Dosha is a Sanskrit word that can be translated as follows:
Think of dosha as a subtle energy. An energy that has the underlying qualities of being “etheric” “airy”, “fiery” “watery” and “earthy”. When we are born, these energies combine to become the essence of our constitution. This original state is called “prakruti”; you can think of it like your DNA or your starting point of balance. Ayurveda classifies the combinations of energies into three general categories, depending on which qualities are dominant: when ether and air are predominant, it is referred to as “vata” dosha; when fire and water are dominant, it is referred to as “pitta” dosha; when water and earth are predominant, it is referred to as “kapha” dosha. The term tri-dosha refers collectively to vata, pitta and kapha.
As we go through life, our dosha can become disturbed or vitiated by any number of external physical influences (i.e., trauma, change in the seasons, improper diet or lifestyle) or internal emotional influences (i.e., stress, sadness, anger). When the dosha is vitiated, it is referred to as “vikruti”. Dosha gets disturbed before there is disruption to the tissue, organ or system. When there is an imbalance or disruption to the dosha, we experience symptoms, but often a doctor will say nothing is wrong. It is at this point where an ayurvedic practitioner is especially useful at providing insight as to what is causing the symptoms and offer solutions to remove the disturbance and bring balance. The western medical solution, would be to wait and see if it (a) reversed course naturally or (b) worsened into a state of disease.
Ayurveda medicine is based on the principle that opposite energies will balance each other out. So if you understand your prakruti, then you have valuable insight as to what diet and lifestyles will be most suitable to promote longevity and happiness. For instance, a vata individual who is comprised of the cold, light, dry and mobile qualities of ether and air, will benefit from diet and lifestyle with opposite qualities (a routine schedule, limited travel, a warm environment and moist, cooked foods).
It is best to consult with an ayurvedic practitioner to determine your individual prakruti (i.e., your unique physical and psychological composition at birth or your “starting point” of balance). An ayurvedic practitioner will listen to your pulse, examine your features and ask questions to determine the dominant energetics in your body. If you want to make an approximation of it on your own, review this chart for a list of common characteristics of each dosha and see which traits resonate with you.
Alternatively, there are many “dosha tests” online that mimic Dr. Lad’s excellent dosha test (https://www.ayurveda.com/pdf/constitution.pdf ). But it has been my experience that people without any prior knowledge of ayurveda, feel frustrated by these quizzes as the results often seem ambiguous. So give your local ayurvedic practitioner a call and get an accurate assessment!
● Small (bones, eyes), sunken cheeks, angular, non-symmetrical features, very tall/short, cold body temp Difficulty gaining weight, light sleeperTendency for rough, chapped heels, elbows, fingersDry skin, cracked nails, wiry/wild hair
● Imbalances: dehydration, constipation, anxiety, wheezing, asthma, fatigue, insomnia, sciatic/low back pain, hemorrhoids (external), gas/bloating, forgets to eat, nightmares, anxiety, fear, worries, afraid of the dark, lonely
● Fast talking, walking, chatty
● Loner, non-linear creative thinking, free-spirit, easily adapts/non-committal, joyful, flexible views, friendly
● Average (bones, weight, height) almond eyes/sensitive to light, heart-shaped face, pointy nose, hot body temp
● Voracious appetite; angry if food not available, reads before bedTendency for oily skin (pimples, acne, rashes, hives, eczema, freckles, sunburnsRed hair, shiny, premature grey or bald
● Imbalances: heart-burn, acid reflux, indigestion, any “itis”, migraines, fever, diarrhea, sour taste in mouth, bleeding disorders, perfectionist, depression, anger, cut-throat competitiveness, judgmental, SARCASM, intense
● Clear precise speechGets things done, organized, logical, methodical, structured, brave, leader (maybe ran for student president in high school), passionate, dreams about being in charge/controlling people
● Large (bones, weight), round eyes, thick lashes, square or oval-shaped face, wide nose, full lips, curvy, cool body temp, broad chest; hairy (back and chest)
● Emotional eating; can easily skip meals; like large quantities; loves to sleepClammy skin, porcelain/smooth
● Thick, wavy, lustrous hairImbalances: tends to carry few extra pounds, phlegm/sinus congestion, water retention, drooling, diabetes, cholesterol, obesity, lipomas, cysts, tumors
● Slow, dull speech; melodic singing voice
● Messy, packrat, frugal, wants to be liked by everyone, team player, compassionate, difficulty ending relationships, likes a partner for activites and travel, stable, dependable