Vata-Pitta-Kapha Doshas

*The information in this article is intended for your educational use only*.

According to Ayurveda, each of us inherits a unique mix of three mind/body principles which creates our specific mental and physical characteristics. These three principles are called Doshas. Most of us have one or two Doshas which are most lively in our nature, with the remaining one(s) less significant. The three Doshas are known as Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.The three Doshas are known as Vata, Pitta, & Kapha

If we are predominantly Vata, we tend to be thin, light and quick in our thoughts and actions. Change is a constant part of our lives. When Vata is balanced, we are creative, enthusiastic and lively. But if Vata becomes excessive, we may develop anxiety, insomnia or irregular digestion.

If the Pitta Dosha is most lively in our nature, we tend to be muscular, smart and determined. If balanced, we are warm, intelligent and a good leader. If out of balance, Pitta can make us critical, irritable and aggressive.

If we have mostly Kapha in our nature, we tend to have a heavier frame, think and move more leisurely and are stable. When balanced, it creates calmness, sweetness and loyalty. When excessive, Kapha can cause weight gain, congestion and resistance to healthy change. Using the principles of Ayurveda, we can identify our mind/body nature and use this understanding to make the most nourishing choices in our lives. It is common for people to have a blend of characteristics and usually one will tend to be dominate.

 It is said that Vata causes 80 diseases, Pitta causes 40, and Kapha causes only 20. Vata is all about movement - and movement, well, it moves. Any small variable in the speed, direction, or path of movements in the body can lead to imbalance. Think of constipation (not moving when you should) due to an airplane flight (moving very fast) causing a headache (Vata is there whenever there is pain). It is in Vata’s nature to be ever changing.Vata’s negative effects can be seen in the body as pain, dryness, constipation, short attention span and poor memory, wrinkles, weight loss, sleeplessness etc. Luckily these signs indicate to us how to correct them; the opposites of which will soothe them. Treat the effects of Vata with moist, oily, warm, stable, soft, calm and consistent influences.  Sweet potatoes roasted with ghee and a little spice are great anti-Vata foods.
  Vatta

Vata governs movement in the body, the activities of the nervous system, and the process of elimination.

Qualities of Vata: Cold Light Dry Irregular Rough Moving Quick Changeable.

If Vata dosha predominates, movement and change are characteristic of your nature. You tend to always be on the go, with an energetic and creative mind. As long as Vata is in balance, you will be lively and enthusiastic, with a lean body.

Physical Characteristics those with a predominance of Vata dosha usually have a thin, light frame and excellent agility. Their energy comes in bursts and they are likely to experience sudden bouts of fatigue. Vatas typically have dry skin and hair and cold hands and feet. They sleep lightly and their digestion can be sensitive. When the Vata dosha becomes imbalanced, it manifests in the body as weight loss, constipation, hypertension, arthritis, weakness, restlessness, and digestive challenges.

Emotional Characteristics

Vatas love excitement and new experiences. They are quick to anger but also to forgive. When Vatas are in balance, they are energetic, creative, and flexible. They also take initiative and are lively conversationalists. When unbalanced, they are prone to worry and anxiousness and often suffer from insomnia. When they feel overwhelmed or stressed, their response is, “What did I do wrong?”

How to Balance Vata If excessive stress in your life leads to your Vata force becoming imbalanced, your activity will start to feel out of control. Your mind may race, contributing to anxiety and insomnia. You may start skipping meals, resulting in unintended weight loss, and your digestion may become irregular. If you notice these early symptoms of a Vata imbalance, slow down, take time to meditate, don’t skip meals, and get to bed earlier. A regular lifestyle routine helps ground Vata so you’re not carried away into the ethers. Vata is cold, light, irregular, dry, and always changing.

 To balance Vata, make choices that bring warmth, stability, and consistency to your life. Try to get to bed before 10 p.m., wake up by 6 a.m., and eat your meals at regular times. Avoid becoming chilled. Wear adequate clothing appropriate for the season and keep your head covered when the weather is cold. Perform a daily massage using warmer, heavier oils like sesame and almond. Stick with light exercise that enhances balance and flexibility. Take care not to push yourself too far and exceed the limits of your energy. Beneficial activities for Vatas include: Yoga Qi Gong Tai Chi Walking Short hikes Light bicycling Light tennis Golf Dance Aerobics.

