In Ayurveda, which is the ancient Indian art of healing the body holistically and naturally, there’s a strong focus upon the three main doshas, or body types, that everyone encompasses. You may wish to read this blog post to learn about the three doshas in more detail. Essentially, though, your dosha will determine the overall state of your mind and body. However, when not balanced properly, your dosha can lead to a variety of physical and mental ailments whose actual causes may be difficult to pinpoint.
According to Ayurvedic philosophy, the three main doshas have characteristics that are similar to the elements of the earth. All of these elements are within the bodies of living creatures and within the world that surrounds them because everything is connected and comes from the same source. Really understanding these elements and how they affect the lives and health of people is the basis of Ayurvedic healing principles, which work on using natural remedies to balance the doshas so that only their best qualities shine through. Much like you would use a course in acupressure and massage to get the life force flowing more freely, realign the chakras (energy centers throughout the body), and restore vitality and wellness to the body and mind, Ayurveda uses herbs, yoga, meditation, and specific foods to encourage the body to heal itself.
How Your Dosha Affects You
There are three main doshas, which are referred to as vata, kapha, and pitta.
Generally, vata is associated with the air element, and a person who has this dosha as the dominant one in the body will be thin with a small frame, but may be prone to fatigue, digestive issues, and arthritis. The mind of a vata can be quick and intelligent, but it can also become anxious and fearful.
Kapha is associated with earth and water, which means a person will be large in stature and strong. But kaphas also may have to deal with allergies and weight gain when out of balance. The mind of a kapha can be very supportive and nurturing, but can also end up being too reluctant to change and progress.
Finally, pitta is all about fire and water, so these individuals are passionate and motivated in the mind, but they may also have quick tempers. When balanced, they have a lot of energy and sleep well. But digestive and skin issues can result as physical ailments when this dosha is over-expressed negatively.
By keeping your dosha in balance, you can enjoy its positive attributes without the negative side of it. For example, a vata in balance will enjoy flexibility and strength, as well as a mind that’s clear and focused without feeling stressed. A kapha would be able to move forward and make changes whenever necessary while maintaining healthy digestion and sleep patterns. And a pitta would be able to succeed as a result of being driven and focused without letting tempers flare and without having to deal with skin irritation or ulcers.
Cooking for Your Dosha
One of the many ways that Ayurvedic doctors heal people is by prescribing specific foods that are most appropriate for a particular dosha. These foods and herbs are meant to be enjoyed at every meal because they’ll work with the body to bring about a state of balance. The immune system will be strengthened and health ailments may be cured as a result of the body being able to heal itself.
Much like you would eliminate a food that’s causing you digestive upset, the goal of Ayurvedic eating is to eliminate foods that disrupt the balance of your dosha, while at the same time replacing those foods with those that are going to bring about the best qualities of that dosha. Try this course on Ayurvedic cooking to get a glimpse into the world of foods that have incredible healing effects on the body.
Foods for Each Dosha
There are a few ways you can determine what dosha is the dominant one in your body and your mind. You can take a test online, for example, or you can work under the guidance of a trained Ayurvedic specialist who can examine you and ask you questions that will pinpoint the dosha that’s causing your problems. Once you know what dosha requires some balancing or suppression, you can begin incorporating the right foods into your diet and cooking the right meals.
If you have a predominance of vata in your body or your mind, you should steer clear of foods that are astringent or bitter, as these will aggravate the dosha and make your symptoms worse. This is because these foods are associated with the air and space elements, which are already so abundant in a vata constitution. A vata is also already colder than average, and these foods have a cooling effect that would only make matters worse.
Examples of astringent foods include apples, artichokes, broccoli, avocados, cauliflower, chickpeas, celery, coffee, cranberries, kidney beans, lettuce, lentils, eggplant, mushrooms, pomegranate, pinto beans, white potatoes, turmeric, and tea.
Examples of bitter foods include coffee, dandelion greens, sesame oil, spinach, aloe, and cumin.
If you are eating a lot of these foods and you are dealing with the problems associated with this dosha being out of balance, it is best to cut back on them or eliminate them at least until you get back into a state of balance.
A vata should instead create or follow recipes using ingredients that are considered salty, sour, and sweet. These will bring about a warming effect, thereby bringing up the pitta and kapha doshas a bit, because they are associated with the elements of fire, water, and earth.
Examples of salty foods include sea salt and seaweeds like kelp. Examples of sour foods include berries, grapefruit, lemon, peaches, lime, tomatoes, vinegar, and green grapes. And examples of sweet foods include apricots, almonds, basil, beets, licorice, melons, mangos, sweet potatoes, coriander, coconuts, cinnamon, chocolate, cashews, carrots, and wheat.
If kapha is the dosha in power over your mind and body, avoid foods that are salty, sour, and sweet. These foods warm the body, but a kapha is already warm to begin with. And a kapha is already grounded with the earth element and doesn’t really need more of it, and it can also do without fire and water. You can view the above examples to see what salty, sour, and sweet foods should be avoided.
Kapha constitutions should focus instead on astringent, bitter, and pungent foods. Once again, you can see some examples of bitter and astringent foods above. These are ingredients you definitely should incorporate into your daily diet. But you also want to include some pungent foods, such as anise, cayenne, clove, black pepper, allspice, fenugreek, ginger, garlic, cumin, leeks, mustard greens, onions, radish, turnips, and turmeric.
If the fire of the pitta dosha dominates your mind and body, you should avoid pungent, salty, and sour foods. Once again, see above for examples of these foods. These will increase heat in the body, which you already have too much of, by increasing the level of fire in the body.
What pittas really need is to favor foods that are astringent, bitter, and sweet (see examples above). These foods will increase the air, earth, and water elements to help quell the fires inside your body and your mind so that you can feel more grounded yet still have movement and coolness.
Cooking at home is almost always necessary in order to balance your dosha with the right foods. If you aren’t used to preparing your own meals, consider taking this course on the basics of healthy cooking.
Vata Recipe: Pasta with Pumpkin Sauce
Perfect for vatas, especially if you use spelt pasta instead of wheat, this recipe is also easy to prepare. Simply cook your pasta separately. Mix together two pinches each of cardamom, nutmeg, salt, and cinnamon. Then add a pinch of cloves, a couple tablespoons of oil, a teaspoon of sugar, and a cup of canned pumpkin with 1/2 cup of water. Warm the sauce on the stove and add it to your pasta.
Kapha Recipe: Barley with Tomato and Spices
The spices in this recipe should be ground up. You’ll need 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper, one teaspoon of cumin, and two pinches of chipotle chile, as well as two pinches of salt, a tablespoon of sunflower oil, and one chopped tomato. Stir all of these ingredients into a pot and add one cup of barley and three cups of water. Boil it using low heat for about 30 minutes or until the barley is soft.
Pitta Recipe: Banana and Almond Ice Cream
Ayurvedic recipes go beyond dinner recipes and offer delicious snack and dessert options as well. Blend two frozen bananas and add one cup of almond milk, a tablespoon of almond butter, and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon. Puree it until it has a smooth consistency and enjoy right away for a cooling treat.
Keep in mind that Ayurvedic healing incorporates a lot more than foods into its prescriptions for balancing doshas. Check out this course on yoga for your dosha to incorporate a workout routine that will also serve to bring you into a state of health.