Do you know your Ayurvedic Dosha ?

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Vata pita kapha

If you compare yourselves to your sibling or spouse, you might find some remarkable differences, how one likes a cold room while the other cannot tolerate it. While one can digest heavy non-vegetarian food or kidney beans, the other can only digest soups. While one has a high appetite, the other is barely hungry. While one sweats a lot, the other does not perspire much. You might have as well thought, "Why such differences?" Despite being born in the same family and having a similar diet, siblings tend to be different in physical, mental and emotional characteristics.  

Also, you will be amazed to know that Ayurvedic treatment is highly personalised. Yes, you heard it right. Only rarely, two individuals with the same health problems would get the same prescription from their Ayurvedic doctor.  

But how does this work? Let me give you an example. Imagine four members in your family of the same age got fever. The General Practitioner would provide the same Paracetamol of the exact dosage to all four of you. But if you happen to visit an Ayurvedic doctor, you will notice that your doctor might have to give different prescriptions to each of you. One might get a decoction (kadha), might prescribe another tablet (Vati). Though the symptoms, age and body weight are similar, different types of medicines are given. And you will observe the fever gone without causing any other side effects.   

You may have a question. Why not give the same medicine to all? It is much easier and saves time, right? But, Ayurveda believes in balancing the doshas of each individual to maintain health.  

What is Ayurveda Dosha and Prakriti?  

To understand the Ayurvedic doshas, one has to understand the 'Panchamahabhuta Concept' in Ayurveda.  

Panchamahabhutas are the five elements present in the universe.

सर्वम द्रव्य्मं पांचभौतिकम अस्मिन्नर्थे।

All substances in the universe are composed of the five elements. Of course, in varying amounts. 

The five elements are Akash (Space), Vayu (Air), Agni (Fire), Jala (Water), Prithvi (Earth).   

The Akash and Vayu combine to form the Vata Dosha. Agni and Jala Mahabhuta combine to form the Pitta Dosha, and Jala and Prithvi form the Kapha Dosha. This is how tridoshas came into existence.

Vata Pitta Kapha
Prakriti/ Ayurvedic Bodytype is the primary body constitution of an individual. The dosha predominance at the time of conception (zygote formation) decides an individual's Prakriti. Acharya Vagbhata, in his Ayurvedic treatise, 'Ashtanga Hridayam', refers to Prakriti as the basic body constitution of an individual and formed at the time of union of sperm (Shukra) and ovum (Shonita).  

Prakriti is basically of 7 types:  

Single Dosha Prakriti :  Also known as "Heena Prakriti" or Poor/weak body constitution.  

  • Vata Prakriti  
  • Pitta Prakriti  
  • Kapha Prakriti   
Dual dosha Prakriti: Also known as "Madhyama Prakriti" or moderate/average body constitution.  
  • Vata Pitta Prakriti  
  • Kapha Pitta Prakriti  
  • Kapha Vata Prakriti  
Combination of three doshas: Also known as "Utthama Prakriti" or the best body constitution.  
  • Tridoshaja Prakriti  

How to identify your dosha? 

Prakriti decides your physical, mental and emotional characteristics. You will be able to determine your own Prakriti from the characters mentioned in the table below. This vata pitta kapha test easily helps you to identity your Ayurvedic dosha. However, it is best to get your Ayurvedic bodytype confirmed by an Ayurvedic doctor.

