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Ayurveda has a unique way of typing our mind-body constitution or Dosha types. The doshas are made up of THE FIVE GREAT ELEMENTS. The five great elements organize themselves into the three principles, or doshas, of movement, metabolism and protection. In sanskrit these principles, or doshas, are called Vata, Pitta & Kapha.

Vata, the principal of movement, is comprised of the elements of space and air. You can think of it as Wind. Pitta, the principle of transformation, is comprised of fire and a little bit of water. You can think of it as Fire. Kapha, the principle of protection, is made of earth and water. Think of it as Earth.

These principles are responsible for every function in our mind and body. We all have all thre dosha principles, but since we are each a unique expression of nature, we have our own unique psycho-phsiological type, or dosha type. This explains why we each respond differently to the same situation or stimulus. Some of us respond with more fire, while others may be more airy or earthy.

We all come into the world with our own unique combination of the doshas, which is determined at conception, and is referred to as our Prakruti. Most people have either one or two of the doshas more predominant. In addition to our basic dosha type, or prakruti, our experiences and choices also influence our doshas, as do the seasononal and daily cycles.

Everyone is one of the followng seven mind-body types: Vata, Pitta, Kapha (mono-doshic); Vata-Pitta (or Pitta-Vata), Vata-Kahpa (or Kapha-Vata), Pitta-Kapha (or Kapha-Pitta) having 2 predominant doshas (bi-doshic). The last type, tri-doshic (which is the most rare) has more-or-less equal expressions of all three dosha types in the constitution.

The three doshas regulate every function in our human body.

 

Vata

Vata is the principle of movement and is comprised of the elements of space and air. When you think of Vata, think about the qualities of wind: Dry, cold, light, irregular, mobile, quick and rough. Vata activity is quick, daily routines tend to be variable, under stress Vata becomes anxious.  Vata learns information quickly  to learn and is easy to forget. Physically, the Vata constitution tends to have a light, thin frame, and active, restless and creative mind, variable diet and sleep patterns, digestive irregularity, dry skin and hair. In the body the Vata Dosha is responsible for mental activity, neuromuscular activity, respiration, digestive movement and cardiovascular circulation. A person with a strong Vata Constitution may have inconsistent appetite and moods. They generally welcome new experiences, embrace change and can be lively and talkative. Their habits, interests and daily routines are likely to change from week to week.  Mentally, when in balance, Vata is energetic, adaptable, has strong initiative and is a good communicator. When vata is under stress or out of balance they become restless, inconsistent, undependable and overly talkative. To balance Vata think “rhythm”.  When you meet someone with a predominance of the Vata constitution, you may think this person is unpredictable.

Vata Imbalances often lead to dryness of skin, hair, fingernails and large intestine. Irregular appetite, delicate digestion, constipation, gas or bloating are all indications of Vata imbalance. Since this dosha governs movement in the body, a vata imbalance may cause restlessness or insomnia. Emotionally, those with a Vata imbalance may feel anxious, isolated, fearful or overly sensitive. Symptoms may come and go, a reflection of the irregularity of the wind principle, and may be brought on by times of change or instability. 

To balance Vata, think rhythm and grounding.

Pitta

Pitta is the principle of transformation and is comprised of the elements of fire with a little water. When you think of Pitta, think about the qualities of the element FIRE: hot, light intense, penetrating, sharp and acidic. People with a lot of pitta in their constitution will display these attributes both mentally and physically. They tend to have a medium frame, a discriminating mind and are intellectually sharp. They have a strong appetite and digestion, tend to perspire easily and have warm hands and feet.  Under stress they will become irritable and angry.  Pitta is responsible for all forms of digestion. In our body, the fire principle metabolizes our experiences so we can absorb what is nourishing and eliminate what is not. Pitta is responsible for the digestion of food, detoxification, intellectual discernment, vision and pigmentation of the skin and hair. Emotionally, when those with a predominance of Pitta are intelligent, warm, friendly, courageous and good leaders. Out of balance or under stress they become critical, irritable, headstrong and controlling.

An imbalance of Pitta in the body can create an excess of heat and acidity. Symptoms may emerge as skin rashes or inflammation, indigestion and heartburn. Emotions may become inflamed when pitta is out of balance, causing one to easily become angry, intolerant and hyper-critical. Pitta imbalances are likely to develop when one feels pressured or has “too much on his plate.” 

To balance Pitta, think decompression and cooling.

 

Kapha

Kapha is the principle of protection and structure, and is comprised of the elements earth and water.  People with a predomenence of the Kapha principle are generally sturdy and consistent. The qualities of earth are heavy, cold, solid, stable, wet, smooth and slow. These attributes are typical of thise with a lot of the earth element.  In the body, Kapha is responsible for protecting the digestive tract, protecting the heart and lungs, and for the sense of taste, protecting the brain and lubricating the joints. Those with a predominance of the Kapha dosha tend to be heavy set and stocky with great strength and endurance. Their skin is smooth, soft and lustrous, and they often have large eyes. They sleep long and deep. Emotionally, when in balance, Kapha is calm, steady, slow to anger, devoted and content. Under stress Kapha tends to depression or withdrawal.   Out of balance Kapha can become boring, inert, needy and complacent.

When Kapha becomes imbalanced, one will feel sluggish, lazy and may become congested. Weight gain, retention of fluids, allergies and sinus congestion all reflect an excess or imbalance of Kapha. Emotionally, Kapha imbalance may present itself as depression, or an inability to let go of things or relationships even if they are no longer needed or nurturing. A person with a Kapha imbalance may be slow to react and resistant to change. 

 

To balance Kapha think Action & Movement

 

When the doshas are imbalanced

Unhealthy lifestyle choices and stress can cause the doshas to become out of balance. Each of the doshas have a balanced and imbalanced expression. When in balance the principles are circulating in the mind body physiology in appropriate proportains and we feel healthy and happy. All our bodily functions work in harmony with on another. Due to improper diet and lifestyle choices and stress these principles may become disturbed and cause distress or disease in the body or mind.

When the a dosha is imbalanced it means we have too much of that dosha active.

In ayurveda, the doshas are brought back into balance using all five of our senses. We are not just what we eat, we are what we metabolize through every sensory experience: What we see, hear, smell, taste, touch and the emotions we feel. We nourish ourselves with self-care through the experiences of taste, smell, touch and sounds.

There are six tastes in Ayurveda: Sweet, Salty, Sour, Pungent, Bitter, Astringent.  

Daily Cycles and the Doshas

Seasonal Cycles and the Doshas

The Six Tastes

The pinnacle of accomplishment within the world-renowned Chopra Center is to be certified to teach all three pillars of Ayurveda which includes Yoga, Meditation and the Lifestyle Principles of Ayurveda. Proficiency in—and mastery of—these three disciplines conveys a special designation known as the Chopra Center Vedic Educator. This coveted triple certification represents the highest level of commitment to exploring the depths of Vedanta, Ayurveda and Yoga.

Kay Rice, M.Ed.

Certified Vedic Educator, Chopra Center for Wellbeing

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