Introduction to Ayurvedic Doshas

by Melissa West on July 30, 2010

Ayurvedic Doshas
(Adapted from David Frawley’s Yoga and Ayurveda)Over the next four weeks in yoga class and on Namaste Yoga we will use ayurvedic medicine as a lense to focus our practice. Ayurvedic medicine is the “sister” medicine to yoga and is about 5, 000 years old. What I love about the ayurvedic approach is that is is a holistic medicine that account for the whole being: the mind, body, emotions, energy and spirit. Ayurveda has much to teach us about living in harmony with nature (our environment) and our higher Self.

According to Ayurvedic medicine we are made up of three constitutions or doshas: 1) vata, 2) pitta, 3) kapha. We are a balance of all three of these constitutions, but we tend to be dominant in two. Sometimes these constitutions can be more out of balance than others and then we can use the knowledge of ayurvedic medicine to restore equilibrium.

Vata is the primary and most important constitution because it is key to maintaining the balance of the other two doshas. Vata which literally means wind, motivates the other two doshas. In other words, pitta and kapha are incapable of movement without vata. Vata is related to the air element and has to do with energy, space, the nervous system, the mind, movement and expression. Vata can be found in the empty spaces of the body such as the hollow organs, joints, and bone cavities. It relates especially to the hips and low back. Vata people are creative, and enthusiastic, and are known for their speed, agility and responsiveness. When vata is out of balance it shows up as mental and nervous disorders, problems with digestion and a weakening of the bodily tissues.

Pitta means fire and refers to light, intelligence (which illuminates), heat, vision, digestion and transformation. Fire is the force behind digestion. It literally refers to transformation in the body from cellular to gastro-intestinal transformation. It also refers to our ability to digest impressions, emotions and ideas. Pittas are intelligence, courageous and have healthy vitality. When pitta is out of balance we can lack decisiveness or the motivation to accomplish our goals.

Kapha refers to matter, especially water which is sustained by earth. In our bodies kapha refers to what makes things stick together from our bodily tissues to mucous. When kapha is out of balance it shows up as phlegm in our bodies. Kapha sites are the chest, throat and head (the sites of mucous production) as well as the middle of the body where fat tends to accumulate. Kaphas are known to be loving, caring and devoted people.

My constitution tends towards a mix of vata and pitta. I love my husband who is a kapha/pitta blend. What dosha are you? Want to find out? You can take this quiz. Post your findings below.

What are your favorite books on Ayurveda? Include them in the comments below. Come and take a yoga class and learn how to balance your doshas or check out episode 45 through 48 on Namaste Yoga.


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