What's Your Dosha?
Ayurveda is the ancient Indian science of health and philosophy that came about the same time as the Vedic texts, around 1500 BCE. The Rishis, or “seers”, who compiled the Vedas were known for their deep contemplative practices; they looked into their inner world to make observations and connections about living in accordance with the laws of nature. Ayurveda then became a means of preventative health and achieving overall wellbeing; therefore it encompasses all aspects of being—body, mind and spirit.
Ayurveda distinguishes the energies that constitute all life on earth. The five elements—earth, water, fire, air and space—are used to relate the internal, individual experience to the external world we inhabit. The sense of spaciousness in the body after holding a stretch or yoga pose resembles the space between material objects; or, the pot you cook your food in resembles the “pot” of your stomach that digests the food.
The elements condense into what Ayurveda calls the three doshas—Vata, Pitta and Kapha—corresponding to air, fire and water. These forces are always at work in the body for different functions and processes. Vata controls movement and the nervous system, Pitta controls digestion, and Kapha affects tissues, wastes, and stability. Everyone has various amounts of the three doshas present, but one or two usually outweigh the others resulting in predictable body types, traits, and ailments. The brief quiz below will give you an idea of your Ayurvedic constitution. If you already know your type, it's still beneficial to take the quiz because the doshas fluctuate through the stages of life.
Eyes, Hair & Skin
a) My eyes are narrow and grey, blue or dark brown in color.
b) My eyes are medium in size and light in color: hazel, green or light brown.
c) My eyes are large pools reminiscent of a deer and are of either very light or very dark brown.
a) My hair is dry, curly or frizzy; it tangles and breaks easily.
b) My hair is straight and reddish or light brown.
c) My hair is thick, wavy and dark; it can be coarse or oily.
a) My skin is usually dry and cold. May be susceptible towards eczema and psoriasis.
b) My skin is light or reddish, tends to be warm and is easily irritated. May be prone to freckles and rashes.
c) My skin is oily, cool, smooth and luminous.
Frame, Appetite & Exercise (Motivation and Stamina)
a) I am very tall or very short, thin/slender with long limbs and protruding joints. I find it difficult to gain or hold onto weight.
b) My body is well proportioned and my build is medium or broad. I can gain or lose weight somewhat easily.
c) I tend to be overweight or curvy with thick bones and a broad frame.
a) My appetite varies and I have a tendency to unintentionally skip meals. I have a somewhat sensitive digestion.
b) I have a hearty appetite and hate to miss meals. I crave hot and spicy foods.
c) My appetite is stable and I may have a tendency to crave rich or sweet foods.
a) I love vigorous exercise and heat, though I burnout quickly.
b) I enjoy exercise but don't like to overheat.
c) I'm not particularly interested in vigorous exercise.
a) Sometimes I am so active I become restless. I have difficulty maintaining muscle tone.
b) I can pace myself but much prefer to go all-out in competition.
c) I am slow to find motivation but once I get moving, I have good stamina and coordination.
Stress (Mental and Physical), Sleep & Relationships
a) Under stress I tend to be anxious, worried, indecisive and have restless sleep.
b) When stressed, I become irritated, angry and critical easily.
c) Under stress I become greedy and stubborn.
a) I have a tendency towards insomnia, restlessness and excessive dryness of the skin or stiffness in the joints.
b) I am prone to rashes and excessive heat/inflammation in the body.
c) I tend to become lazy, lethargic; overeat and oversleep.
a) I sleep lightly, tossing and turning, but it varies. I usually have trouble falling asleep. I am not a morning person.
b) I sleep well and have vivid, intense dreams. I wake up feeling rested and alert.
c) I love to sleep, often on my stomach. Most nights I sleep 8-12 hours and feel great when I wake up.
a) I find it difficult to have many close relationships. I enjoy my alone time.
b) I make friends easily and am a natural leader.
c) I enjoy having close friends and family near me.
If you answered mostly a, then your body type is Vata. Vata people are generally thin, narrow in the shoulders and hips, and their joints often crack when they move. Their skin tends to be dry and chaps easily; they sweat very little and love to be out in the sun. V types often have erratic eating patterns and issues with digestion because changeability (like the air and wind) is a key trait among V people. If you are predominately Vata, it is important to establish routines for going to bed and waking, eating at consistent times and enjoying foods that are cooked together—like soups, curries, and stews—to help regulate digestion.
If you answered mostly b, then you are predominately Pitta, the dosha of fire. Pitta types sweat a lot because they have so much inner heat, and their skin turns red in the sun or during exercise and is prone to freckles and moles. The intensity of the Pitta dosha makes this type love food because they have a strong digestion, but if they miss a meal you do not want to be in their line of fire (!!). P types apply their intensity to everything they do, making them great leaders and competitors, although their intense nature causes them to anger easily. To keep from getting too fiery, P types should avoid spicy, oily foods, coffee and alcohol, and enjoy cold or raw foods and beverages.
If you answered mostly c, then you are Kapha, solid and grounded. Kapha is influenced by water and earth elements, making this type of person an easy-going and reliable friend. Kapha types tend to be thick in the waist, buttock and thighs because they store energy and fluids. K types are natural athletes though they easily struggle with weight gain when they do not exercise regularly. Excitement and newness that attracts Pitta and Vata does not appeal to K types; they'd much rather chill at home with familiar faces around them. Attachment to relaxation and the status quo can make K types complacent or averse to change, making them greedy and stubborn. To balance this tendency, Ks need motivation by way of regular exercise times and have the most substantial meal of the day at lunch.
You may be a combination type if your answers are spread between two types. These dual constitutions are Vata-Pitta, Pitta-Kapha, and Vata-Kapha. Observe which dosha is predominant in each category of the quiz to gain some insight about your dual constitution. Understanding your tendencies with digestion and stress in regard to your physicality will give you awareness of your type and how to stay balanced.
Another basmati.com writer, Indi Maxon, consulted on this article.
This quiz and these explanations provide a sneak peak into your Ayurvedic constitution and may not paint the whole picture for you. Ayurveda is an ancient science that has been practiced and studied over millennia; please consider further reading and more in-depth quizzes with some of the resources below.
Ayurveda: A Life of Balance by Maya Tiwari
Ayurveda: The Science of Self-Healing by Dr. Vasant Lad
Prakriti by Dr. Robert E. Svoboda