Drink ginger tea. Fresh ginger root is beneficial and can be used frequently. During the cool weather, sip ginger tea throughout the day. Be certain that your bowels move regularly on a daily basis. Favor soothing, calming music. Touch and be touched regularly by the people you love, and schedule regular massage treatments. Favor warm colors in your clothing and environment such as earth colors, pastels, browns, and warm yellows. Favor aromas that are sweet, heavy, and warm. Examples include basil, bay, cinnamon, citrus, cloves, frankincense, lavender, pine, sage, and vanilla.

Nutritional Guidelines for Vata According to Ayurveda, it’s important to eat foods that have a balancing effect on the dominant dosha, or that will pacify (stabilize) a dosha that has become excessive or aggravated. Since Vata is drying, cooling and light, you should favor foods that are oily, warming, or heavy. The best tastes to pacify Vata are sweet, salty, and sour. Minimize foods that are pungent, bitter, or astringent. Recommendations: Eat larger quantities, but don’t overeat. This helps to balance the lightness of Vata. Take sweeteners in moderation. They all help to pacify Vata. Fats and oils are beneficial in the digestive system and help reduce Vata. Use up to three teaspoons daily of ghee or extra virgin olive oil. All low-fat dairy products are recommended. Milk is easier to digest when warm or heated. Rice and wheat are the best grains for balancing Vata. Reduce the amount of barley, corn, millet, buckwheat, and rye that you consume. Favor sweet, heavy fruits such as bananas, avocados, mangoes, apricots, plums, berries, coconut, figs, grapefruit, oranges, lemons, melons, papaya, peaches, pineapples, rhubarb, kiwi, dates, nectarines, and dried fruits. Eat fewer dry or light fruits such as apples, cranberries, pears, and pomegranates. To ease digestion, fruits are best eaten lightly cooked or sautéed, or eaten alone. Cooked vegetables are best. Raw vegetables should be minimized. Favor Asparagus, beets, and carrots. Other vegetables may be taken in moderation if cooked in ghee or extra virgin olive oil, including peas, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, and sweet potatoes. Sprouts and cabbage tend to produce gas and should be minimized. Dairy products pacify Vata. For optimal digestion, boil milk before drinking it and consume it while warm. Use spices that pacify Vata including cardamom, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, salt, cloves, mustard seed, basil, asafetida, cilantro, fennel, oregano, sage, tarragon, thyme, and black pepper. All varieties of nuts are recommended. Beans can aggravate Vata. Minimize your consumption of beans, with the exception of tofu and mung bean dahl. For non-vegetarians, use fresh, organic chicken, turkey, seafood, and eggs. Note: Favoring heavy foods such as sweets, oils, and richer foods may contribute to weight gain. Focus on natural grains, and heavy, moist fruits and vegetables. Keep your sweets to a minimum and use low-fat milk products. Cook your food for easy digestion.

Vata element Air and space


 

Pitta

Pittas are sharp thinkers. When out of balance, however, they can be short-tempered The Pitta dosha controls digestion, metabolism, and energy production. The primary function of Pitta is transformation. Those with a predominance of the Pitta principle have a fiery nature that manifests in both body and mind.

Qualities of Pitta: Hot Light Intense Penetrating Pungent Sharp Acidic

Physical Characteristics Pittas are usually of medium size and weight. They sometimes have bright red hair, but baldness or thinning hair is also common in a Pitta. They have excellent digestion, which sometimes leads them to believe they can eat anything. They have a warm body temperature. They sleep soundly for short periods of time and have a strong sex drive. When in balance, Pittas have a lustrous complexion, perfect digestion, abundant energy, and a strong appetite. When out of balance, Pittas may suffer from skin rashes, burning sensations, peptic ulcers, excessive body heat, heartburn, and indigestion.

Emotional Characteristics Pittas have a powerful intellect and a strong ability to concentrate. When they’re in balance, they are good decision makers, teachers, and speakers. They are precise, sharp-witted, direct, and often outspoken. Out-of-balance pittas can be short-tempered and argumentative. When pittas are overstressed their typical response is, “What did you do wrong.

