About Ayurveda

The Subtle Art of Transformation

Ayurveda evolved thousands of years ago in the Vedic culture of the Indian Sub-continent. People lived in a close relationship with with Nature and her rhythms and the Ayurvedic system is based on the detailed observations that this relationship engendered. The senses conveyed a highly refined awareness of the patterns in Nature and humanity’s place within the scheme of things.

Having a healthy digestive “fire” is the foundation of health according to Ayurveda, not burning too slowly, too high or too erratically and thereby extracting nutrition effectively without creating toxic by-products. This process can head of many potential health issues before they become more entrenched, making the understanding and application of Ayurvedic awareness and understanding an excellent and self-empowering preventative health practice.

With understanding, we can modify our diet and lifestyle to harmonise our unique body-mind type with balancing foods and seasonal changes.

According to Ayurveda everything in Nature is comprised of all five elements that combine in varied proportions creating endless variety. The three different bio-types called “doshas” are comprised of pairs of the five elements that naturally attract one another and operate as a particular kind of intelligence in the body-mind . Different doshas are suited to different qualities in diet and lifestyle. 

It is important to realise all five elements and all three doshas are present in everyone, but when ascertaining your Ayurvedic profile, we are looking at the predominant doshas and their tendencies. Most people are “dual dosha”, meaning they have two predominant doshas, displaying the physical and psychological tendencies of these doshas more strongly.

When you scroll down and view the different qualities of the three doshas, you will notice Vata dosha and Kapha dosha have completely opposite qualties, except for one, that they are both cold in nature and need more warming influences in diet and lifestyle. Pitta provides the warmth in the body and mediates between these two doshas.

You will also learn more about how different Ayurvedic types are suited to different qualities in diet and lifestyle.

The five Ayurvedic “elements”  earth | water | fire | air | space are not elements as we usually understand them. They are the subtle causative energies behind matter, akin to quantum fields. When we are conceived, these energies combine to give us our unique Ayurvedic “blue-print”.  This Ayurvedic profile remains unchanged, however we change constantly in relation to it as we interact with the living environment. 

Why  not explore your own unique nature with a Ayurvedic Consultation, and begin applying easy, subtle changes that will tune you up and make life sing 🙂

THE five elements & the THREE DOSHAS

Qualities: dry, light, quick, mobile, erratic, hard, contracting, cold

Vata-types are typically skim, with prominent joints and delicate, dry skin and hair. They can have a tendency to speak and think quickly and are generally more sensitive than most, due to Vata being the primary influence in the nervous system.

Vata types are prone to feeling the cold more easily than most as they literally have less sub-cutaneous fat. This also makes their finely tuned nervous system closer to the skin, increasing that sensitivity. When out of balance they may exhibit erratic eating patterns, dry skin, tight muscles, become ungrounded easily & have difficulty sleeping or staying asleep. Vata has a quick, moving quality that influences the mind and can make it more difficult to quieten.

They need warmth, regularity, nurturing and a warming, slightly heavier, grounding and nourishing diet with healthy oils to counter Vata’s drying and light, airy tendency.

Vata types can be eccentric, and impulsive due to the erratic nature of the moving wind element. Their natural creativity can express itself in any area of life, as long as they maintain focus which they do best in a regulated and supported environment. They are best suited to working in a free-form style with a dependable support system that recognises their unique gifts. This enables them to bring forth their delicate and subtle creativity and vision,  to draw things “out of the Ether” or Space element that combines with the Air element to create Vata energy.

They tend to “follow their own drum”. Vata types especially need to develop pastimes that bring them into their body as they are more likely to drift of into their minds as the mind is so strongly connected with the nervous system and this system is primarily the domain of Vata.

***Anyone can have a Vata imbalance as Vata controls the nervous system and the movement of the two other doshas. Our world is highly overstimulated so Vata can easily go out of whack with most of us these days, regardless of our Ayurvedic Birth Profile. This imbalance will affect different Ayurvedic profiles in different ways. Being the most easily unbalanced of the three doshas and is implicated in most health issues.

An Ayurvedic consultation is recommended to understand the different effects of any imbalance as we are all different and are affected differently.

Qualities: Hot, light, penetrating, light, sharp,  slightly oily, soft, intense, passionate

Pitta-types are typically of medium athletic build, speaking clearly & confidently. They tend to be warm, inspiring, adventurous,  naturally ambitious and competitive,  appear confident, often with natural leadership qualities. They “consume” life and this fiery energy rules the digestive “fire” along with many other transformative processes in the body including the endocrine system.

As Pitta rules the digestive enzymes, when Pitta types are hungry they need to eat….NOW!

When out of balance, Pitta types are prone to inflammatory diseases of the skin or digestion and can become easily “heated” or feel compelled to “blow off steam”. If insecure or anxious they can become controlling or irritable.

