Your constitution or prakriti in Ayurvedic medicine is determined by your natural affinity or lack of natural affinity to certain circumstances. I would recommend that you take a quiz on a website called Banyan Botanicals to firmly establish your dosha. Once you know your dosha, there are things you can do to keep your dosha balanced and your health in prime form.
Banyan Botanicals describes the doshas in this manner:
The Qualities of Vata
Tatra ruksho laghu sheetah, khara sukshma chalo nilah The qualities of Vata are dry, light, cool, rough, subtle and mobile -Ashtanga Hrdayam 1:11
This Sanskrit line lists the main qualities of Vata and provides a key to understanding what it means to have a predominantly Vata Prakriti. The main qualities of Vata are dry, light, cool, rough, subtle and mobile. So, having a Vata predominant Prakriti means that these qualities express themselves generously throughout your mental, emotional and physical make up. If you look back over the Prakriti test, you can get a feel for how these qualities manifest themselves. A Vata predominant individual’s strengths and weaknesses both reflect these qualities.
The Qualities of Pitta
Pittam sasneha tikshnoshnam laghu visram, saram dravam Pitta is oily, sharp, hot, light, fleshy-smelling, spreading and liquid -Ashtanga Hrdayam 1:11
This Sanskrit line lists the main qualities of Pitta and provides a key to understanding what it means to have a predominantly Pitta Prakriti. The main qualities of Pitta are oily, sharp, hot, light, fleshy smelling, spreading and liquid. So, having a Pitta predominant Prakriti means that these qualities express themselves generously throughout your mental, emotional and physical make up. You may find them reflected in your strengths and weaknesses.
The Qualities of Kapha
Snigdhah shita gururmandah slakshno mritsnah sthirah kaphah Kapha is unctuous, cool, heavy, slow, smooth, soft and static -Ashtanga Hrdayam 1:11
This Sanskrit line lists the main qualities of Kapha and provides a key to understanding what it means to have a predominantly Kapha Prakriti. The main qualities of Kapha are unctuous, cool, heavy, slow, smooth, soft and stable. It is also dense, cloudy and viscous. So, having a Kapha predominant Prakriti means that these qualities express themselves generously throughout your mental, emotional and physical make up. You may find them reflected in your strengths and weaknesses.
Your Ayurvedic dosha is used to determine where you may be out of balance. Certain times of the year each dosha faces an increase. For instance, autumn is the time of year when Vata can naturally get out of balance with the change in temperature and the natural revving up of the mind to deal with more input than the lazy summer months provided.
Winter can induce a Kapha imbalance, causing Kaphas to become more inert, less active and more “wet” as in mucous build-up and heaviness. Weight gain for Kaphas occur in the winter when we are less apt to exercise and more apt to eat foods that are sweet and heavy.
Summer is the natural Pitta season. Pitta is hot and hot temperatures exacerbate pitta imbalances. So in the summer a person with a Pitta dosha must adapt their routine to keep their dosha in balance.
There are combinations in complex doshas of the three above basic prakritis. You can be a Pitta/Kapha or a Vata/Pitta for example. Then you must try to balance one dosha while not throwing the other dosha to the dogs – so to speak.
In my family, we have doshas that have been out of balance from time to time. My husband, suffering a Parkinson’s like disease called cortical basal degeneration, has a Vata dosha that has been out of balance for years. When we first moved here and had the ability to support our nutrition with herbal tablets, his disease was less noticeable. While it may not have gone away, the worst effects were staved off for a long time. His disease is a disease of excess Vata.
Vata is airy, dry, characterized by living too much in the mind, feels cold easily and spacy. Staying warm, keeping a routine daily, eating the foods that balance Vata are all important to this dosha and particularly in the autumn.
I am a Pitta/Kapha. I have the characteristics of Pitta are hot, oily, sharp and spreading. These qualities make for a sharp mind, but a heated temperament and body. I am never too cold. Ever. And in the summer, I seek out air-conditioning and stay in it. I like hot foods but they increase the heated characteristics of Pitta. Pitta is also quick to anger – something you may have already noticed on this blog!
The Kapha part of my prakriti causes me to be inert, slow to exercise, heavy and strongly empathetic. I tend to gain weight easily and favor sweets and bread and dairy. All those foodstuffs that imbalance Kapha.
My son is Kapha/Vata and has the same slow characteristics of Kapha and the airy, dry characteristics of Vata. For him balancing Kapha while not throwing Vata out of whack is extremely important.
Following a routine suited to your dosha maintains stability in your body and mind. We can’t expect to only correct mind habits, but must concentrate on body habits too. Eating the right foods for your type, developing a steady daily routine are all important to keep your dosha in balance.
As an example, I find that following a routine daily keeps me comfortable. I wake every morning early, sometimes before 5:30 am and sometimes by 6 am. I make coffee and eat breakfast (probably not a great dosha balancing beverage, but you must have some fun) and then bathe and dress. I use a Pitta calming massage oil, Brahmi oil either before or after my shower. Lunch is usually around noon and I try to eat my biggest meal at that time. I meditate or nap, whichever I need more, at around 2-3 pm. Supper is at 5 pm and it is a light supper. Then I knit, sew or read in the evening until 10 pm when I am in bed.
This schedule is expanding now that I am no longer the primary caregiver for my husband, to include time for exercise. I am walking in the park daily and will continue to do so until it is so icy I can’t stand up. Then I will walk inside at the mall. I incorporate yoga into this exercise routine and there are actually poses best for each dosha so mine will be a combination of those to promote balance in Pitta and Kapha.
Staying in balance is a good first step toward complete health. The balance creates a calm mind, along with being in the present and meditation. Not being stressed, rushed or feeling harried means you can cope with everything that comes your way with determination and calmness. You can calmly tackle any emergency because you are in a place yourself from where you can logically understand what is required of you at that moment.
Explore your own dosha and recommendations to keep your mind and body in a healthy balance! I highly recommend Banyan Botanicals not only for their information about Ayurveda, but also for their products which help you maintain dosha balance.
Some reading material you may enjoy and which will be very informing –
These are all available on the Banyan Botanicals website as are the guided meditations by Dr. Saraswati that I have written about in many posts!