Article contributed By Dr. Abhishek Kumar. BAMS, PG Diploma in Panchakarma

Ayurveda identifies three basic types of energy or functional principles that are present in everyone and everything. Since there are no single words in English that convey these concepts, we use the original Sanskrit words Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Energy is required to create movement so that fluids and nutrients get to the cells, enabling the body to function. Energy is also required to metabolize the nutrients in the cells and is needed to lubricate and maintain the structure of the cell. Vata is the energy of movement; Pitta is the energy of digestion or metabolism; and Kapha, the energy of lubrication and structure. 

Depending upon the type of energy or gunas they possess, human beings are categorised into seven different body types called Prakruti – mainly the Vata, Pitta, Kapha, Vata-Pitta, Pitta-Kapha, Kapha-Pitta and Vata-Pitta-Kapha type. Each of these doshas has its own specific set of physical and psychological attributes and is directly related to an individual’s health. When in balance, they foster health and well-being but when out of synchronisation, they lead to irregular functioning of the various systems of the body causing diseases.

What Is Vata?

It is a type of energy that is made up of air and ether and is linked with movement, creativity, and impulse. A person having Vata Dosha in balance will generally be thin and light, tall, rough and dry-skinned, impulsive, lively and creative.

What happens when Vata is out of balance?

When the Vata doshas governing the body are out of synchronisation, the individual tends to be agitated, will experience body pain, neural problems, insomnia, poor circulation, constipation, dry skin, cracking joints, emaciation, anxiety and psychological problems.
Vata is the king of doshas. Balancing it is a prime requirement for everyone. When Vata is balanced, it will help balance Pitta and Kapha also.

Vata dosha can be balanced by:

  1. Regularising habits:Most Vata people have irregular lifestyles and food habits which further increases Vata in them. The key to balancing Vata is regularity. Vata is so sensitive and quick to change that it easily falls prey to over stimulation.
  2. Getting plenty of rest: When you feel that you are pushing yourself or overdoing any activity (including mental activity), stop and rest. Getting adequate sleep every night is also of utmost importance. Meditation can also be of great help as it integrates the mind body link.
  3. Staying warm: Being a cold dosha, it gets pacified by heat. So a warm water bath also helps in pacifying Vata. A warm drink like a cup of herbal tea can also be of great help.
  4. Reducing screen time and avoiding loud noise: Vata personalities would do better to avoid loud music, violent films and video games and long hours in front of the TV.

Practices recommended for the Vata constitution:

  1. Medicated oil or Sesame oil massage: in the morning reduces Vata. Oil pulling and medicated oil inhalation (Nasyam) can also help in mitigating day to day Vata imbalance. Basti and Shirodhara can also be done for physical and mental Vata imbalance.
  2. Avoid addictions: Alcohol, nicotine, tea and coffee have a stimulating action; so avoiding them is the key to balancing Vata.
  3. Follow a Vata pacifying diet:
    Favour: Sweet, sour and salty tastes, warm and soothing food with moderately heavy textures like butter, ghee, or oil.
    As Vata is a cold, dry dosha, eating regularly on time with awareness; chewing food properly; drinking warm soup or herbal tea; eating salads with a dressing helps to pacify Vata.

What is Pitta?

This type of energy consists of fire and water and is characterised by digestion, metabolism, absorption, assimilation and regulation of body temperature. People having Pitta doshas are generally strong with medium-built bodies, fair and freckled skin, good digestion, and great intelligence.

What happens when Pitta is out of balance?

The imbalance of Pitta doshas may cause stress, anger, aggression, indigestion, loose stools, migraines, rashes, bruising, ulcers, gastritis, liver problems, inflammatory problems, hypertension, and heart disorders.

