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Ayurvedic Doshas Guide: Vata, Pitta, Kapha

These are perhaps the most popular words of Ayurveda. Despite their popularity, very few people know what these words actually mean. In this post, we are going to take a look at the real meaning of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha based on Ashtanga Hridayam by Vagabhatta

If you have some interest in Ayurveda, you would definitely have heard of the terms Vata, pitta, and Kapha. But before this, we need to understand the concept of Prapancha first. Prapancha means made up of five elements.

Everything that manifests in this universe, is made up of these 5 elements, bhumi, aapah, Agni, Vayu, and akasha, called Pancha maha bhutas. The concept of Pancha Maha Bhutas is misunderstood mostly. These are not the fundamental elements from which everything is made.

Bhumi, or earth, represents the properties of mass, and inertia. Aapa, or water, denotes fluidity, Agni, or fire, represents heat, and warmth, Vayu or wind represents instability and movement, and finally, akasha, or space represents just that, the property of occupying, some space.

Everything that is manifest, is said to have these elements and their properties, in various proportions. The Human Body is comprised of these elements, which constantly interact with each other, to perform bodily functions. And here, comes the concept of Vata, pitta, and Kapha. When the earth element in the body, mainly contributed by solid food we consume, interacts with the water element in the body, which comes from the water we drink, the properties of both these elements interact to form Kapha.

Ayurveda defines health, as a result of the balance among these three mixtures, or dOshAs. Dominance, or Weakness of any one dosha, over the rest, leads to an imbalance, which manifests as disease. What is most interesting to note, is that the science of Yoga, and Ayurveda, approach health, as wholesomeness and balance. Right genetic factors starting at birth, to various food habits, and climatic conditions, affect this balance of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.

When the Vata element and its properties are more dominant than pitta and Kapha, the body is generally cold, dry, and light. The body generally feels restless and active. This Vata dominance is not just at the level of the body, it’s properties, can also manifest in the mind, such as irregular thinking, and excessive and fast speech. People with excessive Vata tendencies are light sleepers, with excessive dreams. When the Pitta element and its properties are more dominant than Vata and Kapha, the body is generally warm. People with a pitta imbalance tend to have oily skin and hair and tend to sweat more than others. They are also prone to hair fall and pronounced aging symptoms. When the Kapha element and its properties are more dominant than pitta and Vata, the body feels a little heavier and more inert. People with a Kapha imbalance generally put on weight easily, and have a sound sleep.

Simply put, whenever one of the properties, is more dominant than the others in a body, its attributes manifest themselves in every walk of life. One can also extrapolate this to determine the properties of a body, which has two doshas more dominant than the third. What is important to note, is that this Vata, pitta, or Kapha imbalance need not be a fixed thing in one’s life.

What are Doshas in Ayurveda?

Dosha is a special source of energy, which arises as a result of connections of 5 basic elements according to Ayurveda teachings. As in nature, there are certain combinations of these elements within each person, which form the basic principle of Doshas emergence. These Doshas control all processes, both biological and physiological. Through interactions between the Doshas, you can achieve good health and well-being.

Vata Dosha

When the Vayu interacts with the akasha, the resultant property is Vata, as follows: It is dry, light, cold, rough, subtle, and mobile.

Each of the Doshas has its characteristics and differences. Vata Dosha is considered fundamental, and a lot depends on its balance. Let’s consider it in more detail.

What is Vata Dosha?

Vata Dosha is one of the types of Doshas considered the driving force in Ayurveda. It is the one that makes the other Doshas move. With its help, one can balance energy and equilibrium. It also improves thinking and willpower, makes one want to move, and has no difficulty with the respiratory tract.

Vata Body Type

Vata is practically isolated from material values and daily life. It is the foundation of solidity and may seem contradictory and inconsistent. People of all Dosha body types have Vata body types that often move around a lot and change the flow of their thoughts and the routes of their movements. To others, they are like wandering foreigners, but appearances can deceive them.

Vata Mind

Vata Dosha manifests itself in altered thoughts and behavior, as well as unconventional reactions to the world around us. This is due to the broad outlook on life on the part of a person and the functioning of his brain and nervous system. Therefore, people with predominant Vata Dosha often think a lot and are generators of ideas. 

These people who have such symptoms of Vata Dosha are capable of learning new things quickly, but can very quickly forget the material they have just learned. They are very nervous and have problems falling asleep quickly. It is also extremely difficult for them to wake up in the morning, as a rule, they do not get up after the first alarm clock.

Vata: Out-of-Balance Symptoms

If the balance of Vata is out, various troubles may appear both physically and emotionally. In case of excessive Vata Dosha, the person gets aggravated with flatulence, hypertension, and problems with the nervous system. As a result, the person becomes nervous, overly restless, and suffers from insomnia

If Vata is in deficit, stagnation, constipation, loss of sensitivity, and decreased activity of thought processes are manifested. In such a situation, a person moves very slowly and cannot make quick and correct decisions.

How to Balance Vata?

If there is an imbalance of Vata Dosha, you should try to balance it out. To do this, you should follow certain recommendations:

  • Spend more time on rest – this is extremely important because if the balance of Vata Dosha is disturbed, it is associated with overwork. If one has this feeling, one should stop and just take a rest. A night’s rest in this case is invaluable, otherwise, insomnia can occur, which is extremely bad.
  • Don’t forget to meditate – it is a meditation that is most beneficial for Vata’s problems. With its help, you will be able to restore the mind and body and bring back the natural cycle of the body.
  • Eat regularly and of good quality – meals should be three times a day with good food. 

