The Ayurvedic Doshas

Kripalu School of Ayurveda

Ayurveda is built around the five elements of ether, air, fire, water, and earth. The unique combination of these elements come together to make up the doshas—the constitutions of vata, pitta, and kapha.

According to Ayurveda, the doshas control the creation, maintenance, and breakdown of bodily tissue and elimination of wastes, as well as psychological aspects, such as emotions, understanding, and love. When balanced, the doshas maintain the systems of the body; when one of the doshas increases due to certain diet and lifestyle habits, imbalance is created. Ayurveda can help restore harmony to areas that have lost balance.

The Three Doshas

Each dosha has a number of corresponding qualities that are expressed in the physical, emotional, and mental aspects of one’s being. Here are the primary qualities of each dosha as they show up in various areas of the self. 

Don't know your dosha yet? Take the quiz and then learn more about your constitution below.


Body Frame Thin
Weight Hard to gain, easy to lose
Skin Cold, dry, thin
Hair Dry, frizzy, thin
Eyes Small, fine lashes, unusual color
Appetite Irregular
Evacuation Constipated; irregular; dry, small quantity
Sweat Scanty
Temperament Energetic, creative, indecisive, nervous
Memory Learns quickly, forgets quickly
Speech Talkative, fast, high-pitched, scattered
Climate Dislikes cold and dry
Activity Restless and active; social
Routines Dislikes routine, enjoys variety


Body Frame Medium build and musculature
Weight Easy to gain, easy to lose
Skin Warm, oily, sunburns easily, freckles, acne
Hair Straight, fine, premature graying
Eyes Brightly colored, almond-shaped, steady gaze
Appetite Intense
Evacuation Loose, regular, large quantity
Sweat Profuse
Temperament Bright, intelligent, arrogant, driven, direct, witty
Memory Learns quickly, forgets slowly
Speech Articulate, decisive, clear, sharp
Climate Dislikes heat and humidity
Activity Competitive, intense
Routines Likes planning and organizing


Body Frame Broad, strong, curvy
Weight Easy to gain, hard to lose
Skin cool, fair, oily, thick, soft, smooth
Hair Oily, wavy, thick
Eyes Big, round, thick eyelashes
Appetite Steady
Evacuation slow, regular, moderate quantity
Sweat Moderate
Temperament Calm, stable, grounded, stubborn, greedy, torporous
Memory Learns slowly, forgets slowly
Speech Slow, melodious, deep, low
Climate Dislikes damp/cool
Activity Calm; likes leisurely activity
Routines Enjoys routine

The Doshas in Depth


Composed of ether and air
Means “that which moves things”
Qualities dry, light, cold, rough, hard, subtle, clear, mobile
Site in body colon, thighs, hips, ears, bones, and organs of touch

How to Balance Vata

  • Favor foods that are warm, moist, and cooked.
  • Favor sweet, sour, and salty tastes.
  • Massage yourself daily with vata-balancing oil, sesame oil, or almond oil.
  • Establish consistent daily routines, including regular meals, exercise, meditation, and sleep/wake times.
  • Avoid erratic schedules, stimulants, cold and dry conditions, too much travel, and too much sensory stimulation from smartphones, television, and tablets.


Composed of fire and water
Means “that which digests things”
Qualities oily, sharp, penetrating, hot, light, unpleasant odor, spreading, liquid
Site in body small intestine, stomach, sweat, sebaceous glands, blood, lymph, and organs of vision

How to Balance Pitta

  • Favor foods that are nourishing, refreshing, and not overheating.
  • Favor sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes.
  • Keep the body cool as much as possible—avoid overheating.
  • Incorporate regular moderate, noncompetitive exercise.
  • Avoid stimulants and acidic foods.
  • Include meditation, walks in nature, or time for self-reflection and self-care into your daily routine as much as possible.


Composed of earth and water
Means “that which holds things together”
Qualities cold, wet, heavy, dull, sticky, soft, steady, solid, smooth
Site in body chest, lungs, throat, head, sides, pancreas, stomach, lymph, and fat

How to Balance Kapha

  • Favor foods that are light, warm, and cooked.
  • Favor pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes.
  • Incorporate exercise into your daily routine.
  • Vary your routine from time to time.
  • Wake up at or before sunrise.
  • Avoid napping during the day.
  • Eat more lightly in the morning and the evening, with your biggest meal at lunchtime.

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