• Lauren Baptiste

How Stress Impacts the Three Ayurvedic Doshas

Updated: Jul 25



"Ayurveda is the science that teaches what is good and what is bad for one’s life in terms of diet, routine, and environment. Not following these recommendations leads to disease. The method of diagnosis is through finding the underlying cause(s), and the treatment helps pacify the imbalance and cure the disease.''' – Charaka Samhita, 1.1.41


As humans, we are made up of all three Ayurvedic doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha), but our unique constitution or combination of those qualities (Prakriti) can determine our mental and physical tendencies. I like to call it "yogi genetics" that make up both body and mind. Understanding your individual Prakriti can help with your health and overall life balance.


The goal with this school of thought is to come back to your divine proportion, not to the one that's trending highest on Instagram. Your Prakriti was determined at birth, and in order to live your healthiest life, you must balance your proportion of each of the three doshas. Just as stress has an impact on health, imbalances in this realm can take a toll on the way our bodies function.


To make sure we’re on the same page, let’s take one step back to understand what Ayurveda is. Known as "the mother of all healing," Ayurveda is the science of life (“Ayur” = life, “Veda” = science or knowledge). This ancient wisdom dates back over 5,000 years and uses natural techniques to come back to our perfect selves. It's designed to help us stay vibrant and healthy while realizing our full potential.


Everyone and everything in this world is comprised of energy made up of the five elements: space, air, fire, water, and earth. These universal energies manifest in our physiology as three doshas (personalities):


Keep in mind: although you embody all three types, there may be one or two that stick out as the primary permutation(s) that align most with your unique body-mind type. Below are the physical and mental qualities that make up each archetype:



three doshas ayurveda

VATA – SPACE AND AIR

This is the energy that governs movement. It helps you move your arm, blink an eye, swallow food, eliminate waste, and much more. Without it, life in the body would not exist.


Vata types must take care to focus on stress awareness. They move through life quickly and energetically and therefore might not immediately notice when they are feeling burnt out. When their life balance is out of whack, they are particularly prone to anxiety, insomnia, and a loss of appetite.


Qualities:

  • Light bones and muscles, long straight frame

  • Cool skin; cold hands/feet

  • Small, fine features; sometimes irregular features

  • Hard to gain weight, easy to lose it

  • Variable digestion

  • Sometimes they’re hungry, sometimes not

  • Eats fast, moves fast, talks fast; light on feet

Mental & Emotional Personality:

  • Career examples: poets, dancers, connectors, artists, writers, cooks (creative & visionary)

  • Enthusiastic, social, creative, innovative

  • Likes variety and travel; adaptable

  • Learns quickly, forgets quickly, needs lists/reminders



PITTA – FIRE AND WATER

This is the transformative energy within you that digests food, processes emotions, and perceives what's happening around you. For example, when you hear a loud sound, it's Pitta that discerns whether it's fireworks or thunder.


Think of this energy as the fiery nature within you that is high-achieving and goal-oriented. Like a campfire, we want to tend to this energy and provide it with kindling while also making sure it stays contained. We don't want you burning down the kingdom you've worked so hard to build. If Pitta types don't properly maintain their life balance, they can experience irritability, heartburn, acid indigestion, and hypertension. Simply put, stress can have an impact on health if these individuals aren't careful.


Qualities:

  • Medium size, muscular frame; warm skin

  • Oily reddish skin, fine oily hair, light-sensitive eyes, intense gaze

  • Easy to gain weight and easy to lose it

  • Strong appetite and digestion

  • Steady hormones

  • Sharp, clear voice; walks with intention

  • Strong eyesight

  • Good complexion

Mental & Emotional Personality:

  • Career examples: activists, spiritual leaders, CEOs, managers

  • Organized, focused, disciplined

  • Competitive, goal-oriented

  • Courageous, inspiring, passionate

  • Learns quickly, has sharp memory, good comprehension

  • Speaks in bullet points, to the point, concise


KAPHA – WATER AND EARTH

This protective energy is the fluid in the joints that prevents that "tin-man" effect or the myelin and sheath in the brain that protects thoughts as the synaptic nerves flair up and move around the brain.


It's no secret that stress has an impact on health, but it affects each archetype differently. When under duress, Kaphas are prone to weight gain, acne, lethargy, depression, and respiratory illnesses.


With proper stress awareness, Kaphas are often the healthiest Ayurvedic body type.


Qualities:

  • Broad, muscular frame; curvy

  • Physical and mental strength and endurance

  • Smooth, cool skin; thick, wavy hair; large, bright eyes; full lips (more pronounced features)

  • Easy to gain weight, difficult to lose it

  • Steady, sometimes slow digestion; okay with just a couple of meals a day.

  • Walks slowly, low booming voice, talks leisurely

  • Strong immune system

Mental & Emotional Personality:

  • Career examples: opera singers, social workers, nannies, kindergarten teachers, caretakers

  • Works well with (or loves!) routine and structure (same restaurant, same table, same meal, same night of the week, every week)

  • Steady, dependable, predictable, calm,

  • Loyal, true to their word

  • Generous, compassionate, caring

  • Learns best with repetition, strong long-term memory


Which Type Are You?

Based on the above, which of the three doshas resonates with you the most? To reinforce your understanding of the three body types, check out this #WellnessWednesday episode.


If you're just starting your Ayurveda journey, there is a lifetime of knowledge out there that can help you go deeper with your understanding. Stress awareness can help you understand your unique body type, notice your individual symptoms of burnout, and stay balanced when life gets hectic.


If you’re looking to further explore your personal archetype, or believe your health is being impacted by an imbalance, reach out to me for support.




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