Ayurveda is a 5000-year-old medical science practiced initially by monks in India. Over the millennia, it has improved to such an extent that today it can address almost every health issue that interests us.
It is distinguished from modern medicine in that it focuses on individual characteristics and differences between people. According to Ayurveda, there is no universal recipe for a lifestyle that suits everyone. After consultation, it is much more likely that you will leave with guidance on what habits to create and how to eat properly instead of with a list of medications.
At the heart of this holistic science are the three types of dosha: vata, pitta and kapha. They represent the energies that make up every individual.
According to the Vedas, which are considered to be the oldest written documents, everything in nature consists of five basic elements – ether (space, the void), air, fire, earth and water. Doshas are a combination of some of these elements.
Every person has within them a certain innate nature. It is called prakriti and throughout the life of the individual determines their health, temperament, necessary food, their attitude towards the world and so on. The types of prakriti are summarized as seven – the three pure types of doshas (vata, pitta and kapha), as well as their combinations (vata-kapha, vata-pitta, pitta-kapha and the triple vata-pitta-kapha).
Vata responds, generally speaking, to movement – blood circulation, heart rhythm, breathing, blinking etc. It is connected with the elements of air and ether and when balanced, we have the feeling that we are light and vital. Otherwise, we are afraid and worried about the future.
Pitta dosha is responsible for metabolic processes – absorption of nutrients, digestion, body temperature. It is connected with the elements of fire and water and, when well balanced, manifests itself as contentment and intelligence. In case of balance problems we experience anger at the emotional level, and we also have indigestion.
The third type, Kapha dosha, is the energy of growth and is responsible for the immune system, bone structure and hydration of organs and systems. It is connected with the elements of water and earth and, when in good condition, we experience acceptance and love. Otherwise lethargy, insecurity and envy may manifest.
What is personal constitution?
We all have all three doshas to varying degrees. Our so-called individual constitution defines our different preferences in life, as well as a number of qualities and characteristics. For example, what climate we prefer, what foods we favour and so on.
There are different tests to determine the personal constitution in order to understand what the balance of our doshas is. Typically, two of the three doshas are more prominent, one of them being dominant.
People who have the three-dosha-type constitution (that is, they have achieved the ideal balance) are rarely found. They have great health and endurance, which few people can sport nowadays. They can feel good when practicing the lifestyles of each of the three doshas.
Most people, however, show two and in these cases it is important to take all the effects of the different lifestyles into account. In order to avoid their contradictions and to prepare the most appropriate option for the overall lifestyle, one must very carefully find the balance between eating, working, exercising and resting. Sometimes, in order to achieve this, a deeper knowledge of the subject is needed, as well as certain skills for combining the requirements that seem mutually exclusive. The aid of an Ayurvedic specialist will always be helpful in such cases.
What is the balance dependent on?
As we have already mentioned, all three types of doshas are present in each of us, even if not all are prominent. Each manifests in certain processes and organs in the body, in our way of thinking, as well as in our feelings.
Speaking of physical health, the person is healthy when all the doshas are balanced. Otherwise, different illnesses appear. According to Ayurveda, health problems are caused by inactivity, overuse and misuse. It is about letting one of these factors into our everyday lives – at work, in our thinking, eating …
In order for us to have good health, we need to know our dominant temperament. In view of its peculiarities, we must organize our daily activities – eating habits, free time, work and so on. Knowing that certain internal or external causes violate the necessary balance greatly helps to avoid their influence. They can be the diet, emotional state, trauma, change of the seasons, weather conditions, relationships at home and in the office etc.
One can develop various illnesses defined by the predominant dosha type, as well as by which of them in imbalanced.
How can we determine what our dosha balance is?
There are various tests for that purpose. In the following paragraphs we shall introduce you to the main characteristics of the three dosha types.
People with predominant vata dosha are typically creative. They learn and understand things easily and quickly, but it is also typical of them to forget. They are serene and energetic, being good company, but they do not feel comfortable in cold climates. Their moods change quickly, they have difficulty observing daily schedules and are often exhausted due to sudden energy drops or spikes. They act impulsively in many cases and under stress they experience anxiety and panic. Their body is usually elongated and thin – they are tall, have long limbs and have a quick gait. Often, their skin is too dry and their hair is brittle.
Pitta dosha individuals have a sharp mind and are able to focus well. They are confident and have a strong entrepreneurial spirit, love competitions and challenges. They are romantic and passionate and also have a healthy appetite and good digestion. They can be aggressive and dominating, may be quarrelsome and shout, especially when they are under stress. They do not feel good when they are in the sun, as well as at high temperatures. They are natural leaders and also good speakers. They usually have a middle-sized body, well-built and strong. Their skin and hair may be in reddish tones. Health problems in this type of person are usually associated with indigestion, skin inflammation, palpitations and insomnia.
People with a predominant kapha dosha are friendly, serene, quiet and slow. They are faithful and stable, forgive easily and are not vengeful. However, they are prone to slow digestion and gaining weight, as well as to easy withdrawal into depressive and lethargic conditions. They usually think about everything they say and they weigh their words. They learn more slowly, but they do not forget once they remember something. They are calm and always strive for harmonious relationships. They are hard to make angry and rarely have a problem controlling their emotions. When it comes to climate, they do not feel comfortable in the wet and cold. Physically, they have a stable body structure, a larger bone structure and high endurance. Their skin is radiant and elastic and their nails and hair are healthy. The most typical of their health problems are fluid retention, accumulation of mucus in the body (e. g., sinusitis), asthma, allergies, headache and atherosclerosis.
By knowing more about ourselves and the balance of our doshas, we will also know how to be healthy and happy only by observing some elementary everyday rules. It is advisable to consult an Ayurveda specialist before you begin. They will help you to define your personal constitution and learn how Ayurveda improves physical and mental health.