Ayurveda is all about living a harmonious and holistic life in alignment with nature. All the treatments, healing modalities, spiritual practices, herbs, and cleanses recommended in Ayurveda work toward bringing this balance in our body and mind by essentially balancing the three doshas.
Doshas are three fundamental bio energies—kapha, vata, and pitta–constituted from the five great elements-air, water, fire, space and earth. Kapha combines earth and water; vata combines air and ether; and pitta combines fire and water.
Each element relates to certain qualities in the creation.
- Earth. Heavy, thick, hard, dry, slow, static, stable, grounded, downward movement.
- Water. Cool, liquid, soft, subtle, emotion, downward movement.
- Fire. Hot, dry, transformation, light, heat, subtle, knowledge, understanding, upward-moving.
- Air. Dry, light, mobile, clear, formless, upward movement.
- Ether. Formless, all-inclusive, expansive, vast, void, no resistance, emptiness, stillness.
Everything in creation influences, and is in turn influenced by, the three doshas—including seasons of the year, times of the day, emotions, dreams, food, animals, colors, textures, sounds, aromas, and herbs. Every living being in nature is made up of one or two of these doshas dominating or governing our physiological and mental makeup, which makes each of us so unique in this creation and gives us our unique Prakriti, or doshic constitution.
Each dosha comes with its physical, emotional, temporal, and behavioral features, which are often reflected in our personalities. Doshas determine, for example, why some people are more restless than others or why some people can eat as much as they want and not gain weight or why some people are lean with or without much exercise or why some people get angry really fast, while others could not be bothered even if the house was burning down.
Why is it important to know your dosha?
Dr. Nisha Manikantan, a senior Ayurveda physician with the Art of Living, writes in her book Ayurveda Simplified, “By understanding the qualities of our natural constitution, or Prakriti, we are able to understand ourselves, how to live our lives and to understand people around us, with awareness. Unlike western medicine, which aims at only physical or mental health, Ayurveda wants to lift every aspect of life to a higher level. Personal relationships, work satisfaction, spiritual growth, and harmony (in our environment) are all linked to mind and body very intimately. Therefore, they can be influenced through Ayurveda if its knowledge goes deep enough.”
“Prakruti plays an important role in understanding our health and how we function in the world and our relationship to others as well as ourselves,” she adds, “We become aware of certain factors like types of food, situations and seasons that affect our well-being and are able to effectively manage these factors and promote health.”
When you have this knowledge about an individual, what their dominant dosha type is and which doshas could use more balancing and nourishment, you can use this information in building and designing a living environment that supports an alignment of their doshas, for a happier and more holistic life.
Let us see what each of these three doshas are all about and how to design an environment that invites balance and harmony in the predominant doshas that make you-you!
- Vata is associated with movement and propulsion.
- Pitta is the agency of transformation, specifically digestion within the body.
- Kapha relates to solidity and that which holds it together.
Try out our dosha quiz here to know your dosha type.
Vata combines space and air and governs bodily movement and the life force. Its main qualities are: cold, dry, light, rough, mobile, astringent, and transparent.
- Responsible for controlling nerve impulses and higher cerebral functions
- Controls cell division, the arrangement of cells, and the formation of different layers of organ formation. Vata also controls the mind, inhalations, exhalation, blood circulation.
- Controls feelings and emotions like alertness, nervousness, fear, anxiety, pain, tremors and spasms.
Some of the physiological features of vata people are they have a light body frame and low body weight; lower stamina; constipation; low and hoarse or high pitched voice; quick and frail movement; they are talkative; light sleepers; emotions vary quickly; spontaneous; fall in love as quickly as they fall out of love; may get bored easily; quick learners; they are enthusiastic and lively, but may not be very consistent.
Vatas can be very unpredictable and hard to stereotype. They sometimes may feel highly energetic and low at other times, and all of this changes pretty quickly. When vata is balanced, the person is contagiously happy and energetic; with a clear and alert mind.
As a design person, it helps to know that vata people are very sensitive to changes in their environment and they do not like loud noises. They may react quickly and sharply to sound and touch.
When vatas are out of balance, they can be impulsive. Their excitement can quickly turn into exhaustion, fatigue, and depression. Their inconsistency is more pronounced. They can be extravagant with their money and words. They tend to worry a lot and may have acute sleep problems. They also tend to have digestive issues, bloating, and premenstrual pain, when vata is imbalanced.
Vata people definitely need a setup where they can have a routine in their lifestyle to balance excess vata.
You may have a vata personality if
- You feel hungry all the time
- Crave excitement and change
- Struggle to stick to a routine-sleep at irregular hours; eat at odd times
- Digestion is unpredictable
- Emotions change quickly
- Walk really fast.
When designing a home environment for a vata client, it may also help to know vata can get out of balance by
- Starving or skipping meals
- Consumption of alcohol or drugs
- Sleeping late
- Too much exercise
- Lack of routine
- Too much visual or auditory exposure
- Excess traveling
- Overworked lifestyle
- Anxiety and stress
- Emotional trauma
- Seasonal changes.
Design Cues for Vata People
People who have excess vata definitely need a routine. Their rooms need to support them in having regularity in their lifestyle in terms of when they eat, sleep, and where they work. Subtle color choices may be better for vata people, since they do not take well to overtly bright visuals and colors.
To counter vata’s cold and drying properties, we need an element of warmth and water/wetness in their environment, which means cozy and warm comforters, plants, and good side tables to place warm water. They could also benefit from darker curtains given their aversion to brightness or bright colors.
Favorable metals to have in the rooms of vata people include copper and gold. An arrangement for sound systems placed at high corners, so the sound is soothing, where they can play slow chanting, harmonious and calming sounds can be a good idea. Vata people need a warm, mild, and relaxing atmosphere and this holds true for their bath spaces as well.
