The perfection of the elements – earth, water, fire, air and ether
Many of you have been showing interest in our upcoming “Ayurveda : An introduction workshop” (May 27th, 11am – 4pm at Acanthus) and in our recent blogs and Facebook comments on the subject. I am so pleased that you interested! Continuing then on our very brief foray into the world of Ayurveda, I promised that we would start to investigate the doshas in a little bit more detail now.
If you remember each of us has our own unique constitution made up of the 3 doshas – vata, pitta and kapha. Our physical build and constitution, how our internal body functions, our intellectual capacity and temperament are all indicators of our dosha. Let’s have a quick look at each of those in turn then.
VATA is made up of the elements of air and ether. Words we might associate with Vata would include dry, cold, light, mobile, subtle, rough, irregular. A predominantly Vata person tends to have a slight, delicate frame, with knobbly joints and may have difficulty putting weight on. Their skin is dry, rough and chapped, often cold to the touch, and indeed this dosha likes to be warm, as they feel the cold very easily. Their veins tend to be visible through the skin and they tan easily.
Everything about Vata is irregular, so a Vata person will have a variable appetite, suffer from bloating and be prone to constipation or irregular bowel movements. Their sleep pattern is erratic. Insomnia is often due to aggravated Vata. Energy comes in waves and they are often bad managers of their energy levels not listening to messages the body gives for rest.
When balanced a Vata person is creative and inspirational, but out of balance they are very much prone to anxiety and fear.
A combination of fire and water, PITTA characteristics are hot, sharp, penetrating, greasy, fast and irritable. The Pitta person has a medium or athletic build with well defined muscles. Given to freckles, rashes and skin eruptions in general, they are not keen on the sun, burning easily. They would prefer a cool or mild climate, struggling in hot, humid weather.
They have a good appetite, and can get irritable if they get hungry. This irritability can manifest in their digestive process too with heartburn and acid being common in a pitta person. Never suffering from constipation they are more given to loose stools. They are good sleepers, needing only 4 – 7 hours sleep a night. Energy levels are high but they can become addicted to the buzz being busy gives them, so they do burn out eventually.
A balanced Pitta person is positive and fun to be around, but out of balance they are aggressive, irritable, selfish and overly competitive.
KAPHA combines the earth and water elements. Cold, wet, heavy, stable, solid, unctuous and slow are all great Kapha words.
The Kapha body type is stocky and solid with big bones. There is a tendency towards weight gain and losing weight can be difficult. Their skin looks smooth and oily, and they often have lustrous abundant hair. With a dislike of weather that is too cold or too hot, they prefer it warm and dry.
Kapha people love their food but have a slow digestion, often with sluggish bowel movements. Their energy levels remain constant but they don’t like expending any energy, a Kapha would never consider walking somewhere, even a short distance if transport is available.
When in balance a Kapha person is strong and supportive but out of balance they can be greedy and lazy.
There are plenty of questionnaires on line or in Ayurvedic books that you can do to discover your dosha. Have a look at Ayurvedapura.com or read “A Pukka Life” by Sebastian Pole (one of my sources for the info above). Remember, you might not be predominately one single dosha, we can also be a high combination of any 2 (eg. high Vata, high Pitta not so much Kapha) or less common, an combination of all 3, a state that we call tri-doshic.
Dis-ease may also occur if one of your doshas is out of balance, giving rise to symptoms more often associated with another dosha, even it it is not your predominant dosha. This can mask your true nature, and is where a proper practitioner is invaluable! They will help you deal with the symptoms presenting at a given time, and once they are under control, then they will help you return to your natural state. The information I have shared above is only part of the picture, but it’s a good place to start.
Next time, we’ll have a look at some of the things that can throw our doshic make up out of balance. If you’re interested in joining us at our Introduction to Ayurveda workshop in May, with Dr Jane Fitzgerald, then do get in touch. Enjoy discovering your dosha 🙂 Ix