The three doshas that will change the way you see yourself. The five elements combine in various ways to form three constitutional principles, known in Ayurveda as doshas. These are:

• Vata, comprised of air and space.
• Pitta, comprised of fire and water.
• Kapha, comprised of earth and water.

To understand these principles at their core, it is useful to think of the different qualities of the elements that create them.

Vata – Composed of air and space, vata is dry, light, cold, rough, subtle/pervasive, mobile, and clear. As such, vata regulates the principle of movement. Any bodily motion—chewing, swallowing, nerve impulses, breathing, muscle movements, thinking, peristalsis, bowel movements, urination, menstruation—requires balanced vata. When vata is out of balance, any number of these movements may be deleteriously affected.

Pitta –  Brings forth the qualities of fire and water. It is sharp, penetrating, hot, light, liquid, mobile, and oily. Pitta’s domain is the principal of transformation. Just as fire transforms anything it touches, pitta is in play any time the body converts or processes something. So pitta oversees digestion, metabolism, temperature maintenance, sensory perception, and comprehension. Imbalanced pitta can lead to sharpness and inflammation in these areas in particular.

Kapha, composed of earth and water, is heavy, cold, dull, oily, smooth, dense, soft, static, liquid, cloudy, hard, and gross (in the sense of dense or thick). As kapha governs stability and structure, it forms the substance of the human body, from the skeleton to various organs to the fatty molecules (lipids) that support the body. An excess of kapha leads to an overabundance of density, heaviness, and excess in the body.

 Prakriti: Your Constitution – What’s your dosha?

The three doshas, representing the five elements, are present in everyone to some degree. They are all a necessary and integral part of the body. But each of us is born with our own unique dosha balance, known as our prakriti. We are truly individuals—even twins are born with differences.

Some people are dominant in one principle—either vata, pitta, or kapha. While others have two doshas that come to the fore, though one of the two is often primary (even more present). Still others possess a fairly equal balance of each vata, pitta and kapha (this is called tri-doshic), though this is rare.

So what’s your prakriti? Knowing this gives you the key to using Ayurveda effectively for yourself.

Determining your prakriti—your fundamental dosha balance—requires an assessment of your most natural state. Consider your physical structure as well as mental and emotional tendencies. Remember to think of what is most natural to you, rather than what you’re like when you are stressed or ill.

 A vata predominant person usually displays the following traits.

• Physique: A light, trim build, often delicate in nature. The features (facial features, limbs, fingers, etc.) are long, slim, or narrow, and the hair is thin, wiry, or curly.

• Digestion: The appetite and digestion are often variable, going up and down, yet often lean towards “eating like a bird” and constipation. • Personality: A vata person tends to be creative, be able to “go with the flow” and think abstractly, and often has rapid speech with a thin,

raspy, high-pitched, or crackly voice. Vata predominant people are also prone to fear and anxiety, and have trouble focusing on one thing at a time.

 A pitta predominant person displays the following traits.

• Physique: A medium build, with average height and weight. The physical features can be sharp and fiery (red hair, for example), precise and well-defined.

• Digestion: A pitta predominant person usually has a ferocious appetite, strong metabolism, and may ” roar” when hungry.
• Personality: A pitta nature makes one passionate, an initiator, directed and focused. A sharp, probing intellect and the ability to focus

intently can lead such people to doggedly investigate and get to the core of a matter. This same fire can also make a pitta primary person easily irritable, fussy, angry, judgmental, and critical.

 A kapha predominant person usually displays these traits.

• Physique: A large, stout frame is a general kapha characeristic. The features are rounder, larger, thicker, and often smoother than those with vata or pitta predominance.

• Digestion: The appetite is consistent and regulated. The metabolism tends to be slow, and kapha dominant people may accumulate weight more readily and have more difficulty losing it. As the digestion can be sluggish, the person may feel sleepy or tired after eating.

• Personality: A kapha person may be described as “down to earth” or “solid as a rock” (notice the reference to earthy qualities); there is a tendency toward being grounded, stable, patient, compassionate, and nurturing. Once a kapha grabs a hold of something, he or she holds on tight—this frequently means a person with a good memory and/or firm beliefs. These same qualities also make kapha folk prone to inflexibility, possessiveness, hesitancy toward change, jealousy, and inertia.

 What is your constitution? What are your qualities, tendencies, and proclivities—physically, mentally, and emotionally? Do you have a predominance of one of these doshas? Or do you find that the qualities of one come forth strongly while you also display a number of characteristics related to another dosha? What is your Ayurvedic blueprint?

You can take a quiz to help determine your prakriti, and see more examples of features associated with vata, pitta, and kapha, on the Banyan Botanicals website. See below.

Information on this page comes from Banyan