According to Ayurveda, a 5,000-year-old Indian system of healing, there are three types of doshas, or mind-body constitutions. These are Vata, a mind-body type consisting of air and space; Kapha, a cold, wet, and heavy mind-body type that is composed of earth and water; and Pitta, made up of fire and water. (To learn more about doshas, please take this Dosha Quiz.)
Just as the human mind-body can be predominantly one, or even more than one dosha, so too can Nature. For example, the seasons reflect all three doshas. During the late fall and winter seasons we enter the cold and dry weather (Vata season), which is followed by heavy rains in the spring (Kapha season). As we approach summer, when the weather truly heats up, we enter Pitta season and can feel in both our minds and bodies, Pitta’s strong fire element.
We are part of Nature and therefore we are affected by her doshas. As we begin to understand doshas and how they can affect us not only from within, but also from seemingly external circumstances, we can learn to take better care of ourselves and feel balanced as we move through the seasons.
For example, during Kapha season, those who are of the Vata dosha (which have natural tendencies to be cold) would benefit from eating more warm foods and incorporating sweet tastes, which help create mass and keep Vatas grounded. Kaphas, on the other hand, should focus on lighter, crispier foods to bring some lightness back into their bodies. Pittas feel more in balance when they integrate astringent and bitter tastes into their meals.
Exercise is very important for all people, and the type of exercise we choose to do can have a more balancing effect on each dosha. People with a dominant Kapha dosha need to stay committed to, or even increase, exercise during the wet months. Such energizing activities as running, spin classes, flow yoga, and other enlivening routines are best.
While activity is also highly recommended in order to balance the water component of the Pitta dosha, Pittas would be best served engaging in energetic exercises that do not entail too much competition, which can cause their fire element to become imbalanced. Vatas can enjoy activities like yoga, tai chi, or long Nature walks, when weather permits, to help them stay grounded.
All mind-body types benefit from meditation. Therefore, during the winter, spring and summer months, we must stay committed to our meditation practice. Vatas will find this practice very stabilizing, especially when they focus on feeling centered. Kaphas can add some energizing pranayama, or breathing techniques, to the start and end of their meditation routines. While those with a predominantly Pitta dosha will feel balanced from meditation’s calming effects.
Temperature affects each mind-body type differently. Thanks to Pitta’s natural fire, those who are Pitta dosha can find themselves feeling warm, even in winter. Heat can aggravate this dosha, so it is important for Pittas to go outside into the cold weather once in a while. Conversely, Kaphas and Vatas both should do what they can to stay warm.
We all likely know that changes in weather and the seasons can affect our moods. Short, gray, and damp days can sometimes make people feel sad or depressed. This can especially be the case for the Kapha dosha. Consequently, wearing bright colors and surrounding themselves with uplifting shades can be beneficial for Kaphas. Vatas can find greater balance from muted, grounding colors; and those who are Pitta dosha do well with earth tones in both clothing and living spaces.
Here are some useful suggestions all dosha types can do to stay balanced as we transition from season to season.
A daily Ayurvedic self-massage, also known as an abhyanga, is a wonderful way to feel balanced as we transition from season to season. Engaging in a detoxifying one-day cleanse is another way to ensure we are prepared for the new season ahead. The cleanse need not be a complete fast. Instead, simply consuming all food in liquid form will help to gently detoxify the body. We can also make a point to prepare for the coming season in advance. As the end of spring nears, we can begin to incorporate a more Pitta-balancing diet into our daily routine. Reducing spicy, sour, and salty foods are all ways Pittas can find balance, and every dosha can adopt this healthy eating style.
As we have experienced, each season is rich and alive with unique gifts. Fall presents us with beautiful colors and crisp clean air. Winter feels as though the world around us is asleep, yet it is simply preparing for the beautiful show of the lushness of spring. And summer offers us longer days, and more time to relax with family and friends. As we embrace the beauty of Nature’s bounty, we can reflect on our own connection to Nature and move in harmony with her rhythms as the seasons change.
Chopra Addiction and Wellness Center has integrated the ancient system of Ayurveda into our programs to promote healing, self-discovery and emotional release for our guests. Learn more.