Ayurveda & the Doshas

What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is the holistic healing science from India. It is the OLDEST medical science we know of, as the texts that Ayurveda originates from is about 5,000 years old. These texts, the Vedas, are also where yoga gets its origins from. Yoga and Ayurveda are sister sciences. Both are actually much older than their texts, as they were an oral tradition, passed from generation to generation long before they were written down.

The foundation of Ayurveda is the theory of the FIVE ELEMENTS - everything is made from the great elements of space, air, fire, water and earth. This is true of our bodies, our minds, animals, plants, the seasons. Everything.

Five Elements

Ayurveda teaches us that we can bring our body and mind into balance by understanding these elements and the combination of these elements that we were born with, which is called our "prakriti" or constitution. This is one of the most well-known theories of Ayurveda - that of "body types." When we experience an imbalance, such as skin rashes, heartburn, depression, fatigue or anxiety, we can trace these symptoms back to the elements and bring it back into balance by introducing its opposite quality. For example, skin rashes and heartburn indicate an excess of the fire element, which is hot and light. Therefore, we can bring it into balance by introducing foods and activities that are cooling and grounding in nature. Of course, it isn't quite so cut and dry - an Ayurvedic practitioner would consider your prakriti, the season the imbalance is occurring, and your "vikriti," or where your primary imbalance lies.

Ayurveda's most valuable diagnosis methods are tongue and pulse analysis, but a practitioner will also gather a lot of information through observing a person's physical attributes, their mannerisms and by asking questions.

What's My Dosha?

The sanskrit word dosha actually translates to mean "fault," but it can refer to both our constitution (mindbody) type or that which causes imbalance in the body. The doshas indicate elemental relationships: vata is comprised of air and space elements, pitta is fire, and kapha is made up of the earth and water elements.

When someone asks, "What's my dosha?" I know they want to find out what their constitution type is. By understanding your constitution type, you can understand imbalances you may already have and simple ways to correct them, or how to predict and prevent imbalances even before they occur.  These types also help us to understand others better because they encompass not just the physical body, but also mental and emotional tendencies as well.

When using the term to talk about an "excess of a dosha" in the body, we are referring to an imbalance of one or more elements in the body.  These imbalances can show up in many ways: 

- Too much vata can manifest as feeling cold, spacey or nervous
- Too much pitta can show up as anger, overheating or burning skin
- Too much kapha might manifest as feeling slow and lethargic, depression or oily skin 


To determine what your constitution type is, try this quiz.

Learn more about diet, lifestyle and healthy rituals for Vata, Pitta or Kapha.

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