What Are Doshas and Why Should I Care

Ayurveda is an ancient science of healing. Ayurveda literally translated means “the science of life”. It is a philosophy and science of well being that dates back thousands of years. It is a way of knowing more about ourselves and understanding how everything outside of us interacts with everything inside of us.

During menopausal changes, a little knowledge can go a long way! It can help us understand why some of us may be more prone to some symptoms while others may be prone to others. More importantly, Ayurveda helps us choose foods, activities and ways of thinking that can ease some of those symptoms.

Ayurveda holds the view that all things in the universe, including humans are made up of five basic elements: earth, fire, water, air and space. Each element has its own qualities for example: earth is heavy; water is wet; fire is hot; air is constantly moving, and space is clear.

The elements and their corresponding qualities pair together to form three basic mind-body types or “doshas”. Each one of us is a combination of all three doshas but one or two will usually dominate.

Elements and the Doshas

Your dosha type determines your physical and psychological tendencies. Understanding your dosha type helps you make choices in life that support your health instead of undermine it. When you nurture your true nature you feel your best.

All About Balance

According to Ayurveda, we can get out of balance by accumulating an excess of one or more of the elements. This leads to undesirable symptoms and conditions and can lead to long-term chronic illness.

To regain or maintain balance, Ayurveda uses a principle of opposites. Many things affect our doshic balance since everything in the universe is comprised of the same basic elements as we are. Some things we have control over, like what we eat, and others, like the seasons we simply need to be aware of so we can understand how this may affect our balance.

Things we have control over: What we eat – What we do – What we think
Things we have little or no control over: Seasons – Time of Day – Stage of Life

Below are some examples of how our choices affect our doshic balance.

Balancing Vata
Vata types are cold, dry and mobile. Cold, dry windy fall/early winter weather can be problematic for Vata types, sometimes leading to conditions like insomnia, constipation and feeling scattered. Eating warm, moist nourishing soups and stews, using warming spices like cinnamon and choosing activities that emphasize stability and focus during the cold, windy months can help Vata’s energy stay more consistent and help them stay more grounded.

Balancing Pitta
Pitta types are hot and fiery. Playing aggressive sports and eating hot spicy foods in the heat of summer may lead to heartburn, increased irritability and impatience for Pitta. Choosing an activity like swimming in cool calm water during hot days and eating watery, cooling foods like watermelon would be more beneficial for Pitta balance.

Balancing Kapha
Kapha types are heavy and static by nature. During late winter/early spring Kapha types may be especially prone to congestion. Kapha types will benefit from reducing frozen, sweet or rich foods and drinks like milkshakes, avocado and banana, which lead to more congestion. Eating lightly and participating in activities that encourage movement, like aerobics or dance, can help Kapha types feel more balanced.