Pitta dosha can be balanced by:

  1. Moderation: The key to balancing Pitta is moderation, make sure that you do not push yourself too hard. Pitta is gifted with innate drive, aggression and energy. But if you abuse it, it will burn you up. The workaholics of this world are generally out -of-balance Pittas.
  2. Take time to wind down from activity: Alternating rest with activity will help to balance Pitta.
  3. Coolness in any form: helps to counteract overactive Pitta. Have a bath with cool water and avoid a hot water bath. Keep your bedroom cool; drink cool, sweet beverages that are not too sour.
  4. Keep yourself hydrated: Be sure to drink plenty of fluids in hot weather because dehydration increases Pitta.
  5. Avoid strenuous physical exertion: or overheating yourself outdoors in the hot sun.
  6. Enjoy nature’s beauty: Relaxing outside in full moonlight, taking gentle walks beside a lake or running water also pacifies Pitta.
  7. Reduce screen brightness: Very bright screens from mobiles, laptops, or TVs increase the Pitta effect on the eyes and causes aggravation. So reduce the brightness of all screens.
  8. Cleansing treatment Virechana: Flushing out excess Pitta can help to balance Pitta.
  9. Cleansing treatment Virechana: Flushing out excess Pitta can help to balance Pitta.

Follow a Pitta pacifying diet:

Favour bitter, sweet and astringent tastes; moderately heavy textures with little butter and added fat. Cool or a little warm is fine. Do not consume steaming hot foods.

Avoid long gaps between meals, less intake of water and too much fasting.

What is Kapha?

Kapha doshas consist of water and earth and represent structure, stability, and cohesiveness. It is generally characterised by growth, nourishment, regeneration, fluid balance, strength, memory capacity and contentment. Individuals having Kapha doshas in balance have a strong and well-built body with huge bones, oily skin and often tend to gain weight.

What happens when Kapha is out of balance?

The imbalance of Kapha can cause obesity, fatigue, possessiveness, excessive sleep, depression, sluggish metabolism, congestion, water retention, sinus, bronchitis, and respiratory problems.

Kapha dosha can be balanced

  1. Stimulation: The key to balancing Kapha is stimulation. By nature, Kapha is steady and slow. Without activity Kapha becomes lethargic and dull. This is directly linked to their slow digestion. Stimulation can be in the form of music. Consuming ginger tea in the mornings is a good idea.
  2. Seek variety in life: Kaphas need to make a conscious effort to seek new experiences. They cherish being at home, but this brings stagnation and leads to depression. Meditation helps them discover their underlying alertness.
  3. Stay warm: Being a cold dosha, Kapha gets balanced by heat. Dry heat is best if a person is feeling congested because of an increase in Kapha.
  4. Avoid dampness: Kapha is particularly sensitive to cold, damp conditions. So the head, nose and throat should not be exposed to cold atmospheres.
  5. Dry powder massage (Udvartana): Performing a dry powder massage not only improves blood circulation but also reduces fat and Kapha, bringing lightness in the body.
  6. Drink warm fluids: Drink warm fluids in moderation. Kapha is also moist, excess fluids can be harmful.
  7. Exercise regularly: Kapha should do regular, heavy exercise as this is the best way to avoid stagnation and the build-up of toxins in the body.
  8. Be honest with yourself: Kapha personalities have excellent stamina and enjoy physical activity and also have a high threshold for pain. Do take it easy when you feel sick. Rest and relax in bed.
  9. Eat with awareness: Kapha people generally have a tendency to put on weight so overeating is not good for Kapha.
  10. Cleansing treatment Vamana: Vamana treatment helps in reducing excess Kapha in the body.
  11. Follow a Kapha pacifying diet: Vamana treatment helps in reducing excess Kapha in the body.
  12. Cleansing treatment Vamana: Reduce sweet foods. Favour warm, light food with less amount of fat. Dry food cooked with less water should be preferred. Favour pungent, bitter and astringent tastes. Sweet, sour and salty food should be avoided. Before you eat, stimulate your taste buds with bitter or pungent tastes instead of sour or salty tastes.