Most people speak of how aromatherapy started in the 1960s. This is partially true, but essentially it developed from the much older Indian medicine tradition,  Ayurveda. In Ayurveda, the practice of using oils for massage, abhyanga, is recommended daily. Which oils and how to use them, very much depends on the imbalances you may be experiencing. In turn, these imbalances depend on one’s dosha. So, we often get asked which dosha am I? Today’s post should help you get to understand that a little better.

Which Dosha Am I?

So, the first thing to say is it is unlikely that you will just be one dosha. It’s far more likely that you have tendencies toward two or that you move between all three.

What Are The Doshas?

There are three doshas: vata, pitta and kapha.

Simply put, the doshas are energetic states, which describe a person’s body, mind and spirit.

They are both their predisposition and transient states.

Let’s think about those transient states first, then it will be easier to understand. 

Introduction to Ayurveda

Our bodies are subject to huge amounts of stress, day to day, but most of us don’t give that a second thought. That is, until things start to go wrong. The practice of ayurveda is a system of wellness which is both preventative and restorative.

Ayurveda acknowledges that as part of the miracle of nature, humans also change with the seasons,  and with the day’s natural flow into the quietness of night. It uses many natural elements to help maintain that balance, from herbs and spices used in decoctions and tisanes, oils massages, certain dietary plans, to yoga and breathing systems called pranayama.

Unfortunately the Sanskrit words Vata, Pitta, Kapha do not have direct English translation, but essentially they refer to states of being. 

Their overarching themes are:

Vata: movement

Pitta: transformation

Kapha: lubrication

Your dosha is determined the moment you are conceived and remains with you. Most people tend to have elements of two or all three doshas, although a truly tridoshic (three doshas) person would be unusual.

The Elements Of Your Internal Universe

Ayurveda medicine works on the principle that everything in the universe exists in elements:

    • Earth
    • Air
    • Water
    • Fire
    • Ether (which you could also consider to be space)

They believe that the ultimate state of perfection is nothingness.

Inside of that state exists everything; all earth, air, fire, water and ether.

Disharmony of these states can often manifest as dis-ease.

I’ve always found the concept of everything existing in nothingness very difficult to grasp.  I find it easier to visualize it as if it were the colors of sunlight.

Sunlight is white (or maybe yellow I guess).  But if it shines through a raindrop, it bends and splits the white ray. Then we can see every color of the rainbow residing with it. Before it was disturbed, we could not see that. 

So then, imagine a ripple disturbed our nothingness.It fractures into doshas. 

Perhaps that ripple might be a strong emotion.  Inflamed emotions inflame the body two. These ripples might make you more ambitious or calm you. But the doshas are affected by many things including health,  the seasons and food which stimulates or pacifies them.

Chapter 2: Understanding Your Internal Universe

Remember the elements: Earth, air, fire, water and ether (space).

Now we think about how these elements affect each other. These interactions make up the dosha.


Vata dosha is imagined as a combination of air and space. So, the elements are  best visualized as a wide desert landscape where nothing impedes the wind over the sand. The energetic picture is left behind as it leaves snake marks over the sand.

We are then able to clearly discern what the effects of vata might be. The predisposing attributes of vata dosha is dry, brittle and moving. It empowers the movement of muscles and tissues as well as governing any involuntary movements we have . Think breathing, blinking, heart beating, as well as cell metabolism.

Dryness is  very much a vata indicator.

Think about standing on those sand dunes as vata energy whips around you. Eventually, excess moisture will be gone.

We tend to become more vata as we age…that is we get drier.

When in balance, vata is creative and flexible but if it should fall out of kilter fear and anxiety take its place. Vata can be a very restless energy if left out of check.


When water and fire come together they cook. This is the energy of Pitta.

Pitta energy represents the energy of transformations and regulates body temperature. Absorption and assimilation of vitamins and minerals from our food is giverned by pitta energy.

Imagine how fire and water work together. For the most part, fire is contained by the water. Water can put out fire but, if you add another ingredient (oil for example) they become an explosive energy. 

