Almost all of you, who know a little or even nothing about Ayurveda, surely must have heard these three terms- Vata, Pitta and Kapha. I very well know that it might be quite difficult to understand for a layman as to what is vata dosha, prakriti etc. It reminds me of my 1st year of BAMS graduation when I was one of you who had zero idea about these concepts. But trust me as I started knowing them, I felt more connected with my body, I started knowing my own body, my system, my interiors.
Have you ever given a thought to this-Your soul lives inside a body for 60-70 years, the body is the only possession that stays with you forever and you do not even know what is going inside it, how you should preserve it, lubricate it…!
Imagine you are buying a house, you study the market rate, check the papers thoroughly, and hire someone to check them, look at each and every corner of the house for any faults. Have you ever looked onto your own body in so much detail? Even if you have not, Ayurveda has done it for you.
To understand your body type, you will have to first know some basic terms.
What is dosha?
Ayurveda says that there is this thing, called Dosha (दोष), which is naturally present within each of us. They are also present in the environment. There are 3 doshas- Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Each of these dosha has some qualities in them, for example,
- Vata (वात) is cold, is always moving, dry, etc.
- Pitta (पित्त) is hot, intense, sharp, smelly and so on.
- Kapha (कफ) is thick, heavy, cold, slow, etc.
Due to the incorrect food we eat or the wrong physical and mental activities we do, the qualities of these doshas get deteriorated. Example-
- If we eat spicy food, the Pitta becomes more hot and intense and so we experience burning sensation in chest
- If we drink cold water regularly or eat ice cream frequently, then the Vata and Kapha get deteriorated.
The qualities of our incorrect habits add up to the qualities of the dosha and make the dosha worse.
These doshas then affect the other constituents of the body mentioned in Ayurveda. These constituents are 7 dhatu (धातू), 3 Mal (मल), etc. We will know more about this in subsequent posts.
What is Prakriti?
At the time of conception/ fertilization, the doshas which are dominant in our parents’ sperm and ovum combine together and decide our doshas.
These three doshas single handedly, or by combining with each other make up our body constitution which is called Prakriti. So, you can either be of Vata prakriti OR Pitta prakriti OR Kapha prakriti. But such single Prakritis are rarest of the rare.
A combination Prakriti is the most common. That is, you can be either of Vata-Pitta Prakriti, Vata-Kapha Prakriti or Pitta-Kapha Prakriti.
You may also have Vata-Pitta-Kapha prakriti.
Now, to know your Prakriti or body type, we do not know which doshas from your parents’ sperm and ovum combined together at the time of conception but we can still know your Prakriti.
Answer-By knowing the natural qualities of your body elements like hair, nails, skin, bowel movements, etc.
There is a rule- Prakriti is decided at the time of conception and never ever changes till your death. The changes that you observe in your body are called the Vikruti.
In this post, we will know-
- what is Vata dosha,
- Vata dosha characteristics,
- Vata body type characteristics,
- Vata imbalance symptoms,
- Ayurvedic medicine for Vata dosha,
- Vata remedies, etc.
Vata dosha characteristics-
By now, I assume that you might have understood what is vata dosha meaning. We will now list down the vata dosha characteristics-
- Ruksha- Dry.
- Laghu- Light-weight
- Sheeta- Cold
- Khara- Rough
- Sukshma- small/ minute
- Chala- Moving.
All these qualities are of Vata that is, Wind/Air/Gas. I’ll tell you what Vata does with these qualities-
- As Vata is dry, it makes another object dry or dehydrated. Your skin gets dry in winters as there is dryness in the weather.
- It is light-weight, so it can carry out actions or movement easily. Exercise increases this particular quality of Vata and hence we can lift heavy weights swiftly after regular exercise.
- The property of being cold creates obstruction. Like in winters, the cold property of Vata closes our pores and obstructs the inner heat from passing out. This keeps our bodies warm.
- Vata is rough due to which it can scratch or do scraping. This action is needed in obese patients to scrape out the thick Kapha which is attached tightly to their body.
- Vata is tiny/small/minute which makes it possible to go into the deepest places and occupy any empty area. If a box or a space is devoid of anything, it is not empty, it still has Vata or air.
