“Ayurveda is the science of life, and it has a very basic, simple approach which is that we are all part of the universe, and the universe is intelligent and the human body is part of the cosmic body.” – Deepak Chopra
Long before modern medicine and pharmaceutical companies become the norm, there existed a mind-body approach to healing known as Ayurveda. This ancient practice was based on balancing bodily systems using diet, herbal treatment, and meditative breathing techniques.
Derived from India, Ayurveda experts estimate this holistic approach to healing has existed for 3,000 to 5,000 years. The idea behind Ayurveda is to understand the different energies that dominate your body so you can understand how to keep those energy centers in balance and achieve optimal health and wellness.
In this beginner’s guide to Ayurveda and the 3 doshas, you’ll learn the ABC’s of Ayurveda and how to apply it to your own life for a healthy mind, body, and soul
Ready to learn more? Let’s do this!
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is a holistic medicinal practice that promotes two main principles:
- The mind and body are inseparably connected
- Healing and transformation start in the mind first
Ayur is Sanskirt for life, and Veda is Sanskirt for knowledge or science of. Combined, Ayurveda is literally translated to “The science of life.”
In order to navigate and avoid dis-ease (literally when the body is in a state of dis-ease or disharmony), we have to first become aware of our energy centers, any internal imbalances and work to bring the body into (and maintain) a state of mind-body equilibrium.
The 5 Elements and Doshas
Everything in our world, including us, is made up of five basic elements: earth, water, fire, air, and space. These elements represent the building blocks of life and create an internal and external foundation for all of us.
Earth forms our solid structures, such as our bodies, skin, bones, organs, and hair. Water forms the liquids flowing within or through us such as blood, sweat, urine, and saliva. Fire creates our survival-based needs such as hunger, thirst, and sleep. Air allows us to create and express internal and physical movements, as well as take oxygen in and out. And space forms our attraction and repulsion to the things around us.
As long as these elements are in balance, so too are we. But, when they become imbalanced, our mind-body connection is compromised, and disease and suffering may occur.
What are Doshas and How do they Relate to The 5 Elements?
Doshas are the energies that internally circulate our bodies, and govern our health and wellness. There are 3 doshas in total, and they are made up of different combinations of the 5 elements:
Although all 3 doshas are present within each of us (as are all of the elements), they are present to varying degrees. Depending on which doshas are most dominate within us coincides with what ayurvedic lifestyle we should follow for optimal health.
If you aren’t sure what your unique dosha combination is, click here to take a free dosha quiz and find out, or meet with an Ayurvedic health counselor to determine your exact constitution.
The Vata Dosha is a combination of air and space. As such, it’s responsible for mind-body movement, and because neither Pitta nor Kapha can exist without it, it’s commonly referred to as the leader of the 3 doshas.
The Vata Dosha governs all mind-body movements such as breathing, thinking, speaking, blood flow, waste elimination, internal water distribution, and more. Keeping the Vata Dosha in balance is crucial to maintaining a healthy mind, body, and soul.
Vata Dosha Expression
People with dominant Vata Dosha’s are adaptable (and welcoming) to change, and always on the go or making moves. Because Vata governs all movement within the body, Vata’s are expressive, creative, energetic and physically lean when this dosha is in balance.
When the Vata Dosha is out of balance, people typically experience:
- Dry, rough, and/or chapped skin
- Low weight
- Anxious thoughts
- Interrupted sleep
- Dry, hard stools and/or constipation
- Overwhelm, fatigue, and drowsiness
- Trouble remembering things
If one or more of the above these sounds like you, then chances are your Vata Dosha needs to be balanced. Below we’re going to cover what you can do to bring your Vata Dosha into balance.
Tips for Balancing the Vata Dosha
Vata’s elemental nature of space and air mean it’s dry, light, mobile, cold, flowing, clear, sharp and rough. To balance Vata, make choices that promote warmth, rest, and relaxation.
Here are some suggestions for how you can bring your Vata Dosha into balance:
- Drink lots of warm beverages – herbal teas, room temperature water with lemon in it, and warmed organic milk will keep your body feeling vibrant and hydrated
- Avoid caffeinated beverages – caffeine causes irritability, sleeplessness, and dehydration
- Avoid carbonated beverages – sodas and other carbonated beverages release carbon dioxide which causes gas and interrupts the body’s natural airflow
- Get a good night’s rest – go to sleep early so you’re able to get a lot of rest and your body has time to recharge
- Stay warm – keep your house set at a comfortable temperature that doesn’t leave you feeling cold or uncomfortable. Additionally, if you live in a colder climate, make sure you dress warm! When your body is cold it has to work extra hard and exert a lot of energy to keep you warm. Plus too much exposure to cold temperatures causing dry, rough, chapped skin.
- Eat warm, whole foods – warm food is easier for your body to break down and digest, so favor warm whole foods over raw, cold foods.
Pitta Dosha is a combination of water and fire. It’s responsible for physical and mental digestion. This means Pitta helps us biologically digest what we consume, and psychologically and spiritually make sense of our life experiences.
