What the heck is a Dosha, and How do I Find Mine?
Knowing your Dosha can help you find the ways of being in the world that most benefit your unique self
Your dosha is your physical, mental, and emotional constitution.
In Ayurveda we believe that we, as living beings, are little microcosms of this great macrocosm we exist within. That is to say, all the elements of the universe are also the elements of us. The five elements, space, air, fire, water, and earth, are what we are made of, and each of us has our own individual internal balance of these elements.
The “tridoshas” or three doshas, are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. These doshas are representations of the 5 elements; Vata= Space + Air, Pitta = Fire + Water, and Kapha= Water + Earth (The water element of Pitta has a more unctuous, or oily quality, and the water element of Kapha is pure water). So you can think of a "dosha" as word to represent the energetic qualities of the combines elements.
Each person is, generally speaking, naturally more dominant in one or two of the tridoshas. A Pitta person has more Fire quality in them than a Vata or Kapha person, a Vata person has more Air and Space quality in them, and a Kapha person has more Earth and Water quality to them. This might not make any sense yet, but keep reading, I promise it will.
Your dosha is a sort of proclamation of who you are. Vatas, Pittas, and Kaphas all have very unique personality traits, physical characteristics, digestive qualities, and emotional responses.
If you've ever taken the Meyer's Briggs, or another personality test, it's kind of like that but for your whole being. If you said to me “I'm a Pitta/Kapha,” by seeing you in person, and talking with you a bit, that would tell me as much (and more) as you saying “I'm an INFP on the Meyer's Briggs.”
The word “dosha” means fault. Not necessarily a flaw, but rather where our strengths and weaknesses lay. When we come out of balance, our imbalances will manifest in ways particular to that dosha. Let's take a look at a few specific traits of each dosha.
Space + Air
Mental/Emotional: Creative, whimsical, active, are often introverts
Body: Slight in build
Digestion: Variable, may be prone to constipation
When out of balance: Fearful, anxious, scatter-brained, insecure, underweight, dry skin, eyes and hair
Fire + Water
Mental/Emotional: Sharp, intelligent, critical, logical, bold, natural leaders
Body: Average in height and weight
Digestion: Strong, fast, may be prone to diarrhea
When out of balance: Redness, acne, irritable, snappy, quick to anger, reckless, power-hungry, cruel
Earth + Water
Mind/Emotional: Slower to grasp concepts but good memory, sentimental, dependable, nurturing, compliant
Body: Broad bones, naturally larger in size, broad features
Digestion: Slow, sometimes too slow
When out of balance: Attachment issues, closed-minded, greedy, materialistic, overweight, excessive mucus, depressed, lethargic
Keep in mind that we all have all three doshas within us, and when any of them is out of balance (when we say “out of balance”, or “aggravated” it means increased, too much) we may exhibit these same signs.
So how do you find out what your dosha is?
There are plenty of tests online that you can take to find your dosha.
Here's the thing though: most of the time when people take dosha tests online, they only take it once, answering the questions as their bodies and minds are at that moment. Doing this only tells you what your current dosha is. This isn't very helpful, because it doesn't give you a baseline of what balance means for you individually, which is what you'll want to work toward.
Prakrti & Viktri
Your True Constitution & Your Current Constitution
To truly find out what your natural in-balance dosha is, and to see where your currentimbalances are, you have to take the test twice- once thinking about life-long tendencies since you were a child, or as your adolescent self, answering questions as you would if you were 11 or 12 years old, and once thinking about yourself over the past 6 months. I say as you were when you were an adolescent because this is one of the purest states of our lives- throughout our lives we go through various stages where one dosha is more predominate just by the nature of our changing bodies. Early childhood is Kapha stage, from puberty on is Pitta stage, until we reach the Vata stage around 50. Taking the test twice like this will show you your Prakrti, or your own individual balanced dosha, and your Vikrti, or your current imbalanced dosha. More to come on Prakrti vs. Vikrti.
So let's be clear here- A balanced dosha does NOT mean that you have equal parts vata, pitta and kapha. Balance is different for each person, and does NOT look like 1/3 vata, 1/3 pitta, 1/3 kapha (unless that's what your Prakrti happens to end up being). Balance for you is your Prakrti. When we try to balance our dosha, we try to match our Prakrti to our Vikrti. Just want to make sure we're on the same page before we start.
Now grab a piece of paper and a pen or pencil! Let's find out what your dosha is :)
I've broken this test down into sections so that you can easily see which areas each dosha is more dominant in. It's quite common to lean toward one dosha in body and another in mind, or digestion, or spirit, and it's nice to see for yourself which area leans toward what. In fact, if you want to go the extra mile, it wouldn't be a bad idea to write it all down as you go through it, questions included. Reflect on your answers and write a little bit about each of them. It's really a great exercise in self-reflection.
Also- be really honest with yourself here. It's easy to answer the questions as we wishthat we were, rather than how we actually are. When I consider myself at my best, I'm focused and driven. Buuuuut if I'm perfectly honest with myself, my natural tendencies are to be more scattered and whimsical. This isn't a bad thing, it's just the way I am, though sometimes I wish that that was different. I can be focused and driven, but it's not the way I naturally tend to be. So as you're taking the tests, be honest with yourself! If you're not, you won't end up following the correct protocols for yourself, which really only ends up hurting you. Not to be dramatic or anything.
