I call myself an Ayurveda enthusiast because I believe the 5000 year old Indian ‘Science of Life’ has got it so right when it comes to understanding human health. Ayurveda looks for the root cause of the problem and teaches us how to live with mind, body and spirit in balance.
Ayurveda believes we have a “mind-body type” made up of three doshas - vata (space or air, equated with the nervous system), pitta (fire, equated with enzymes), and kapha (earth and water, equated with mucus). When these are in harmony we feel vibrant but, due to our lifestyle, the seasons and what we eat, we can become unbalanced, and left unchecked this can lead to illness in the mind and body. Luckily, Ayurveda provides specific ways to correct this using herbs, oils and diet to bring us back to equilibrium.
Think of Vata like the wind, when balanced this person is active, creative, gifted in expressing themselves and communicating. Common signs of imbalance are anxiety (that rushing mind), dryness, constipation and trouble sleeping. Vata people usually have a slim build, dry skin and fine hair, irregular appetite (that “forgetting to eat” trait that a Pitta person would never have) and they feel the cold. Their minds often jump from one idea to the next, they are restless, enthusiastic and alert. PITTA
Pitta is fire. These people are generally of moderate/athletic build with soft skin, and get hot easily. They have a strong metabolism, good digestion and appetite. Their personality is ambitious, determined and competitive, often they are perfectionists with strong intellect - a classic ‘Type A’. If Pitta is out of whack, a person can become controlling, irrational, judgemental, fiery-tempered, workaholic, and prone to rashes and acne. They might also get headaches, have loose bowel movements and acid reflux. KAPHA
Kapha people are naturally calm, thoughtful and loving, with a bigger build and soft, oily skin. They enjoy routine, have an appreciation for music and art, and love to eat, but have to be careful not to eat too many heavy foods. When in balance they have a stable temperament, good memory, are a good team player and are compassionate and affectionate. Kapha people tend to hold onto things - jobs, relationships - longer than they should, and when unbalanced they display excessive attachment. They are prone to laziness and sleeping in, and dislike cold weather.
Which one sounds most like you? Or do you think you are all three (tridosha)? Take this quiz to find out.
So, what’s my dosha? In India I visited two Ayurvedic doctors from different practices to compare what they said, and both told me I’m Pitta/Kapha - my digestion is strong although I am sensitive to spicy foods, and my skin is oily like Pitta. My emotional state is more Kapha - calm and compassionate.
One imbalance I see a lot amongst women is Vata, the classic rushing around all of the time with a ‘monkey mind’ and never switching off. These people are often big fans of smoothies and salads, which goes against what is recommended for their dosha. They often will have trouble sleeping, are anxious and even, in some cases, lose their period. To rebalance Vata, it is suggested that you need to slow down, eat warming, grounding foods like grains, cooked vegetables, butter, nuts and warm drinks. Goop has a really good breakdown on how to eat for you Dosha.
To me, Ayurveda makes total sense: listen to your body, eat intuitively (i.e. when the weather is chilly, have warming food instead of cold things) and keep your digestive fire burning by sipping on warm water instead of extinguishing it with ice cold drinks. Knowing my dosha is a powerful tool in my wellness toolbox.