Beyond the dosha quiz
Most people who have heard of Ayurveda know that there are three doshas. Many more have taken dosha quizzes and become attached to their prominent dosha, especially the imbalanced characteristics of that dosha (“That’s just my vata that caused me to forget the meeting”). One of the first things people notice when they work with Hale Pule is that we don’t offer a dosha quiz on our website. That is because you can never get to your true state of health if you approach Ayurveda through this narrow point of view.
What are the doshas?
In the Ayurvedic perspective, everything on the planet (including us) is made up of different combinations of five elements: earth, water, fire, air and ethers. The three doshas – vata, pitta and kapha – each represent two elements and are responsible for various functions in the body and mind.
You have all three doshas present in you, just in different amounts. Most people have two primary doshas. Some people have one primary and a few have all three.
Prakruti and vikruti
To understand how the doshas affect your life, it’s important to understand the difference between prakruti, the constitution (balance of doshas) that you were born with, and vikruti, your current state of imbalance.
Your prakruti is the unique balance of energies in your body and mind that were determined at your conception. It determines everything from your bone structure to your predisposition toward certain health challenges. Vikruti is your out of balance condition. Vikruti is what people commonly understand as “their dosha.”
Vikruti can appear in any of the three doshas, but it is more likely to show up in the dosha that makes up the primary portion of your constitution. For example, if your prakruti is primarily kapha and you are living out of harmony with kapha, you are likely to face health issues (imbalances) related to kapha, e.g., weight gain, depression or heart disease. Imbalances come from many factors, including diet, the environment you live in, your levels of stress, the type of exercise you do, your self-care practices – the list goes on.
If you’ve ever taken two dosha quizzes and gotten two different results, it’s because few people come to Ayurveda fully tuned in to the nuances of their bodies over the course of their lives. What follows is a narrow quiz result that is more telling of your current imbalances than your prakruti. For example: Your prakruti could be kapha-pitta but you could live in a dry, windy climate, which provokes vata. Because vata dosha is imbalanced, your answers would tend to indicate that vata is your primary dosha simply because it is where you are experiencing the most symptoms.
Most dosha quizzes are followed by lists of foods and activities to avoid for your dosha (or products to buy that support your dosha). This black and white mindset toward Ayurveda leads to feelings of limitation and frustration, and can even cause greater imbalances. But there’s another way to look at this.
Moving toward balance: A true Ayurvedic approach to health
Each one of us has the ability to heal ourselves when we are moving toward sattva, balance, harmony and light. The most important step you can take on your journey to health is to understand where you are currently facing imbalances – regardless of your primary constitution – so you can begin to return to your natural state of health. It’s possible to experience this state of balance by adopting a sattvic lifestyle that addresses imbalances and allows for a deeper connection to your true self.
You are a unique and beautiful being who is far more complex than a dosha quiz. If you are new to Ayurveda, start by working with a trusted Ayurvedic practitioner who can help you understand your imbalances and steps to correct them through sattvic living. Over time, you’ll be able to tune in to the cues your body is giving you and make changes at the first sign of imbalance, long before you experience illness or disease. This simple approach is the true foundation of the beautiful science of Ayurveda. It is what guides everything we do here at Hale Pule.