Pitta dosha is sharp, hot and reactive. Thus if body fluids become too pitta dominant, they become fiery…think bile, urinary infections, diarrhea….. All these are pitta dominant conditions.

The word inflamed is a keynote to pitta dosha. 

Inflamed tempers, inflammation in the joints and inflamed skins. 


The Earth and Water elements come together to make the dosha Kapha.

When you were a child you’ll likely have made mud pies, so this is often the easiest combination to understand.  Kapha dosha is heavy and solid. It is structure, and form It is the protection of the internal structures. It is the digestive lining.

The solidity of the earth represents the bones, muscles and tendons as we would guess. The water  element manifests as the synovial fluids which lubricate the joints. Kapha dosha supplies water to the joints. It moisturizes our skin and balances immunity.

In the nervous structure, kapha dosha influences the myelin sheaths which contain and insulate nerve fibers.

When kapha is in balance,  we enjoy nourish the lives of those around us. (Nourish is very kapha word). We support them, let them grow and spread out. It is expressed as love, calmness and forgiveness. But imbalanced kapha becomes unbalanced you are likely to see attachment, greed and envy. Imagine a climbing plant able to spread and explore, but if left out of control it strangles smaller surrounding plants. Cloying.

Which Dosha Am I? Appearance

Vata Dosha

People who have a predominant vata dosha tend to be small build, athletic frame. They have little bones and were probably very slender as a child. 

They are both naturally small people, but also because vata dosha makes them very active. They are always on the go. They talk a lot, move their arms about, and are expressive.

Often they will have very flat chests, and they have narrow hips. They have small, underdeveloped muscles which are lithe and strong. Sometimes, although not very often, vata dosha types might also have disproportionately large chests.

Pitta Dosha

Pitta dosha have medium build, athletic bodies, and would have been this way as a child.

Their hips and shoulders are medium  and well proportioned. Their breasts are medium sized tooIf they put weight on, it will accumulate across the body evenly.

Pitta dosha people tend to be the people who have the most success losing weight, more because their mental tendency is to be dogged and determined and to plan things well. 

Kapha Dosha

Kapha dominants are  your big builds. They can often look square because of their big shoulders and  strong powerful physiques.  Physically they usually look quite square and can be heavy chested.

They were likely to have been chunky or plump as children. They are heavy set,  have strong stable frames and thick lustrous features. 

As you would imagine, they have lovely well lubricated joints, so they move easily, are strong and use their bodies effectively for physical activity.

If they do put on weight,  it will usually  accumulate around the hips and bottom. It goes on easily, and it’s hard to shift.

Kapha can usually be seen by looking at your skin. Think liquid. When kapha becomes dominant the skin appears oily, it may have a silky sheen and be prone to breakouts. Kapha dominants also usually have the luck of lovely large white teeth.

Which Dosha Am I? Skin Types

Which dosha am I if I have dry skin? Probably vata 

Which dosha am I if I have sensitive skin? Likely pitta 

Which dosha am I if I have oily skin? Kapha, probably. 

Vata Skin

Vata dosha skin is very dry, and is often cold to the touch. The skin is often flaky. Likewise, a vata dosha person’s hair and nails can often be brittle too.  Their hands are usually lovely and slender but their nails can be brittle with  a tendency to ridging.

Often they are ragged from biting and have hangnails. The color of the nails may also have a bluish cold hue.

Vata dosha people often suffer from eczema or psoriasis and their  often looks a bit leathery because it is so dry. .

Vata dosha complexions are pale with an almost  greyish cast to them, or may be very dark. Vata dosha people tan easily and it would be unusual for them to get sunburnt.

Again, Which dosha am I can often be answered by thinking about the skin on your feet. Cracked? Calloused…yup, all vata dosha things. It that wretched desert wind.

Pitta Skin

Pitta dosha people often have very pale skin that burns easily, is very sensitive and prone to redness. Rosacea, allergic skin and generally sensitive skins are all aligned to the pitta dosha. skin is normal or very slightly oily.

