Ayurveda is one of, if not the, oldest documented healing systems in the world. It originated in India roughly 5000 years ago as the “science of life” and literally translates to exactly that. This “science” is an ancient body of knowledge that utilizes diagnostic methods to determine the unique constitution of each individual to create a blueprint for the body and mind in its current state, which allows us to develop a clear path that leads us back to our own natural state of balance and wellness.
This begins by determining one’s dosha, which is the measure of the physiological energies of earth, air, fire, water, and space, that make up our bodies. From there, an Ayurvedic practice is built upon learning how to take proper foods and herbs that balance the doshas/energies within your body to prevent dis-comfort and dis-ease in the body and the mind. The building blocks to this practice begin with understanding of the doshas and how they operate within our body to flow in and out of harmony.
In Ayurveda there are 5 energies that make up a total of 3 doshas; Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
Vata is made up of air and space, and is the dosha responsible for movement and circulation of thoughts, nutrients, fluids, and all things that move throughout the body. A vata person is typically thin with a long, narrow build, has small eyes, is prone to dryness, fatigue, cold hands and feet, and has sensitive digestion. Their personalities crave excitement and change, they are very creative, but when out of balance, experience anxiety, worry and overwhelm.
Pitta is made up of fire and water and governs the digestion in the mind and body of food, visual impressions, information, feelings, and in short, is the energy that transforms anything in the body that needs to be broken down for absorption. Pittas usually have a moderate to athletic build, are very sharp, fast, and competitive, and typically experience significant warmth, have excellent digestion, and are great leaders. When out of balance however, they tend towards heated emotions, burnout, and experience things like skin rashes, burning indigestion, and heartburn.
Kapha is earth and water energy that builds a solid foundation for everything in our body that needs protection, nourishment, and lubrication. Kapha, as it is the earth element is much like mother earth in that it holds everything together from our bones and ligaments, to all of our tiny cells, as well as our thoughts and emotions. Kaphas are very loving, thoughtful, and caring, and tend to have larger builds, lustrous thick hair, porcelain skin and perfect teeth. They have slower digestion, are prone to weight gain, and when out of balance develop unhealthy attachments, and become stubborn and depressive.
Each individual has a unique combination of all 3 doshas with no 2 being alike, much like fingerprints. Our constitution never changes from the time we are born, however, what is constantly in flux, is our current state, and the level of imbalance in our doshas. This is called our vikruti, or our state of imbalance. In Ayurveda, we use the the vikruti of an individual as a guide to help us return to our prakruti, which the state of balance we are born with. Someone who is Pitta by nature for instance, may have a significant Vata vikruti or imbalace, which means that in order to balance the doshas, we must introduce things that are nourishing to vata, in order to allow a person to operate as their true pitta selves.
To learn about your own dosha, consult with an Ayurvedic practitioner who can give you a precise measure of your prakruti and vikruti. From there, you can build a practice together that will support your return to a state of balance that allows the inherent wisdom of your entire body to heal itself naturally.