Introduction to the Doshas (Body types)
Updated: Apr 17, 2021
Vata Pitta Kapha
One of the fundamental concepts contained within Ayurveda is the threefold Doshic body type system. These doshas, or body types, relate to the Western terms: Ectomorph (Vata), Mesomorph (Pitta), and Endomorph (Kapha).
The Doshas are simply a way of stating which elements are more predominant in a person. For instance, Vata is composed of the elements Air and Ether. Because of this, Vata tends to be underweight as Air and Ether are the lightest of the elements. Other prominent Vata qualities include those of a dry, cold, and mobile nature. This shows through with dry cracking skin, colder body temperature, a very expansive personality, and rambling speech. Pitta is comprised of the elements Fire and a small amount of Water. Fire relates to a Pitta dominant person’s high intensity lifestyle, being no stranger to competition, they are often prone to anger. Hot, sharp, oily, and light are the main qualities present with this elemental constitution. Often with a very high metabolism (Agni), a Pitta individual can eat copious amounts of food without putting on any excess fat. Lastly, Kapha, being made up of Earth and Water, are heavy, moist, and cold. Kaphas are weight bound, this is because of the heavy nature of the Earth and Water elements. Psychologically, a Kapha person speaks slightly slower, and tends to stick to their ideas.
While there are many factors which clarify the chief dosha present, in general, tendencies can be drawn toward each one. For instance, Kapha body features are often the largest as Earth and Water are the heaviest elements. Vata, composed of Air and Ether, often have the smallest features. Pitta features often take a middle ground and have a slightly sharp quality to them. While many ‘Dosha tests’ exist throughout various literature, authors, and sources, the only truly accurate depiction will come from a trained Ayurvedic practitioner. This is because while a feature may appear large, small, or otherwise, the image can become skewed by the personal perception, thus a practitioner trained in identification will be the most accurate.
Throughout the course of our life, the year, and even the time of day, we transition through Doshic cycles. At the beginning of life, we are in Kapha time, this is a period of building and growth, encouraged by the heavy/building nature of Kapha. Middle of life relates to Pitta, this is when we are building our careers, developing our livelihood, a very fast paced, intense lifestyle takes place during this time. Lastly, we transition into the Vata time of life. Our bodies become lighter, and eventually this lightness helps the transition out of the body. On a smaller scale, Spring relates to Kapha. Water begins to flow, and we often feel congested and lethargic. Summertime is peak Pitta season, when the Sun is at its most intense and vibrant. Vata time takes place in Autumn. During the Fall, the wind picks up, the environment becomes colder and is filled with movement. Finally, even over the course of the day, this Doshic cycle repeats itself. Kapha time of day takes place from 6-10 AM and PM, we naturally feel the sleepiest and most grounded here. Pitta from 10-2, we often become hungry from the excess Fire present. This takes place at high noon when the Sun is at its highest and during the middle of the night, Agni may become stronger here explaining the common phenomenon known as amidnight snack. Vata time occurs from 2-6 in both darkness and light. During this period we will feel the most expansive, sometimes allowing our thoughts to run wild.