Now here's something that I found to be pretty fascinating. Before I get into what a dosha actually is, let's touch a little on the background of what Ayurvedic medicine is all about first. While I'm pretty sure that you've heard of it before, if you're wondering what it technically means, Ayurvedic medicine is considered to be one of the oldest holistic health practices around. It was developed thousands of years ago, in India, with the belief that I firmly support — that the mind, body and spirit are all supposed to work in harmony and if we focused more on proactive health than reactive illness, we'd all be the better for it.
Along with this mindset, Ayurvedic medicine promotes the belief that we're all made up of the five basic earth elements — space, air, fire, water, and earth. This is actually where the word "dosha" comes in. So, if you want to learn what it is and how to apply it to your own daily health practice, please read on.
What Exactly Is a Dosha All About?
OK, so you know how Dr. Gary Chapman came up with the idea that love is basically expressed in five main ways (words of affirmation, physical touch, gifts, quality time and acts of service) yet we each need love in 1-2 primary ways (like for me, it's words of affirmation and physical touch)?
Well, while Ayurvedic medicine relies on the five earth elements (space, air, fire, water, and earth), dosha is about each of us inheriting three main ones (which makes sense when you think about the whole "mind, body and spirit" thing) with two being the stronger of the three. The concept is that when we find ourselves not being our best selves, it's typically about something within our individualized dosha being out of balance with the others. Interesting, right?
Now before I break down what each dosha represents, I think it would be helpful if you took your own dosha quiz first. Believe it or not, they aren't very hard to find and many of them are free. You can take one here, here, here, here or here, for starters. None of the tests are long and the objective is simply to find out what your body type is, so that you'll then have a better understanding of how to treat yourself on a mental (mind), physical (body) and internal (spirit) level.
By the way, your options are going to be Vata (space and air), Pitta (fire and water) or Kapha (water and earth). My two cents would be to take three different tests to see which results are the most consistent (I am recommending this based on personal experience). That said, what do all three of these doshas actually mean?
What If You’re “Vata”?
OK, so if your test results say that you're a Vata, it means that your predominant life forces are space and air. As far as how this breaks down regarding the mind, body and spirit tip:
Mind. You tend to be creative and like to think outside of the box a lot. You enjoy new things and taking risks. Because so many ideas come to you on a consistent basis, it can be challenging for you to focus and get/stay organized. You typically have vivid dreams, are prone to overthinking and it's not uncommon for you to have bouts of anxiety because of it.
Body. Naturally dry skin is a constant for you. Your hair can lean towards being dry and brittle as well. You enjoy exercise, sometimes to the point of overdoing it. And when it comes to health-related concerns, asthma, heart disease, skin issues and rheumatoid arthritis are what you have to be on the lookout for. Digestive issues are typically your thing too. As far as your diet goes, you seem to have a liking for comfort foods, things that are prepared in an oil base and you actually don't mind a meal that "sticks to your bones".
Spirit. Spirit speaks to life force, so when it comes to how you live life, your strengths are that you're compassionate, flexible, a quick learner, good multitasker and lots of energy. Your weaknesses include being forgetful, moody, having a difficult time falling and/or staying asleep and being overwhelmed.
What If You’re “Pitta”?
A Pitta's predominant life force consists of fire and water. What this boils down to is:
Mind. You work hard and are pretty task oriented. You're not at peace until the job you committed to is done and sometimes that makes you pretty impatient and irritable. It's not uncommon for folks to use words like "aggressive" or "tenacious" to describe you. Also, you are a great candidate for success because you're very self-motivated with quite the competitive streak.
Body. If anyone can't stand the heat (temperature, that is), it would be Pittas. That's a big part of the reason why you usually sweat more than the other two doshas do. You also have more oily skin than the others which makes you more prone to breakouts. Heart disease, high blood pressure and infections are what you are more vulnerable to. As far as your diet goes, it's best if you avoid hot, spicy and even fermented foods because they have a tendency to mess with your digestive system (although you usually have a quick metabolism and good blood circulation).
Spirit. You're a natural-born leader, so you already know that comes with a mixed bag. As far as your strengths go, you're intelligent, a quick learner, someone who is clear about their life's purpose, you stay focused and are able to achieve great success. Your weaknesses? You are prone to conflict, can be quite impatient, can have a hard time achieving work-life balance, could stand to learn how to be calmer and master how to choose your battles more wisely.
What If You’re “Kapha”?
Finally, the Kapha is all about the life forces of water and earth. This means:
Mind. It's not uncommon for people to describe you as being kind and loyal. You also tend to be a source of stability for those around you. You move at a slow and deliberate pace and, to the outside world, your moods are about as even as they come. The flip side to this is because you are also a natural suppressor, you oftentimes have bouts of loneliness or even depression. This can lead to random impulsive decisions or even binge-eating, if you're not careful. Something else that you have to stay on top of is making sure that "stability" is not a mask for stagnation being that Kaphas are also prone to getting stuck in a rut and staying there.
Body. Your circulation isn't exactly the best which is why your hands and/or feet tend to be cold a lot. Your skin is usually pretty moist. Interestingly enough, a nap in the middle of the day is no biggie to you. Food-wise, dairy and desserts are totally your thing and you will oftentimes drink things that have too much salt in them. What you've got to watch out for is that you're most prone to developing cancer, diabetes, asthma, allergies and becoming overweight which is why it's best to have a diet of light and stimulating meals as much as possible.
Spirit. Humans really don't get much more empathetic and caring as you. Some of your other strengths include profound wisdom, being quite romantic, maintaining a sense of calm, leaning towards the side of optimism and being non-skeptical of others. Weaknesses include sleeping to escape issues (including holding on to other people's stuff), needing constant encouragement, not being self-motivated, not making the most of your time (you know, dragging along) and not being the best planner.
A trip, right? While all of this is merely an introductory course, I thought it was cool to share because if you do indeed see yourself in one of these (again, after taking the quiz), it can help you to make certain adjustments to your mind, body or spirit to see if it helps you to feel better, on a holistic level.
Personally, I've tried it out and have noticed some significant changes over the past few weeks. So, get to know your dosha. Because the more balanced we are all, the better off we'll all be. Amen? Amen.
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