Ayurveda (Part 1)-Introduction to the Tri-Dosha

by Nanci

The ‘Tri-Dosha’ system is the very foundation of Ayurveda. It is composed of three ‘Doshas’, or elemental categories which are used to determine the natural constitution, or composition of a person. If you ever have the chance to see an Ayurvedic doctor the first thing they will do is ask a series of questions and work with your pulse to determine your Dosha. What sets Ayurveda apart from other sciences of living and healing is that they first assess the person as an individual before prescribing any medicines or lifestyle changes. Rather than offering universal treatments for ailments the treatment is different from person to person.

Here I will introduce the physical and personal characteristics of each Dosha. It is important to remember that nearly everyone has some characteristics of each of the three. We are all a mixture but have tendencies toward having more earth, fire, space etc. in the body than others. Through understanding our foundation we can identify different activities and foods which will both help and hurt us in our aim to thrive in this life.

As you read through these three Dosha try to associate the traits of each with that of the element dominant in it. The lightness, instability, and dry nature of air and space is instrumental in the characteristics of Vata. The heat, passion, drive and sharpness of fire in that of Pitha. The grounding, heavy strength of earth in that of Kapha. With intelligence and awareness we can more easily the function of each element in its particular Dosha.

Vata – Air and Space

Persons with more Vata in their constitution tend to be thinner, lighter and have longer or shorter bones than average, and even have some narrow or oblong traits in their physical appearance. Features like the nose, cheeks and chest will be more boney and jagged than others. Eyes will be larger or smaller than normal, and often bulge. In their relationships they tend to be very social, making many friends but not having much stability or depth to their friendships. Their speech is fast and erratic, moving from one topic to the next. Their voice tends to be higher and sometimes have a dry, scratchy sound to it. They can handle many tasks at once but have difficulty completing them. Their strength is their open nature and creativity. Their weakness is instability, fragility and tendency toward anxiety.

Pitha – Fire

Pitha persons have sharp, defined features. The typical athletes body, free of fat, defined and muscular is that of a dominant Pitha Dosha. These people often have dark, penetrating eyes, strong jaw line and their speech is quick but focused. Their relationships tend to be stable, serious but not especially deep. Pitha Dosha make great managers and business people as they are very focused, determined and passionate. When in balance their fire serves then, but when in excess they quickly become impatient, controlling and angry. Pitha Dosha have difficulty with creativity and often are not open, as their attitude tends to be focused on getting things done rather than connecting and exploring.

Kapha – Earth and Water

The Kapha person has the heaviness and softness of earth and water in their features. Their bodies tend to be more round, and less defined than that of a Pitha Dosha. Their noses, cheeks and jaw line is also rounded, and their eyes a big almond shape and usually brown in color. Their bones are thick and heavy. When in balance their relationships are strong and deeply devoted, as they tend to lead with their hearts. They are loyal, grounded and dependable. When out of balance this heaviness turns from grounding to lethargic, and they are very prone to weight gain. Also when out of balance they become overly attached, emotional and greedy and tend toward depression.

Remember that these are the extremes of each Dosha. We will often encounter people with the appearance of a Kapha, but the drive of a Pitha, or those with the creativity of a Vata yet the depth and devotion of a Kapha. The system of assessment and management is much more complex than these simple extremes, but with an understanding of the three categories we can at least begin to pick up on the presence of each element in the body. In coming articles we will discuss more about the particular vulnerabilities of each, and how to best manage them in our lives.

Written by Jordan Ross Dore, Co-Founder of Breathe in Life

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