As Yoga continues to completely take over the world, terms like “dosha” and “Ayurveda” are becoming more mainstream. Even if the only time you come into contact with a yoga mat is when you’re sandwiched between them on a crowded L train, you have to admit that the tides of change are still generally leaning towards a more holistic approach to living, especially as we get older. From drinking a golden turmeric latte to practicing candle-gazing meditation, more and more people are experimenting with new ways to nourish their bodies and live more balanced lives. Below is a dosha-101 to catch you up to speed on what exactly a dosha is and why you should care in the first place.
Ancient Wisdom: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
Ayurveda is an ancient Indian system of harmonious living which translates as knowledge of life (Ayur = life, Veda = science or knowledge). Recognizing that human beings are a part of nature, the over 5,000 year-old system of Ayurveda proposes that full health and vitality are the result of the dynamic integration between our environment, mind, body and spirit. It offers guidance on both daily and seasonal routines for optimal living and describes three fundamental energies that govern our inner and outer environments: movement, transformation and structure. These three energies are respectively symbolized by the three Doshas known as Vata (Air), Pitta (Fire) and Kapha (Earth).
If you’re not sure why this ancient philosophy should still be relevant today, just remember that ancient wisdom always has a way of reminding us of fundamentally important life truths. As the saying goes: If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants.
The Beauty of Knowing your Dosha
We are all already beautiful just the way we are, but sometimes participating in the rituals of beauty just helps us to feel more beautiful. Knowing your dosha can help you take your already amazing skin care regimen to another level.
Since Pitta is mostly fire, Pitta skin tends to have more breakouts, photosensitivity and is generally more prone to freckles and moles than the other skin types. Overall, Pitta skin tends to be oily/combination. For Pitta skin types, too many synthetic products can be especially irritating and can inflame the skin; instead natural and plant based and pure formulas are more favorable for this skin type. Pitta skin types need ingredients which will calm and balance hydration and moisturize gently and naturally.
Vata skin is generally dry, thin, delicate and very vulnerable to the influence of dry, windy weather. Prone to dehydration, flakiness, dark spots, and premature fine lines and wrinkles, Vata skin is overall normal to dry. For this skin type, a nourishing and nurturing regimen is recommended. This includes gentle cleansers that won’t over-dry or strip the skin along with deeply moisturizing products which will provide the skin with essential fatty acids.
Since Kapha dosha is predominantly water and earth, so Kapha skin tends to have all the qualities of water and earth — it can be greasy, thick, and more tolerant of the sun. While Kapha skin doesn’t wrinkle as easily, it does tend to be prone towards blocked pores, dullness, oiliness and puffy eyes. Overall, Kapha skin tends towards normal to oily. For Kapha skin types, thorough cleansing is crucial while resisting the temptation to over-dry skin. Instead, gentle cleansing should be alternated with deep cleansing and exfoliation. For Kapha skin types, choose moisturizers that are light and nourishing.
With Ayurveda, the aim is always to try and achieve equilibrium, so if your skin is dry, you balance it with moisture. If you are a combination of two doshas, (each person has varying degrees of each, but one dosha usually dominates) customize the recommendations and tailor them to your skin’s unique and ever-changing needs.
It’s a Dosha Life
Ayurveda considers seasonal routine an important cornerstone of well-being. It teaches that Doshas aren’t limited to figuring out the constitutions of our bodies but also how those bodies ebb and flow with the natural world. Thus, the dosha’s also exert their influence on the seasons and even the time of the day. For instance, between 6-10 a.m. is considered Kapha time and as Kapha brings the heavy, sluggish energy of water and earth, it is recommended that you wake up before Kapha hour in order get an energetic start to your day. Similarly, each season has a corresponding Dosha. As we head into the cool, dry and windy days of Autumn, we can see why it is identified as Vata season.
Ultimately, understanding the Doshas means recognizing them as energetic forces which fully govern the tides of your life. Learning the Doshas can help you to tune into the natural rhythms of the world and make informed choices to help steer your life in harmonious directions in all aspects.