Characteristic Feature Vata Prakriti Pitta Prakriti Kapha Prakriti
Physical Characteritics
Body build / Frame Slim Medium Heavy
Hair  Thin, rough, brittle, knotted  Straight, oily, smooth Thick, curly. 
Nails  Dry, rough , brittle , break easily  Sharp, flexible , lustrous , pink  Thick , smooth, polished look 
Teeth Irregular, protruding teeth, receding gums  Medium sized teeth, reddish gums, yellowish tinge on teeth  Big, white strong teeth and gums 
Joints  Small , cracky joints  Average , stable joints  Big and heavier joints 
Skin  Dry, early wrinkles, cool, dark complexion, tans easily, pigmented spots on skin  Smooth, fair skin,  oily T zone, freckles, moles, redness rashes and acne , sunburns easily  Soft, glowing and youthful, oily, cold skin , white , pale skin, tans evenly
Body weight  Low, difficulty in putting on weight  Medium- can lose and gain weight easily  Overweight - difficult to lose weight 
Shape of face  Long, angular with bony prominences, thin  Heart shaped, pointed chin  Large, round, full 
Lips  Thin, dry , chapped Soft, medium sized Large, full, soft lips 
Digestion and metabolism  Irregular , forms gas  Quick , causing burning  slow/dull/prolonged , forms mucus 
Appetite  Irregular, low appetite  Strong, unbearable  Slow but steady 
Thirst  High but irregular  High and regular  Low 
Elimination  Hard/constipated  Loose/bulky stools  Oily, sluggish. 
Sleep  Reduced, not continuous Needs regular hours , sound sleep  Deep, heavy , prolonged sleep 
Speech  Speaks fast and unclear Clear, to the point, precise  Long chats, slow , gentle 
Physical activity  Hyperactive  Moderate  Slow
Mental activity
Emotions  Uncertainty, Anxious, Fearful  Ambitious, practical, Anger  Peaceful, calm, like solitude 
Memory  Quick to remember and to forget  Average, clear, distinct  Slow to remember and does not forget things easily 
Faith Variable  Extremist  Consistent 
Irritability / anger  Short tempered/ highly irritable but easily forgiving  Quick and sustained.  Always cool. 
Sexual Drive  Fantasizes, romantic, quick to release.  Strong burning desire, intense and active  Slow, enduring, tender, passionate
Lifestyle orientation 
Way of thinking  Creative, wants to do many projects at the same time but hardly completes any.  Organised , very much focussed. Only one project at a time. Needs time and space for oneself.  Slow but steady to reach a goal,
follows a plan, dislikes change. 
Job preferences  They are good artists, models, creative jobs, writers, globe trotters, designers  Teachers, doctors, politicians, challenging job Sedentary , routine job, seeks stability 
Response to problems  Worried, confused, impulsive , Changes decisions again and again  Organised , only one thing at a time  Slow and steady. Dislikes change.
Concentration  Cannot concentrate for a long time. Erratic thoughts and fast in execution  Moderate  Good but slow thinking and execution 
Dreams  Dreams like flying/ travelling. Being in movement. Dreams of the sky and moving clouds. Adventurous dreams  Dreams of skilful planning and execution, dreams of fire and hot objects Dreams of snow, water bodies,
rain, fantasy type of dreams that are pleasant 
 

Role of doshas in maintaining health

Ayurvedic diet

Acharya Charaka, in his book, Charaka Samhita, explains health as a state of equilibrium of three doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha), seven dhatus (seven tissues - Rasa, Rakta, Mamsa, Medhas, Asthi, Majja, Shukra), Agni (digestive fire), three malas (waste products - urine, faeces and sweat).  

Thus, it is clear that imbalance of doshas leads to disease, and the balance of doshas is good health.    

Ayurvedic Diet and lifestyle recommendations for Vata Prakriti  

 Vata is very light and cold being a combination of air and space. It is responsible for all bodily movements. Vata imbalance can lead to gas, bloating, aches and pains in the body. The following are the diet and Ayurvedic lifestyle recommendations to follow for Vata Prakriti after taking the dosha test.

Category  For regular use  Occasional use  Use rarely or Avoid 
Grains  Wheat, Rice, Oats  Corn  Buckwheat, Millets,
Horse gram, Barley  
Pulses  Whole Green Mung beans,
Split Mung dal, Yellow Mung, Toor dal, Masoor dal 
Chick pea (Chole), Urad dal  Kidney Beans (Rajma),
Cow Peas (Lobiya) and Soya 
vegetables  Bottle gourd, Snake gourd, Ivy gourd(kundru),
Okhra (bhindi), Cabbage, Cauliflower, Broccoli,
Sweet potatoes, Carrot, Thori, Beet root,
Ash gourd, Pumpkin 
Potatoes, Mushrooms, Bitter gourd, 
Spinach, Methi leaves, Sour tomato, Turnips, 
Raddish, Cucumber, Brinjal.
Use onion and garlic in moderation.  
Peanuts, Mustard greens,
Raw Bananas, Capsicum 
Fruits  Sweet varieties of Apples, Grapes,
Bananas, Pears, Papaya, Jamuns, Water melon,
Musk melon, Sweet mangoes,
Pomegranate, Sweet plums, Figs,
Coconut, Amla, Avocados 
Oranges, Sweet lime, 
Jackfruit, Lemon,
Pineapple, Raw mangoes  
 
Beverages  Almond milk, Masala chai, Ginger tea   Milk tea, Green tea, Coffee  Black Coffee 
Dry fruits & nuts  Soaked Almonds, Cashews, Raisins,
Dates, Prunes, Sunflower seeds,
Walnuts (Always consume soaked seeds and nuts) 
Pumpkin seeds, Flax seeds, Lotus seeds, Dry figs, Pistachio    
Non veg  Egg whites, Mutton or Bone soup broth  Chicken, Freshwater Fish  Pork, Beef, Duck,
Shell fishes and other seafood  
Dairy  Milk, Butter, Ghee, Buttermilk, Curd  Cheese  Milkshakes, Ice Creams 
Spices  Cumin, Turmeric, Coriander, Basil,
Fenugreek, Fresh Ginger, Asafoetida,
Poppy seeds, Oregano, Thyme 
Cloves, Dry ginger, Garlic, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Black Pepper, Mustard seeds  Cayenne peppers, Chilies 
Oils  Sesame oil, Coconut oil, Ground nut oil  Olive oil, Sunflower oil,
Rice bran oil, Mustard Oil  
 