Pitta types may have very high expectations, and need to guard against being overly critical of themselves and others. They can be impatient as they tend to “get things” more quickly than others due to their penetrating mind.

They thrive in cooler environments, with cooling foods that emphasise sweet, bitter and astringent qualities, plus adequate hydration, a balanced approach to competing and a realistic idea of their capacities,

Ruled buy the Sun, Pitta types should avoid outdoor activities when the hot sun is high. Enjoying Moon bathing is particularly beneficial.

Qualities: Cold, wet, heavy, slow, soft, static, dense, slippery, heavy, stable, solid, oily,  unctuous

Kapha types are typically of a heavier, stronger build, move & speak slowly and calmly, love to nurture, have excellent stamina and memory are loyal and difficult to ruffle. They often have beautiful limpid eyes, thicker hair and long lashes. They “tear up” easily due to their natural heart centredness and the predominance of the water element.

Kapha energy is often the quintessential “salt of the earth” type, dependable, loyal and nurturing energy. They are attractive to children due to their kind and stable natures. Needy adults may also be attracted, so Kapha types in particular may need to learn to guard against being drained by “energy vampires”. They tend to “hold on” to things and often relationships beyond their use by date due to excessive loyalty, due to a need to feel needed. Ruled by the Moon, Kapha is a feminine energy that likes to approach activities intuitively and not be rushed. This is the most deficient dosha in the world these days!

If out of balance, Kapha types feel heavy, are prone to congestion of mucus, congested facial skin, sluggish, slow digestion due to a lack of fire element, swelling/water retention, lethargy and heavy, unmotivated type of depression, often linked to congestion in the head that dulls the senses.  They thrive best with stimulation, activity and a warm, dry, light diet. Kapha is responsible for the structure, moisture and cohesiveness of the body and it’s processes.

Kapha has a sweet, sour and salty tendency in the body and is balanced by bitter, pungent and astringent foods. Their sweet nature can be reflected in  a sweet tooth, but unfortunately, sugar is particularly unsuitable for them as is salt (water element retaining). 

The three main combinations are Vata/Pitta | Pitta/Kapha | Vata Kapha

Vata/Pitta types will be dynamic, creative, impulsive types, the race horses of the Ayurvedic spectrum who are often brilliant due to the penetrating Pitta mind combined with the wide open receptivity of Vata. They, in particular need to guard against burn-out, due to Vata’s sensitivity and Pitta’s often overriding drive. They are particularly prone to a hot dryness and will particularly dislike hot, dry wind.  The water component of Pitta can be denuded by Vata’s drying quality and this can lead to an array of health issues including wiry, tight muscles, unpredictable digestive fire, and inflammatory osteo- arthritis.

Pitta/Kapha combines to make an excellent, worldly combination of fiery drive and Kapha stamina and compassion, making for excellent managerial skills and practical pursuits generally. They also combine Pitta’s athleticism with power and endurance, so they can be physically formidable! They are used to having stamina, but may realise later in life that even they can overdo things as they are used to being pretty invincible! They may develop health issues involving Kapha’s static tendency to block energy, leading to an unhealthy build up of heat in the body, that may create a feeling of not being able to release energies both physical and emotional.

Kapha/Vata types are more rare, although they can be easily mistaken for Pitta as their build “cancels out” with the combining of the ethereal type body and the more stocky Kapha body type appearing as a medium build, traditionally a Pitta quality. Unlike Pitta though, they will feel the cold, and especially need to change their habits in subtle ways with the changing temperatures of the seasons. They are often almost angelic due to their Vata ethereal sensitivity combining with Kapha’s sweet and compassionate nature.

Of course, understanding the variations in temperament and personality with Ayurvedic insights is hugely beneficial in understanding our loved ones. Issani also offers Relationship Consultations to understand just where two people compliment each other, and where the possible clashes may arise. 

Most people have a more complex Ayurvedic Blue-print with more than one Dosha pre-dominating.

Book your appointment with Issani to find out how to live in balance with your personal Ayurvedic Constitution.

The five elements dance through the seasons

During dry, cold Autumn and Winter winds, the air and space elements increase, manifesting as cold, dry, mobile, erratic influences. Because these are qualities of the Air/Space – Vata dosha will lose balance more easily during this time and may develop the classic manifestations of excess Vata like insomnia, dry skin, constipation and anxiety. These effects of extra cold and dryness in the environment can be countered by grounding, moistening, warming foods and life-style adjustments. Those with a Vata Birth Profile will be more susceptible, but if you are, for example, a Kapha or Pitta type with a lot of stress for example (Vata relates to the nerves), you may find yourself also manifesting signs of a more excessive Vata imbalance during these conditions.

