Ayurveda Basics: Determining Your Dosha(s)
Ayurvedic principles provide a new (or, rather, very old) perspective on treating disease and finding greater well being. This ancient system understands the world consists of patterns and, as you are part of the world, you also experience the same patterns, called doshas (pronounced dough-sha). By determining your dosha, we can make food, lifestyle and medicinal choices that don’t just treat symptoms but get down to the root of the imbalance that causes them. Ayurveda can help you to heal yourself and improve your life.
How to determine your pattern (dosha)
Your dosha is the core physical, mental and emotional characteristics and tendencies you were born with (prakriti). These characteristics can sometimes be quite different than the tendencies you have as an adult (vikruti), which reflect symptoms of imbalance that have evolved over many years of repeated behaviors. Decifering the difference between the two can often be confusing!
To figure out your dosha the DIY way, you can use an online quiz to get a foot in the door. Most online dosha quizzes are terrible but I can recommend Banyan Botanicals and Dr. Douillard’s LifeSpa body type quizzes. Keep in mind that these tools are only as good as the information you put in and most of us have certain biases when it comes to evaluating ourselves. I’ve found that they aren’t 100% accurate for myself so if you want precision, a visit to an Ayurvedic Health Counselor will be your best resource.
The qualities of the doshas
There are three doshas: vata, pitta & kapha. We can understand the qualities of the doshas in terms of the elements of nature:
- Vata is air and ether, which is characterized by the qualities of light, mobile, ethereal, spiritual
- Pitta is made of mostly fire and touch of water, which is hot, intense, sharp and mobile
- Kapha is made up of earth and water, which means it’s more grounded, solid, stable and dense
Doshas in your body and mindWe are made up of all three doshas, although we usually have a dominant dosha, then a strong secondary. The third is often subtle... but not always!
|Dosha||Body||Mind||Symptoms of imbalance|
Long features (face, fingers, legs)
Wavy, frizzy or disobedient hair
Deep set eyes
Average size, moderate build
Oily or reddish skin
Tends to be hot or overheats easily
Can be competitive
Rashes, red skin
Insomnia, hot sleeper
Anger, resentment, impatience
|Kapha||Round (face, body, eyes)|
Lush hair and skin
Stocky or voluptuous
Why is knowing your dosha(s) helpful?
Knowing your dosha (prakriti) and the doshas that are out-of-balance (vikruti) empowers you to make decisions that align you with your capacity for greatest health and well-being. In Ayurveda, we apply this knowledge to all aspects of daily life including nutrition, sleep schedule, activities, relationships and therapies like herbs, essential oils, floral essences, mantra, yoga, etc. Applying this knowledge is a gentle, gradual process that looks something like this:
- Determine your core characteristics and your symptoms of imbalance
- Determine 1-3 actions to treat your imbalance (treatment plan)
- Carry out your treatment plan for 2-4 weeks
- Evaluate progress and deepen your treatment plan
- Repeat steps 3 & 4
It’s a powerful system that allows you greater control over your own health journey!
Want to save time and uncertainty with a professional assessment of your doshas? Or are you looking for a tailored plan for maximizing your wellness? Working with an Ayurvedic professional can provide you with the guidance and support give you a boost on your health journey. Learn more about Ayurvedic consultations here.