The word Ayurveda is derived from the Sanskrit language and it means life and longevity. The Ayurvedic philosophy is native to India but has gained popularity all over the world. The basic philosophy of Ayurveda is to balance the mind, body and spirit.
As per Ayurveda, a person is born with a life force that comprises the five elements or building blocks of nature – earth, air, water, space and fire. We, humans, possess a unique balance of these five elements in varying degrees.
The balance of these elements is called Dosha. There are three fundamental doshas – vata, pitta and kapha. Good health is considered to be a perfect balance of these three doshas.
What are the three doshas made of:
Vata is constituted by space and air, which is the energy of the movement.
Pitta is constituted by fire and water, which is the principle of digestion and metabolism.
Kapha is constituted by water and earth, which is the principle of structure and lubrication.
Common mistakes and problems like unhealthy diet, repressed emotions and insufficient exercise are the elements that disturb one’s doshic balance. To be healthy and in a balanced state, a person has to increase or decrease doshas as the condition demands.
To put it in simple words, health means order and balance, whereas disease is disorder and imbalance.
Everyone has all the three doshas but in most cases only one of them is primary, the other is secondary and the third one is the least prominent.
The three doshas
Vata is the leader of three Ayurvedic principles in the body. It regulates all the activities in the body – mental as well as physiological. It is responsible for breathing, blinking of our eyes, beating of our heart and many more bodily functions. When balanced, vata is lively and energetic. To keep vata in balance, adequate rest and relaxation are needed. If someone has imbalanced vata, they may face problems like dry hair, dry skin and cough.
Pitta is the fire element and is responsible for regulating body temperature. It regulates the body temperature through the chemical transformation of food, governing digestion, absorption, assimilation, metabolism and nutrition. Dosha promotes vitality and appetite. People whose pitta dosha is prominent are strong-willed, determined and tend to have leadership qualities.
Imbalanced pitta can lead to anger and agitation and can even cause burning disorders such as ulcers and inflammation. To maintain a balance of pitta, massages, inhaling cooling scents like rose, mint and lavender can help.
Kapha dosha helps in maintaining the body resistance. People dominate by this dosha are said to be thoughtful, calm and steady. To maintain a balance of this dosha, gentle exercise, stimulating activities and extra intake of fluids can help. Kapha is responsible for the body’s anabolism, the process of building the body, growth and repair and creation of new cells.
Know what’s your prominent dosha
Each human being has different combinations of the three doshas that determines one’s genetically inherited physical and personality traits. The constitutions may change based on one’s physical, mental and emotional conditions. It’s important and best to know one’s dosha and then create a lifestyle that suits it.
A human body can be divided into seven different body types. A person can be vata, pitta, kapha, vata-pitta, pitta-kapha, vata-kapha or tri-dosha. There is no perfect dosha or body type, each category has its own advantage and disadvantages.
To understand your dosha better, here is chart by Dr Vishakha Mahindroo, Ayurvedic practitioner, which will help you get a clarity about what’s your prominent dosha.
To balance Kapha
Stay active, stay warm, engage in stimulating activities. Avoid cold and damp things and get physically active.
What to eat to balance your dosha
Dosha can be balanced with the help of herbal remedies, warm oil massages, yoga and diet.
How to balance kapha
The major reason for kapha imbalance is excessive consumption of food. Thus, to balance kapha, a light, low-fat diet of bitter, pungent and astringent tastes is recommended. Your diet can include raw vegetables, ripe fruits, grains like rye, oats, millet, barley, honey, spices like pepper, cardamom, cloves, mustard and turmeric. People with kapha prakarti should avoid fats, milk and rice in their daily habits but can consume them occasionally.
How to balance vata
High consumption of spicy and astringent foods contributes to the imbalance of vata. It’s best to consume sweet, salty, sour, warm and easily digestible foods. It can include vegetables like broccoli, leafy vegetables, cauliflower. wheat, rice, mild spices lie cumin, ginger and cinnamon can be consumed. Moist foods like berries, melons, yogurt can also help. Oily foods like avocado, buttermilk, cheese, whole milk, eggs, coconut, nuts and seeds are also supportive.
How to balance pitta
Excessive consumption of alcohol, spicy, oily, fried, salty and fermented foods may result in pitta imbalance. People with pitta prakarti should avoid spicy, acidic and hot foods. The pitta imbalance can be corrected with sweet, bitter and astringent tastes. Other foods that can help are sweet fruits, dairy products, curry leaves, barley, oats and mint. Avoid sour fruits, red meat, potatoes, eggplant and tomatoes.