First let us understand Ayurveda in simple terms before getting into the doshas and its effects. Ayurveda is a traditional system of healing, which has a comprehensive approach to health issues. Diet, herbal medicines and yogic breathing are important practices done to cure any ailment.

This is a type of healing system which was founded and practiced by our ancestors from India. It is also said in many ancient scriptures, that the sages themselves framed the system to provide a good mind-body connection. Ayurveda is said to be more than treating illness, as a “Science of Life” (Ayur means Life and Veda means Science).

Ayurveda follows a system that creates a complete mind-body connection to help people be aware and healthy. It is also personalized according to each body type and lifestyle. It just does not prescribe a default medicine to cure an illness.

I hope you have got a better idea of Ayurveda and its approach. Now, let’s see what does Kapha, pitta and vata mean, as these terms are frequently used in Ayurveda and Ayurveda practitioners.

In Ayurveda, each body type and personality is distinguished by Doshas – Vata, pitta and kapha. These doshas are biological energies found in the human body. They have the complete control of all physical and mental process of a person.

  • Vata dosha is composed of space and air – A person with vata dosha or body type, will have qualities that reflect the space and air. They will be thin, fast moving and quick thinking.
  • Pitta dosha is composed of fire and water – A person with pitta dosha or body type, will have qualities that reflect fire and water. They will have fierce personality and oily skin.
  • Kapha dosha is composed of earth and water – A person with kapha dosha or body type, will have qualities that reflect earth and water. They will have a solid body frame and calm temperament.


These doshas constantly reflect and respond according to the actions, thoughts and food we consume. When the balances in the doshas change, there arises the health issues. They body type is determined by birth and when the actions done in the future match the doshas, life and health will be vibrant. When a person deviates from the natural dosha of the body, many health issues arises.

In Ayurveda, there are 3 doshic states. They are:

  • Balanced dosha: All three doshas are present in their natural proportions. It is also called as “equilibrium”
  • Increased dosha: When a particular dosha – vata or pitta or kapha, is in increased proportion than the required amount, it is called as “aggravated” or “excess state”
  • Decreased dosha: When a particular dosha – vata or pitta or kapha, is in decreased proportion than the required amount, it is called as “reduced” or “depleted state”


These imbalances can be restored to normal by following diet and lifestyle that needs a complete awareness.

Vata Dosha

Vata dosha which is composed of “space and air” – that moves things internally, is also called a King of doshas. It is called as a king, as it controls the greater force in the body and gives motion to kapha and pitta. When there is an imbalance in the vata dosha, it leads to anxiety, dry skin and constipation. The qualities of vata dosha are – dry, rough, mobile, cold, light and subtle. The locations of vata in the body are – thighs, bones, ears, joints, skin, brain, nerves and colon.

Vata dosha governs the bodily activities like talking, breathing, muscle and joint movements and nerves function, circulation of blood, food assimilation, urination, excretion and menstruation. Vata governs psychological activities like communication, flexibility, creativity and quick thinking.

What can cause imbalance in vata dosha?

  • Eating vata aggravating foods like cabbage, dry dates, watermelon, pomegranate, bell peppers, corn, lettuce, mushrooms, raw onion, raw spinach, sprouts and barley.
  • Eating while depressed.
  • Drinking alcohol, coffee or tea.
  • Sleeping late in the night.
  • Irregular daily routine.


Pitta Dosha

Pitta dosha which is composed of fire and water, also called as “that which cooks”. It is the important energy in the body that facilitates digestion and metabolism in the body. It facilitates the carrier substances like acids, bile, hormones and enzymes. The qualities of pitta are oily, sharp, moving, light, hot and acidic. The locations of pitta in the body are – small intestine, stomach, spleen, liver, pancreas, blood, sweat and eyes.

Physically this dosha governs the heat required to break down food substances into energy. It is related to the transformation and conversion in the body and mind. Psychologically it governs the anger, willpower, joy, courage, intellect and perception. When there in an imbalance in pitta, it causes – rage, ego and anger. Infection, rashes, inflammation, fever, heartburn and ulcers are the visible physical effects of imbalanced pitta.

What can cause imbalance in pitta dosha?

  • Eating pitta aggravating foods like cheese, yogurt, corn flour, nuts, garlic, ginger, lentils, tomatoes, radish, chocolate and papaya.
  • Eating food while angry
  • Over-working or workaholic
  • Too competitive
  • Drinking coffee, tea and alcohol
  • Smoking


Kapha Dosha

Kapaha dosha is composed of earth and water, also called as “that which sticks”. It is simply the energy that builds and lubricates the bodily function. The basic qualities of kapha are moist, cold, soft, sticky, dull, heavy and static. The locations of kapha in the body are – throat, lungs, lymph, head, ligaments, fatty tissues, chest, tendons and connective tissues. Physically is governs moisture in food, strength to tissues, lubrication in the joints, storage of energy and mucus movement. It psychologically governs the patience, forgiveness, love, attachment, greed and mental stability.

When there is an imbalance in kapha dosha, a person might show lethargy, attachment to unwanted things and depression.

What can cause imbalance in kapha dosha?

  • Eating kapha aggravating foods like oats, butter, buttermilk, cottage cheese, raw sugar, brown sugar, coconut, nuts, coconut oil, sesame oil, dates, figs, sweet potatoes and chickpeas.
  • Overeating food
  • Eating plenty of sweets
  • No physical activities
  • Spending too much time in cold/damp places
  • Spending too much time indoors
  • Not engaging in brain activating activities


When all these doshas are in place and balanced, a person’s life will be very bright and happy. It is in one’s actions that lies the balance in the doshas.



Kripa Sivasubramanian, MBA, earned her Master’s degree in Business. After a long stint in the Technology sector, she took up courses in natural medicine and yoga. Ms. Kripa is certified in Ayurvedic yoga for Dosha. She is also certified by Stanford University School of Medicine in Introduction to Food and Health.