This is the central question in Ayurveda. Okay, honestly, when isn’t this the central question? But in this case, we are looking for an actual answer, and the answer is in the elements. As told by the ancient sages, everything in the world is made up of five elements: space, air, fire, water, and earth. And these are in order of their density. We combine these elements in three different ways, called doshas, to understand how energy moves in the world, according to the laws of nature.
When we combine space and air, we get wind- air moving through space. We call this combination Vata dosha, and it’s qualities are light, cold, clear, and rough. Imagine a frosty wind, blowing across the rough, icy plains of the tundra- this is a picture of a Vata landscape. Our next combo is fire and water, the dosha we call Pitta. This landscape would be a rainforest: hot, dripping, muggy. Pitta dosha is hot, sharp, and has a sort of unctuous quality, like melted wax. This heat has a transformative effect, the way we transform our food by cooking or digesting it. The last blend is the mixture of earth and water, and we call this Kapha dosha. Kapha is cool, soft, and heavy. Imagine for this dosha a vast redwood forest, with huge thick trunks and a canopy so high and dense the temperature stays cool and lush even in the heat of summer. Kapha has strength, structure, and lubrication.
For each of us, the energies of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha play an important role. We have form and structure in our tissues (Kapha), we metabolize and assimilate food, thoughts, emotions (Pitta), and we enjoy the movement of fluids, nutrients, and thoughts through the spaces inside us (Vata). But each one of us has a difference preponderance of these elements, and it leads to differences in our bodies, personalities, and imbalances.
Okay, this is all well and good, but where does the YOU come in? Well, just as we find all of these elements in the world, we also have all of them in our bodies, in different proportions. Are you creative, exuberant, scattered, and expressive? Do you run around a lot and have a million things going on? Do you get easily stressed out? Then you probably have some Vata in you. Are you decisive, and organized, charismatic and generous? Do you get totally pissed off at all “those idiot drivers” out there? We’re gonna go with Pitta for you. Are you sentimental, sensual, and incredibly kind? Do you go out of your way to do nice things for your friends, family, and colleagues? Do you have a rough time getting up in the morning or maybe have a killer sweet tooth? That’s going to be the Kapha club for you. Do you have a combination of all or some of these traits?
Most people have mainly one or two doshas that are prominent, ie., Vata-Pitta, Pitta-Kapha, or Vata-Kapha. Some folks have all three doshas in more or less equal proportions, and we call them Tridoshic. You can take your own dosha test HERE, and begin to get to know who you are in an entirely new way.