How to Balance Pitta Pitta is hot, sharp, sour, pungent, and penetrating. To balance pitta, make choices that are cooling, sweet, and stabilizing. Balance rest and activity, allowing some free time every day. Be careful not to create unnecessary time pressures for yourself. Do not skip meals and do not wait until you are famished to eat. Favor foods that are sweet, bitter and astringent. Also eat more cooling foods such as cucumbers, sweet fruits, and melons. Regularly spend time in nature. Take walks in the woods and along natural bodies of water. Keep plants and fresh flowers in your home and office. Walk in the moonlight. Perform a daily massage using cooler oils such as coconut or olive. Favor cooler colors in your clothing and environment such as blues, greens, and silver. Laugh a lot, every day. Favor aromas that are cooling and sweet. Sandalwood, rose, jasmine, mint, lavender, fennel, and chamomile are recommended.

Nutritional Guidelines for Pitta. Since an excess of Pitta dosha overheats the mind and body, favor cool foods and liquids. Foods with sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes are best. Reduce foods that are pungent, salty, and sour. Recommendations: Dairy can help balance the heat of Pitta. This includes milk, butter, and ghee. Sour, fermented products such as yogurt, sour cream, and cheese should be used sparingly as sour tastes aggravate Pitta. All sweeteners may be taken in moderation except molasses and honey. The best oils to pacify Pitta are olive, sunflower, and coconut. Use less sesame, almond, and corn oil, which are more heating. Wheat, rice, barley, and oats are the best grains to reduce Pitta. Eat less corn, rye, millet, and brown rice. Stick to sweeter fruits such as grapes, melons, cherries, coconuts, avocados, mangoes, pomegranates, fully ripe pineapples, oranges, and plums.Reduce sour fruits such as grapefruits, apricots, and berries. The vegetables to favor are asparagus, cucumbers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables, pumpkins, broccoli, cauliflower, celery, okra, lettuce, green beans, and zucchini. The vegetables to avoid include tomatoes, hot peppers, carrots, beets, eggplant, onions, garlic, radishes, and spinach. Spices Pitta types should use seasonings that are soothing and cooling. These include coriander, cilantro, cardamom, saffron, and fennel. Hotter spices such as ginger, cumin, black pepper, fenugreek, clove, salt, and mustard seed should be used sparingly. Very hot seasonings such as chili peppers, and cayenne are best avoided. Chew on fennel seeds after meals to cool down acid in the stomach. For non-vegetarians, chicken, pheasant and turkey are preferable while beef, seafood, and eggs increase Pitta and should be minimized.

Pita’s Element : fire and water

It is said that Vata causes 80 diseases, Pitta causes 40, and Kapha causes only 20.Pitta imbalance are slightly less common-- and slightly more difficult to correct. They are recognised by burning, redness, sometimes oiliness and a pungent, acrid smell. Often Pitta imbalance is seen in the digestion with acidity or diarrhea. Even being critical and short tempered can be Pitta out of whack.  If you find yourself saying ‘My Pitta was a little aggravated, so I punched him’ avoid spicy curry but instead try a cup of sweet milk. Pitta needs to be cooled and soothed with sweet flavors and fragrances, not aggravated with too much time in the sun or in over-stimulating environments.


Kapha

Understanding Kapha

Kapha governs the structure of the body. It is the principle that holds the cells together and forms the muscle, fat, bone, and sinew. The primary function of Kapha is protection.

Qualities of Kapha: Heavy, Slow, Steady, Solid, Cold, Soft and Oily

Physical Characteristics

Kapha types have a strong build and excellent stamina. Large, soft eyes; smooth, radiant skin; and thick hair are also important Kapha characteristics. Those who are predominantly Kapha sleep soundly and have regular digestion. But when Kapha builds to excess, weight gain, fluid retention, and allergies manifest in the body. When they’re out of balance, Kapha types may become overweight, sleep excessively, and suffer from asthma, diabetes, and depression.