The classic pitta dosha complexion would be fair or red hair, very pale skin and freckles. The internal temperature of a pitta person is hot, so their skin is usually warm to the touch. As stated, the skin is delicate, reactive, but can also be prone to wrinkles. Oily or combination skins, pitta dosha people often have the T Zone of grease across the forehead, down the nose and onto the chin. As such, they suffer from blackheads a lot, sometimes whiteheads, and these will be your main candidates for acne.

Their skin can often be very itchy. They are prone to rashes and covered in moles.

Another charming thing about pitta dosha people is they struggle to hide anything, which you’ll see when we talk about their personality. Here, though, what’s relevant is the redness rises easily on their pale skins, so they blush…a  lot!

Kapha Skin

Kapha Dosha people  have lovely thick, creamy pale skin.  Their pale skins burn after long exposure to sun, but then quickly go golden brown. Kapha skin is cool to the touch but they rarely suffer from cold hands or feet.  Their complexions have a tendency to oiliness and even open pores.

Which Dosha Am I? Hair

Vata Hair

Vata dosha hair looks  wiry, kinkyand often frizzy. it tangles easily and can be prone to split ends. Dandruff is common, as are combinations of dry and oily patches in the hair.    

Pitta Hair

Remembering these are those with hair hair, pitta dosha people often have blonde, red or prematurely greying hair.

Their hair is lustrous and silky thanks to all that lovely oil, but it can get greasy very quickly in the warmer weather. People with this dosha often go bald prematurely

They have light and fine body hair. 

Kapha Hair

The hair on their heads may be light or dark but always thick, heavy and wavy.  It is always lustrous and glossy..

They often moderate amounts of heavy body hair.

Look out for Kapha Hands. Their nails are strong and thick and the nail beds tend to be symmetrical and square and quite pale pink in color.

Which Dosha Am I? Face

Vata Dosha

Eyes are often very dry and may be prone to itching, their·eyebrows are thin, as are their noses and ears.

Vata dosha people often have dry lips that crack, and anatomically, they are likely to have different sized upper and lower lips. The teeth might be irregularly sized and protruding and their gums often recede.

Pitta Dosha

Pitta dosha are very sensitive to the sun and to chemicals too. So, you’ll often see fine red lines in the whites of the eyes.

Their eyes are sharp and penetrating. They have a very direct glare.

Their mouth and lips are usually medium sized and equal, the nose is too. Their ears have largish lobes and are often red and hot to the touch. (Volcanic if they happen to be blushing too).

Teeth can be problematic for people with pitta dosha. They will be yellowish and have problems with bleeding gums and cavities.

They often have yellow or orange furriness on their tongues and often have  sores in their mouths.

Kapha Dosha

Kapha dosha people have exotic and heavy features. Their eyes are tranquil dreamy pools. They are steady and calm.

Their mouths tend to be medium sized mouths but their lips sensuously full. Their lips are lovely and moist and mesmerizingly kissable!   Their noses are wide with thick nostrils as are their ear lobes.

Their teeth are large  and gleaning white. Their tongues can have a tendency to get a white coating, or even a slightly green tinged one.

Which Dosha am I? Movement

Vata people are restless and very busy. They think, speak and move quickly. They are always moving about…they seem to dart from place to place. Even their thoughts are fast and you’ll notice their eyes dart about too.

Pitta dosha  people have  good tone and coordination.  Their movement is direct, precise and assertive. Watch out for their direct gaze and way of speaking.

Kapha dosha people are graceful and relaxed.

They have superb coordination and muscular tone. They make work look easy. As long as their mind is engaged in the job, they will work long and hard into the night.

But actually,  the kapha would prefer not to be moving at all. They like to be still.

Which Dosha Am I? Thought Patterns


People with vata dosha have very quick minds. They think fast, learn quickly, understand abstract concepts easily, but then they also forget.

