Ayurveda is an ancient Vedic practice and one of India’s oldest medicines, originating more than 5,000 years ago. In Sanskrit, Ayurveda means ‘The Science of Life’ and is the sister science to yoga. Also called the Mother of Healing, Ayurveda’s practice is rooted in the prevention of illness through balance and reflection on the diet, thoughts, relationships, environment, and activities of each individual.
“Just as everyone has a unique fingerprint, each person has a particular pattern of energy—an individual combination of physical, mental, and emotional characteristics—which comprises their constitution. This constitution is determined at conception by a number of factors and remains the same throughout one’s life.” – Dr. Vasant Lad, The Ayurvedic Institute.
The ultimate aim of Ayurveda is to seek, create, and maintain balance; when we’re in a state of equilibrium, inner harmony is achieved. Observing and attuning our sleep patterns, diet, exercise, relationships— all the ways we consume and come into contact with the world—in such a way that strives for balance maximizes our potential to feel good and take care of ourselves. When we feel good about ourselves, we’re better able to take care of others and the world around us.
Many factors contribute to the individual’s overall health, including environment, seasons, relationships, diet, exercise, habits, trauma, work, and stress. These factors affect our constitution and how we feel; they can create balance or disorder. Each constitution is unique based on the lifestyle and life choices of the individual. Balance and disorders depend based on the constitution of the person. A person’s constitution is made up of three unique energies: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
The Three Energies of Ayurveda
Ayurveda focuses on three energies that make up everything we see and every living being. In Sanskrit, these energies are called Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Each person has a unique blend of these three energies. The three energies are made up of the five great elements: air, ether, fire, water, and ether.
Vata: air and ether, governed by movement, creativity, flexibility, vision, space, and sound. In harmony, Vata is inspired and inclusive. Out of balance, Vata is anxious, fearful, and flighty.
Pitta: air and fire, governed by digestion, metabolism, direction, absorption, assimilation, and intelligence. In harmony, Pitta is a leader and advocate. Out of balance, Pitta is angry, resistant, and jealous.
Kapha: earth and water, governed by structure, stability, patience, compassion, nurturance, and immunity. In harmony, Kapha is loving and vulnerable. Out of balance, Kapha is lethargic, withdrawn, and greedy.
Each person is born with a specific Prakriti, or constitution, based on the conditions when born. Prakriti translates from Sanskrit as true nature.
A person’s constitution is dynamic and changes depending on many variables, including age, environment, mood, diet, activities, and relationships. Understanding the three energies and how they’re present in each person provides insight into how to take the appropriate action to come back into harmony with the self.
“Ayurveda is about being in a relationship with ourselves and our environments and understanding how to stay in balance with the conditions that we find ourselves in.” – Ali Cramer.
Energy needs to move; it cannot be created or destroyed. Understanding which of the three energies are present and how to balance them elevates our awareness of how to stay present and open to new life experiences. We want the energies to keep moving and flow to mimic the vibrant world around us. Ayurveda honors the very simple rule that life is always changing, and the way to celebrate the flux is to continually adapt the lifestyle and diet to the shifts we perceive.
The final word: don’t get attached to what your dosha is.
The right question to ask is, what am I feeling right now?
Imbalances of the Doshas
The doshas, or energies of Ayurveda, are governed by specific elements and activities. To create balance and come back to a state of equilibrium, Ayurveda holds: like attracts like, and opposite heals. If the person has an over-abundance of one of the doshas, activities and diet opposite from the primary constitution create balance. For example, Pitta’s heat and intensity would choose cooling foods and slower-paced activities to settle the fire.
How to Create Balance and Inner Harmony
Below you’ll find a list of the movement practices, meditations, and diet recommended for Kapha dosha.
Try these classes to stimulate Kapha dosha:
- Ignite – Vinyasa
- Fire Flow – Vinyasa
- Shiva Mantra
- Space through Strength – Slow Flow
- Super Duper Power – Vinyasa
- Pranayama Meditation
- Unfurl Your Peacock Tail – Vinyasa
Kapha—You are most loveable and loyal; friends and family feel your warmth and reside in your gentle care.
You are calm, easy to be around, thorough, and profoundly thoughtful. Slow to start any new project or commit to a relationship; you’re careful and considerate, revealing a longstanding commitment once you let others in.
Routine and pleasure suit your style; you tend to avoid new situations and conflict, withdrawing into a deep depression if triggered. Your emotions are steady; you don’t excite or anger easily and are just as slow to forgive and move on. Kapha is notorious for their patience and understanding; a quiet and controlled sensibility makes them experts in financial matters and accruing wealth.
Kapha prefers to be cozy, wearing layers and surrounding themselves with nourishing sights and scents. Strong, steady, and reliable; the Kaphic personality also has a hard time letting things go. Fresh air, invigorating music, spicy foods, and lively company all help animate Kapha.
Kapha Body Type
Stocky, curvaceous, and larger-boned, Kaphic people tend to have oily skin and hair. Luminous eyes, white teeth, and a clear complexion add to Kapha’s sweet and demure character. Kapha has slow digestion, in life experience and diet, and is prone to skipping meals. Good stamina and physical endurance allow Kapha to take on any physical activity, but Kapha prefers solo sports, enjoying the time alone. Kapha gains weight easily and likes slower movement and lots of sleep.
Kapha prefers a slower-paced lifestyle; when imbalanced, over-eating, avoidance of exercise, and over-sleeping may cause Kapha to become overweight. Kapha has many close, long-standing friendships, but when hurt or angered, tends to withdraw and pull away, which may cause depression.
Kapha in Harmony
To maintain equilibrium and balance, Kapha should maintain regular exercise and eat regular meals in smaller proportions. Avoiding fatty, sweet foods in preference for spicy and flavourful foods help stimulate Kapha’s digestion. Running, vinyasa yoga and other heat-building activities stoke the inner fires of Kapha’s calm and steady nature to burn off the lethargy and clear the static energy.
Interviews with Ayurveda Therapists
In this interview with yoga teacher, author, and Ayurveda Therapist Ali Cramer, you’ll discover more on:
⟐ The five elements and how they relate to the doshas
⟐ How to nourish the doshas and rules for living Ayurveda
⟐ Aligning with the seasons and Yama Damstra
⟐ Why we seek things that throw us out of balance
In this interview with yoga teacher and Ayurveda Therapist Insiya Finn, you’ll discover more on:
⟐ Comfort foods versus nourishing foods
⟐ Ayurveda to heal from postpartum
⟐ Dinacharya; honoring ritual through Ayurveda
⟐ Simple practices to do every day to be in optimal health
In this interview with yoga teacher and Ayurveda Therapist Maria Garre, you’ll discover more on:
⟐ Tips to stay healthy during covid
⟐ Ways to strengthen our digestive fire and optimize gut health
⟐ Cooking for various constitutions; a Tridoshic perspective on meals
⟐ Teas to drink every day to pacify each dosha
In this interview with TCM Practitioner and Japanese Acupuncturist Alix Jean, you’ll discover more on:
⟐ Traditional Chinese versus Japanese Acupuncture
⟐ Fascia; what it is and why it’s important
⟐ How emotions correspond to the body’s organs
⟐ Common injuries related to stress
Join the conversation in the Practice with Clara
Community Facebook Group!
We share the latest classes, podcast interviews, events, and content with members from all over the world.
*** Please note that the results from your quiz and all suggestions are merely recommendations and provide a starting point to living a holistic lifestyle with intention. For a more in-depth understanding of your dosha and constitution, please book a consultation with an Ayurvedic doctor or experienced practitioner.