Doshas for Dummies: An Intro to Ayurveda

You may never have heard of doshas before. You may not even be familiar with Ayurveda, one of India’s most ancient systems of healing. If that’s the case, this piece is for you. If you are familiar with both, perhaps this piece will help you help the people in your life gain some understanding of this deep science. Ayurveda is an ancient, complex and yet totally simple system. It translates literally to “the science of life,” though in Ayurveda we as counselors like to refer to it as the art of living. Gaining a general understanding of Ayurveda and your own dosha is a good jumping off place to learn more about your own body, lifestyle and wellness. Who doesn’t want that?

Image courtesy of Veda Bars

Ayurveda relates directly to the five elements: earth, ether, air, water and fire. There are three doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vata is a combination of earth and air; Pitta is a combination of fire and water; Kapha is a combination of earth and water. Think of this logically as you continue through the piece and begin to investigate your own holistic constitution.

This is a very, very simplified approach to help you begin to understand the nature of doshas. There are many different variables at play when determining one’s constitution, and it’s quite rare for a person to be 100% one dosha. Most of us are a blend of two doshas.

There are seven combination possibilities. Vata, Pitta, Kapha, Vata/Pitta, Pitta/Kapha, Vata/Kapha and of course the exotic, tri-doshic creature, the Vata/Pitta/Kapha.

Below are some simplified, easy and accessible “quiz-like” questions to help you become more familiar with what  primary dosha you may be.

Let’s begin by analyzing your physical body.


bodies yoga yogatraveltree


Are you:


A. Quite thin with extraordinarily long limbs? Do you have slender bone structure, prominent joints, pointier features, more wiry hair, visible veins and tend towards thinness and/or extreme height?

B. Well-built with good muscle tone? Do you have medium stature, symmetrical features, more feathery hair, strong build, more ruddy skin and symmetrical features?

C. Rounder faced with a softer, suppler build? Do you have broader shoulders, big, emotive eyes, courser more oily hair, pale luscious skin and fuller features?



Next let’s investigate your digestion (which is where one’s health begins, we say in Ayurveda).


degestion yoga dosha yogatraveltree

Are you:


A. A scanty eater? Can you go hours and hours without food? Are you prone to gas, bloating, indigestion and constipation? Do you often forget to eat? Do you lose weight very easily?

B. A good eater with strong digestion? Have you a strong metabolism and appetite?  Are you prone to acidity and diarrhea? Could you not dream of missing a meal? Do you remain a stable weight with ease?

C. A slow, 3-meals-a-day eater? Do you find yourself prone to mucus and phlegm? Do you eat less frequently but bigger, heavier meals? Do you have a slow metabolism and tend to hold onto weight? Is it hard for you to lose weight?



Next I want you to think about your emotional body and your frame of mind.


lotus yoga dosha yogatraveltree

Are you:


A. Scattered, easily distracted, quick to learn and observe? Do you often feel like you “run around like a chicken with its head cut off?”

B. A leader? Do you describe yourself as fiercely driven, stubborn, inventive, sharp and intelligent? Would you rather just take charge and “do it yourself?”

C. Deeply loyal and loving? Do you place heavy emphasis on family, relationships, tradition and loyalty? Are you a good listener and easily attached to people, things and places?

You might be...


If you chose mostly (or all) A’s, it’s likely that you’re predominantly Vata. Mostly or all B’s would point towards Pitta. Mostly or all C’s would be Kapha.

dosha overview yogatraveltree

Image courtesy of Veda Bars

In Ayurveda we recommend that you make lifestyle and diet shifts to accommodate your unique constitution; shifts that will best allow your dosha to thrive.

Learning to understand the complex, intelligent inner workings of our own bodies is a realm that will never get old. It’s fascinating and it infuses life with an element of excitement; just knowing one is not powerless in one’s own wellness, that there are practices and choices available to live one’s most vibrant life, that’s freeing! Learning to involve the elements and understand how they affect even the most simple, physical aspects of our life is the next step. For more guidance and understanding, get in touch. There are many books and resources out there to help you assimilate the techniques of this age-old healing science. You can heal your own body. Take control of your life and harness the healing energy of Ayurveda to help live your most vibrant life!

A trained practitioner will be able to give you an astute consultation and take into account all of the many fluctuations and circumstances in your divinely unique body and life. This piece is just to give you a general understanding of how one can do a “surface test,” as I like to call it. Please feel free to contact me at and to book an in-depth consultation or be referred to a medical Ayurvedic practitioner.


Want more Ayurveda goodness? Why not go on an Ayurveda Retreat?


Sara Courter is a writer, Certified Wellness Counselor, RYT, and Holistic Nutrition student based out of Northern California. Sara's passion for holistic wellness runs deep. She is an Ayurvedic Lifestyle Counselor and is currently studying to become a Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant. Sara believes the key to holistic wellness is exclusive to the individual, and learning to navigate one’s own body is the key. A firm believer in living by the words of Hippocrates, "Let food be thy medicine," she advocates for nourishing the body with a plant-based diet rich in fresh, organic superfoods. Sara's intention as a holistic healer is to foster a lifestyle that makes for a comfortable body, sound mind and happy heart. May we be ever manifesting bliss, vibrancy and abundance! 


Images via: HeyMonicaB, Inner Elements Pilates, Fit Sugar, A Coder's Dream, VedaBars, @yogadaan

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