Ok! Pencil! Paper!
Directions: Make three columns on your paper- the left one headed with a V for Vata, the middle with a P for Pitta, and the right with a K for Kapha. For each question, choose the most correct answer and make a tally mark in your corresponding column. When you finish all 24 questions (23 if you've never had a period for any reason including the sex organs you were born with), total your tallies in each column. The column with the most tallies in it is your most dominant dosha. If it's a close number between the top two, you would use both in naming your dosha. For example, when finding my Prakrti, I had 11 tallies in my Vata column, 12 in my Pitta column, and 1 in my Kapha column. So I am a Pitta-Vata. Now let's find out yours!
(note: Try to stick to ONE answer for each question, but if you MUST put two because you are absolutely torn 50/50, go ahead and do it.)
1. What's your body stature like?
V: Narrow bone structure, tall and thin or petite, less developed with smaller muscles
P: Medium stature, average height, developed muscles
K: Stocky or big, well developed with larger bone structure, solid muscles
2. What's your body weight like?
V: Low weight to under-weight, hard to put weight on
P: Moderate, can gain weight but lose is easily
K: Heavier, easy to gain weight and hard to lose it
3. What's your hair like?
V: Thin, dry without products, coarse, slightly wavy
P: Naturally oily, fine and soft, may have red tones, early greying or bald
K: Thick, lot's of body, shiny, wavy
4. What's your skin like?
V: Thin with very visible veins, dry, easily cool to touch
P: Naturally oily, tends toward acne, warm to touch, easily sunburnt
K: Thick skin, veins not very visible, soft and smooth, cool to touch
5. What is your facial structure like?
V: Smaller features, long face, small forehead
P: Moderate features, angular structure, moderate forehead
K: Larger features, rounder structure, broad forehead
6. What do your eyes look like?
V: Smaller, often dry, thin lashes
P: Medium in size, sensitive to light, piercing
K: Larger in size, thicker lashes, large eyelids, attractive
7. What are your teeth like?
V: Small, irregular, naturally crooked may have had braces, receding, protruding gums
P: Medium, straight, yellowish, sensitive gums
K: Large, white, strong gums
8. What's your energy and and endurance like?
V: Erratic, variable- can be hyperactive but has low endurance
P: Medium to strong energy, medium endurance but can overdo things
K: Medium energy levels, good endurance but takes time
9. What kind of activity do you seek?
V: Rhythmic movement, dance, yoga
P: High energy, competitive activity, adrenaline pumping
K: Slower paced, endurance exercise
10. If you're a woman, what are your menstrual cycles like? (skip for Vikrti)
V: Light periods, little cramping
P: Heavy periods, painful cramping
K: Moderate periods, not much cramping
11. How's your sleep?
V: Light sleeper, may be prone to insomnia
P: Sound sleeper, don't need much sleep
K: Deep sleeper, enjoy sleeping a lot and difficult to wake
12. How's your immune system?
V: Weak, get sick a few times a year
P: Medium strength, prone more to infection than illness
K: Good immunity but prone to respiratory issues, congestion
13. What kind of weather do you prefer?
V: A more humid heat
P: Cooler/cold weather
K: Dry heat
14. How's your memory?
V: Forget things easily though quick and perceptive
P: Very good, very clear, maybe almost photographic
K: Excellent memory especially long-term, but may be slow to pick up
15. What's your mental constitution like?
V: Indecisive, adaptable, spacey, quick, creative
P: Intelligent, critical, logical
K: Slower, steady, methodical
16. What are your financial tendencies?
V: Save a little and spend money quickly and easily
P: Save some and spend money on specific goals
K: Save a lot, don't like spending
17. What are your spiritual beliefs, or faith like?
V: Change easily, rebellious
P: Fierce, intense, possibly a faith leader
K: Deep, unwavering
18. What are your more extreme emotional tendencies?
V: Anxiousness, worrying, fearfulness, insecurity
P: Irritability, criticizing, judgmental, hot-tempered
K: Depression, laziness, selfishness
19. What are your hobbies or interests?
V: Travel, artistic or creative endeavors, dancing, playful activities
P: Competitive activities, politics, research, debating conversation
K: Loves beauty, shopping, business, eating at restaurants or cooking
20. What's your voice like?
V: Smaller, weak voice
P: Higher in pitch, good projection
K: Smooth, deep, good projection
Waste and Elimination
21. What's your appetite like?
K: Constant but low
22. What's your urine output like?
V: Little output, almost clear
P: Frequent or a lot of output, very yellow or can be dark in color
K: Moderate output, cloudy
23. What are your bowel movements like?
V: Once a day or less, hard or dry, maybe difficult to pass, prone to gas
P: At least once a day, loose or soft, yellowish in color, maybe prone to diarrhea
K: Once a day or less, oily, solid
24. What's your sweat like?
V: Little with almost no smell
P: Sweat easily with a strong smell, sweat is hot
K: Moderate cold sweat, moderate smell
Remember, take the test twice!
Great! So now that you know what your natural dosha is, and what your imbalanced or current dosha is, you can learn more about what that means, and start making lifestyle and diet choices to better your balance :)