Do you ever wonder why some regimens may work for others but not you? Some people are hyperactive and fast moving, while others are calm and sedentary. Some can eat a 5-course meal and feel fine while others eat a salad and feel bloated. Some people are inherently joyous and calm while others worry and are anxious all the time. Some people are creative and others are pedantic. Some people are organized and others cluttered.
The same thing can be said about diet – not one single diet can work for all.
Ayurveda, a 5000 years old science, explains this with the tri-doshic system. Each person is made up of a distinct combination of three doshas- Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These doshas are responsible for our unique physical, mental and emotional characteristics.
Ayurveda states the following:
Every individual is unique and there is no diet or lifestyle routine that works on everyone.
Prevention is paramount. Ayurveda gives specific advices and guidance to each type of individual.
Food and lifestyle are considered the most important medicine.
What is a Dosha?
Some people already know about doshas, others may find it abstract, others has a skepticism about the science behind it, others seem interested but are afraid of learning more and being associated with a “voodoo” sounding concept, others just thinks it is too “Indian.”
Well, to truly understand the doshas is not easy, as it is related to the deep understanding of the principles of Ayurveda and the 5 elements Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. So I will try to explain it as simply as possible: Doshas are the life energies that make up every individual and are behind all our psycho-physiological bodily functions: they are a combination of the 5 elements. Each dosha commands a specific force in the body and each is associated with a specific sensory qualities.
The 3 Doshas are:
Vata: Expressed as space and air. It is the energy that is responsible for all movement and communication in the body. It controls blood circulation, elimination of wastes, breathing, blinking, heartbeat and the movement of thoughts in the mind.
Pitta: Expressed as fire and water. It is the energy that is responsible for all transformation and metabolism in the body and mind. It controls digestion, absorption, nutrition and temperature.
Kapha: Expressed as water and earth. It is the energy that is responsible for structure, lubrication for joints and lungs; controls weight and maintains the immune system.
Ok! How are we each different?
Each person has his own unique combination of each dosha at birth that is called “Prakriti” which can be translated as your unique mind-body make-up or your nature. You can see this uniqueness for better understanding mostly in twins who genetically are identical but develops each with his unique characteristics.
A Vata predominant person:
A person with vata predominance will show the characteristic of Space and Air. Do you know someone who has the following characteristics?
Thin, slender and prominent bony structures
Energetic, lively and enthusiastic.
Changeable, versatile and restless.
Creative by nature, highly imaginative.
Loves change and movement.
Likes to talk, communicate and chat.
Tendency to act on impulse.
Get enthusiastic about new things and easily change his/her mind.
Quick to learn and seize new information but quick to forget as well.
Tendency for dryness; hair, skin and nails.
Delicate digestion/appetite; constipation and irregularity.
Tendency toward cracking joints, wind or bloating and dislike cold and windy weather.
Responds to stress with fear, worry and anxiety.
Physical problems include depression, anxiety, headaches, hypertension, dry coughs, muscle spasm, lower backaches, abdominal gas, constipation, irregular heart rhythms and attention deficiency syndrome.
A Pitta predominate person:
A person with Pitta predominance will show the characteristic of fire and water. Do you know someone who has the following characteristics?
Medium built, good muscle tone and strong
Sharp mind, good concentration and strong intellect
Ambitious, dynamic, assertive and self-confident
Passionate, competitive and perfectionists
Strong digestion and appetite (they can eat anything)
Too many “to do lists”
Reddish complexion, burns easily maybe freckles
Premature graying or balding
Perspires a lot
Can easily become aggressive, sarcastic, authoritative and irritable
Physical problems include rashes, inflammation, acne, ulcers, and heartburn, burning eyes, anemia and jaundice.
A Kapha predominate person:
A person with Kapha predominance will show the characteristic of earth and water. Do you know someone who has the following characteristics?
Larger built, wide hips and shoulders
Thick wavy hair and oily skin
Soft skin and hair
Easygoing, relaxed and slow-moving
Affectionate, forgiving, compassionate and non-judgmental in nature
Loyal, stable and reliable
Strong long-term memory
Slower digestion and tendency to be overweight
Tendency toward excess mucus and congestion
Slow to start new things but when working have endurance and great memory
Tends to be possessive and hold on to things (jobs, money and junk)
Physical problems include: cold, congestion, sinus headaches, and respiratory problems like asthma, wheezing, hay fever, allergies and atherosclerosis.
Now that you have an idea about the 3 doshas, it is important to determine which type you most associate with and what are the imbalances you have at this time. There are many websites that offers questionnaires that can be used to determine your mind/body constitution. My favorite is by the Chopra center www.store.chopra.com/dosha-quiz
The next question is: ok! I know my Dosha, now what?
Well I will answer that question in Part-2, which will be on how to balance each Dosha and live in harmony.