These are the most intellectual people, rather than practical ones. They like to brainstorm, theorize and imagine.When they speak, they speak quickly, but it will take them ages to make their point because they are long winded and get drawn off on tangents on the way.

Fascinatingly they seem to think in words rather than pictures, which I guess might also account for their minds being less practical.

Their short term memory is better than long term, and his forgetting is almost like a super power for them. It means they are also very good at forgiving and forgetting, so vata people do not really hold grudges either.

Life is too short for that kind of thing, and anyway, they are onto the next thing. Vata people hate routine. They love to travel and to switch things up. They never have useful habits to guide them, they get in the way of the need to just up and explore. They are creative and chaotic people, and their living space says the same, clutter, stuff and excitement everywhere. They have fortunes full of paraphernalia, that they buy on a whim and then…you guessed it…that fad is over and they are on to the next thing.

Considering that the predisposing energy of vata is movement, you might guess that making decisions is also very difficult for them…they kind of vacillate back and forth like a pendulum.

It’s not surprising then that emotionally, vata dosha people are prone to mood swings and anxiety. They are easily knocked off center by life and stress tends to make them fearful and excitable.


When it’s balanced, Pitta energy is focused and intelligent. There is understanding and tolerance aplenty, but pitta dosha out of balance is sharp tongues, volatile anger and spitefulness. 

If you upset a pitta dosha person, boy will you know about it. They are always direct in their speech anyway. Their minds are too fast for you to outargue them and their eyes feel like they will penetrate your soul. They won’t care about that…if they are angry, they’re going to savage you






Pitta Dosha At Work

Because they have such fast minds, pitta dosha people learn relatively easily, and they have  reasonable memories. When they learn something new, or have an idea, they want to understand practical applications of things, rather than the abstract way that vata people do. 

Pitta dosha people have  strong and forceful personalities. Their energy is ambitious, driven and motivated. These people are confident, courageous and aggressive. Pittas are planners and organizers. They are the people who are always driving the get togethers. They have extraordinary abouts of energy. They are sociable, so love to chat and see everyone. 

They are leaders, action takers and catalysts. Hear them at the front, taking the lead, they have strong clear voices. Their offices are a marvel, being efficient, precise and orderly. Excellent brainstormers and planners, they also have tremendous self discipline. Part of that comes from how determined they can be, but also how stubborn. Pitta dosha make gryeat sales people because they will knock on the door over and over so many times, it will eventually open just to shut them up. They are optimistic and they do not give up. 

Their competitive natures mean they are perfectionists. They expect nothing less from themselves than perfection, which is great for their bosses but perhaps not so great for them. They are very enterprising folk, exhibiting great pride in what they do. However they are also quite prideful people which can get quite nasty if not kept in check. Pitta dosha are very proud people.

Pitta Dosha and Money

Money wise, they are efficient managers, and they are unlikely to spend for the sake of spending. These people love luxury, so things are sumptuous and lovely around them.

We’ve spoken about how spiteful pitta dosha can be. In balance, these are tolerant,

gregarious and social people. However, they can get irritated very easily. What’s amusing is to watch their faces. They couldn’t hide annoyance at people who are slower than they are even if you paid them.   Out of balance, pitta dosha has the potential to be  vain, vengeful, jealous,  and self centered.

In balance, pitta dosha is competitive, but out of balance, it is compulsive and obsessive, so…you will often also see burn out.


Kapha dosha people are calm, placid, tranquil. They are very tolerant people with fortitude and courage. They are generous with money and kind words and actions are unfailingly loyal.

On the downside they can become dull. This heavy disposition can err on the side of depression. Because they do not have this fire in their spirit, their creativity is restricted to practical ideas rather than social ones, so they can be quite  narrow-minded  and bigoted. 

It’s not unusual for them to remain in lower ranked jobs because they plod on and do not have the drive upwards. Why would their managers promote them too? They make them look good. Their lives would be a lot more difficult if they had to replace them.

Kapha dosha, out of balance, looks  greedy, overly attached, envious and possessive.

