An Introduction to the Doshas
Vata is the energy of wind and motion. Its energy is cool and dry, like the associated season of autumn. People with a preponderance of vata energy are creative, movement oriented, and irregular ? sometimes in every sense of the word. They are quick to speak, quick to learn, and often quick to forget. While they usually present long, thin physical characteristics, vata can show up as an extreme in either direction; tall and thin people display vata, but so do those who are unusually short. These folk wrestle with sleep disturbances and shifts in mood. Issues with dryness and stress are also linked to vata energy.
Pitta is the energy of fire. Intensity, sharpness, and acidity are all characteristics of this dosha, as is heat and bitterness. Summer is the pitta season, and those with a dominance of this energy are driven and focused. Usually of medium build in terms of height and weight, pittas demonstrate intellect and desire. They also suffer from illnesses that can be thought of as an overabundance of fire: ulcers, gastric reflux, skin rashes, and the like. This is the energy of accomplishment, but also that of burnout; pitta people need to balance their need to excel with time to rest and regroup.
Kapha is the energy of water and earth. Think of the football players: kapha people are sturdily built, demonstrate stamina in their activities, and exhibit even temperaments. Adjectives for this dosha include steadiness, softness, and solidity. As an oft-heard Ayurvedic phrase has it, Kapha is love, and this dosha is associated with loyalty, patience, and support. When there is too much of this energy, however, illness such as asthma and diabetes can manifest; kaphas also exhibit depression and sluggishness. The season associated with this dosha is winter.
As the above thumbnails make clear, most people tend towards a preponderance of one particular form of energy, sometimes with a strong secondary force. Thus, Ayurvedic specialists talk of Vata people, or of those with a Kapha dosha. It?s possible to have a strong secondary dosha as well, giving rise to such blends as Kapha-Pitta and Pitta-Vata; Tri-Doshic people also exist. Because of the seasonal associations with each dosha, everyone needs to consider all three energies as they affect daily life. On a cold, wet morning, for example, even someone with a strong Vata constitution will need to work against sluggishness, although not in the same way as someone with a Kapha dosha (who will be even more affected.)
Ayurvedic phrases and ideas will often be heard at a yoga studio, so it?s nice to have even a slight understanding of the topic. While knowledge of the doshas is not required for successful yoga practice, many do find the two philosophies entwined, adjusting physical practice to suit the demands of a particular season or personality. This, of course, is again ?yogi/ni?s choice.?
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