- Movement is the quality of Vata. Vata is responsible for any movement or to keep anything functional. It is responsible for walking, for beating of heart, it even keeps the other two doshas operational.
Additionally, Vata is Aashukari (Very fast) and Yogavahi (when mixed with any other thing, it is capable to take up the qualities of that other object without losing its own properties).
Vata body type characteristics:
As you read, you can identify some of these qualities as your own or of your friends. If you find many of the following qualities of Vata similar to you, then one of the doshas of your Prakriti can be Vata.
Body and skin– Vata body type people are generally thin, lean, dull, tall, have cracked, dry skin. The veins can be seen prominently on their skin.
Teeth, Hair and Nails– Teeth are small in size and may have over-riding teeth. Their hair pattern is dry, rough. Nails are dry, small in size and grow fast.
Organs -Their joints make a loud, clear sound whenever they bend them or in action. Under-developed organs, abnormal organs can be attributed to Vata.
Sleep– People with vata body type wake up at the slightest sound, are not very sleepy.
Dreams– They generally dream of flying in the air, trekking mountains and similar things.
Voice– Their voice is weak, cracked, low, they stammer, like to talk a lot, sometimes talk irrelevant.
Memory- These are restless people. They grasp quickly but also forget fast, have a short-term memory.
Nature and Habits– They cannot withstand cold. They like warmth, warm clothes, hot food.
They walk, talk and eat very fast.
They get angry quickly but also forgive after a short while.
They are fighters, indulge in violence.
They are ungrateful towards people. They keep biting nails. They are greedy, be it food or money. They may be liars, untruthful, not very trustworthy. They don’t have many friends.
These are the general features of Vata body type. The other doshas will be discussed in detail in the subsequent posts.
Vata imbalance symptoms-
Signs of increase in Vata-
- Weight loss
- Discoloration, mostly a dark colour
- Insomnia/ disturbed sleep
- Depression, mental weakness, decreased decision-making ability, lowered self-confidence.
- Premature ejaculation of sperm
These vata dosha symptoms are caused when there is deterioration in the qualities of Vata dosha.
Signs of decrease in Vata-
- Doesn’t feel like doing anything.
There are 5 different types of Vata. Their imbalance gives rise to more varied vata dosha symptoms. Imbalanced Vata and their types when get mixed with other types of imbalanced doshas give way to further more complaints. These vata imbalance signs are quite deep and takes years to learn.
What causes Vata Imbalance?
- Often eating dry food, frozen food
- Travelling a long distance in two or four wheelers, trains, bus etc
- Coming in direct contact of wind (just as we are hit by strong winds while travelling or sitting in front of air-conditioners)
- Living in cold temperatures for long, eating cold food, drinking cold water
- Fasting frequently
- Eating spicy, bitter and astringent foods often.
- Doing heavy exercise or exhausting physical activities.
- Removal of an organ (e.g. Hysterectomy)
These vata dosha causes are the major ones responsible for the imbalance of vata
Ayurvedic medicine for Vata dosha imbalance-
- The vata dosha treatement depends on the factors responsible for its imbalance.
- The medicine which is of opposite quality than the quality of Vata dosha imbalance is the drug of choice.
For example, if you have constipation due to the increased dryness of Vata in the intestine, then an oily purgative like castor oil will be the best Ayurvedic medicine for vata dosha in this case rather than Triphala churna.
- Foods which are sweet, sour and salty decrease Vata. But salty and sour foods will increase Pitta, so it is important that you consult an Ayurvedic doctor for vata dosha remedies.
- All types of Pranayam are very useful in Vata dosha treatment.
- Basti is one of the important ayurvedic treatment for Vata dosha. I have seen magical effects of Basti, both immediate and long term. Even if a healthy person of dominant Vata prakriti takes Basti at the start of rainy season, can help him to be fit and fine.
This was all about Vata.
As I said earlier, it is difficult to explain these concepts in 10 minutes which took us years to master. I have tried to make it as easy as I could. You may have heard all of this for the first time but I am sure that you connected with most of the things told above if you are of Vata-Pitta prakriti and Vata-Kapha prakriti. If you did not find many characteristics similar to you, you will find them in the subsequent posts of Pitta and Kapha.