Understanding the Ayurvedic doshas
Ayurveda is the ancient wisdom of life; a universal practice that rejuvenates body, spirit and mind. The traditions associated with Ayurveda are known for combating chronic physiological and psychological conditions.
According to Ayurveda, there are five elements that make up the world around us and the world inside of us: space, air, fire, water and earth. They all reflect certain qualities that we experience through our senses. In a way, they express the language of nature. For example, air is like the wind and is constantly on the move, a bit cold, drying and light; on the other hand, fire is hot, steamy and fierce; whereas water is wet, a little cooling and heavy. Inside our bodies, these five master elements combine together and exist as three primary energy patterns.
These energy patterns – or doshas, to use the Sanskrit word – are present in every tissue, every cell and every organ in our body, thereby they govern all of the body’s processes, from bodily functions to our thoughts and feelings. If you want to explore more about your dosha(s), participate in our holistic dosha quiz and get detailed insights on how to achieve a harmony or balance of different doshas together.
What are the three Ayurvedic dosha types
The three primary energy patterns in our body, or doshas, as explained by Ayurveda are: vata, pitta and kapha.
Wind or vata dosha– that is cold, dry and light – is the force that controls our movement, regulates the nervous system, and oversees elimination of waste. In ancient Ayurvedic science, vata is a fundamental component of nervous system linked with circulation, breathing and blinking of eyes. People who are vata-dominant experience difficulty falling asleep, struggle with scattered thoughts, are forgetful and often end up feeling tired, anxious and stressed.
Fire or pitta– that is hot, wet and combustive – is the force that controls our digestion and metabolism. Also known as fiery, pitta types admire challenges and are brimming with courage, strength and enthusiasm. However, when left imbalanced, pitta dosha could result into inflammation across the body, skin problems (psoriasis), alopecia, heartburn, diarrhea and related conditions that affect functioning of gall bladder and liver.
Water or kapha dosha– that is cold, wet and heavy – is the protective force which governs stability, structure and moisture in our mind and body. The kapha types are adored for their elegance, physical and mental endurance, patience and compassion. When kapha is out of balance, according to one's prakruti (your individual constitution), you may require strength and support for performing different bodily functions ultimately leading to complications in initiating any task (slow starter), pneumonia, poor appetite, foggy mind, congestion, edema (water retention), wet coughs, skin tags and constipation.
Although we’re all born with all three doshas, they come together differently in each one of us, and it is this unique combination that makes us who we are. Typically, every person has one dominant dosha type that makes up his or her personal Ayurvedic constitution or prakriti.
What do the doshas look like in real life examples?
Once you start to understand your own dosha and its characteristics, you'll start to notice them in your friends and family too.
Let's use an example of a person waiting for a train that's running late. The airy, vata dosha symptoms might trigger worry so the person may pace up and down the platform while checking the announcement board. Whereas, fiery pitta dosha symptoms might help in using the time to their advantage; a quick phone call or checking a few emails. The earthy kapha dosha symptoms will allow them to use the opportunity to relax and listen to a podcast, read a book or just sit and relax.
Another example can be found in your eating habits. A vata might eat sporadically during the day, often skipping meals; a hot-headed pitta usually wants to eat at set times each day, never missing a meal, and a kapha type might not to be hungry until mid-morning and can happily get by on two meals a day if they tune into genuine hunger.
What’s your mind-body or dosha type?
Some people are pure vata, pitta or kapha types, others are vata-pitta, vata-kapha or pitta-kapha (here the dominant quality is listed first). More rarely, but possible, is an equal balance of all three doshas in one person – vata-pitta-kapha.
Why take Pukka Herb's dosha quiz?
Ayurveda believes that every dosha comes with certain corresponding qualities that are projected through mental, emotional and physical aspect of a being. With the help of Pukka Herb's dosha quiz you get to explore your unique body-mind-spirit type with personalized insights for improving your overall health and wellbeing.
The questions asked in the dosha quiz are primarily based on five vital elements, namely:
a. Physical appearance of the body i.e., slender with a light frame, medium with proper muscle development or curvy having a broader frame,
b. Metabolism, ranging from fast making it difficult to gain weight, medium consistent weight and slow where the tendency of gaining weight is high,
c. Body temperature, the response of the body to sudden change in environmental temperature,
d. Eating habits, focusing on excessive consumption of food or lack of appetite and
e. Ability of managing important tasks, especially exams, crucial assignments or work deadlines.
The results of the quiz will help in identifying your dosha profile, helping in understanding, addressing and resolving the adverse symptoms of imbalanced dosha(s).
Once you understand what dosha combination makes up your Ayurveda constitution, you can start keeping them in balance through the right diet, exercise, lifestyle and herbs for your dosha...and maybe even the right cup of Pukka herbal tea; for it is the delicate balance of our doshas that leads to the balance of our health.
If you haven't yet discovered your dosha, why not try our dosha quiz?
Author: Sebastian Pole
Co-founder and Master herbsmith
Pukka’s Co-founder and Master Herbsmith keeps a close eye on the formulation of our organic creations. Sebastian has been in clinical practice since 1998 using a blend of Ayurvedic, Chinese and Western herbal medicine and has pioneered organic and FairWild practitioner-grade herbs as the norm at Pukka.
Degree in Hindi and Indian Religions, a registered yoga therapist
Years of experience
23 years in clinical practice
Member of the Ayurvedic Practitioners Association, Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine and the Unified Register of Herbal Practitioners, Fluent in Hindi.