Learning about ayurvedic doshas helped me better understand my body and mind’s underlying framework, my individual nature. This knowledge is so powerful, and I know it can help guide you in decision-making regarding food, self care, and lifestyle choices.
In this blog post, I’ll cover:
- A brief history of Ayurveda
- The five elements of Ayurveda
- What the doshas are and how they can explain how we move through the world
- Which dosha is dominant for you (plus a handy quiz!)
- What to prioritize and what to avoid when it comes to your health and wellness
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is the ancient Indian system of health, food and medicine. It is over 5,000 years old. Think about that for a minute, 5,000 years. Jesus was 2,000 years ago! We are talking over double that. It’s safe to say that Ayurveda has been around a while AND has stood the test of time.
Ayurveda comes from the Sanskrit words ayus and veda. Ayus translates to “life” and veda translates to “knowledge” or “science.” Ayurveda thus means the “knowledge or science of life.” Ayus encompasses more than just our chronological age or health; it includes our mind, body, senses, and soul.
Ayurveda asks us to look to Nature and live in harmony with it. It is a holistic approach for awakening our innate healing potential.
By the 3rd century AD, Ayurveda already included eight branches of medicine: Internal Medicine, Surgery, Eye-Ear-Nose, Toxicology, Gynecology-Obstetrics Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Aphrodisiacs, and Rejuvenation.
Ayurveda and the Elements
Ayurveda recognizes 5 elements that make up all of life - space, air, fire, water, and earth. Every person, every object, every plant, every everything is unique because it contains a varying ratio of these 5 elements. For example:
- Water is liquid - it’s heavy, soft, cohesive, and governs bodily fluids. It also relates to a calm personality and promotes love, compassion, and contentment.
- Fire is heat, radiant energy, metabolic activities.
- Air flows freely through the body, feeds every cell with oxygen, and gives movement to biological and mental functions.
The composition of the elements in our bodies informs why some of us are quick moving and hyperactive, while others exude grace and stillness. Some of us are prone to joy and good luck, while others carry the weight of the world. Ultimately, ayurveda explains this with the three doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Before we dive in, take this quiz to learn your dosha.
The 3 Doshas
Each of the three doshas is composed of the elements (space, air, fire, water, and earth) and govern all physical and mental bodily processes. They provide us with an individual blueprint for health and fulfillment, and explain why some of us are hyperactive, prone to heartburn, or calm in temperament.
There are 3 doshas, and each of us has a combination of all three (though typically one is dominant, with a second having a strong influence). The doshas are:
Think of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha as dynamic energies within our body that constantly change in response to our actions, thoughts, emotions, the foods we eat, the seasons, and other sensory inputs. An increased, or aggravated dosha leads to the greatest imbalance, especially in our predominant dosha (i.e. heartburn after spicy food if you are Pitta). Doshas can be balanced, increased/aggravated, or decreased/depleted. There are also common ailments/issues that relate to each one (i.e. diabetes in Kapha, anxiety in Vata).
I can’t emphasize enough how helpful it is to learn your primary dosha. Once you know it, you can learn how specific herbs, plants, and minerals (featured below) can bring you harmony - they recognize the similarities between us and them.
There’s so much more to cover than what we can show here, so be sure to head over to our specific dosha pages to learn more - when your dosha is like when it’s balanced vs. when it’s unbalanced, plus specific dietary and herbal tips to support you and help you thrive.
And if you’re looking for more, a great resource is Eat Taste Heal: An Ayurvedic Cookbook for Modern Living by Thomas Yarema, MD, Daniel Rhoda, and Chef Johnny Brannigan.
As always, I wish you the most vibrant health!