Tri (Sanskrit: three), Dosha (Sanskrit: error, spoiler). Therefore, Tridosha describes three mistakes. In Ayurveda, this refers to an imbalance of elements in the body. In the Vedanta tradition (Indian philosophy, which refers to the Vedas), the term Tridosha is also used to refer to three spoilers in the mind: Mala (selfishness), Vikshepa (restlessness), and Avarana (veil of ignorance). These can also be transferred to the Ayurvedic Tridosha. The doshas are not material substances, but rather dynamic forces that control our biological and psychic processes.
The five elements (Pancha Mahabhuta)
Ayurveda assumes that everything in the world consists of five elements. Therefore every stone, every plant and every living being has these five elements:
Ether / Space (Akasha)
Thus, the human body consists of all five elements as well. These are not present in equal proportions. Depending on which elements dominate, we can count ourselves to one dosha (constitution type, bioenergy). This may be a pure type (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) or a mixed type (Vata-Pitta, Vata-Kapha, Pitta-Kapha). Furthermore it very rarely happens that all three doshas are balanced. Then we speak of the Vata Pitta Kapha or Tridosha constitution.
Innate and acquired Dosha (constitution)
Ayurveda differentiates between the innate dosha (Prakriti) and the acquired dosha (Vikriti). First of all our Prakriti is determined at our time of birth. Which Dosha it is, depends on the parents, the condition of the mother during the pregnancy and the season and place of our birth. The elements have a very individual balance which leads to our Prakriti (innate dosha). However, our Prakriti can be falsified by longer-term imbalances in our life. The results of this is the Vikriti (currently prevalent Dosha). When you do a self-test, to find out which dosha you are, it is important to note that long-term living conditions can falsify the result. In order to get the clearest possible picture, the dosha should be determined by an ayurvedic consultants and ayurvedic doctor through physical characteristics, pulse perception and interrogation.
In order to maintain good health, you have to know your own dosha and know how to balance it. This especially works with food, habits and different yogic techniques (asanas, pranayama, kriyas…).
Tridosha – the three constitution types
Vata (principle of movement)
Dominant elements: air and ether
Physical characteristics: light bones, skinny, slender, dry skin, fine hair, prone to constipation and flatulence, irregular appetite, brittle fingernails, light sleep, cracking joints
Character: jumpy and restless mind, creative, sociable, fast movements, moody, likes to change his mind, nervous
Physical disorders: too much Vata can lead to dry skin, sleep disorders, nervousness, constipation and musculoskeletal problems.
Balance: An imbalance leads to fear and anxiety. When Vata is balanced, creativity and lightness unfold.
How to balance Vata:
- Regularity / structure: fixed meal times, daily schedule
- Food: no raw food! but sweet, sour and salty, hot, heavy and soft food, which is well cooked. Warming spices: cinnamon, cardamom, turmeric, ginger, cloves
- Warmth: warm weather, warm drinks
- Grounding: walks in the nature, gardening, walking barefoot
- Yogasanas: grounding and soothing poses. So almost all asanas, but especially Uttanasana (standing forward bend), Dhanurasana (bow pose), Paschimottanasana (sitting forward bend), Sarvangasana (shoulder stand) and Halasana (plow pose)
- Pranayama: Nadi Shodhana (calms the spirit and is grounding)
- Meditation: Mantra meditation with a Mala (helps to keep the mind calm and steady)
Pitta (principle of conversion)
Dominant elements: fire & water
Physical characteristics: sporty and well-proportioned body, fast digestion, good appetite, soft fingernails, good sleep, sweating, robust metabolism (“can digest stones”)
Character: intelligent, ambitious, good leader, prone to jealousy, dynamic, powerful
Physical disorders: too much pitta can lead to skin diseases, gastritis and migraine.
Balance: Imbalance of the Pitta leads to fiery emotions such as anger, hatred and jealousy. When Pitta is balanced, charisma and courage unfold.
How to balance Pitta:
- Cooling: Cooling foods (cucumber, melon, apple, broccoli, potatoes, zucchini, amaranth, buttermilk …), warm drinks (body produces heat to warm up cool drinks), no sunbathing at lunchtime, reduce stress, control ambition
- Food: freshly prepared, slightly oily, sweet, bitter and astringent, not too hot (body temperature). Fixed mealtimes. No acidic foods (e.g. coffee, alcohol, tomatoes, spinach, garlic, citrus fruits)
- Grounding: walks in the nature, gardening, walking barefoot
- Yogasanas: soothing and non-heating poses, especially those that activate the region around the navel and solar plexus: Ustrasana (camel pose), Bhujangasana (cobra pose), Sirshasana (headstand).
- Pranayama: Shitali or Shitkari (cooling effect)
- Meditation: breathing meditation (calms the body and the mind)
Kapha (principle of stability)
Dominant elements: earth & water
Physical characteristics: strong, sometimes overweight body, puts weight on easily, regular digestion, thick hair, strong fingernails, deep sleep, good memory, slow movements
Character: loyal, calm, balanced, gentle, good endurance, tends to lethargy, stable
Physical disorders: too much Kapha can lead to obesity, lack of motivation, congested airways and, later, diabetes and tumors.
Balance: As a result of an imbalance of Kapha envy, greed, and attachment to things and people arise. When Kapha is balanced it brings love, peace and serenity.
How to balance Kapha:
- Exercise: regularly
- Food: warm, dry and light food with a spicy, astringent and bitter taste. Generally little food.
- Action / Activation: not too much sleep (no afternoon nap), activities, active leisure time
- Yogasanas: stimulating and warming poses, especially those that open up the chest: Ustrasana (camel pose) and Setu Bandhasana (bridge pose). In addition Suryanamaskar (Sun Salutation) is also ideal for Kapha, as it helps for obesity and depression. Sun salutation is very active, produces heat and, most of all, opens the chest area.
- Pranayama: Bhastrika (stimulates the flow of energy)
- Meditation: walking meditation (brings activity and concentration)
Did you find out which Dosha you are? Let us know how you like our tips. Leave a comment or questions for us!