What if you could listen to your body and know exactly what to eat? Ayurveda practitioners have been doing just that for centuries. Based on the five fundamental elements of creation — water, fire, earth, space and air — they’ve optimized their diet and lifestyle for certain types of personalities and body types.
These five elements exist in all forms of matter, plants, animals and you to form energies which Ayurveda refers to as the three doshas: vata, pitta and kapha.
Every person has all three doshas in unique proportions, though most people may be more dominant in one or two doshas. The proportions of the doshas determine your personality and physiological response to certain foods and exercise.
Finding out your dominant dosha type allows you to learn how to balance this energy for a healthier mind, body and spirit using the Ayurvedic diet, exercise and healthy lifestyle.
Here is a glimpse of the characteristics of each dosha. See what resonates with you.
Are You a Vata?
The vata dosha is symbolized by air and space and is associated with movement. So vata types tend to be highly energetic, creative, always moving and have a great enthusiasm for life.
Personality Traits: When they’re out of balance, vata types may have frequent mood swings and overexert themselves easily. They may easily become frantic, worrisome or have anxiety disorders, especially in stressful situations. However, when in balance, they are joyous, fun and frequently tap into their creative nature.
Physical Attributes: Vatas usually have a slender and agile body type. They typically have dry skin and hair along with cold hands and feet. Their digestive system may be very sensitive, which leads to frequent bloat, gas and stomach pain. When the vata is out of balance, they may easily lose weight, be constipated and experience restlessness.
Best Diet for Vatas
Foods that balance the vata dosha are sweet, salty and sour. Since the vata type is cool and dry, they should eat more healthy fats, oils and warm foods. And they should avoid too many pungent, bitter and astringent foods.
Carbohydrates: Vatas thrive on rice, wheat and sweet or heavy fruit, such as banana, mango, coconut, avocado, papaya and pineapple. They should eat less dry and light fruit like raisins, dried cranberries, fresh cranberries, apples and pomegranates. Ayurvedic doctors recommend vatas should minimize their raw-vegetable intake and eat large amounts of cooked vegetables.
Proteins: Beans should be avoided, as they can easily aggravate the digestive system. Tofu, tempeh and mung beans are exceptions. Eggs and fish are the best animal protein to consume.
Fats: Small increments of coconut oil and extra-virgin olive oil may be beneficial for their digestive system.
Spices: Vatas should try basil, black pepper, cardamom, cilantro, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, fennel, ginger, tarragon, thyme and sage.
Best Exercise for Vatas
Vata types are fast movers with short bursts of high energy. So HIIT training, Tabata, dance, sprints and swimming are great options. To balance out these high-intensity workouts, it’s best to engage in relaxing, rhythmic activities like yoga, tai chi, walking and light cycling.
Because vata types have a tendency to be cold and dry, they may benefit from hot yoga or a more intense form like ashtanga or power yog, to generate more heat from the inside. During the winter months, it’s recommended that they exercise indoors.
Are You a Pitta?
The pitta dosha is symbolized by fire and water and is associated with transformation. Pitta types tend to be fiery, quickly perceptive, orderly, romantic, confident, passionate and not afraid to share their true emotions and thoughts.
Personality Traits**:** When they are out of balance, pitta types may easily become aggressive, competitive, demanding and easily irritated under stressful situations. However, when in balance, pitta types are sharp-minded, courageous and have excellent concentration powers.
Physical Attributes: Pitta governs the body’s metabolic, energy production and digestive systems. They have a large appetite and an excellent ability to digest food well. Pitta types tend to have a medium-size body and weight along with a warm body temperature. They may suffer from excessive body heat, heartburn, indigestion, ulcers, skin rashes and burning sensations.
Best Diet for Pittas
Foods that balance the pitta dosha are sweet, bitter and astringent. Since pittas have a tendency to overheat, it’s best to choose cooling foods and liquids and avoid anything too hot, spicy, pungent, salty or sour.