Kapha at Work

Kapha people love routine. They live life by their created healthy habits. Lucky you if you happen to have a kapha person working with or for you. Everything is filed at the right time. They are plodders and have the most immense stamina. Kapha people are grafters working like elephants.

Elephants are a good image for kapha imagery, because it also speaks to their memories. They learn relatively slowly but never ever forget. Once they learn a skill, they will be brilliant at it, able to churn it out perfectly over and over again.

There is a lesson in business seminars about processes. The presenter asks “Would you leave a load of 16 year olds to run your business?” Everyone looks a bit hesitant and laughs nervously. “McDonalds does it every day”. That’s a very kapha thing. Easy process…make everything as simple as you can, replicate, replicate, replicate. The wheel that turns easily, like a perpetual motion machine. For kapha think: stable, reliable, steady. They are reliable, trustworthy and loyal.

Vata people think in words, pitta think pictures,  kapha dosha think more in terms of   logistics and practicality. They are very concrete thinkers and can create things in their heads far more comprehensively than other people. Whatever you do, don’t ask them to explain how they are going to do something without getting them to put it down on paper. They can visualise so far in the future, it’s almost impossible to keep up.

They make everything at work look easy  and can always be relied upon to deliver. 

Kapha Dosha and Money

Kapha people don’t relish excitement really. Home is where the heart is, and of any where they would want to be, Kapha loves home best. They are good financial managers, able to create budgeting habits and save money easily. They are not stingy. It’s just that they understand that life is easier if something has been stored. The kapha person is OK as long as they are OK but, hurt them and they burn through the cash and eat their emotions.

They don’t have that much to say. Their love language is to do things rather than to talk about it. They don't really speak unless you speak to them. You may have to work hard to have a conversation with them. They have soft and gentle voices. Their speech is slow, deliberate and kind. If they are encouraging and supportive people (think of them like the columns of the temple, taking the strain for everyone else. The Greek god Atlas was almost certainly a Kapha.)

If they do have anything to say, it is likely about how they can see that something could be done better. You’d do well to listen. Understanding workflow is their superpower.

They are not easily stressed but if they do, they can become fearful or very angry.  If you cross a kapha person, they won’t eviscerate you like a pitta will, but neither will you have vata forgiveness. They won’t even look your way across the street. They’ll delete your number, not out of vengeance, but it will be getting in the way of the efficiency of how their phone works.

Which Dosha am I? Reproduction

Vata Dosha

Vata dosha usually have good strong sex drives, but often their fertility is quite poor. This might partly be because their menstrual cycles are often off. They have irregular periods and when they do bleed, there is not that much of it. Vata dosha can often make menstrual loss very dark in color and clotted, which also means painful.

Pitta Dosha

They have a strong sex drive and are passionate people, but if their partner’s desire does not match up with their own, it can lead to very big arguments.

As you can imagine, menstruation is a nasty state of affairs for people who are pitta dosha. Blood flow is plentiful and bright red, and fearfully painful. It can also be accompanied by diarrhea.

Poor menopausal pitta women. They are hot even before menopause starts…then hormonal changes throw more oil on the fire…the bed is soaked at night, and hot flashes are unremitting.

Kapha Dosha

Kapha periods are relatively easy. They have average flow, blood is light colored. They may have mild cramping. Their menstrual curse is  water retention.

They have a steady desire and once engaged they will become deeply involved. They form deep attachments and are very fertile. Perhaps it’s their childbearing hips!

Which Dosha Am I? Digestion

Vata Dosha

Digestion can be spasmodic switching from constipation to diarrhea and flatulence is not unusual. This is often because they are so busy they forget to eat.

Pitta Dosha

Pittas are eaters…the more the better, and they adore spicy foods,  (It’s the heat you see) follow that with a bowl of ice cream. Delicious…until the constitution can’t keep up with the cold on the fire any more. Their digestion is fast, but sometimes can explode into heart burn. Then, things go terribly wrong. These are the people most likely to struggle with GERD. The acid explodes over and over again.

