Ayurveda has a brilliant yet simple division of human beings into three primary constitutional types of Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
- Vata types are dominated by the air element primarily, are thin or light in build, nervous, sensitive, quick in movement, and changeable, tending to suffer from cold, dryness and wind.
- Pitta types are dominated by the fire element primarily, have a medium build, good muscles, are assertive, aggressive, determined and suffer from heat and inflammation
- Kapha types are dominated by the water element primarily, have a heavy build, carry excess weight and water, are emotional, steady, conservative, possessive and suffer from dampness and cold.
There are many Ayurvedic dosha questionaires to aid in this ascertainment. However, many people who study their Ayurvedic constitution discover that they are dual doshic types. They contain two of the three doshas in relatively equal proportions, so that they cannot simply reduce themselves to one standard doshic type of Vata, Pitta or Kapha, or follow a health regimen aimed at controlling one dosha only.
- They can be Vata-Kapha, Vata-Pitta or Pitta-Kapha.
Yet if we examine the existing literature on Ayurveda we find treatment is mainly described in terms of one dosha only, not two. Are dual dosha types intentionally left out? What is a dual doshic type to do? The same is true relative to Ayurvedic recommendations for Yoga asanas and Yoga practices. These are usually described in terms of one dosha only (as in my book Yoga for Your Type).
Actually the situation is much simpler than it appears to be. The basic rule of Ayurvedic treatment is to treat one dosha at a time. Diseases and imbalances generally reflect the one dosha that is in excess (except in severe or long term diseases, which can be more complicated by dosha).
So even if you are a dual doshic type, you will be usually recommended to treat the single dosha that is most bothering you currently or most in danger of becoming excess by the season or your lifestyle. This simplifies Ayurvedic treatment quite a bit. Yet it can leave dual doshic types feeling uncertain as to exactly what to do.
Rules of Treating Dual Doshic Types
There are several simple rules to follow, which I have outlined below, that can make this easy to do, so that dual doshic types know how to treat themselves.
1). The first rule of treating dual doshic types is to treat the single dosha that is currently most out of balance in your life. This requires some ability to understand disease potentials and diagnosis, but is not that difficult to do. Note the symptoms or conditions that are most bothering you and see what dosha it falls under. Usually Vata is the first dosha to go out of balance, while Kapha is the slowest to go out of balance, with Pitta in between. You can examine books that speak of the Ayurvedic treatment of common diseases that will highlight such doshic factors behind the condition, like my book Ayurvedic Healing: A Comprehensive Guide.
2). Second, if there is no single dosha currently out of balance for you, is to follow Ayurvedic time cycles mainly through seasons of the year (though this will have some climate variations depending upon where you live). These seasonal charges are actually the most practical way of treating dual doshic considerations.
- Vata-Kapha types should follow an anti-Kapha diet and lifestyle from the winter solstice to the summer solstice (roughly Dec. 21 – June 21), and an anti Vata approach from the summer solstice to the winter solstice (June 21 – Dec. 21).
- Vata-Pitta types should follow an anti Pitta approach from the vernal equinox to the autumn equinox, from around March 21 – Sept. 21, and an anti Vata approach from the autumn equinox to the vernal equinox, from around Sept. 21 to March 21.
- Pitta-Kapha types should follow an anti Pitta approach from around May 1 to Nov. 1 and and an anti-Kapha approach from the around Nov. 1 to May 1.
The same rules can be used for Yoga asana practice, emphasizing reducing any seasonal doshic excess that are likely to occur, targeting the single dosha indicated.
Naturally there are many climate variations throughout the world. What I have given is mainly for four season climates. You can also note the condition of your climate overall. In cold, dry and windy regions, Vata will be usually most disturbed. In hot regions, Pitta will be usually most disturbed. In wet or damp climates or locations, Kapha will likely be most disturbed. You should target the one of your two doshas that is most stressed in your given climate and lifestyle.
3). A third strategy is to try to decrease the primary quality that the dual doshic types share.
- Vata and Kapha share the main quality of cold——make sure to eat warm food and stay warm on all levels. Dietarily this is much like following the opposite of the usual anti-Pitta diet, taking mainly sour, salty and pungent foods.
- Vata and Pitta share the main quality of lightness.—–make sure to be grounded and steady. Dietarily this is to follow the opposite of the usual anti-Kapha diet, taking sweet, sour and salty foods.
- Pitta and Kapha share the main quality of dampness or oiliness.—–make sure to stay dry. Dietarially this is to follow a diet opposite the Vata-reducing diet, which is taking pungent, bitter and astringent foods.
4). A fourth consideration is more general in terms of the state of your Agni or digestive fire. You must first strengthen your Agni. If you have a weak or disturbed Agni you will have a notable tongue coating and digestive problems. To strengthen the Agni many herbs and spices can be helpful.
- Vata-Kapha: most spices are good including hot spices like chilis, black pepper, ginger, mustard, cardamom, cinnamon, as you wish.
- Vata-Pitta: only mild spices can be used like coriander, cloves, cardamom, turmeric, nothing too hot.
- Pitta-Kapha: aromatic spices are good but not hot spices, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, turmeric.
These are but a few suggestions, with the seasonal adjustments being most important.