By Brianna Wiest

If you’ve ever wondered what accounts for the differences in people’s physical bodies – why we are built differently, why we metabolize differently, why we have varying preferences and comforts – in Ayurveda, it’s because of the three doshas.

The doshas are biological energies that compose and govern the human body and mind. They are our individual blueprints for health, wellness and fulfillment – which is why it is crucial to understand them. The doshas derive from the elements.

Vata is associated with air and space.
Pitta is associated with water and air.
Kapha is associated with water and Earth.

Just as the whole material world is composed of combinations of these energies, as are our bodies and minds. Understanding which is your predominant (everyone has a combination) can help you identify when you have an imbalance, and can also help you understand how to take care of yourself best.

Vata

Personality/body type 

Vatas tend to either be very tall or short, and usually very thin. They have irregular features and protruding joints.

Vatas are typically very enthusiastic, creative, flexible and mature. They are well disciplined, and prefer to be outside in nature. Vatas are also more high-strung than others, which makes them highly sensitive to external stimuli. They often prefer quietness, and routine (it’s less stress-inducing).

Vatas strongly dislike cultural norms, and at times can seem misunderstood. Vatas thrive within their own routine, and by surrounding themselves with simple pleasures that make their lives more enjoyable.

Eating & sleeping 

Vatas do best with nourishing foods, things that are well-cooked and comforting. They are not big eaters, so every bit they have matters (they typically don’t tolerate many gaseous foods well). They should stick to a regular schedule of three meals/day.

Vatas are the most restless of the bunch, and many of them can sustain themselves on 4-6 hours alone. It’s best for Vatas to go to sleep early, and perhaps consider resting in the late afternoon, too. It’s at this time that Vatas are most scatter-brained.

Imbalances 

When a Vata has an imbalance, it’s often manifested as anxiety, indecisiveness, paranoia or instability. Vatas can struggle with hydration and circulation, and often feel cold, constricted, or tight in the muscles.

Pitta

Personality/body type 

Pitta types tend to be of medium built, and gain weight evenly. They tend to have eyes that are either hazel, green, light brown or medium blue, and mid-tone skin (even if they are ethnically white). Pittas are also identifiable by their voices, which can sometimes be sharp.

Pittas are very competitive, success-oriented and driven. They are intelligent, and natural leaders. On the down side, they can err toward being too judgmental and hot-headed when provoked. They love to be the center of attention, and completely in control. Pittas are natural athletes, and are often irritated by heat.

Pittas are also identifiable by their eye for style and aesthetic. They love to surround themselves with beautiful things, and appreciate balance and design. They are visual creatures, and feel most soothed by aesthetic beauty.

Eating & sleeping 

Pittas tend to have large appetites, and crave hot, spicy and involved foods and beverages. They tend to love alcohol and can sometimes struggle with digestion and looser stool. Pittas are pretty good sleepers, but are prone to disturbing dreams. They’re best when they try to go to bed earlier, because though they are naturally night owls, they do better when they rise early and begin occupying their minds with productivity.

Imbalances 

When a pitta type has an imbalance, it usually manifests as anger, criticism, arrogance, insecurity and “spiraling” from A-Z. It can also lead to an array of physical ailments, such as indigestion, diarrhea, weight loss, rashes, itching, hives, funguses and other ailments.

Kapha

Personality/body type 

Kaphas are known for being larger individuals, typically strong and wide, with wider hips, broader chests and larger thighs. They tend to struggle with being overweight. Kaphas are known for their large eyes, as well as their thick hair. They also over-produce mucus so their voices are soft and welcoming. They are very graceful and erotic.

Kaphas are loving, complacent, calm, grounded, loving and even-tempered. They are natural healers, and often become major forces in their communities. They thrive when parenting, teaching or counseling. They love dance, the fine arts, foods and the well fare of others. However, kapas can also be very lazy, and prefer a more sedentary life, filled with sense pleasures.

Eating & sleeping 

Kaphas love to eat, they adore complex flavor palettes as well as their favorite, simple foods. They prefer rich indulgences, and can over-consume very often. They gain weight easily, and would do best to be mindful of what they indulge in, focusing on fruits, vegetables and light, warm dishes.

Kaphas are great sleepers, but must be careful not to oversleep. It’s not unheard of for them to be able to rest for up to 11 hours if they allow themselves, so they must be conscious of how sedentary they’re allowing themselves to be.

Imbalances 

When a kapha has an imbalance, it can manifest as attachment, possessiveness, lethargy, depression, over-eating and being dramatic. They tend to gain weight quickly when they’re off-balance, and any sudden or extreme shift in their appetite/activity levels are a great way to identify that something isn’t right.

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