Curious about discovering your Ayurvedic Dosha? If so, you are in the right place. I'm halfway through my Ayurveda Yoga Specialist training and excited to share what I’m learning with you! If you don't know, Ayurveda is the indigenous Indian science of natural and holistic medicine. It's a system that helps you understand yourself in relationship to nature, so you can cultivate more balance and wellness in your mind, body, and spirit. It's also the sister science of Yoga, as they both come from the same Vedic philosophy.
So what is a dosha?
The three Ayurvedic Doshas are called Kapha, Pitta, and Vata. They are a combination of the five elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Ether. The elements pair off into combinations of two to form the doshas.
Earth and Water = Kapha Dosha. Water and Fire = Pitta Dosha. Air and Ether = Vata Dosha.
According to Vedic philosophy and Ayurveda, your dosha is the constitution you were born into. The qualities of earth and water, or water and fire, or air and ether blend together to make the unique sauce of Who You Are and what your tendencies are. Do you tend to be languid and solid with oily skin? Or fiery and driven with red, irritated skin? What about airy and creative with dry skin? Most likely you're a combo of two doshas, as most of us are, with one dosha being dominant. While your dosha does not change over your life, it does fluctuate between being more or less in balance as it's influenced by how you are living your life. The foods and drinks you are consuming, the season of the year, and even the stage of life you are in all have an effect on you. Learning about your dosha gives you information about the food and lifestyle choices that help you feel your healthiest and happiest.
Let’s look at these doshas a bit more closely and see how they are supported in a yoga class. Kapha is the heaviest, most dense of the three doshas as it is made up of Earth and Water, or elements that have form and matter. Think about striding across the earth or wading through water. In the body, Kapha is the blood and plasma. Since Kapha Dosha is tactile matter, these dosha types are heavy, slow, and have strong stamina. In yoga classes, Kaphas feel happy and content in longer-held yoga poses. She loves a good restorative yoga class where poses are held for 10-minutes or more, and might even smile while maintaining Plank Poses for eight breaths. But to find balance for herself, and not feel too stuck, this dosha must move her body. The slower-moving Kapha energy gets going with the flowing Sun Salutation and Cow and Cat Pose, and with Bhastrika Pranayama (Bellows Breathing) which pumps the belly in and out, and forces circulation to move. Pitta, a combination of Water and Fire, has some innate movement to it due to the Fire element. Have you ever stared into the flickering flames of a campfire, watching the flames dance around? That's the fire-burning movement of Pitta. In the body, Pitta rules the metabolism. This dosha is here to get it done already so she can move on to the next thing on her list. Therefore, Pitta Dosha does well to notice that she actually feels better with a less is more attitude. To cultivate equanimity for herself, Pitta can strive for using only 60% of her effort in yoga class. Being mindful of her breath in side opening poses such as Triangle Pose and incorporating yoga blocks or adding a blanket under the hip in Pigeon Pose will help this dosha to cool her inner fire and feel supported and nurtured. Shitali Pranayama (Cooling Breathing) helps to cool Pitta’s natural heat. Vata is the least dense of all three of the doshas as it’s made of the two elements that have no matter: Air and Ether. Air and ether are all around us and are recognized as the wind blowing the leaves, or as the upper regions of air beyond the clouds. In the body, Vata is the space in between the cells and governs movement. Therefore, this dosha needs help grounding her energy so she can find her keys, or sit down and finish writing her book. In yoga class, Vata Dosha types are generally fidgeting while everyone else is trying to find stillness. Yoga and breathing are very conducive to reigning in Vata's scattered energy and creating a connection to her body. While in a Standing Forward Bend, Vata can sense her feet on the floor, her hands on the toes, her belly on her thighs, and her attention on her breath to feel contained and grounded. Nadi Shodhana Pranayama (Alternate Nostril Breathing) is wonderful for supporting balance in Vata's anxious nervous system. This gives you a glimpse into how Yoga and Ayurveda are sister sciences that support you in maintaining your health and happiness. Yoga helps you connect with your true Self and Ayurveda helps you maintain the optimal health of this true Self. If you’ve been coming to my group yoga classes this year, you might notice that I’ve been incorporating dosha balancing techniques in class. Keep coming to weekly yoga classes to create more balance and harmony for yourself.
Take the Dosha Quiz over at Banyan Botanicals and then let me know if you're Kapha, Pitta, or Vata (or a combo).
I love hearing from you,