During the wet, cold weather, the water & earth elements increase, especially affecting Earth/water –  Kapha types, manifesting as running streams and running noses! More dry, warming and stimulating foods and life-style adjustments are beneficial to counter these elements.  Those with a Kapha Birth Profile will be more susceptible, but if you are a Vata or Pitta type with, for example, an excessively mucusy diet (Kapha controls the fluids of the body – water element), you may find yourself also manifesting signs of a more excessive Kapha imbalance during these conditions.

Similarly in the Summer heat, the fire element is easily unbalanced affecting Fire/water – Pitta types the most. Pitta types, being intense and hot, are often attracted to these qualities, whereas the opposite will keep them more balances. of course, the effect will depend on the season. In  Summr, Nature provides us with cooling, moist fruits and vegetables to counter this influence. So….not the best time to have a hot curry every night! Yet, again, there are no harsh rules. Even the occasional curry in the heat can be mitigated by cooling coconut milk and mint lassis and is fine more often for Pitta in the cooler weather, as long as they don’t have health problems linked to an imbalance of excess Pitta.

If you are, for example, a Vata or Kapha type with excessive heat in your body, perhaps from too much heating food in your diet, you may can also find yourself also manifesting signs of excessive Pitta.

The effect of any imbalance will be slightly different depending of your Ayurvedic Birth Profile. This is where Ayurveda becomes more complex and a trained practitioner is helpful.

It’s all about understanding and balance and eventually you will realise just what elements you are adding to your foods and pastimes. It’s fun!


The elements are reflected in the six tastes:

So, you can see how the intricate relationship between our lived experience via our senses, has a direct impact on our body and it’s processes. Along with the six tastes, textures and temperatures also play their role. For instance, hard dry, cold foods increase Vata, moist, slippery, cold foods increase Kapha and Pitta does best with a slightly moist, slightly heavy and cooler diet. Temperature from and Ayurvedic perspective applies to both the inherent temperature, as in cinnamon is inherently warming and to the actual temperature, as in cinnamon is in a mug of hot chai, not sprinkled on a cold bun.

Bitter taste is often lacking in our diets, but it exists in most greens in a milder form – another reason eat your greens!  There is a reason many medicinal substances are bitter.

Foods like grains and milk are seen as sweet in Ayurveda. Unrefined sugars only are recommended. As like increases like, the sweet taste affects the three doshas differently.  As the sweet taste is related to the water and earth elements, it mostly aggravates and increases the water/earth Kapha types, who are more likely to have dairy intolerances, dairy being seen as increasing the Kapha qualities of  sweet, cold and heavy. Being sweet natured, Kapha’s are often attracted to sweet treats as this is their elemental nature. However, they are least suited to assimilating too much sweet taste, as they are already “sweet enough!” having a pre-dominance of water/earth elements. Kapha is the body type most prone to diabetes and obesity.

Vata, however, being air/space benefits from the sweet taste as it has the grounding earth and moistening water elements.

Pitta, fire/water types often intuitively crave sweet foods when they overheat, because they need the cooling, moistening and harmonising property of this taste. Being “hot” and “intense” in nature, Pitta’s often love the Fire/Air element of the pungent/hot taste which will, of course, increase Pitta in the body, so Pitta types should minimise this taste particularly on hot days, to avoid inflammatory conditions.

It is important to introduce these patterns in a non-rigid way. Occasional exceptions won’t do much harm but regular or daily patterns will, over time, cause imbalance that can lead to disease of chronic health issues.

So, you can see how foods affect different people in differing ways.

An important Ayurvedic principle is to include all six tastes in every meal, and making seasonal adjustment according to our Ayurvedic profile. It is only when there is an imbalance or the likelihood of it due to environmental and seasonal pressures that we look at strongly adjusting the proportion of certain tastes and qualities and introducing herbs with particular balancing properties. Having all six tastes represented in an appropriate amount for your profile provides your body and soul with a sense of satisfaction. Cravings will diminish when we follow our Ayurvedic wisdom  because your body receives what it actually needs.

Recently, modern science has “discovered” taste buds in our digestive tract. Ayurveda has always recognised that foods change taste as it moves through the digestive tract. Our body has evolved a highly attuned response to taste that puts a whole intricate array of biochemical responses into play, setting up the incredible process of digestion. This intelligence of the body needs to function coherently for health to be maintained and for us to thrive. Just think how the thought of a squeeze of lemon affects our taste buds. These reactions are taking place at subtle levels with all foods and smells. This is why a calm, relaxed atmosphere is so important at mealtimes. Eating when we are stressed, distracted or angry harms the digestive process. We need to connect with our senses of taste, smell and texture to send the right messages to our body. As the food we eat becomes our tissues and our energy, eating in harmony with our unique constitution confers many health benefits and enhances longevity.