More in depth study on Ayurvedic Science
These are organizing energies that keep each of us in balance. Commonly interpreted as “biological humor” the literal translation is “at fault”. It implies that the current state of being fluctuates and is not static; always changing. We won’t be perfect though – the point is to build an awareness around the current moment and see if it guides into better choices forward. We may or may not make the best choices not but we can stop, pause and recognize.
The three doshas: Vata, Pitta, Kapha. They are combinations of the five elements listed above. Everyone is composed of all five elements and everyone has all three Dosha’s – just holding them in different proportions and stages of their life. Understanding the crucial functions in the physical body as well as in nature. They present their qualities in a prescribed time of day, seasons, times of the year, geographical locations and they manifest in the changing seasons of life. Don’t be entirely focused on the Dosha’s though. The solution or key to what is right for you is in understanding the Gunas.
What does Dosha mean?
This is from the Ayurveda practice that believes that within each of us we have dosha types – currents – that drive our individual bodies. We have inherited each of them just like DNA yet one is stronger than the other two. When a dosha is too strong it is considered to be off balance.
By understanding the Dosha types you can understand how to live, move, eat and balance for better health.
The three doshas are vata, pitta and kapha. These three dosha’s are powers and determine our conditions, our growth and aging, health and our disease. Dosha means a fault or a blemish and indicates the factors that bring about disease or decay.
Doshas impact us on two levels; first the physical body and second the mind. Ayurveda speaks of people as vata types, pitta types or kapha types relative to their habits or emotional responses.
Understanding your Dosha type allows us to gauge the effects of yoga practice on our bodies, understand your mind and how you connect the two. It also tells us how our systems works in the yogic perspective of prana. Lastly it helps the individual adapt their yoga practice, the asana, pranayama, meditation, to their dosha type as it may not be the same for another. One energy is not the same as another so it helps you understand your energy and mind-body type.
Vata Dosha: Literraly means wind (Air), is the primary dosha or biological force. It is a motivating power behind the other two doshas.
Personality Trait: Physically active, busy, hustling
Effects on appetite: Person often forgets to eat
Benefits when balanced: Creative, spiritual, abstract thinker
Problems when out of balance: Weight loss, insomnia, brittle nails, dry skin, gas
Foods that can balance: Chicken, seafood, rice, oats, sweet potatoes, bananas, avocados, cream, unsalted butter, honey, oranges, lemons, sea salt
Foods that can imbalance: Potatoes, beans, cabbage, sprouts, cold or carbonated drinks, crackers, barley, pears, apples
Pitta Dosha: means “the power of digestion or cooking” (Fire).
Personality Trait: Quick thinker with a sharp tongue, ambitious
Effects on appetite: Never misses a meal
Benefits when balanced: Intelligent, focused, works tirelessly
Problems when out of balance: Too hot, ulcers, skin irritations
Foods that can balance: Turkey, chickpeas, rice, wheat, coconut, okra, broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, mangoes, pears, green leafy vegetables (spinach)
Foods that can imbalance: Red meat, fried foods, brown rice, tomatoes, vinegar, yogurt, sour cream, garlic, hot peppers, papaya, BBQ sauce
Kapha Dosha: means “what makes things stick together” (Water).
Personality Trait: Calm and reaely irritated
Effects on appetite: Easily gains weight, even without overeating
Benefits when balanced: Strong, trustworthy, loving
Problems when out of balance: Obesity, lethargy, congestion, avoids exercise
Foods that can balance: Leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, eggplant, buckwheat, lentils, apples, papaya, pomegranates, spices (esp ginger and black pepper)
Foods that can imbalance: Seafood, meat, cheese, wheat, tomatoes, sugar, maple syrup, oranges, coconut, potatoes, bananas ice cream, yogurt
Want oils or other natural items to help with your balance? Check out Banyan Botanicals. You can take a test that can help you determine your type. Using the oils with the season may help. Keep in mind with the summer to check out cooling oils such as Coconut (no matter your Dosha type). Winter sesame seed oils are great for those types that need more grounding and warmth.
Each element has its own group of qualities. One side of the Gunas is Building, nourishing, and promoting. The other is Reducing/lightning. Not good or bad though; more about understanding differences. Heavy is cross compared to Light in Weight. Slow or dull is compared to Sharp or Penetrating.
There are 20 Guna qualities that are opposite of each other. When trying to identify what will offer you better health, you have to identify what is out of balance and then the solution is to do the opposite.
Easy right? Yet it isn’t. For example, many times we may be tired from a long day, exhausted and run-down. So we may feel the need to go to a very fast paced yoga class thinking it will boost up our energy. However we were tired from our life, food choices and overdoing. The solution may be to go to a slower or moderate yoga class instead of burning out the energy entirely. Very much like choices to grab sugar or caffeine instead of taking in more water or protein and going home to sleep earlier.