Ayurveda is the ancient medicinal practice that comes from India. Its roots stem back to 6000 BCE from ancient Vedic and Hindu texts, making it the world's oldest medicinal system. Ayurveda is purely holistic and natural in its methods. Traditional Ayurvedic practices seek to find balance within the mind and body to treat disease. According to this culture, a harmonious balance of energies are vital for maintaining full health, both mentally and physically.
The main components of the Ayurvedic culture are the ‘Three Doshas’.
The Doshas are described as energy forces, and each Dosha has a specific set of characteristics. Each person's genetic make up will be predominantly one of the three Doshas, depending on their body type. This is crucial when understanding the needs of each individuals nutritional needs, which types of foods to consume and which ones to avoid, as well as having particular personality traits and emotional tendencies. The concept is to have all of the doshas perfectly balanced and to be able to recognise which dosha is out of sync and needs adjustment.
According to Ayurvedic philosophy, the Doshas are made up of the 5 elements: Space (Ether), Air, Water, Fire and Earth.
The 3 Doshas are known as:
Vata (Air and Space)
Pitta (Fire and Water)
Kapha (Water and Earth)
All three Doshas exist in everybody and all carry out unique functions, however each body shape will have one main Dosha, which will be the main catalyst for their dietary requirements and overall health.
The balancing of these Dosha’s is called ‘Prakriti’ in Ayurveda.
An imbalance in the Doshas will inevitably result in discomfort and disease. Thus, the balancing of all the Doshas (Prakriti) is essential for keeping healthy in both mind and body. Each Dosha will have its own set of strengths, but will also be susceptible to different dietary needs, discomforts and diseases, so understanding your Dosha is key to maintaining balance within your body.
1. Vata Dosha (Air and Space)
The Vata Dosha, is considered ‘king of the doshas’. It carries the traits of air and space (otherwise known as the 'ether').
This form of energy is responsible for movement in the body, including circulation, respiration and the nervous system.
The primary quality of Vata is movement. Neither Pitta nor Kapha can move without Vata. Both voluntary and involuntary movements are controlled by the Vata Dosha, from the subtle blinking of an eyelid to conscious muscle movements.
Think of the wind, cold and dry, gentle or strong, free flowing and in motion.
Typical characteristics of a Vata are creativity, enthusiasm, distraction and forgetfulness. They tend to prefer sweet or sour foods and commonly suffer from cold hands and feet.
An imbalance or excess in Vata energy can lead to discomfort in the hips and pelvis, large intestine, ears and skin. It can also lead to anxiety and insomnia.
Vata’s tend to be underweight or have a delicate bone structure and could be prone to dry skin.
2. Pitta Dosha (Fire and Water)
Pitta carries the traits of fire and water. The primary action of Pitta is transformation, mainly in digestion. Think of the body as an inferno, burning up the energy and fuel, but also as water, flowing through the body. Other Pitta qualities are regulating body temperature, appetite, lust and bravery.
Typical characteristics of a Pitta are intellect, leadership, strength and restlessness.
An imbalance of Pitta can result in headaches, heartburn, diarrhoea and excessive perspiration.
Pitta’s have a tendency to become hyper-acidic which can lead to digestive problems and gas. They also get very thirsty and are partial to cold drinks.
A typical Pitta physique is usually athletic and muscular.
3. Kapha Dosha (Water and Earth)
Kapha Dosha carries the traits of water and earth. They are typically quite slow in their movements, think mud, a mixture of earth and water. These elements are associated with cohesion, stability and energy storing in the body. Its primary spiritual qualities are love, courage and dedication.
Typical characteristics of a Kapha would include endurance, patience, tolerance and stability.
They prefer sweet and often fatty foods.
An imbalance in Kapha dosha could lead to social withdrawal, exhaustion and lethargy.
Kapha’s have a tendency to over eat and can be prone to weight gain.
Typically are heavy set in their body, with a slow and sluggish digestive system.
Which Dosha are you?
Shilajit plays a pivotal role in the Ayurvedic culture, as the use of Shilajit mixed with the right diet, herbs and yoga exercises can help to bring your Doshas back to a harmonious state.