What do the seasons mean for your dosha?
Ayurvedic advice isn’t static, it changes according to the time of year.
Understanding your Ayurvedic body type, or dosha, can really help you to determine how to cope with seasonal changes. In Ayurveda, there are three different body types or constitutions known as doshas: kapha, pitta and vata, which can be defined by particular patterns of behaviour and physical characteristics.
Here is a little insight into how each dosha can make the most of summer.
Vata types are exposed to higher levels of heat and sunshine in the summer, which means a naturally drier environment. For a vata, this means the onset of dry conditions such as hot, dry itchy skin conditions like eczema or dry coughs.
Pitta types are those most affected by the summer season, because this is the season with the highest levels of heat and therefore fire. When a pitta becomes out of balance they suffer from characteristically ‘hot’ conditions such as heartburn, high blood pressure, fevers and skin rashes. You may also notice a change in their temperament, becoming more irritated, angry and frustrated in the ‘heat of the moment’. The key is to keep them cool and calm.
Kapha types are most aggravated in cold and damp environments. So, actually, the summer season can be very balancing for those with a strong kapha dominance because they benefit from hot and dry and environments and may feel more energised during the summer. But, remember that kapha is constitutionally cool and damp, so they may struggle with intense heat and find it uncomfortable, even if it’s good for them!
Vata types are dominated by air, which means that the seasonal changes occurring during autumn, where wind increases and the weather becomes cooler and drier, can really aggravate this dosha. Vata is the constitution that's most at risk of becoming out of balance during the autumn months. Like a sudden gust of wind can cause you to lose your balance, the vata constitution is also at risk from losing their stability.
Pitta types are at most risk of being tipped out of balance in the hotter months of late spring and summer. As the temperature begins to slowly drop, the cool autumn air can often help balance your typically hot and fiery pitta types. Autumn is a good season for the pitta dosha allowing them to release some of the excess pitta accumulated during the hot summer months.
Kapha types are naturally cool and damp. Autumn is cooling and drying, so, the cool dry air can actually help keep a kapha less congested. The risk of being tipped out of balance can occur towards the end of the autumn months, during the onset of winter, so it’s important to keep the cold out throughout the autumn.
Vata types are naturally cold and dry and can become aggravated by the increased cold of winter. It’s important for them to stay warm at all times, keeping a regular sleeping pattern, and incorporate earthy spices and foods.
Pitta types often prefer a cooler climate as it helps keep their inner thermostat at bay. So, winter can be a good season for the pitta dosha allowing them to release any excess accumulated heat. However, they still need to keep their core body temperature warm and balanced to protect their internal organs, especially when living in climates where winter is long and prolonged.
Kapha types are affected by the cold, dark and often wet winters. The risk of being tipped out of balance can occur towards the end of the autumn months and the early onset of winter. So, it’s really important for kapha types to stay warm throughout the winter. Out of all three dosha’s, the kapha dosha is the one most prone to feeling the cold, so if you are dominantly kapha, remember to take plenty of layers out with you when you brave the outdoors.
Vata types may like spring, but vata is at risk of becoming out of balance during this season as both are associated with movement and change. And, of course, spring is all about new growth and life. A vata may become carried away in the moment and leave the spring season with a feeling of low energy and exhaustion. For a vata, spring is the prime time to find balance.
Pitta types are often balanced in early spring but may become more out of balance as we move towards the heat of the summer. This is a reflection of the seasonal warmth that begins to accumulate and exacerbate pitta fire. For those with a more dominant pitta constitution, it’s the latter part of the spring months that will need your attention.
Kapha types are the ones most at risk of becoming out of balance in the early spring. During the winter we accumulate cold and damp and, as the warmth of spring starts to creep in, the cool begins to thaw and our body becomes congested and flooded. This can be a trigger for the onset of typical spring afflictions such as colds and hay-fever.
Don't know your dosha? Take our dosha quiz to find out.
Author: Jo Webber
Head of Herbal Education
As a BSc qualified Ayurvedic practitioner and yoga teacher, Jo is passionate about bringing these two ancient sciences together to help people feel empowered about their health. Jo has put her post-graduate certificate in education to good use, co-founding the Ayurveda academy to help others learn of the wonders of Ayurveda. Jo has also earned a Masters degree in human sciences from Oxford University and has taught in several schools
BSc qualified Ayurvedic practitioner and yoga teacher
Years of experience:
20 years as a Hatha yoga teacher/ayurvedic practitioner
Member of the Ayurvedic Practitioners Association