Emotional Characteristics

Kaphas are naturally calm, thoughtful, and loving. They have an inherent ability to enjoy life and are comfortable with routine. When in balance, Kaphas are strong, loyal, patient, steady, and supportive. People with an excess of Kapha tend to hold on to things, jobs, and relationships long after they are no longer nourishing or necessary. Excess Kapha in the mind manifests as resistance to change and stubbornness. In the face of stress, the typical Kapha response is, “I don’t want to deal with it.”

How to Balance Kapha

Seek stimulation. Since Kapha is inherently cold, heavy, and dense, the key to balancing Kapha is stimulation. Kaphas tend to cling to the status quo and routine, so they need the stimulation of new sights, sounds, and experiences.

Follow a regular daily routine, ideally awakening before 6 a.m. each morning. Avoid taking naps during the day.

Stay warm and avoid dampness. Kaphas are particularly sensitive to cold, damp conditions and benefit from heat. Use dry heat if you are congested—a common Kapha complaint. Using a heating pad under your back or a sunlamp at your chest is often helpful. Avoid exposing your nose, throat, and lungs to cold winter air if you aren’t feeling well.

Perform a daily Garshana (dry massage) on your body to stimulate circulation.

Use an Ayurvedic neti pot to help prevent congestion. The neti pot is powerful tool for nasal cleansing.

Clear your space. To avoid clutter from accumulating in your home, office, car, and other physical spaces, regularly clean out and give away things that you know you’ll never use.

Get regular exercise. This is the best way to avoid stagnation and the accumulation of toxins in the body. Focus on building endurance. Favor running, bicycling, swimming, aerobics, and competitive sports. You can also dance to energizing rhythmic music.

Use warm, stimulating aromas including cloves, camphor, cinnamon, eucalyptus, juniper, and marjoram.

Favor colors that are warm and bright, including yellow, orange, and red.

Nutritional Guidelines for Kapha

According to Ayurveda, it’s important to eat foods that have a balancing effect on the dominant dosha or that will pacify (stabilize) a dosha that has become excessive or aggravated. Because Kapha is heavy, oily, and cold, favor foods that are light, dry, or warm. Foods with pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes are most beneficial for pacifying Kapha. Reduce foods with sweet, sour, and salty tastes.

Recommendations:

Try a liquid fast one day per week, ingesting only fresh vegetable and fruit juices, and pureed vegetable soup.

Reduce the intake of dairy, which tends to increase Kapha. You can use small amounts of ghee, low-fat milk, and low-fat yogurt.

Avoid most sweeteners. Honey is one sweetener that can best pacify Kapha. Other sweeteners, however, should be avoided because they increase the Kapha dosha, contributing to problems such as blocked sinuses, allergies, colds, and lethargy. Take a tablespoon or two (but no more) of raw honey every day can help release excess Kapha. Do not cook with honey though.

Drink hot ginger tea with meals to help stimulate slow digestion and sharpen dull taste buds. Drink 2 to 3 cups of ginger tea daily.

Eat beans. All beans are good for Kapha types except for soybeans and soybean-based foods such as tofu, which should be eaten in moderation.

Favor lighter fruits such as apples, pears, pomegranates, cranberries, and apricots. Reduce heavier fruits like bananas, avocados, pineapples, oranges, peaches, coconuts, melons, dates, and figs.

Eat lots of vegetables. In general, all vegetables are recommended but you should reduce consumption of sweet and juicy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and zucchini.

All spices except salt are pacifying to Kapha. Use pungent spices like pepper, cayenne, mustard seed, and ginger freely in your diet.

Reduce intake of all nuts and seeds. Favor pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.

Limit consumption of red meat. For non-vegetarians, fresh, organic white meat chicken, turkey, eggs, and seafood are acceptable.

Use small amounts of fats and oils. Try extra virgin olive oil, ghee, almond oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, mustard oil, or safflower oil.For grains, favor barley, corn, millet, buckwheat, rye. Reduce intake of oats, rice, and wheat.

In general, a Kapha diet should be lively and full of energy to help spark the digestive and metabolic systems. Eat your largest meal at lunchtime and a smaller meal at dinnertime. Allow at least three hours for digestion before bedtime.







 







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