Pitta combines fire and water. Basic pitta qualities include light, unctuous, hot, sharp, spreads, penetrative, sour or pungent, and viscous.
The theme here is intensity. Pitta people have intense personalities with a sharp intellect. They have bright, red faces; are ambitious and sharp; outspoken; combative; bold and argumentative. They have a tendency to maintain order in their life, be it in finances, relationships, or the workplace. They like a good life but are not necessarily spendthrifts. Heat is a dominant quality in everything they are or do. They can have a short temper and warm extremities. They don’t like the sun a lot since the heat can give them fatigue. For this reason, they cannot do hard labor for too long either.
When pitta is balanced, they are warm, passionate, and loving. When out of balance, they can be critical, prone to anger, irritation and impatience. They could potentially obsess about perfection when pitta is out of balance. Hair thinning is another sign of pitta imbalance.
Physically, they are well proportioned and are able to manage their weight well. They have penetrative glances; firm joints and straight and fine hair. Their stamina is moderate and they tend to have good digestion.
This is characterized by medium body frame and weight; heat intolerance; hate hot food and beverages or heat in their environment; strong body odor; radiant and courageous; sharp, intelligent, and creative.
You may be a pitta person if you
- Get angry when the food is delayed
- Do not like to waste your time
- Enjoy a good life
- Feel hot and thirsty often, especially in the night
- Like to lead
- Others find you a perfectionist and bossy.
Pitta dosha can get out of balance by
- Skipping meals
- Getting stressed too quickly or aggressive reactions
- Overworking oneself
- Intense and passionate activity for too long
- Exposure to loud colors or sounds
- Exposure to acidic foods and substances
- Irregular sleep
- Getting angry very often.
Design Cues for Pitta People
As heat and intensity dominate the themes here, we balance it out by offering more of the opposite, that is, a more cooling and calming atmosphere with colors that soothe the pitta personality like blues and greens. The atmosphere also needs to be comfortable and inviting enough to make them feel relaxed and less overworked. So, think bigger luxurious couches and more space to move around, maybe even a setup with some open areas with as little clutter as possible, since pitta people can be particular about cleanliness, orderliness, and a lot of breathing space.
They also need a/c systems in their bedrooms and every other room to manage the temperatures since pitta people tend to feel hot very quickly. Silver and white gold are favored metals and favored gems include moonstone, sapphire, emerald, and pearls for pitta people. Water bodies, cool breeze, exposure to gardens, flowers and lot of moonlight are all elements that can help pitta people lead balanced and soothing lives.
This dosha combines the earth and water elements. Some of the kapha qualities are heavy; slow; dense; oily; static; sweet or salty; cool and thick.
Some of the physiological characteristics of kapha people are
- Heavy-set bodies, robust and thick body frames
- Lot of strength, good immunity and vitality
- Slow digestion and metabolism
- Need less food intake
- Deep voice
- Delicate and fair skin
- Calm and quiet
- Can be laidback
- Slow and graceful movement
- Sweat less and lower body temperature
- Hate cold and humid environment
- Have good memory though can be slow learners
- Take time to get angry or irritable
- Are slow to get attached or detached
- Generous, content, intelligent and resourceful
- Can do strenuous work without getting bored.
The kapha theme is relaxed, steady, and easy, thanks to the earth element. Structurally, they are stable and steady with plenty of physical strength and stamina. They tend to be healthy, serene and happy. They love their food and their interaction with the world is through smell and taste.
Kapha people are affectionate and forgiving, almost motherly. They can have a grounding influence on others. On the not-so-positive side, they can get greedy or overly attached when kapha is out of balance. They can be dull, stubborn, and lethargic when kapha is out of balance. They struggle to get rid of old patterns and habits.
You could be a kapha person if you
- Overthink every decision
- Take time to get out of the bed
- Are happy with lack of change
- Feel empathy
- Are an emotional eater
- Walk with grace
- Weigh on the heavier side.
Some ways kapha can get imbalanced are
- Overeating and oversleeping
- Lack of activity
- Emotional withdrawal
- Weight gain
- Placing too much importance on physical possessions and comfort
- Cold climate.
Design Cues for Kapha People
As a rule, our design ideas need to complement by the opposition. For example, while Kapha people may love everything cold, cold quality in food or atmosphere can aggravate the Kapha dosha. So they need to balance it out with warmth and brightness.
Their environment needs to help them fight their urge to sleep for a little while longer or drag their feet on action that they need to perform on a daily basis. A stimulating and warm environment is just what Kapha people need in their homes. You can also experiment with bright and vibrant hues like red, orange, lavender, or yellow. Try metallic accents in the decor including iron, copper, and yellow gold. Kapha people tend to collect stuff, but balancing that tendency would require regular purging—older cushions, gadgets, toys, utensils, bedsheets, clothes that occupy unnecessary space in the house.
Generic Design Tips for all Doshas
- More greens. Every dosha can benefit from having more greens inside the house though kapha people can get colored plants to balance the earthy themes.
- Go with the seasons. Experts recommend changing the décor and furniture overalls with changing seasons. For example, spring is all about warmth, new life and softness in nature, away from the cold harsh winters. So you can try and bring in more vibrant colors into the house during spring. As the summer approaches, you can shift to milder shades of green and blue. In summer, have more of cotton and linen for the fabric to maintain the comfort and temperature.
- De-clutter. No matter what your dosha type is, de-cluttering your home from time to time is a must. While pitta people are naturally prone to de-cluttering their living spaces, kapha people may need to make some effort in that direction. But it can be very good for balancing excess kapha dosha. A seasonal purge and removal of extra belongings can be very calming for the mind and soothing to the eye.