Alcohol     Beer, Red wine  Whiskey, Rum,  
Others  Mishri   Jaggery, honey, pickles  white refined sugar, Refined flour 

Lifestyle to be followed: 

  1. You must protect yourself during the cold weather. Wear a lot of layers and keep yourself warm throughout the season. Do not expose yourself to the cold/dry wind.
  2. Walking is a very good physical activity to balance the Vata. You can go for a walk in the morning for half an hour every day.
  3. Stay grounded. Make sure you take out at least five to ten minutes for meditation every day. It will help the mind relax.
  4. You must take care of your dry skin. Hence, you should massage your body with a good ayurvedic oil or sesame oil before taking your bath to nourish the muscles and improve circulation. Anointing the head and body with oil is the best method to control vata.
  5. Vigorous exercises aggravatesvatato a great extent. Perform only mild exercises according to your strength. 
  6. Prefer tastes like Sweet, sour andsalty  andtake less of spicy, bitter and astringent tastes.   
  7. Yoga - Pawanamuktasan, Anulom Vilom Pranayam, Bhramri Pranayam  

Ayurvedic Diet and lifestyle recommendations for Pitta Prakriti  

Pitta is a combination of two elements, namely, fire and water elements. Pitta is light, fluid and hot. Pitta imbalance can lead to digestive disturbances like acidity, burning sensation, bleeding disorders etc. Red this table to find out how to balance Pitta after taking the dosha test.

Category  For regular/ Daily Use  Occasional use  Rarely use/ avoid  
Grains  Whole wheat, rice Barley, Quinoa.   Corn, Oats, Millets  Buckwheat 
Pulses  Whole Green mung, Split Mung Dal, Yellow Mung, Red lentils (Masoor Dal), Toor dal   Soya, Kidney Bean (Rajma), Cow Peas (Lobiya), Chick Peas (channa/ chole), Dew beans (Moth ki dal)  Urad dal  
vegetables  Bottle gourd, Snake gourd, Ivy gourd(kundru), Bitter gourd, Okhra (bhindi), Broccoli, Carrot, Cluster beans, Thori, Beans, Turnips, Radish, Methi leaves, cucumber, beetroot, Spinach, Ash gourd, Pumpkin.  Mushrooms, Use less of Onion, garlic and sour tomato, Capsicum, Amaranth leaves, Raw bananas, Cauliflower, Potatoes, Sweet potatoes, Yam  Brinjal (Baingan), Mustard greens 
Fruits  Apples, Berries, Pears, Papaya, Jamuns, Pomegranate, Amla, Watermelon  Musk melon, Banana, Custard apple, Mangoes, Chikoo, Litchi, Jackfruit   Oranges, lemon, grapes, pineapple, plums 
Beverages  Coriander and mint tea, Dry ginger tea, Tulsi tea, Masala chai, Coconut milk , Tender coconut water.   Coffee, Green tea, Milk tea, Coffee   Black tea, Lemon Tea and Black coffee 
Dry fruits & nuts  Almonds, Sunflower seeds, Walnuts, Pumpkin seeds, Makhana, Dates, Raisins  Flax seeds, Prunes, Figs, Pop corn    Pistachio, Cashews,Peanuts  
Non veg  Chicken - steamed / tandoor, Egg whites.   Seafood, Freshwater fish,  Mutton.   Pork, Beef, Duck, Egg yolk.  
Dairy  Milk, Buttermilk,  Ghee  Paneer, Butter, Curd  Milkshakes, ice creams, cheese, sour cream 
Spices  Cumin, Coriander, Fennel, Dry ginger, Turmeric,  Cinnamon, Oregano    Mustard seeds, Nutmeg, Mint, Basil, Fresh ginger, Asafoetida, Poppy seeds, Cloves, Cardamom, Black pepper, Garlic and Onion   Cayenne peppers, chilies 
Oils Olive oil, Coconut oil, Sunflower oil,
Use only 3 tbsp oil per day  
Groundnut oil, Sesame oil, Mustard oil   
Alcohol    Beer  All hard liquor and red wine 
Others Sugar candy, Brown sugar, Organic fruit preserves  Jaggery, Honey, Pickles, Fried papad   

 Lifestyle to be followed:. 

