In my both of my Teacher Training Courses, I took Ayurveda classes, and the main thing I learned about Ayurveda is that it’s unimaginable to me, to know everything about Ayurveda. Every class I took I was so interested in the content but when class would end I’d sit there with 50 more questions in my head.
The first step to Ayurveda is to discover your unique Dosha. Some people are dominantly one Dosha, two Doshas or they could be a somewhat equal mix of all three. Which ever combination you are, it is also important to note that despite your unique Dosha, everyone still has all three Doshas within them (confused yet?).
The Doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. If you’re familiar with the three body types we learned about in Health class back in middle school or high school, they relate to the Doshas in the physical context. Ectomorphs are our Vatas, the skinny, lanky body frame – these types of people have trouble gaining weight, their joints tend to crack and they are usually naturally flexible. Mesomorphs are Pittas – the medium body frame, larger shoulders, thicker thighs – the textbook Crossfit body. Endomorphs are our Kaphas – larger body frame, these types of people tend to have trouble losing weight and need regular exercise and a healthy diet to do so.
But of course, what makes Ayurveda so in depth and fascinating is how much more descriptive the Doshas are, both physically (down to the shape of your tongue and the colour of your finger nails) and mentally.
Beyond the physical attributes, Vata is known as the air Dosha. Vata people can be described as air-headed, forgetful, lovers of travel, spontaneous, flaky, free-spirited. In short, Vatas march to the beat of their own drum. In their diet Vatas tend to prefer bitter tastes and raw foods. It is easy for a Vata to feel cold and usually enjoy all different ways of working out or having fun (change is a friend to Vatas). When Vatas feel out of balance they can adopt “nervous habits” like nail biting, or fidgeting.
Pittas are known as the fire Dosha. Their personality can be quite intense, as Pittas are often described as knowing what they want, hot-headed, competitive, calculated, logical, and routine-oriented. Pittas usually like flavourful or spicy foods, while they often feel warm and when exposed to hot conditions, can over-heat much faster than Vatas or Kaphas. Pittas prefer a workout routine. I would say it’s a fair guess that most Crossfit enthusiasts are Pittas, as it takes a lot of discipline and drive to take up such an intense sport. Pittas also enjoy team sports as they love to compete. When Pittas are unbalanced, they can let their temper get the best of them; Road rage is a trait of the unbalanced Pitta.
Kaphas are the earth Dosha. Along the theme of their typically larger frames, Kaphas are grounded individuals. They can be described as nurturing, relaxed, compassionate, lazy, affectionate, reliable and forgiving. Kaphas have a sweet-tooth and tend to enjoy warmer climates. They are content to spend a day reading in one place, but if they were to have a day filled with running errands, they would spread their energy out evenly so they wouldn’t be exhausted by lunch time. Kaphas have great endurance – where Vatas and Pittas run sprint races, Kaphas run marathons. An unbalanced Kapha can suffer from depression, or struggle with their weight as they let their sweet-tooth take over their drive to eat healthy.
After reading these quick descriptions, you’re probably already realizing which Dosha or mixture of Doshas you are, and from there now what? The point behind knowing your Dosha is learning how to keep yourself balanced. And being balanced doesn’t mean becoming Tri-Doshic, it simply means if you feel good, you feel healthy, then you’re probably balanced – and if you feel the opposite of that, it’s time to try something else.
The unfortunate thing I learned when trying to balance my Doshas was that the things we tend to naturally like, can be our downfall. Kaphas loving junk food can lead to being over-weight, and Vatas loving raw foods can lead to them being even more air-headed. Balance comes when we accept moderation is in fact a good thing. Vatas eating warm, cooked meals help ground them, Pittas taking a restorative yoga class instead of their usual Moksha class helps cool them, and ingraining into your daily routine, a well rounded workout, can help Kaphas maintain a healthy lifestyle.
When I first learned about Ayurveda I immediately assumed I was Pitta-Vata, because “I’m not fat”. Of course once I dug deeper, I realized what an ignorant thing that was to think. By the end of my 200hr teacher training I had come to realize how much of a Kapha I really was (I should have known, I literally have a list in my phone of all the ridiculous things that evoke tears or an intense emotional response out of me – yes, some of the things on the list include: emotional moments from sit-coms, cartoons like Avatar the Last Airbender, when athletes are given standing ovations, when an entire crowd sings a song along with the artist on stage, or when I see a story about how a parent allows their toddler son to wear a dress to the grocery store because “I love him and let him express himself how ever he wants” – that last one though – props to amazing, accepting parents everywhere!)
If I were to take yet another Dosha test (you can find dozens online) my results all tend to be Kapha-Pitta, but next to your result, they also give you the percentages that you fall into each Dosha. Vata is always my lowest percentage, but still rather balanced with my Pitta – so I tend to consider myself Tri-Doshic. When I feel unbalanced, I experience negative traits from all three; nail biting, bad temper, and laziness – but when I feel balanced I experience positive traits of my dominant Kapha and Pitta; grounded, organized, and compassionate. I have fleeting moments of spontaneity and Vata-type qualities (like flying to India again just because two of my friends told me to) but once I got to India, I dug my heels in and made roots, like the Kapha I truly am.