Ayurvedic Doshas

There are as many different ways to treat people, as there as so many different ways to diagnose people. That's partially because we have 7.2 trillion people on this planet, and human cultures of treating and diagnosing disease go back thousands of years. With so many different people and different cultures, of course our bodies are all different. But, we can generalize our bodies and temperaments somewhat, into different body types, or constitutions. 

Ayurveda is traditional Indian medicine (from India). 7song likes to use the Ayurvedic way of generalizing human constitutions, known as the "doshas," to help with diagnosing and treating people. People rarely perfectly fit into a pre-boxed categorization of their personality or body type, but these generalizations are helpful for understanding and treating people and conditions. 

There are three doshas: vata, pitta, and kapha. Vata people tend to have more air and fire energy. Pitta people have the most fire energy. Kapha people tend to be more Earthy and watery. Besides being purely vata, pitta, or kapha, we can also be a mix, such as vata-pitta, kapha-vata, etc. Some people are all three doshas together as well, but that's rare. 

We just talked about doshas in class last week with 7song, so most of the info here comes from that class, though I will try to put it into my own words. 7song greatly dramatized his explanation of the doshas, making it highly enjoyable to learn, and just a bit easier to understand. Most of the qualities of the doshas revolve around negative aspects, since having doshas means being out of balance. Thus is the human condition: being out of balance. And what is health? Homeostasis. Being in balance. What is healthcare? Helping to restore homeostasis, or balance. Yoga means "yuj," or yoke. Yoga is having control over homeostasis, being sovereign over my body-mind-spirit state of balance. 

We are born as a certain type of dosha, and we will live our lives and then die as that dosha. Our dosha is unchangeable (this information comes from 7song and I question this part about having unchanging doshas for life- but so far in my life, that has been the case. From observing my childhood friends, this holds true as well. But I think some would argue that we can change our body type. I wonder.) I like what 7song says about this, "Be the best dosha you can be." This basically means that if you are born as a pitta person, then rock out your pitta self, and be the best pitta you can be. Every shadow comes with a gift. Our tendencies toward imbalances also gift us with other tendencies that can balance out ourselves and our communities in other ways. So, be the best dosha you can be! Our goal is to become healthy in whatever dosha we are, not to strive towards something that we are not. 

Now, for the three main doshas... 

I think of vata people as bird-like and airy. The wind blows around uncontrollably. Likewise, vata people tend towards uncontrollable, unpredicatable, and perhaps random or spontaneous activity and thought processes. Vata people may have sporadic diets. Snacking throughout the day is better for vata people, rather than eating large meals. Vata people are usually thin-framed, with high metabolism. It is best for vata people to eat more oily and nourishing foods, as they are more prone to having nutrient deficiences, dry skin, and general lack of grounding in body and mind. Vata peoples' thoughts are also more airy, having difficulty focusing on one thought, their thoughts are blown about like the wind. This also lends to greater creativity, though difficulty in pulling through with projects. 

I think of pitta people as flaming arrows. Passionate and directed, pitta people know where they are going, and their fiery qualities can manifest as strong emotions, easy anger, focused minds, need for control, and strong charisma. Pitta type bodies are in between the two extremes of vata-thin and kapha-large. Quoting the three little bears, "juuust right." Pitta people tend to have good metabolic fire, strong personalities, and great organization. Pitta people oftentimes push themselves too hard and forget to relax. If they get sick, then it is because they ignore their health issues until the last minutes. Pitta people can be intense, judgmental, critical, and with strong forward momentum. 

I think of kaphic people as cow-like: more slow, steady, Earthy, gentle, and strong. Kapha people tend to be the most compassionate of all the doshas. Their voices are deeper and bodies are larger, with tendencies towards obesity and over-eating. Kapha people enjoy indulgence, and their bodies tend toward sluggishness. Kapha people need to have good exercise and eat moderate quantities. Kaphic people tend to be more emotionally stable and content, but when off balance, can tend towards depression and desire to do nothing. It's good for kapha people to fast once in a while, bathe frequently (their bodies tend to be more oily), and be with community. Kapha people won't tip the status quo, but are steadfast, dependable, and somewhat predictable, enjoying regularity and comfort. 

... So, what's your dosha? :) 

Please provide me any feedback or questions on this essay: such as what qualities you are interested in comparing between the doshas, what I didn't address sufficiently, etc. I would like to learn more about how doshic understanding ties into clinical diagnoses and treatment- and am interested in your ideas and experiences. I am also interested in diverse means of diagnoses, having only been exposed to American, Chinese, Indian, and energetic diagnostics. If you have any further info, please do share. Thanks for reading! 

(about the photo: these are morel mushrooms that I found near my home in Ithaca, NY. They are delicious! They are all the same genus and species of mushrooms, but see how diverse they are! It is like us: we are all homo sapiens genus and species so we are all similar and basically the same thing... but also so individual and unique! May you honor your own unique nature and general dosha- and be the healthiest and best of yourself that you can be!) 

Jiling . 林基玲 
  . wild . creative . spirit 
  626.344.9140 / skype: Lin.JiLing