Ayurveda 101: How to Discover Your Dosha
Knowing your dosha can unlock a healthier life. See how you can add specific foods, practices, and herbs to improve mind-body balance.
by Stacy Mosel, LMSW
Although Ayurvedic medicine was developed in India thousands of years ago, it has only recently gained popularity in the Western world for its benefits in balancing the mind, body and spirit. Unlike other forms of healing, Ayurveda — which means “science of life” in Sanskrit — focuses mostly on promoting health on a holistic level, not fighting disease.
The way Ayurveda achieves this is by classifying people based on their doshas - or Ayurvedic body types.
Knowing your dosha and using specific practices and herbs, such as a tridoshic CBD-infused formula, may help you address doshic imbalances, promote vibrant well-being and help you attain an improved state of mind-body balance. Here, we jump into how to discover your dosha and how to use that knowledge to unlock a healthier life.
What is a Dosha?
Before we dive into identifying your personal dosha, it’s important to understand what Ayurvedic body types are. Ayurveda is based on the interplay of the five elements – earth, air, water, fire and space (or ether). Everyone has a unique dosha that is based on the specific way these elements combine and manifest in the body. There are three main doshas: Pitta, Vata and Kapha. While most people are dominant in one dosha, some people are equally balanced in two or even all three, in which case they are said to be tridoshic. The doshas are believed to be responsible for differences in personality, body types and physical and mental characteristics.
The delicate balance between the doshas is variable and can be influenced by external and internal factors, such as stress, weather and life conditions. Regardless of your dominant dosha, you can have an imbalance in any of the doshas, which may contribute to feelings of unwellness, low energy, poor mood, sleep disturbances or other issues.
Identifying Your Dosha
Though many of us don’t fit neatly into any single dosha, you can use the characteristics of each to identify your dominant Ayurvedic body type. Then, you can use that knowledge to guide everything from what you eat to the essential oils you should always have on hand, as Ayurveda relies on natural remedies (such as specific herbs and foods) to promote well-being and restore balance.
Pitta dosha is created from a combination of the fire and water elements, which manifests as qualities of intensity, acidity, light and heat.
Common Pitta Characteristics
If pitta is your dominant Ayurvedic body type, then you likely have some or all of the following traits…
- medium build
- thin hair
- strong sex drive
- strong digestion
- tend to feel warm
Pitta personalities tend to be passionate, strong-willed and determined. When imbalanced, they can be quick to anger, feel easily irritated and experience skin rashes or irritations.
Beneficial Foods & Herbs for Pitta Doshas
Since pittas tend to be fiery and have strong appetites and digestions, they can usually eat anything as long as they avoid overindulging. They benefit from moderation, cool or warm foods (not foods that are super spicy or hot), and should avoid oily, heavy foods such as butter or cream. Poultry, sweet fruits like mango, legumes, nuts and seeds are all OK for pittas. Herbs that are beneficial for pittas include those that are not too spicy, such as cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, black pepper and coriander.
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The vata dosha is based on a combination of space and air elements, which manifests as qualities of dryness, cold, light, movement and change.
Common Vata Characteristics
If you are a vata, then you may have some or all of the following traits…
- thin, lanky build
- dry skin and hair
- sensitive digestive system
- tend to become cold easily
Vatas are often underweight and can usually eat whatever they want without easily gaining extra pounds. Vatas benefit from routines, relaxation and regular sleep to help keep their high energy levels in balance. Personality characteristics typically include:
When imbalanced, vatas can be anxious, prone to respiration ailments, may lose weight unintentionally and can suffer from sleep issues.
Beneficial Foods & Herbs for Vata Doshas
Because vata is an airy and dry Ayurvedic body type, they tend to benefit from foods that are moderately heavy and warming – so they should avoid dry or cold foods whenever possible. Salty, sour and warm foods, and added fat such as butter and cream, are advisable. Choose soups, hot cereals, warm bread, nut butters and warming herbal teas. Recommended spices and herbs include garlic, cardamom, cumin, ginger – vatas should avoid astringent herbs like coriander or fenugreek.
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The kapha dosha is created by the combination of earth and water elements, which manifests as qualities of heaviness, static, slowness and density.
Common Kapha Dosha
If you are a kapha, then you may have some or all of the following traits:
- a strong, sturdy body type
- large eyes
- soft hair
- regular digestion
When it comes to personality, they are known for being:
However, when imbalanced, they can be sluggish, dull, lethargic or depressed, suffer from sinus issues and gain weight easily.
Beneficial Foods & Herbs for Kapha Doshas
Since Kaphas tend to be slow and sluggish, they are advised to eat light, warm and dry foods. Include lightly cooked or raw foods in your diet and eat an abundance of spicy foods whenever possible. Avoid dairy and sugar if you can, as this can increase feelings of lethargy and slow your digestion. Most herbs and spices are beneficial for kaphas, including black pepper, cumin, thyme, oregano and basil.
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How to Address Tridoshic Imbalances
Addressing tridoshic imbalances involves using a combination of herbs, foods and lifestyle practices. A meditative yoga practice that combines balancing, non-strenuous exercises with pranayama, or breathwork, can be particularly beneficial to balance all of the doshas.
Some foods and herbs are naturally tridoshic, which make them excellent choices for addressing tridoshic imbalances. As they can calm and balance all of the doshas, they are beneficial for almost everyone. Some tridoshic foods to include in your diet are berries, cherries, asparagus, peas, leafy greens, grains like oats or amaranth and legumes like red lentils or mung beans.
In addition, using a CBD formula — such as products by The Root of It All — that combines the power of cannabis with specific tridoshic Ayurvedic herbs is another beneficial way to address tridoshic imbalances.
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Keeping your doshas balanced can play an important part in achieving and maintaining wellbeing. If you’re still not sure what your Ayurvedic body type is, you can complete a free online quiz to help you figure out your dominant dosha and get you started on the path to wellness.
Stacy Mosel, LMSW is a health and wellness writer, as well as a licensed social worker, yoga enthusiast, certified Reiki practitioner and musician. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Music from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1999 and a Master of Social Work from New York University in 2002.