a lot easier to understand. As you go along, you might recognize certain aspects of your behavior, eating habits, or general wellbeing to help clue you into what your dosha (or doshas!) might be. And I’ll share tips on how to pacify (Ayurvedic talk for balance) your dosha when you feel imbalanced.
Pitta is a blend of fire and air, often flaring up during the late spring and summer months. This is the time of year when the sun is its hottest and folks spend more time enjoying its warmth.
An imbalance in Pitta often shows up in your temperament, you might feel more ‘on-edge’ or ‘fiery.’ Physically, you might notice imbalances manifest with reddened skin or inflammation of your joints or digestive tract. Another sign you may be an imbalanced Pitta includes having a critical initial response to situations. Or maybe you’re prone to things like burning indigestion, high blood pressure, persistent infections, Crohn’s disease, heart disease, and/or diarrhea.
If this sounds familiar, it all begs the question, how do you go about pacifying Pitta? To start, using an herb like Calendula is lovely for helping combat inflammation. You can consume it internally as a tonic, tincture, and tea, or use externally on your skin as a salve. Food is a significant player in the Ayurvedic realm! Invite cooling foods onto your plate to tame the fires of Pitta. Raw fruits and vegetables, refreshing teas, especially during the summertime, and avoiding too many warmed meals allow Pitta to slow itself down.
Also, Pitta reflects the hottest part of the day, typically between the hours of 10 AM to 2 PM. It’s best to avoid exercising or raising your heart rate during this time as it will only increase the Pitta tendencies running through your veins.
Kapha is peak Earth Goddess energy with elements of Earth and Water filling its space. A muddied sort of Earthiness is in tune with Kapha. It rules mid-winter and springtime months when snowmelt causes slush to pave our towns and rainfall takes up the days of April showers.
A Kapha imbalance shows up as deep-rooted stubborn behaviors and a sort of lethargy that is difficult to shake. Kapha dominant folks are often quite grounded individuals, but they can benefit from some uprooting from time to time. This allows them to better go with the flow of life and find some release. Glowing skin and youthful beaming is signature to Kapha, thanks to their mindful, slower ways.
Feeling like you might have Kapha in your constitution? If you notice your energy levels are low for days at a time, weight gain is common, your brain feels foggy, and/or nasal congestion persists, you just might be Kapha dominant.
If you want to pacify Kapha, lighter foods are a must–think, leafy greens and summer fruits. Airy herbs are of benefit, plus some spices sprinkled into meals to invite some fire into Kapha’s digestive system. Ayurveda relies heavily upon digestive fire, or Agni, to determine one’s overall wellbeing.
During the day, Kapha is most potent from 6 AM until 10 AM, and again in the evening from 6 PM until 10 PM. These are the sleepier hours of the day and prime meal-times for some. It’s best to eat lighter during the Kapha hours as food itself can be quite grounding.
Vata is a prized possession in our very Yang (masculine, quick, go-go-go) society. Comprised of Air and Water, Vata season is Autumn through Winter, until Kapha shifts into our days and brings in some often much-needed grounding.
Vata folks tend to have high energy levels and when out of balance, might find it challenging to recognize a stopping point for to-dos and responsibilities. Vata keeps things running but can also be a bit too ‘up in the air’ at times and could benefit from some grounding. Some who have Vata in their constitution might have anxious tendencies. These inclinations might flare up more during Vata season and specific portions of the day from 2 AM until 6 AM and 2 PM until 6 PM.
If you relate to any of the above, you might also experience irregular menstruation if you have a menstrual cycle, dry skin, flatulence, constipation, inconsistent appetite lasting for days at a time, and/or insomnia or sleep disturbances.
Warm meals and root vegetables on your plate will pacify Vata. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water and enjoy warm beverages before bed. Doing so nourishes your cells, inviting deeper sleep than you might be used to. Ayurvedic practitioners enjoy warmed milk mixed with ghee and some cinnamon–and it’s actually incredibly delicious!
I know this is a lot to take in! Thanks to centuries of practice and study building Ayurveda, we have a lot to take in and learn. To start, go with what calls to you and go from there. It’s your body after all and you know best. Plus, some practices, herbs, and dietary choices might not work for you despite it being in line with your Dosha. And that’s okay! Take what works and leave the rest until you’ve curated some Ayurvedic practices that bring balance into your life. You’ll know it once you’ve got it, just be patient as you work your way there.