What Are The Doshas?

The doshas are the combination of energies that are responsible for a person’s physiological, mental, and emotional health. Disturbances or imbalances in our doshas can be caused by diet and lifestyle choices, as well as the environment, stress, and trauma.

According to Ayurveda (and the basis of Ayurvedic Nutrition), balance is everything.

Being energetic forces of nature, each of the doshas is actually composed of the five basic elements: earth, water, fire, air, and ether (space) – which are considered the building blocks of life.

These natural elements combined in different ratios are what make up our personal composition -in other words, our dosha.

By understanding how to work with our dosha we can keep ourselves in better balance, allowing us to live healthier happier lives altogether. Let’s explore a little about each dosha below.

In this ancient system of medicine and nutrition, balance in the dosha is gained by harmonizing the energies within the Vata, Pitta, and Kapha doshas.

Vata, Pitta, and Kapha

All three of the doshas can be found in everyone and everything but in different proportions. Every person on earth is said to have a unique ratio of elements that form each dosha, with one dosha standing out a bit more than the others.

All of the doshas contain a bit of each element, but they are predominantly composed of two of the elements together.

For example, one person may be mostly Pitta while another may be mostly Kapha. No matter which dominant dosha we have, each one of them plays an important role within our bodies.

The Qualities of Each Dosha

Vata Dosha: Air and Ether (space)

Movement and Communication
*associated with breathing, muscle contraction, and heart function. 

  • Dry
  • Light
  • Cold,
  • Rough
  • Subtle
  • Mobile
  • Clear

Pitta Dosha: Fire and Water

Digestion and Transformation
*associated with the endocrine, metabolic, and digestive systems.

  • Hot
  • Sharp,
  • Light
  • Liquid
  • Spreading
  • Oily

Kapha Dosha: Water and Earth

Cohesiveness, Structure, and Lubrication
*associated with maintaining the immune system.

  • Heavy
  • Slow,
  • Cool
  • Oily
  • Smooth
  • Dense
  • Soft, Stable
  • Gross
  • Cloudy (Sticky)

The doshas are ‘health types’ used in Ayurvedic medicine. They specify how certain people should eat, sleep, and exercise in order to maintain health and inner balance.

When Out Of Balance

Disturbances or imbalances in our doshas can be caused by diet and lifestyle choices, as well as the environment, stress, and trauma.

Imbalanced Vata

  • causes fear, anxiety, isolation, loneliness, and exhaustion
  • leads to low energy both physically and mentally
  • Disrupts proper nervous system communication
  • Abnormal movements such as tics, tremors, and muscle spasms

Imbalanced Pitta

  • fiery, reactions such as frustration, anger, jealousy, and criticism
  • often at the root of inflammatory disorders
  • can affect organs and tissues throughout the body

Imbalanced Kapha

  • attachment, greed, and possessiveness
  • creates stubbornness, lethargy, and resistance to change
  • invites stagnation and congestion in organs and tissues throughout the body and the mind

When this happens we can become ill with physical and emotional distress. The goal of Ayurvedic nutrition is to get all of your doshas back to the levels that are natural in your body. Let’s take a look at some of the issues that can arise when our doshas are out of balance:

Ancient Wisdom vs Modern Medicine

In Sanskrit, the word Ayurveda translates to “the science of life.”

However, in Western medicine, Ayurveda is classified as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), with other treatments like acupuncture, massage, and Reiki.

Western medical practices primarily focus on the treatment of a disease once it has manifested.

Ayurvedic medicine is focused on the prevention of disease, where the balance of energy is maintained through diet, exercise, and mindfulness.