Knowing your dosha can help you develop a deeper understanding of yourself and your connection to the five elements found within you and in nature.
Everyone wants to know: What’s my dosha? Doshas are often one of the first ways people are introduced to Ayurveda.
You can take a simple online dosha quiz like this one from Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health to quickly find out your dosha. But the results of this quiz are just the beginning of a deeper understanding about yourself. There’s so much more to explore with the doshas.
Dosha means “that which is in decay.” It’s your current state of imbalance, known as your Vikriti, and it's why we practice Ayurveda—to keep us in a state of optimal balance.
There are many ways we can get out of balance. Not a shocker, but stress is one of them.
The 3 Doshas
Drawing upon the five elements we learned about last month—ether, air, fire, water and earth—these elements are present in all of us in varying amounts, and they make up the three doshas, which are:
Vata made up of the elements ether and air
Pitta made up of the elements fire and water
Kapha made up of the elements water and earth
You can have one main dosha, two primary doshas or an equal balance of all three doshas (called tridoshic).
One dosha isn’t better than the other. They each have attributes that can bring us both in and out of balance and are associated with the gunas (qualities) below. Recognizing which way we naturally lean can promote optimal health.
Vata moves like the wind:
In balance: creative, energetic, quick and spontaneous
Out of balance/aggravated: anxious, confused, inconsistent and scattered
Gunas: clear, cold, dry, hard, light, mobile (irregular), rough and subtle
Pitta is fiery:
In balance: can concentrate easily, decisive, direct, precise and resilient
Out of balance/aggravated: angry, irritated and jealous
Gunas: cloudy, hot, light, liquid, mobile (with intention), sharp, soft and subtle
Kapha is grounded:
In balance: caring, compassionate, loyal, patient and supportive
Out of balance/aggravated: sluggish, stagnant and unmotivated
Gunas: cold, dense, dull, heavy, oily, smooth, soft and stable
Like Attracts Like and Opposites Balance
In my last post, we learned that like attracts like and opposites balance. With doshas, we look at addressing where you are out of balance and recommend Ayurvedic practices to reduce the imbalance. You don’t want to build your dosha because you would be building your imbalance.
Ayurveda teaches you to apply opposites to bring you back into balance. For example, if your primary dosha is vata, you might have dry skin and hair, especially in autumn. You might also prefer foods with light, dry qualities, such as chips and crackers. However, eating foods with more kapha qualities, such as avocados and olive oil, can bring more oiliness and smoothness to your skin and hair.
Doshas dictate our tendencies, which means that our imbalances dictate our preferences. We like what we like and usually try to cultivate more of it, but when we do, we can get out of balance. As these attributes accumulate, they can show up physically like with dry skin and hair in the example above.
There are several ways you can pacify your dosha. For the full version of this content and to learn how to pacify your dosha, sign up for Nourish Note, my monthly newsletter.
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