For example, breakfast should consist of hot meals. Fresh ginger can improve digestion, but it should be eaten in small amounts.

Pitta Dosha

Pitta Dosha also has its characteristics, which are important to understand and be aware of how to stabilize it.

When the water element in the body, interacts with the fire element, which is the bodily heat, the properties of both these elements interact to form pitta. The resultant properties of pitta are mentioned, in the 11th shloka as follows pittam sasnEha tIkshNOshNam laghu visram saram dravamThis means, the properties, of the resultant pitta element, are as follows: It is oily, absorbent, hot, light, odorous, fluid, and mobile.

Pitta Dosha is the symbiosis of fire and water. With its help all metabolic processes of the body are regulated. It also maintains comfortable body temperature and hormone levels. Feelings of hunger, thirst and thought processes are directly related to an imbalance in Pitta Dosha.

Pitta Body Type

For Pitta Dosha, the most classic are those of medium build, who are neither overweight nor thin. Such people like physical training, they are industrious and are constantly in motion. That’s why they don’t accumulate extra pounds. Even if they show up at a certain stage, such people can lose the extra weight quickly. 

Most people with Pitta Dosha look spectacular and the constriction of the body is visually pleasing. Their gait is always confident, they will not slouch and keep their back straight. Their sleep is quite sensitive, but they fall asleep very quickly.

Pitta Mind

Symptoms of Pitta Dosha: 

  • can navigate quickly; 
  • structures everything;
  • can control/manage processes. 

Because of their skills, they are good leaders and can help others.  Many of them realize themselves as teachers or mentors. They spend their finances carefully and systematically.

Most of these people prefer to spend time in nature, doing sports outdoors. They prefer bright and ventilated rooms for work. They also have a competitive spirit and often compare themselves with other people. In clothing, they prefer freedom and natural materials.

Pitta: Out-of-Balance Symptoms

Almost all diseases for people with Pitta Dosha are related to loss of harmony. The easiest ones pass as emotional outbursts. This is due to an imbalance towards the fire which can suppress other Doshas. In such moments, infections or inflammations can occur in the body. 

Also, people with imbalanced Doshas may notice deterioration in vision and digestive problems that lead to emotional discomfort. Women experience such disharmony during menstruation or menopause.

How to Balance Pitta?

When Pitta Dosha is properly balanced, a person shows tremendous energy, which is used for ordinary work. In case Pitta is not balanced, a person easily gets out of temper and shows strong discontent and desire to show power. Such people should immediately determine that the lack of even emotions pisses them off. 

To balance the Dosha one needs to have an active rest. Their dinner should be light at such times. One can also turn off the phone and not take work home. In a calm environment, the Dosha is balanced and the next day the person no longer experiences such emotions. 

One can also meditate to calm down and engage in self-discovery. One should not give in to the urge to eat a big and heavy dinner, because this only destroys Dosha. Also, artificial stimulants and alcohol will have a detrimental effect on it.

Kapha Dosha

Kapha Dosha is the last fundamental Dosha in Ayurvedic teaching. It has its structure and features.

This means, the properties, of the resultant Kapha element, are as follows: It is oily,cold, heavy, viscous, smooth, slimy, and immobile.

What is Kapha Dosha?

Kapha Dosha consists of a symbiosis of water and earth elements. This type of Dosha can support the body’s resistance to negative factors and is responsible for nutrition. People with predominant Kapha Dosha are thoughtful, calm, and stress-resistant.

Kapha Body Type

People with this Dosha have a large build. You may usually notice the following symptoms of Kapha Dosha:

  • their muscles are usually smooth and dense;
  • their joints are rounded;
  • their skin is soft and greasy;
  • their hair is thick. 

Everyone with Kapha Dosha has smooth and white teeth.

Also, such a person can be recognized by their conversation. They speak slowly and ponder over their words. They tend to gain weight quickly and are very strong. If you work on yourself properly, people with Kapha Dosha can develop unprecedented stamina.

Kapha Mind

People with the Dosha Kapha type are considered devoted and loving friends. They are often referred to as philosophers. This Dosha encourages the perception of new knowledge and develops long-term memory. People with such Dosha will scrupulously study any information. 

Such people are most comfortable in a cold and humid environment. To restore Dosha, they need to rest in warm and tropical places.

Kapha: Out-of-Balance Symptoms

When Kapha is imbalanced, negative processes occur in the physical and emotional state. People with Kapha Dosha can catch a cold or infection. They also have a tendency to gain weight regardless of doing sports is manifested. Due to this, there is a decrease in motivation and drowsiness. 

Depression and hyperlipidemia may appear during the cold season. Diabetes, cataracts, kidney stones, and hypothyroidism can also be diagnosed in people with Kapha Dosha imbalance.

How to Balance Kapha?

To balance Kapha Dosha, one needs to move more actively. This can be done by dancing or exercising. For those who are not very fond of such activities, one can start walking every day. Don’t forget to drink liquids regularly to avoid blocking Doshas.


One can use various ayurvedic herbs and yogic practices to bring balance to these elements and keep the body at utmost ease, and free of disease. The level of insight these ancient ayurvedic texts offer into the human mechanism is unparalleled even today. It is time, we identify, learn, apply and cherish them, instead of insulting them as fringe, or pseudo sciences, only to realize our mistakes after millennia, and repackage them, with absurd names like cardiac coherence breathing!

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