If you have read even a little into the science of Ayurveda, you will have more than likely come across the words vata, pitta and kapha. These words represent the Ayurvedic constitutions or doshas.
- Vata – Vata is ruled by ether and air. The qualities of vata are light, cold, dry, rough, mobile, subtle, and clear.
- Pitta – Pitta is ruled by fire and water. The qualities of pitta are light, sharp, penetrating, hot, oily, liquid, and spreading.
- Kapha – Kapha is ruled by earth and water. The qualities of kapha are heavy, slow, cool, oily, smooth, dense, soft, stable, gross, and cloudy.
When you hear these terms in conversation they are often referring to a persons particular constitutional makeup i.e. “I am a vata”. It’s important to note that even though we might be predominant in one dosha or another, all three doshas are a part of our make up. In fact, the reach of these elements move into all aspects of life, including time. Yes, I just said that, TIME!
The stages of life can be broken down within the three constitutions. Once we go through it, as Ayurveda always does, it will seem magically intuitive.
- Kapha – Kapha is found in the beginning stages of life when we are growing. Essentially birth – 16 years of age. Childhood is about growing! Imagine all the work the body is doing to build new tissue, accumulate body mass, and literally grow the skeletal structure- it’s like WOAH! The body needs an enormous amount of kapha in order to move through this stage of life.
- Pitta – Pitta is instigated in the middle stage of life when we are in pursuit of ourselves. You can see it approximately through ages 17- 50. We get a lot done in this stage of life! We have found our identity (or are working on it!), we develop our skills and gifts, assert ourselves into our career(s), and evaluate our experience of life. It is all about achievement, which is pitta in nature.
- Vata – Vata is uncovered in the end stage of life when we are moving closer to oneness with ourselves. It’s predominant in ages 50 and above. This stage of life is all about maturity, wisdom, mastery and sharing. We often look to our elders for their advice as we know they have learned a lot throughout their years of life. This phase of life is also when we start to see the body begin to weaken and take on more vata type qualities.
Pretty cool right? Not only can we view the doshas in relationship to the stages of life we can also look at them via time of day, types of food, seasonal changes and so much more. The list is really endless.
But why is this helpful to us and what can we draw from this knowledge? The more we can know and understand the changes we are subjected to the more we can nurture ourselves through them to avoid imbalance. For example, a woman entering into menopause might be going through a rash of new experiences of vata quality- she might be having trouble sleeping, her skin might feel dry, her body temperature could be variable. Knowing that this stage of life is ruled by vata, she can be prepared and nurture that dosha to help avoid uncomfortable imbalance. To help balance her sleep issues, she might take up a strong evening routine practice and incorporate herbs for sleep support. For her dry skin she might nourish herself with sesame oil from head to toe daily. And for her hot flashes she might change her diet and look to some amazing herbs in order to support bodily temperature regulation.
Of course these three stages of life are offered in general terms, this concept can be very fun to work with. What stage of life are you and can you make correlations to when you were in other stages?
To learn more about applying the doshas to the stages of life enjoy this amazing article from Banyan Botanicals Blog written by Melody Mischke.