  1. Eat fresh and warm food.  
  2. Add ½ to 1 tsp ghee to your meal.  
  3. Prefer soups and boiled salads over raw salads. 
  4. Snack on fruits or boiled sprouts. 
  5. Lunch should be the heaviest meal of the day with a light breakfast and dinner. 
  6.  Stay grounded. Make sure you take out ten to thirty minutes for meditation every day. It will help the mind relax. 
  7. Avoid drinking Tea or Coffee on an empty stomach and spicy diet.  
  8. Prefer tastes like Sweet, bitter and astringent tastes and less of spicy, salty and sour tastes.  
  9. Yoga – Chandra namaskar, Sheetali pranayam, Sitkari pranayam, Mandukasan. 

Ayurvedic Diet and lifestyle recommendations for Kapha Prakriti  

Kapha is heavy and cold. It is a combination of water and earth elements. Kapha is also moist, oily, dull and smooth. The following are the Ayurvedic diet and Ayurvedic lifestyle recommendations for Kapha Prakriti after taking the dosha test.

 Category  For regular use  Occasional use  Rarely use 
Grains  Wheat, Brown rice, Barley, Quinoa, Millets, Daliya  Corn, Bats, buckwheat, Basmati rice  White Sticky rice 
Pulses  Whole Green Mung beans, Split mung dal, Yellow mung, Peas  Chick pea (white & black Channa), Cow peas (Lobia), Urad dal, Pigeon pea(Toor dal), Masoor dal,  Soya  Black eyed peas, Kidney Beans 
vegetables  Bottle gourd, Snake gourd, Ivy gourd(kundru), Palak, Methi leaves, Amaranth leaves, Mustard greens, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Carrot, Thori, Ash gourd, Pumpkin, Bitter gourd  Onion, Garlic, Mushrooms, Sour Tomato, Turnips, Radish, Cucumber, Eggplant(baingan), Sweet Potatoes, Beet root, Capsicum, Raw Bananas, Okhra (Bhindi)  Potatoes, Yam, Tapioca.  
Fruits   Apples, Jamun, Grapes, Pears, Papaya, Pine apple, Pomegranate, Plums, Amla, Coconut, Water melon  Oranges, Lemon, Musk melon  Jackfruit, Mangoes, Bananas 
Beverages   Goat milk, Almond milk, Ginger tea, Tulsi tea, Masala chai, Black Tea, Black Coffee, Green Tea  Cow milk, Almond milk, Coconut milk.   Milk tea 
Dry fruits & nuts  Almonds, Sunflower seeds, Walnuts,  Pumpkin seeds  Flax seeds, Dates, Prunes, Figs   Pistachio, Cashews, Peanuts  
Non veg  Bone soup broth, Chicken – Steamed/ Tandoor  Egg whites, Freshwater fish, Mutton, Turkey, Shelled fishes.   Pork, Beef, Duck, Egg yolk.  
Dairy  Skimmed Milk, Buttermilk  Ghee, Paneer  Milkshakes, Ice Creams,
Curd, Cheese,Sour Cream, Butter, 
Spices  Cumin, Coriander, Basil. Fenugreek, Turmeric, Fresh ginger, Dry ginger, Asafoetida, Oregano, Thyme, Cloves, Garlic, Cardamom, Black pepper, Cinnamon.   Mustard seeds, Nutmeg, Poppy Seeds  Cayenne peppers, chilies 
Oils   Soya bean oil, olive oil, Sesame oil.   Coconut, Mustard oil, Ground nut oil   
Alcohol     Whiskey, Brandy, Rum,Wine   
Others  Honey, Jaggery, Pickles  Sugar candy, Brown sugar, Organic fruit preserves, Roasted Papad   Refined oil, flour and
sugar. Oily and fried food. 

Lifestyle to be followed: 

  1. Take warm and fresh food.  
  2. Liquid soup diet can be preferred over raw salads.  
  3. Lunch should be the heaviest meal of the day with a light breakfast and dinner. Eat only when you are hungry.  
  4. Hot/ warm water to be taken one hour prior to after a meal and throughout the day. 
  5. Prefer tastes like Spicy, bitter and astringent and take less of Swwet, sour and salty tastes.  
  6. Avoid cold food and drinks.  
  7. Make exercise a part of your routine. Adopt an active lifestyle. 
  8. Yoga – Practice Surya Namaskar, Sarvangasan, Kapal bhati pranayam regularly.

Take the Ayurvedic Skin and Hair dosha quiz to determine your Ayurvedic dosha and know the herbs and products that suit your skin and hair types.  

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