When you first discover Ayurveda, you feel a magnetic pull to learn more. The way the system addresses each person as a unique individual feels a lot like having a friend that really “gets” you. There is some glitz and glam around uncovering your dosha (if you don’t know yours, take the Ayurvedic Profile™ quiz), and staking your claim as a vata, pitta, or kapha is like illuminating a path with your best health as the destination. But as with all things, when we dig deeper, we come to find there is so much more.
Moving Beyond “What Is My Dosha”
The word dosha refers to vata, pitta, and kapha, or the three principles that make up your constitution. Your dosha can be in its normal balanced quantities or be in a state of imbalance. Prakriti is the word used to describe your inherent constitution, or the amount of each dosha you possess. This is determined upon conception, and much like the color of your eyes or the size of your stature, your constitution is unchanging—once a vata type, always a vata type. Still, there will be times when your innate amount of vata, pitta, and kapha become disproportionate and you are left feeling unwell. This describes a state of imbalance, also called your vikriti.
Imbalance occurs when you have accumulated too much of any dosha, quality, or element. This is something that can happen to anyone at any time, no matter what their overall constitution might be. Even if vata (the air element) is not the highest dosha in your constitution, traveling by airplane could give you a momentary vata imbalance and cause dryness or constipation. Whether or not you are a pitta (the fire element), you can still experience symptoms of excess heat, such as an inflammatory skin condition that erupts in the heat of the summer or if you eat too much spicy food. And even if kapha is lowest in your doshic ranks, there is always a chance that your body could produce too much mucus if you consume too much sugar and dairy, especially in the wet season of spring.
All of this begs the question: Is your constitution or current state of balance the most important thing to know? Truth be told, you can’t get by knowing only one or the other.
But if your primary dosha is the only thing on your radar, you’ll easily over look what you need in the current moment to maintain your elemental equilibrium. This would be akin to having cold hands and feet (vata), but continuing to eat only cooling foods, simply because your fiery constitution (pitta) says so.
Tune into the Present Moment
The running internal question should be, “How do I feel right now?” And decisions regarding your health should be based on how you feel in this very instant. This could be based on your general mental and emotional state, but there are also some very specific and objective things that can be used to guide you. For example, is your skin currently dry, inflamed, or oily? Did you notice a coating when cleaning your tongue this morning? Is your digestion and elimination on point or are you dealing with gas, bloating, and constipation? These are all key indicators to observe and make things like eating for your imbalance more important than eating for your type.
It can be so exciting to discover your constitution and have your Ayurvedic practitioner confirm it, but don’t forget there will be ups and downs. Your constitution will always give you your baseline, but your current state of balance is essential for making the wisest choices when it comes to your self-care. With this approach, the smallest cues indicating imbalance will be at the forefront of your awareness, making it possible for you to address them on the spot before they manifest into something bigger. Luckily, the results of your Ayurvedic Profile™ quiz will show you which dosha is currently out of balance, and provide specific diet, lifestyle, and herbal recommendations to help you get back to your baseline.