Kapha Dosha

Kapha dosha people have stable appetites but tend to be very emotional eaters.  They love sweet treats and starchy foods and crave smooth and creamy textures.

Digestion is steady but sometimes can become sluggish. This internal sense of earth and water can become like mud, and so you can imagine how hard it can be for them to go to the toilet sometimes, They are no bothered about missing meals and of all the doshas, kapha constitutions benefit the most from fasting.

Which Dosha Am I? Sleep

Vata Dosha

For many vata dosha people, this getting tired very quickly derives from terrilbe sleep (although sleeping very deeply is just as much a vata dosha thing. ) Their mind is often racing so much that they find it hard to fall asleep. They will often grind their teeth and even sleep walk.

Pitta Dosha

Unlike vata dosha, pitta dosha people tend to sleep easily. Their sleep is light but rarely broken. Even if they have several nights of light sleep, they will retain that inherent sharpness, able to concentrate and word despite tiredness.

Kapha Dosha

Kaphas sleep, sleep and then have another little nap to follow. If they feel a tad lethargic in the morning, they’ll go back to ed to remedy that.  You can’t rouse them very easily, but they wake themselves up with their hearty snoring.

Which Dosha Am I? My Seasons

Another great “Which dosha am I? “ question is “What is my innate temperature?” 

Are you usually hotter or colder than everyone else?

What season’s temperature best suits me?

Vata Dosha

Vatas are always cold, thus they adore the sunshine.

Despite (or perhaps because of) this incessant energy, they get tired very easily. Despite how much they move about, because they have this inherent dryness about them, they rarely sweat. 

If it's dry or windy, it’ll make them miserable. Psychically, they seem to sense that that desert storm is going to dry them out. 

Pitta Dosha

Pitta dosha finds the heat exhausting. These people prefer cooler weather.  Heat and humidity makes them irritable. Being near water, heals them. The tranquility of lakes or rivers in particular.

Where vata is dry, pitta has a wetness to it…so these people sweat a lot, and can really suffer from BO.

Kapha Dosha

Kapha people love warmth, sunshine and comfort. Humidity and damp tend to get into their joints. Other than that they are not affected by weather changes.

Which Dosha Am I? Essential Oils to Balance Vata Dosha

Think warming oils such as ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. These also help to get the digestion moving.

Moisturizing oils such as rose, geranium, vetiver.

Ones that ground and make them a little stiller: Sandalwood, vetiver, myrrh.

Choose rich carrier oils such as almond, rosehip and peach kernel that will balance the brittleness and flaky skin. Use in the names as well as on the skin.

Melissa, vetiver, basil oils can all help balance the memory and retention better. 

Which Dosha Am I? Essential Oils to Balance Pitta Dosha

Think cooling oils…lavender, jasmine, rose, chamomile, peppermint, yarrow.

Incidentally lavender, rose and chamomile are also proven to have anti conflict abilities.

Oils to balance oiliness and moisture: ylang ylang, hemp. 

Astringent oils such as clary sage and the citrus oils.

Ones that force the driven types to slow down 

Sandalwood, vetiver and valerian.

Choose carrier oils like jojoba and grapeseed that won’t clog the pores.

Which Dosha am I? Essential Oils to Balance Kapha Dosha

Motivating oils to make them a bit more likely to strive upwards for ambition 

Sweet basil, rosemary and peppermint.

Generally oils that are heavy in ketones are very helpful for kapha dosha, because they break down solidity. Tarragon and hyssop are good examples, but beware of checking the safety on each as ketones are not straightforward to use.

For constipation use rose or ginger depending on whether you feel they need warming or cooling.

If they are upset, use really nurturing oils like cedarwood and basil that will get them out of their heads a bit and vetiver to give them a great big bear hug.

Summary To Which Dosha Am I

Take a leaf out of the kapha play book and start creating healthy habits. Add oils into your daily routine as a preventative measure against disturbance and to help nourish your body, mind and spirit. Once you have started to answer which dosha am I, try to think in terms of how you can nurture it better.

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