Carbohydrates: With pitta’s strong digestive system, they work best with most carbohydrates like wheat, rice, barley and oats. However, they may have trouble with corn, rye and millet. All fruits work for pittas, except sour fruits like grapefruit and apricots. Pittas work well with all tubers and almost all vegetables, with the exceptions of spicy peppers, onions, garlic, radishes, eggplant and tomatoes.
Protein: Pittas should minimize their beef and seafood intake, but they do well with white meats. Best plant-based protein sources include the grains listed above and most beans, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Fats: Avoid oils like sesame, almond and corn. Olive and coconut are best. Pittas do well with all nuts, seeds, coconuts and avocado.
Spices: Achieve balance as a pitta with chamomile, fennel, jasmine, lavender, mint and sandalwood. Sweeteners may be enjoyed in moderation, except molasses and honey.
Best Exercise for Pittas
Pitta types are known to be strong and have a competitive nature. They may be drawn to intense and endurance-focused physical activities, such as rock-climbing, marathons, triathlons and hot yoga. Activities like basketball, tennis, soccer and other sports may satisfy their desire for competition.
To balance their internal heat, pittas should favor cooling activities in the water, such as swimming, surfing and paddleboarding, or winter sports like skiing and snowboarding. If you’re a pitta and you enjoy hot classes like hot yoga or hikes in the heat, be mindful to avoid overexerting yourself. Consider taking breaks and calming yin yoga classes or long, flat trail walks a few days a week.
Are You a Kapha?
The kapha dosha is symbolized by water and earth and is associated with fluidity. Kapha types tend to have a calm and collected personality, with an innate ability to be patient and appear to have a mindful and caring demeanor.
Personality Traits**:** When out of balance, kapha types may hoard, gain weight, resist change and be stubborn in stressful situations. However, when in balance, kaphas are grounded, present and enjoy the simplicity of life.
Physical Attributes: Kapha governs the body’s entire structure as it holds the cells together to form the muscles, fat and bones on your body. Kapha types tend to have a strong build, thick hair, excellent skin complexion and regular digestion. They may suffer from asthma, diabetes and depression and may struggle to maintain a healthy weight. They are also known to require more hours of sleep and have a tendency to sleep excessively.
Best Diet for Kaphas
Foods that balance the kapha dosha are pungent, bitter and astringent. Since kaphas tend to be heavy, they work best with lighter foods without a lot of oils and should avoid too many sweet, salty or sour foods. They must be mindful to not overeat or binge on any particular food.
Carbohydrates: They do best on oatmeal, quinoa and most rice, but grains should be limited. Go for fruits that are light like apples, pears, cranberries and berries. Avoid sweet, dry and heavy fruit like bananas, coconuts, dates and melons. The majority of a kapha’s diet should be green vegetables like leafy greens, broccoli and okra. They may enjoy some tubers like sweet potatoes and pumpkin.
Proteins: Stick to eggs, fish and beans. Almost all beans work for kaphas, except soy beans. Any food containing soy, such as tofu and tempeh, should be avoided. Meats, especially red meat, should be limited.
Fats: Kaphas should limit their fat and oil intake to small amounts daily — one to two tablespoons per meal at most. Wholesome nuts, seeds, avocados and coconut oil are best.
Best Exercise for Kaphas
Kapha types are known to be slow-paced and take life at their own speed. They may be drawn to mindful workouts like yoga, nature walks and qi gong.
For more intense endeavors, beginning with a long warm-up or performing low-impact activities like biking, swimming and hiking may be the most motivating for kaphas. A morning yoga routine or nature walk also works in a kapha type’s favor.
What Do YOU Think?
So which dosha or doshas are you? Let us know in the comments below. Though it’s rare that every characteristic of your dominant dosha type resonates with you, implementing the timeless Ayurvedic dietary principles and guidelines may help you balance any issues you may be facing in your mind and body as well as help you to embrace your true nature. However, the best way to find out what dosha or doshas you are is to see an Ayurvedic doctor.