Editor’s note: Wellness Word is an informational column which is not meant to replace a health care professional’s diagnosis, treatment or medication.

Ayurveda: Start Here! 

Ayurvedic Doshas (Vata, Kapha, Pitta) are composed of the elements and represent your constitution or the biological forces that govern the body.

Remember that each and every person has a combination of these doshas and in most cases two are more prominent (e.g. Vata-Pitta or Pitta-Kapha). Understanding your unique Dosha is a key step towards building awareness of who and what you interact with on a daily basis and how these things interact with you.

Everything you see, touch, taste, hear, and smell have qualities that relate to a Dosha. The Vata Dosha has qualities that are: dry, cold, rough and changeable (there are many more). Air is Vata as it moves through the trees and is constantly changing in direction and speed. It can chap our skin and create dryness as well as bring a sense of coolness.

A summer salad has Vata tendencies. The lettuce is course, rough, and cold compared to a hot cooked meal of lentils and rice. You may choose to add dry croutons and raisins creating a very Vata salad.

Kapha is heavy, sweet, unctuous, steady, wet, etc. Kapha gives rise to our beloved desserts, heavy and sweet. If you add olive oil and avocados to your Vata salad you would be adding Kaphic qualities. A Kapha body-type is sturdy and large. Think of a NFL player. People with a Kaphic dosha tend to have a jovial essence to their personality.

Lastly, Pitta is hot, intense, pungent, sharp, etc. These show up in hot chilies, garlic, ginger and the sun. A summer peach visually mirrors the sun, bright and yellow, giving it a Pitta quality. A muscular body-type depicts Pitta’s nature along with driven and intense personality traits.

Knowing your Dosha is half of the equation. The other half is understanding that one or more of the three Doshas can be out of balance. For example, someone with a Pitta-Kapha Dosha could have a Vata imbalance. Having this information allows Ayurvedic practitioners to focus at the root of the imbalance.

The qualities of the vitiated Dosha(s) give the practitioner a vivid picture of the healing that needs to take place.

There is a catch. When working to heal your imbalance, you want to correct with the opposite qualities you currently posses. If you have too much of something, the worst thing to do is add more.

The following are examples for an Ayurvedic approach on digestion:

• If your digestions is challenged by a Vata imbalanced, you should favor warm foods and drinks; Unctuous, sweet, sour, and salty foods are the best.

• If Kapha is the culprit, a lighter diet with dry, warm foods and drinks are the best; Reach for foods with predominantly pungent, bitter, and astringent qualities.

• If your digestion has a pitta imbalance, go for cooler foods and drinks; Sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes are what you need.

It is very important to note here that online forms to determine Doshas and imbalances may lead you off-course. Because of the mass amount of information available at your fingertips, it is imperative that you speak to a certified Ayurvedic practitioner to accurately diagnose imbalance.

Being able to correctly identify and interact with the qualities around you will exponentially aid in your journey to balanced health. The word Balance is used here because we are always working towards a harmonious approach to our health and the busy lives we live.

Living an Ayurvedic life-style is having the ability to create wholeness within our mind, body, and spirit. To clarify, spirit can be anything from the energy of universe, a higher power, or a belief in your higher-self. Without attention and intention to all three of these areas, you will find it challenging to find your harmonious balance.

It is because of the in-depth understanding of the body, mind, and spirit that people are turning to Ayurveda as their healing method. Ayurvedic consultations are comprehensive and each diagnosis is carefully and thoughtfully made.

Alexandra Greenberg is an Integrative Holistic Health Coach specializing in Ayurvedic medicine for parents and children. See GreenTreeAyurveda.com for more.