The Doshas

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Pitta –

The elements Fire and Water, the water is actually more a liquid, plasma. In balance,  Pitta qualities are bodily warmth and energy, active and athletic, a good organizer and leader, mental quickness and sharp intellect, sensitivity to heat and a bit of competitiveness.  Excess Pitta can manifest as infective illness especially with fevers, inflammations, skin problems or liver involvement, anger and aggression, diarrhea, ulcers or excess acidity or boils.

Pitta dominant people have average muscle development, usually of average height, often reddish color to skin, lips, the whites of the eyes, palms of hands or soles of the feet, or hair.  Their hair is often straight or silky or thin, oily, and often with early balding or grey.  Their eyes are often piercing and can be blue, grey or lighter colored brown.  Noses can be long, pointy or sharp, and teeth are often prone to cavities with sensitive gums.  When they gain weight it is usually because of overeating sweets or fried foods and usually easy to lose it.  Pitta people can often eat a lot without gaining an ounce.  Their digestion is fast, and it is hard for them to skip meals as they get very hungry and often irritable. Pitta people usually don’t have sleep disturbances nor do they often like to oversleep; but still they should go to bed by 10 and get up early rather than go to bed late, as this aggravates Pitta irritability.  Cooling and milder foods are best to balance Pitta, and not eating too much at one meal, and best if they don’t entirely skip breakfast or they get too hungry later in the day. Moderate fasting for a few days is best for them, often on broth or diluted vegetable or fruit juice.

Pitta Vata Kapha Ayurveda

Kapha –

The elements Water and Earth are prominent, giving a solidity, weight and endurance, strength and good stamina to the body, with large bones and the potential for good muscle development, and sensitivity to dampness.  Loyalty, equanimity and tolerance are typical Kaphamental qualities.  Excess Kapha can manifest as lethargy, weight gain including muscle and fat, depression or over-sentimentality and attachment, over-eating for comfort, and lung or sinus congestive illnesses.

Kapha dominant people have large, strong bones, are often tall or short rather than average, and usually have wide feet and hands and can have shorter toes and fingers.  They have good muscle development with large and broad chests and often wide hips and large thighs and calves, strong necks, and large heads.  It is easy for them to gain weight and usually hard to lose it. They usually have paler skin quality than others of their race or family, large brown or blue eyes with white sclera, a broad nose and mouth and often have round or square faces.  Often their hair is thick and wavy and their teeth are white and large.Kapha people can sleep well – too well!  If they oversleep, this aggravates the heavy, lethargic qualities of Kapha, so it is important that they get up early and do not oversleep or take naps.  They should eat light, drier, crispy foods to balance the moist and heavy Kapha qualities, and it is good for them to skip breakfast or eat a very light breakfast like herb tea and a piece of fruit.  Kapha people can fast longer than the other constitutions, due to their innate strength and endurance, but they should avoid too much sweet juice.

Vata –

The elements Air and Ether are prominent, and when balanced, give Vata the characteristics of lightness, sensitivity to cold, agility and movement, sympathy or empathy with others and intuition.  They are usually very quick to learn (but sometimes forget as well), with bursts of mental and physical energy followed by exhaustion. Vata dominant people are usually very flexible or even disorganized and can talk a mile a minute.  Excess Vata can manifest as joint pain, nervous diseases, irregular digestion or constipation, and sometimes troubled by gas, and mentally with fear, worry or anxiety.

Vata dominant people are usually wiry, thin with large joints, often very tall or very short, with long toes and fingers.  Usually they have rather flat chests and thin muscles, with tight calves.  Often very slender, they find it hard to gain weight, but if they do, it is usually just in the belly.  They often have hollow cheeks, a square or upturned nose, and deep-set or smaller dark brown, black or greenish eyes.  Their teeth are sometimes crooked, with receding gums.  Often their hair is very thick, wiry or bushy, and dry.  Their skin is often dry or cracked.  They often have darker coloring than others in their race or family.  The light, airy qualities of Vata often cause disturbed sleep, so it is important for Vata people to go to bed early and sleep sufficiently.  To counteract the light, dry qualities, they need to eat heavier, warm, moist and rich foods or they can almost “dry up and blow away”.  Vata people sometimes have little or variable appetite but should not skip too many meals as this easily causes excess Vata and can further diminish their digestive strength.  Water fasting is not good for them, best is short fasts with warm liquids like oatmeal water or a mono-diet like soupy kittrie.

Most people generally have one dominant dosha and one secondary, and although some people have equal amounts of all three, that is rare.  One’s Prakriti or constitution consists of the primary and secondary dosha or constitutional elements – such as Kapha/Pitta, or Pitta/Vata.  Since sometimes the doshas have opposite needs (for instance, Kapha needs more warmth, and Pitta needs coolness), we can balance our bodies and minds more easily by knowing our constitutions and how to balance them seasonally.

What is Dosha?

Dosha literally means “fault” because the doshas, when out of balance – often excess – cause both physical illness and mental or emotional problems.  By knowing what foods, types of exercise and recreation, herbs and Yoga asanas are balancing to our constitutions we can make the best use of our human bodies.

We are born with a specific constitution or Prakriti, which does not change throughout life, but the Vikriti or imbalance can change.  For instance, if a person who is primarily Pitta dosha has excess Pitta, maybe manifesting as acne, or ulcers, this excess heat can be reduced by Pitta reducing diet, herbs and other measures, which are in line with what balances his or her constitution already.  But a Pitta person can have an imbalance of Vata or Kapha, in which case different measures need to be taken just to reduce the excess Vata or Kapha, and then back to the regular Pitta balancing routine.  For instance, coolness balances Pitta – cool drinks, cool colors, cooling herbs and cooling foods.  But if a Pitta person has a Vata or Kapha imbalance, warmth is needed to bring the Vikriti back into balance, so hot drinks, spicy or warming foods and warm colors or herbs may be needed temporarily.

Seasons bring different climatic conditions, and different climates can help balance or aggravate different constitutions.  For instance, the coolness of Vata and Kaphais balanced by sunbathing, whereas Pitta people need to avoid direct sunlight, and should always wear hats in the sun.  During summer, Pitta people need to keep cool and eat cooling foods and drinks or the fiery qualities of Pitta can accumulate and cause illness later on.  In the winter or rainy seasons, the cool and wet can cause excess Kapha especially in Kapha people, so they need to be careful to stay warm and dry, and eat warming, spicy foods and drinks, or they will be more prone to congestive accumulations.  Vata people need to also stay warm and even bundle up, as cold and wind especially aggravate Vata, keeping their ears covered and stay hydrated with warm drinks and moist foods.

Constitutions are affected by body’s age, as well.  All children have more Kapha in their bodies because Kapha is the dosha that brings strength, solidity and growth, so since children’s bodies are growing, they need Kapha promoting foods to fuel the growth of muscles, bones, organs and other tissues.  Insufficient strength promoting foods can cause lifelong deficiencies or even disabilities.But children are also more prone to Kapha type illnesses such as excess mucus and cough so it is very important to give them a diet suitable for their constitution and age.

Young and middle aged adults are the general Pitta years – the time of life for most activity, careers, family responsibilities, and other endeavors.  So some Pitta balancing measures in general are useful especially in times of frustration, irritation or stress, to be able to maintain equanimity and avoid infective illnesses.

The older years are more influenced by Vata – the conditions of the elderly such as wrinkled and dry skin, nervous disorders, more weakened bodies and fluctuating energy and diminished digestive powers – require the gentleness and warmth that helps to balance Vata.

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