What are the Doshas?

Earth, water, fire, air and ether – these elements make up everything in the universe, including you. Knowing what you are composed of helps you to know what is best for you to eat, what environments to live in, what jobs to have, what spiritual practice to do etc. We are who we are and it is through Ayurveda we can reclaim balance in our bodies and come back to an authentic expression of our true selves.

A dosha is a physical constitution that forms the body, mind and emotions of the person.

By having a certain dosha you interact with your surrounding environment in a specific way.  For example, a dolphin needs water, while a lizard needs sun.

Every single human being is made up of a different amount of elements and the one that dominates is said to be their primary dosha. We can have one dosha, two or very rarely be tri-doshic. We all have the elements in our bodies, but which one dominates expresses our dosha. It is important to know what your dosha is because through this knowledge you can know what to eat and surround yourself with to thrive.

Ayurveda uses the law of opposites. It basically works like this – if you are too wet, you want to dry off. If you are too cold, you need to warm up. It is very intuitive and it is how nature works. Ayurveda is the ‘science of life’, the study of nature. If you already have a lot of Earth you would want to do things that create more air, rather than things that create more Earth. There is already a lot of  Earth because that is what you are, therefore, if you do things that increase Earth you will be in excess. The key is to find balance.

The doshas do not only apply to us as human beings, they apply to animals, to the seasons, to food, to everything. Because everything is made up of the 5 elements. For example –

Winter is Kapha (earth, water)

Spring and fall – the change of the seasons is Vata (air, ether)

Summer is Pitta (fire, water)

* I will explain each of the doshas in the coming weeks.

Our body also is subdivided by the doshas.

The upper part of our body is Kapha and so it tends to have Kapha related issues like mucous, congested lungs, sinus issues etc.

The middle part of the body is pitta, which is governed by fire and we tend to have digestive issues.

The lower part of the body is controlled by Vata (movement) which is elimination.

Another example is environments in the world. A hot, tropical place would be pitta ruled by fire and water. A damp cold place like in the winter on the west coast would be Kapha. An arid, high altitude desert would be ruled by Vata.

Therefore, by knowing what your dosha is and what the environment is where you live or where you are going you will know what elements you need to balance to stay healthy and vital.

If a Vata person that is generally dry, scattered and ungrounded goes to a desert, they will further have issues with being dry, scattered, constipation, have peeling skin that wrinkles, be excessively thirsty etc. The way to balance this person would for them to apply oil on their skin to protect them from the elements and to provide hydration, to eat a nourishing moist diet like stews and soups and stay away from any foods that are dry like crackers, unsoaked nuts, granola etc. Over time and with various other practices they would be able to find balance by engaging with things that increase the Earth element (Kapha).

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We do the best with the dosha we have and the place we live, we can’t always control those two things, but what we can control is what we put in our mouths. Food is medicine and it can create health or disease in our life. Everyone is unique and so what they need is different. Food, even vegetables can create balance or disharmony.

In the next posts, I will go into detail of each of the three doshas so that you have a firmer understanding of what they are and how they appear in the world and in yourself.

Observe the world around you and reflect on what elements are present. It is a new language and a new way of looking at that which we have seen before, but it creates a deeper understanding of the structure of reality and the way the universe is put together. It really is beautiful, wonderful magic.

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