What is a Dosha?
There are three Doshas in Ayurveda: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Each of these Doshas has different elemental properties and qualities. The three Doshas govern all physical and mental processes in the human body.
The human body is a dynamic state of balance of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha—always changing, always evolving. An imbalance can be caused by anything from stress to long-standing habits or preferences. It is possible to have one Dosha that dominates your constitution, two Doshas that are more balanced in you or even all three Doshas equally represented in your system. Every individual is unique—so it's important to remember that your Dosha does not define you; it simply helps explain where your natural energy comes from and what will help keep you healthy. If you're curious to find out your Dosha, take this dosha quiz.
Let's break down each of these Dosha types...
As its name suggests, Vata is made up of air and ether (space). This means that its energy tends to be high and creative. Vata types are highly energetic and imaginative, but they need regular sleep and exercise to rebalance their bodies, without which they can easily become anxious or depressed. They tend to be thin with dry skin, hair and nails.
To balance a Vata Dosha, eat warm foods that are cooked rather than raw. These should be heavy in nature with sweet, salty or sour flavors. Here's a great Vata pacifying recipe.
Pitta is the fire element. Its qualities include hot, sharp, intense, and penetrating. People with a strong Pitta Dosha tend to be intelligent (possibly too intelligent for their own good), ambitious, perfectionists and try-hards. They're sometimes overbearing or impatient as a result of their hard-charging attitude and are prone to inflammatory diseases like acne and arthritis. The fiery pitta constitution needs to cool off from time to time, not just physically but mentally as well. Pittas should focus their attention on things that help them relax, such as soothing music or a nice walk in the park with a loved one (or alone—they probably need it).
Pitta people do best eating foods that are cooling (say goodbye to spicy dishes), bitter or astringent in nature. For beverages they should stick with fruit juices and water rather than coffee or alcohol (especially beer). Spices such as cardamom, fennel seed and coriander are calming to Pitta Dosha while clove stimulates it so avoid using it if you're feeling overheated. When it comes to yoga poses think cooling postures that encourage serenity rather than poses where you'll build up heat such as sun salutations or balancing postures which involve standing on one leg for extended periods of time. Take the Dosha Quiz to get personalized tips on diet, movement, routine, and more based on your specific Dosha type.
The Kapha Dosha is associated with the elements water and earth, and its characterized by being grounded, stable, and relaxed.
If you're a Kapha person, you might have a larger frame (thanks to that water) and may be prone to gaining weight more easily. Kapha types also tend to be slower-paced than the other two Doshas—and because of that, they can struggle when it comes to maintaining discipline around sticking to a healthy routine or diet. That said, they're known for their stability: They're really consistent in all areas of life (naturally!).
And because they are so grounded and stable, Kaphas are often less affected by stressors in their environment than Vata or Pitta people—which leads them to be more relaxed and calm in general. In fact, they tend to find it difficult to feel anxious (though not impossible).
Knowing which dosha(s) you have can help you learn what diet, activities, and lifestyle habits work best for your body.
You are a combination of the elements and qualities that make up the three Doshas: A combination of space and air qualities makes you a Vata, fire and water make you Pitta, earth and water make up Kapha.
Each person has all three Doshas within them in different proportions, but usually one Dosha is more prominent than the other two. The dominant Dosha represents your physical constitution (Prakriti), which is unalterable. Your current state of health (Vikriti) can be different from your Prakriti, since it changes based on what's happening in your life right now. For example, if you're stressed out at work or school, that can throw off your Vikriti.
To find out which Dosha type you are and to get personalized recommendations on diet, routine, movement, and overall lifestyle habits you should consider, take this free Dosha quiz.