Ayurveda is an ancient science that can be traced all the way back to the time of the Vedas, ancient spiritual Indian texts. In Ayurveda, it is believed that all universal energy can be categorized in three ways which are presented as the doshas. The three doshas in Ayurveda are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Everything that exists has a dosha and most everything will go through phases of all three energies. Food has a dosha, seasons/weather have a dosha, and even animals have doshas. It is important to note that it is possible to encompass the qualities of two doshas, or even all three, at one time. The doshas are not meant to be a tool of exclusivity or judgment. The doshas are a tool that can be utilized in the practice of svadhyaya, or self-study, to identify areas of imbalance and create a clear path to sattvic wellness. To determine your dosha, there are dosha quizzes out there that have been created to help you do so. They will ask questions from your height and weight to how your bowel movements are and what you are eating. When taking these quizzes, it is important to use caution to not over identify with the qualities or characteristics of the dosha or doshas that you display. These things have the capacity to change over the course of our lives. They can also be variable day to day. Again, the doshas are a tool of identification; they create the space to notice what is arising within your experience and if there is room to find more balance and ease.
The basic qualities of each doash are listed below:
- The dosha of air and ether
- Characterized by movement, creativity, flexibility, and liveliness
- Qualities of Dry, Light, Cold, Rough, Subtle, Mobile, Clear
- The dosha of fire and water
- Characterized by intelligence, understanding, digestion of food/emotions/thoughts, and intensity
- Qualities of Hot, Sharp, Light, Liquid, Spreading, Oily
- The dosha of water and earth
- Characterized by solidity, cohesiveness, loyalty, compassion, and stability
- Qualities of Heavy, Slow, Cool, Oily, Smooth, Dense, Soft, Stable, Gross, Cloudy (Sticky)
When someone experiences Vata in balance, they might experience the characteristics listed above. They might be inquisitive, light hearted, and energetic. When someone experiences Vata out of balance, they might experience anxiety and restlessness. They might feel spacey, scattered, exhausted, and fearful. They might even experience physical symptoms such as twitching or muscle tremors. When this happens, there are many ways in which the practitioner can find support to bring their Vata back into balance. Because Ayurveda is a holistic practice, there is heavy emphasis on what is being consumed from food to social interactions and self care. You will find suggestions below for bringing Vata back into balance (or decreasing Vata).
Ways to decrease Vata:
- Establish a daily routine for yourself
- Incorporate abhyanga, or self massage, with warm sesame oil or another Vata balancing oil
- Leverage Ayurvedic Nutrition by eating warming foods (ginger, cinnamon, cumin, black pepper, etc)
- Seek warmth – this might be blankets, wearing a sweater, finding sunshine, drinking warm drinks, etc.
- Grounding practices such as meditation, restorative yoga, or journaling
- Embrace a calm presence and move slowly with intention
Ayurveda is about finding ease within our being by observing what we take in/what we are in relationship with and how they affect us. Ayurveda is a tool for harnessing control over your own unique needs by creating space for communication between the mind and body. After all, your body is your highest teacher and as with everything in yoga, take only what you need and leave everything else. Ayurveda proves that the smallest changes can have the biggest impact.