With the resurgence of Ayurveda as well as its gaining popularity in the West, the word dosha is becoming a buzzword, and many people want to know their dosha or constitution. While it's nice to have something to identify with, such as resonating with your astrological sign or a personality test that may reveal some truths about you, your dosha is more complicated.
Unlike an astrological sign, which is fixed, several factors affect the state of your dosha, so just stating "I'm Vata" would be an oversimplification. For instance, someone may be Vata predominant by nature, but develop a condition like hypothyroidism later in life, throwing their Kapha out of balance. At this point, Kapha would be the dosha that a practitioner would address in order to support the client.
The doshas are based on the elements: ether, air, fire, water, and earth. All of us contain these elements in varying proportions, and these proportions shift frequently, resulting in imbalances.
In Ayurveda, we not only consider your prakruti, the constitution you were born with, but we also take a deep look at your vikruti, which is your current state including imbalances. The goal is to reach equilibrium by addressing the imbalanced doshas whether they are manifesting as depletions or increases within the constitution.
In fact, Ayurveda discusses not only one, but four types of prakruti. The first is janma prakruti, which is determined at the moment of conception. Deha prakruti includes the fetal prakruti and is affected by the mother's environment, including her diet, lifestyle, and mental/emotional state. Dosha prakruti refers to the ratio of the doshas at the time of birth; all of us have each type of constitution in varying proportions. Finally, manas prakruti is our mental disposition and is defined using the terms sattva, rajas, and tamas.
Many factors come into play when considering a person's prakruti, including natural body type, facial features, genetic predispositions, appetite and digestive capacity, personality, and mental/emotional state. According to Jyotish, a branch of Ayurveda that is also referred to as Vedic Astrology, the time and place of birth also factor into a person's prakruti. People often want an Ayurvedic Practitioner to take one look at them and guess their dosha, but because so many factors are involved, it takes more than a cursory glance to determine an accurate answer.
Also, there are seven possible combinations of doshas. It's incredibly rare for a person to be tridoshic, meaning all three are in perfect balance. (Having imbalances or identifying with some aspects of each dosha does not make one tridoshic). Many people have two prominent doshas with one less prominent, and some people have one that is strongly dominant and varying proportions of the other two. Knowing one's prakruti can be very helpful when an individual is attuned with his or her body, giving them the ability to differentiate between their nature and their current state. Armed with that knowledge, they are able to work towards restoring balance. In very healthy people, their prakruti and vikruti are nearly identical, but in most of us, there are disparities.
To better know ourselves and with the intent of making lifestyle changes or taking herbs, it is very important to have an accurate and thorough knowledge of one's constitution. We also need to recognize that there are some factors that are out of our control, like the weather/seasons and the stages of life, which can also strongly affect our constitutions. Luckily, we can take control over our diet and implement lifestyle changes to bring our minds, bodies, and souls back into balance once we have a clear picture of our constitution.
In Ayurveda, practitioners recommend various approaches to bringing their clients in balance including pranayama (breathing practices), asana (physical yoga postures), meditations, and lifestyle changes including foods and herbs. Foods and herbs are determined as favorable or less favorable for each dosha according to their RVVs. RVV is short for rasa (taste), virya (potency) and vipaka (post-digestive effect).
According to the classic texts, there are six tastes. While we should incorporate all of the tastes into our diets, some doshas should have tastes in a limited amount. For example, people with high Vata should limit astringent foods, people with high Pitta should limit pungent or spicy foods, and people with high Kapha should limit sweet foods. Each dosha has three tastes that are favorable for balancing and three tastes that should be limited.
Sweet, sour, salty
Bitter, pungent, astringent
Astringent, bitter, sweet
Pungent, sour, salty
Bitter, pungent, astringent
Sweet, sour, salty
Knowing one's constitution is especially important now that many Ayurvedic herbs are becoming popular and are readily available at many mainstream health food stores. For example, many herbs are classified as bṛṃhaṇa, or building, as in increasing anabolic activity and may not be suitable for someone with excess Kapha. Other herbs may have a heating virya, or potency, and may be excellent for addressing concerns of excess Vata and Kapha, but may increase Pitta. This is equally important when making dietary changes as Ayurveda also has guidelines for which foods are preferable and which should be limited or avoided.
Finally, RVVs and the doshas also come into play when choosing topical products. Our products are based on ancient formulations which were carefully and thoughtfully produced with these factors in mind. For example, dry and crepey skin is considered a result of excess Vata in the body. The gunas, or qualities, of Vata are dry, light, cold, subtle, mobile, and clear. One of our most beloved oils for addressing these qualities on the body is Balaayah Black Gram Body Booster, and each of its ingredients counters the qualities of Vata through their RVVs and gunas. Many of the ingredients, like sesame oil, have a heating virya and heavy and oily qualities, which are the opposite of the qualities of Vata, which is why Balaayah is so deeply nourishing and our clients see amazing results on their dry and dehydrated skin. Other descriptors from the classic texts regarding the variety of ingredients in this product are sweet and salty rasa (taste) and sweet vipak (post-digestive effect), which balance Vata. These ingredients also possess qualities of being unctuous, nourishing, rejuvenating and balancing for Vata dosha.
Balaayah Black Gram Body Booster is just one example of the importance of really knowing your constitution as well as which qualities will bring it back into balance, whether regarding topical products, foods, and beverages, herbal protocols, meditation, breathing practices or yoga asanas.
If you'd like to meet with one of our certified Ayurvedic Practitioners for a deeper understanding of your dosha as well as gain a better understanding of your health concerns from an Ayurvedic perspective, please HERE!
Heather is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner and plans to become a Doctor of Ayurveda. She's interested in all kinds of therapeutic/healing modalities and is one of The Ayurveda Experience's in-house Ayurvedic Practitioners. She lives in Albuquerque with her two cats and loves to cook!
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D'Souza, R. Black Gram (Urad dal)--Uses, Side Effects, Remedies, Research. https://www.easyayurveda.com/2019/10/18/black-gram-urad-dal/
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