Part II - Personalities via Vata/Pitta/Kapha
by Sandra Radja
It took me exactly a month into Ayurvedic studies to confidently give everyone I saw a label of Vata, Pitta, Kapha. "Oh they are so Vata" I would say, smug in my estimation. My partner was thinking of strangling me in my sleep, friends avoided my calls and teachers exasperated. OK I get it now but back then it was like I had invisible spray paint and couldn't wait to Ayurveda-graffiti every one I saw with my own personal tag on their personality.
And then one day I understood (after much repeated badgering from those more learned than myself) that in order to understand another I needed to understand myself. Secondly, there are two aspects of our nature. One is static called Prakruti and it doesn't change from conception and one is ever changing and represents our imbalances and it's called Vikruti. It is really important to know the difference; to know that when one is in balance you DON'T NOTICE THE DOSHAS, you just notice the person is AWESOME. But in those times of mis-alignment with what you do and what you eat and where you are, you may experience a rise in a biological humour that makes you seem......flighty, intense, lazy and so on, or all of the above depending on the season, time of day, time of life, weak organs, and so on.
So what is a dosha really about?
Dosha translates as "fault" or "impurity", however they are only seen in that context when they go out balance. As Dr Lad mentions in his textbook " dosha is that which becomes vitiated and then affects the bodily tissues, leading to disease. But in a healthy way, dosha means three principles that govern psychophysiological response and pathological changes." So the doshas can be seen as governing forces and are only really noticed when something is out of whack. Disease is really just a way of alerting us that we may have too much or too little of some of the elements in our system in order for us to thrive.
We described the elements, Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth, in Part I. Ayurveda groups these elements into three governing factors known as the tri-doshic theory. Kapha is comprised of Earth+Water and represents form/structure. Pitta is comprised of Fire+Water and represents transformation. Vata is comprised of Air+Ether and represents movement. With these three factors all aspects of nature are represented and lends us to the idea that all things come full circle. And since we LOVE profiling, we are the best candidates to get to know how the tri-doshic theory works on ourselves.
Caveat - no one person can represent a single dosha since we need a heartbeat (Vata), digestion (Pitta) and fat and tissue (Kapha) to be human. But for purposes of illustrating a point, I have picked out some photos that embody some of the striking features of the doshas.
WATER + EARTH = KAPHA
The first thing you notice is the flesh, thicker and rounder and softer. The eyes are big and moist. The skin is luminous. The earth provides structure and the sense of a strong form. You don't get the impression she is fragile. Her hair is thick and shiny and reflects light well. Her lips are full and she has a good set of teeth. She embodies juicy. She embodies flow and holds a lot of water in her nature. This photo shows a natural feminine and curvature which the water element embodies. The essence of female is water, which the second chakra aligns with. Healthy water in the breast tissue and menstrual fluids assists the natural flow of the cycle which the Kapha personality has in abundance.
Kapha personalities tend to be slower in their digestion and in their speech. It does not make them dim witted, they just operate in a more laid back way. They retain information well and suffer less disease than the other two doshas. Their countenance is strong and they have the stamina to put up with more wind and fire. They don't like to expend their energy and will try and convince you they need 10 hours sleep/night. Their challenge is to embody invigoration as it will make them shine. Lethargy can lead to depression and a sense of feeling stuck. They are the lovers and the supporters. They need people to direct them. They love to love when in balance and love to be sentimental when out of balance. Possessiveness and hoarding can be a problem as well as the fear of change. The mantra is letting go.
FIRE + WATER = PITTA
Fiesty! Ambition and competitiveness and a steely glare. The water element of the Pitta dosha keeps Pitta from burning itself out so you can determined the state of balance with Pitta by how rounded the edges are. If you're looking at a sharp nose and chin be mindful that the tongue might be too. A Pitta in balance is an exceptional leader. They show the way because they are visionaries that can see more clearly than the other two. Give them a problem and their minds' eye sees the solution AND how to get from A to B. They are the middle ground of the two doshas. They have medium build, medium muscle tone), medium sized eyes, medium nose, medium hands. A redhead is a dead give away but blonde comes under the same hat. They usually have finer hair, straight and might go grey earlier because of the heat burning up the colour. For some guys, that leads to baldness (too much analysing, as Dr Lad says "analysis paralysis")
If you want a problem solved, Pitta is your lady. But watch for the burnout. They have a hungry disposition, that, if left unfed can lead to acid in the stomach and acid on the tongue. They need something to chew on, to break apart, to argue over. So best to choose your battles and make sure there is plenty of sweetness around, in others' temperament and in the food and environment. Pitta loves beauty and will seek out beautiful things to appease the heat in the eyes. Bring a Pitta lady some lovely gifts and she will appreciate you. Good taste is key. Anger can be the go to and annoyance at others' incompetence but when they are in balance, just watch them turn a good idea turn into something real life. Compassion is the mantra for a Pitta and surrender. Sometimes, Ms Pitta, you might not know the way and being mindful of others might actually make a win-win situation.
AIR + ETHER = VATA
Vata folk are exciting to be around because they are always moving, from one episode of life to another. They are entertaining and insightful and pick up on the subtleties because they embody lightness and ether. They may appear to be on another planet and sometimes we shake our head and sometimes we appreciate them showing us a different way to look at things. You can see a Vata a mile away because their expressions are so...well expressive! Arms flying around, they walk and talk quickly, always a little bit of drama going on. They may seem flightly but they can't help it, attention span is here, now there, now back here, no wait, where was I?
Lighter of frame, they might look awkward, big nose to a small face or really long legs and huge eyes. They don't embody symmetry and we can find that exciting. They aren't heavy in their hearts but they can crash very easily because their constitutions are the weakest of the three. They know joy easier and are so full of ideas that it hurts to contain them but it can also be a problem to get anything done because it requires the commitment to bring it to earth. Nervous disorders, constipation, dry skin, bones and reproductive disorders can be problems. Vata, poor thing, suffers the most amount of disease. They find it hard to put on weight. As young folk they appear the most attractive, but the frailty can turn into a withering away if good rest and stable routines are not cultivated in their lives. If they can learn to watch their energy and cultivate a sense of faith so that they feel comfortable, their joy will be sustained without the crash and give them immense pleasure for having seen their imagination come to life.