Pitta Dosha Expression
Those with a dominant Pitta Dosha are firey, highly competitive, determined, intelligent, go-getters who use their intuition and wisdom to make decisions. They also have a healthy digestive system, good appetite, and strong metabolism.
However, if the Pitta falls out of balance, the fire within them ignites and causes internal and external chaos, rage and a slew of other physical and mental health issues.
When the Pitta Dosha is out of balance, people typically experience:
- Irritability, anger
- Teeth sensitivity
- Burning sensation during urination
If one or more of the above these sounds like you, then chances are your Pitta Dosha needs to be balanced. Below we’re going to cover what you can do to bring your Pitta Dosha into balance.
Tips for Balancing the Pitta Dosha
Pitta’s elemental nature of fire and water mean it’s hot, oily, sharp, pungent and penetrating. To balance Pitta, choose foods and activities that are cooling, sweet, relaxing, and stabilizing.
Here are some suggestions for how you can bring your Pitta Dosha into balance:
- Favor sweet, astringent, bitter foods – whole fruits and vegetables will help aid in healthy digestion, and cool a firey belly. Try red and pink apples, bananas, watermelon, cucumber, leafy greens, and green vegetables.
- Avoid midday sun – due to its fiery elemental nature, Pitta’s are easily overheated. And if Pitta is your dominant dosha, it’s best to avoid midday sun when the heat is its strongest so you don’t wound up with burnt or irritated skin.
- Avoid overworking – make a conscious effort to break away from work and get outside, or away from high-stress situations that can cause irritability.
- Listen to calming, instrumental music – use classical and meditative music to unwind and relax, especially if you’re feeling irritable or angry.
- Eat at regular times – don’t skip meals, and don’t wait until your hangry to eat. Schedule meals at regular times so your body is always energized, and satisfied.
- Stay connected to nature – go for a walk in the park, in a garden, or anywhere you can be surrounded by nature. By staying connected to nature, you’ll remain calm, collected, and cool.
Kapha Dosha is a combination of water and earth. It’s responsible for governing the structures of the physical body. As such, it stabilizes, supports, lubricates and binds the internal and external bodily elements.
Kapha Dosha Expression
Those with a dominant Kapha Dosha are the nurturers of the world. They’re earthy, grounded, calm, compassionate, and loving. When Kapha’s are well-balanced, they’re steady, consistent, supportive, loyal, strong, and patient.
However, if the Kapha falls out of balance, they become buried by stress, unhealthy attachments (to people and things), and resistant to change.
When the Kapha Dosha is out of balance, people typically experience:
- Frequent stomach aches/feeling of fullness
- Exessive sleepiness
- Issues with mucous membranes
- Slow metabolism
- Weight gain
If one or more of the above these sounds like you, then chances are your Kapha Dosha needs to be balanced. Below we’re going to cover what you can do to bring your Kapha Dosha into balance.
Tips for Balancing the Kapha Dosha
Kapha’s elemental nature of earth and water make it heavy, slow, steady, solid, cold, soft and oily. To balance Kapha, make choices that promote warmth, stimulation, movement, and organization.
Here are some suggestions for how you can bring your Kapha Dosha into balance:
- Stay stimulated – due to its earthy and damp elemental nature, Kapha needs to stay stimulated to avoid lethargy and becoming overtired.
- Get enough rest – go to sleep early, and sleep until 5 or 6 a.m., resisting the urge to take naps during the day. If you feel tired, take a walk outside to energize yourself. This will help you stay energized, and minimize the risk of feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and stressed out.
- Keep your space organized – having a calm, steady, grounded nature means you need to keep your space calming and organized so you don’t feel disorganized or develop unhealthy attachments to your things.
- Regularly purge your life – get rid of things that no longer serve your greatest good. This includes relationships, material items, and jobs. Otherwise, you run the risk of becoming stagnant and imbalanced.
- Eat lots of vegetables and light fruits – Kapha’s are prone to weight gain, indigestion, and other stomach issues so by eating light, nutrient-rich foods, you’ll feel energized and ready to tackle the day.
- Avoid sweeteners- aside from honey (which pacifies Kapha), avoid sweeteners. Being the dosha that binds things together, your body requires a lot of energy to operate at an optimal level. This means, consuming artificial sweeteners and too much sugar can leave you feeling drained and lethargic.
How do my Doshas impact me?
If your doshas are well-balanced, you’ll enjoy optimal health and wellness, and be able to seamlessly ebb and flow with life. However, if your doshas are not in balance, unnecessary stress, suffering and disease may manifest in your life.
Want to learn more about your unique dosha combination, and how you can live in alignment with it? If you do, click here!
About Antasha Durbin: Antasha is a spiritual writer, life-long student of the universe, and psychic tarot card reader. Her website, cajspirituality.com, is dedicated to casualizing the spiritual experience and making it attainable for anyone, anywhere, anytime. Follow her for free, easy-to-digest and highly actionable advice on spirituality, mindfulness and empowered living.