In Ayurveda, you always start by “treating” your dosha that’s out of balance, called Vikruti (VICK-roo-tee) in Sanskrit. Typically, the dosha that is the most likely to go out of balance is your predominant dosha, known as your Prakruti (PRAHK-roo-tee). An imbalance in your primary dosha is usually the easiest to bring back into balance. However, that doesn’t mean that it happens this way every time; you can be imbalanced in any one of the three doshas, you are just most likely to be imbalanced in your primary dosha. If you are imbalanced in your non-primary dosha, it is generally harder to bring yourself back into balance.
While of course there is no substitute for seeing an Ayurvedic practitioner to determine both your Prakruti and Vikruti, there are some classic signs of imbalance in each of the doshas that should help you figure out where to focus your Ayurvedic rituals and diet.
Next week we will get into detail about generally pacifying protocols for each of the doshas, so stay tuned!
Vata dosha encompasses the elements Ether (space) and Air. It is the “king” of all the doshas because it is the moving force behind everything in the universe and in the body, including both Pitta and Kapha. Vata is the energy of movement (both voluntary and involuntary), circulation, and transportation.
Since Vata dosha governs so much, it tends to be imbalanced first and fast, even for people who do not have a Vata Prakruti. Ayurveda asserts that 80 diseases happen because of Vata imbalance, while Pitta has 40 and Kapha has 20.
Here are some of the classic, telltale signs of excess Vata in the body and mind:
- Nervousness, anxiety, panic attacks, fear
- Twitches, tremors, and spasms
- Low energy, persistent fatigue and sluggishness
- Anything to do with the nervous system – e.g. neuropathic pain, MS
- Anything associated with immunosuppression or immunodeficiency
- Dry, flaky skin and brittle, cracking, and peeling nails
- Constipation, gas, bloating, and hard stools
- Irregular digestion that is unpredictable from day to day
- Low body weight, inability to gain weight, lose weight very easily
- Light sleep often interrupted by waking up in the early morning hours (especially between 2 and 6)
- Feeling of being spacey, forgetful, or scattered
- Excessive thinking, worrying, and ruminating
- Very quick to orgasm
- Sensitive to loud, sudden noises
Without getting into too much detail about Vata-pacifying protocol (we will discuss this in next week’s blog), emphasize: routine, grounding, warming, lubricating, moisturizing, and calming foods and activities. Sweet, Sour, and Salty tastes help balance excess Vata.
Pitta dosha encompasses the elements Fire and Water and is considered the dosha of transformation because it changes our experiences from one condition to another. For example, pitta dosha governs our metabolism and converts food into bodily tissues. Pitta also governs the digestion of mental and emotional experiences.
Pitta imbalances are usually associated with inflammation or acidity in the body or in the mind. Remember: excess Pitta produces heat and anger in all forms.
Here are some typical signs of Pitta imbalance:
- Any kind of inflamed skin rash, cold sores
- Inflammation in the body – e.g. joint inflammation with rheumatoid arthritis, digestive inflammation with irritable bowel syndrome
- Acid reflux and heartburn, ulcers
- Hypermetabolism and voracious, almost insatiable appetite
- Loose stools and diarrhea
- Excess body heat
- Frustration, anger, irritability, jealousy
- Perfectionism, impatience
- Red and inflamed eyes
- Light sensitivity
- Extremely high libido
Pitta-pacifying protocols emphasize: cooling, calming, surrendering, and moderation. Sweet, Bitter, and Astringent tastes help balance excess Pitta.
Kapha dosha encompasses the elements Water and Earth and is considered the dosha of binding and structure. It provides stability, grounding, and stamina while the other doshas are more associated with movement. Kapha helps us feel calm, content, and compassionate, helps us taste our food, builds and nourishes all tissues of the body, lubricates joints and mucosal linings, and protects all physical systems of the body.
Kapha imbalances are typically associated with stagnation and heaviness in mind or body. Here are some characteristic signs of Kapha imbalance:
- Excess mucous in the respiratory system and in stools
- Thick, white coating (ama) on the tongue
- Infrequent and sluggish bowel movements (e.g. consistently not having a bowel movement every day)
- Emotional eating
- High body weight, difficulty losing weight and easily gains
- Difficulty waking in the morning and from naps
- Feeling slow, foggy, dull, lethargic, or heavy in mind and/or body
- Feeling overly attached and possessive of people, things, or experiences
- Stubbornness, complacency
- Endometriosis, ovarian cysts, enlarged prostate
Kapha-pacifying protocols focus on: stimulation, movement, lightening, warming, and drying. Pungent, Bitter, and Astringent tastes help balance high Kapha.
From these lists, can you tell which of your doshas is most imbalanced? Chances are, you will find that a few bullets from each list resonate, but focus on the list that checks the most boxes for you and start there.
Stay tuned for our blog next week on the classic pacifying protocol for each of the doshas!
Until next time,