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What’s Your Dosha?

The Doshas

Pitta, Kapha, and Vata may be terms you’ve heard about here and there, but what exactly are they? How do you know what you are? Do you pick your own? Does someone else choose for you?

The Doshas are are different combinations of the five elements which create three different mind-body types. Dosha is loosely translated as “energetic force”.  These elemental combinations express unique characteristics or blends of physical, emotional and mental patterns for each being.  This is a principle concept of Ayurveda, yoga’s sister science.  In understanding the Doshas better, we can gain insight into ourselves and our natural states.  We can also learn to develop yoga classes that are dosha specific and even begin to recognize certain characteristics in our students in order to provide the most effective sequencing possible. The main elements of each dosha are as follows…

Pitta: fire and water

Kapha: water and earth

Vata: space and air

Every being has a combination of all three types.  Our intention in working with the doshas is to bring all three as close to balance as we can, or to become tri-doshic. When we balance all three doshas, we become Satvik. Achieving a satvik state is the most ideal, pure, and balanced state of being.  

So how do you know what you are?!

Here are some general characteristics of each dosha…


  • thin and light frame, long fingers and toes, thin lips, thin hair, small dark eyes

  • dry skin, hair, and joints

  • sensitive to the cold; extremities easily get cold and irritated

  • irregular digestion, menstration, and appetite

  • light sleeper, active mind and imagination; creative and constant new ideas

  • energetic and sporadic


  • stocky, thick build, larger frame with the tendency to easily gain weight

  • large/light colored eyes, round face, full lips, soft, thick, and often curly hair

  • clammy palms and feet, dislike damp environments

  • steady and slow appetite with regular digestion

  • easily congested and sensitive to allergies

  • heavy sleepers

  • easy going, patient, slow moving, resistant to change


  • medium frame and build, moderate muscle tone, medium sized eyes; often red hair that easily grays or thins

  • skin is fair, warm, redish and moist but easily irritated

  • sensitive to the sun and heat,  good circulation

  • healthy appetites, sometimes skip meals

  • prone to muscle inflammation in the shoulders and back

  • light yet moderate sleepers

  • powerful, smart, focused mind; quick tempered, competitive, and ambitious

Once you can identify your primary, and maybe secondary dosha, you can more easily identify what will throw your body in and out of balance. The doshas can be altered and balanced with changes in diet and routine.

What to incorporate…


  • sweet, sour, and salty foods

  • warm, freshly cooked foods

  • ginger, black pepper, turmeric

  • routine meal times in peaceful setting

  • good quality fats and oils


  • pungent, bitter, and astringent foods

  • warm, heating foods such as ginger, cinnamon, cumin

  • light, dry, warm foods

  • lots of veggies

  • honey

  • minimal oils

  • routine time for meals


  • sweet, bitter, and astringent foods

  • cooling foods and herbs

  • steady eating routine

  • a balance of fresh/raw and cooked foods

  • eat in a peaceful environment

What to avoid…


  • bitter, astringent, pungent foods

  • dry, cooling, light foods

  • processed foods

  • cold, carbonated drinks

  • sugary drinks and hard alcohol

  • too much raw food in the mornings and evenings


  • sweet, sour, and salty foods

  • cooling foods

  • very oily and processed foods

  • food and drinks with refined sugars

  • cold, carbonated drinks

  • most alcohol except occasional wine


  • sour, salty, pungent foods

  • hot foods, including spice and temperature

  • processed foods

  • alcohol, caffeine, and other stimulants

  • deep fried foods and red meat


We are constantly attempting to find more balance in our routines and in our bodies. Becoming more conscious of our body’s natural tendencies can help us more easily achieve balance and move towards a satvik state.


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