A dual dosha constitution doesn’t have to result in a duel of energies. Managing a pitta-kapha dosha predominance is easier than you might believe. Understanding how the elemental qualities and attributes of each dosha interact to form this powerful constitution is a good place to start.
Ayurveda rests on the principles of ‘opposites attract’, and ‘like increases like’. Managing an excess of a particular dosha means including its opposite qualities into your diet and environment. Similarly, the elements that make up each dosha lend us insight into how nature seeks to inherently balance us.
Pitta, commonly referred to as the fiery dosha, is also composed of water, which balances the fire element and prevents burning the whole place down. When in balance, those two elements work together to maintain steadily-burning agni (digestive fire). The physical benefit is healthy, fluid digestion, and metabolization of nutrients. The mental benefit is determination, ambition, and endurance.
Kapha is composed of earth and water. Without water, the earth element would dominate, resulting in hardness, resistance, and dryness, like stones. Too much water means mud: sticky and viscous. Either way, you’re not moving well. A balance of the kapha dosha manifests as healthy, lubricated joints and mental stability.
Merging & Managing Energies
Pitta has the attributes of hot, oily/liquid, and light. Kapha shares the oily quality, but otherwise is cold and heavy – exact opposites of pitta. This doesn’t have to spell disaster. Rather, there can be harmony in a constitution of opposites. It’s kind of like relationships. Opposing personality characteristics can make for a combative, destructive union or an expansive one in which both people complement and highlight the best in each other. Finding the right balance of togetherness and separateness is the key to success. Of course, this takes effort and understanding. The doshas are no different.
You’re likely not an even split of either dosha; one may be slightly more dominant. To find out what your constitution is, complete our 10-minute dosha quiz. We recommend re-taking the quiz occasionally as the external environment will influence the amount of each energy in your body and may affect your constitution.
The Scales of a Kapha Pitta Constitution
When these two doshas are in harmony, the skin is soft and glowing, joints are healthy, circulation is good, and digestion is fluid. Your quick-acting, clever pitta mind is stabilized by kapha’s grounded, rational nature. And kapha’s strong endurance complements pitta’s high energy.
When there is an imbalance in this constitution, the skin and hair are oily, acne may be present, sweat and mucus may produce in excess, and the body retains water. Kapha’s tendency towards sluggishness and lack of motivation ignites pitta’s frustration and impatience. It’s tough to be you on these days!
If any of this sounds familiar, you know that a balanced constitution is a much more comfortable and healthy state of being. But imbalances are normal in the cycles and rhythms of nature–we’d get bored if things were the same all the time! Knowing how to reestablish balance might be the sharpest tool in your health and wellness kit.
Eating Habits – Managing the Hungry Beast
In Ayurveda, food plays a central role in well being. Food also plays a central role in our culture, so we don’t want to be too rigid with diet. Food is nourishment, but it also provides enjoyment and meals are frequently the basis for social interaction. Both doshas love food. While pitta’s strong digestive fire can handle many different types of foods, kapha tends toward overeating and weight gain. Food should be consumed slowly and mindfully for any dosha, but for this constitution, this is very important because of the tendency to overindulge. Susan Weis-Bohlen, author of Ayurveda: A Beginner’s Guide, reminds us to note our first burp during a meal. That signals when it’s time to stop eating. If you don’t think you burp, pay close attention during your next meal, and you’ll realize this automatic response by your body to sufficient food. An Ayurvedic diet begins with understanding your constitution and some fundamental principles to follow.
Dosha-Happy Food Choices
The kapha penchant for moist, heavy foods can increase this energy and create a more alkaline digestive environment. This, in turn, can dampen agni and lead to digestive issues. Similarly, if pitta becomes too intense, acid build-up can deplete kapha’s protective ability of lubrication that supports the movement of waste through the digestive tract.
So, a balancing diet consists of foods that support an acid/alkaline balance. Warm, cooked foods with a cold virya help balance pitta’s hot quality and pacify kapha’s cold attribute. Watery foods like zucchini and squash, and wholesome grains like barley, quinoa, and wild rice are also recommended. Cooked, sprouted beans with vegetables comprise a wholesome, protein-rich meal and pacify both doshas.
Avoid the following foods: yogurt, sour fruits (eat sweet fruits in moderation), heavy dairy, nuts, and salty foods.
The Pitta-Kapha Clock
In Ayurveda, the tridosha have optimal times of day for activity because it marks when each dosha is most dominant and therefore is a good time to take advantage of its energy.
For kapha it’s morning and evening, between 6 and 10 o’clock.
For pitta, it’s midday and midnight, 10 to 2 o’clock.
Vata’s optimal time is in the afternoon and early morning between 2 and 6 o’clock.
A general recommendation for managing all constitutions is to rise in the early morning in alignment with the dawn. The hours between 3 and 6 a.m. are coined the ambrosial hours, stemming from the word ambrosia, which the Romans considered the food of the Gods (it also derives from the Greek word for ‘elixir for life’). With this in mind, rising in the early morning supports greater consciousness, vitality, and a deeper connection to the self (though I don’t feel so vital at 4 a.m.!).
So how can we use this information in managing this dual constitution? We can determine that around 10 o’clock, when the two energies overlap, are high time for harnessing the best of these two vital energies and establishing harmony between them. Notice how your energy changes around these times of day. During the kapha morning, pitta’s fire can motivate kapha’s tendency toward oversleeping. Likewise, during the pitta afternoon when the fire is burning bright, kapha’s stabilizing energy can keep pitta grounded and focused. Regardless of what time you wake, eat, exercise, and work, creating a routine is critical to maintaining a balance and managing any constitution.
Learn more about how to align with your natural rhythm.
Climate – Remember the laws of ‘opposites attract’ and ‘like increases like’. Because both doshas contain the water element, a humid climate will exacerbate both. A dry climate is most balancing for both doshas. Similarly, a hot climate will be too intense for kapha, so a moderate temperature with some seasonal variation is ideal for this constitution.
Exercise – Managing this constitution involves challenging exercise to support pitta’s strong motivation and need to be active, but with moments of rest to release pitta’s intensity and prevent overworking the muscles and burning out. Swimming is an excellent form of physical activity because of the double presence of water in this constitution. Connecting with this element supports both doshas well. Other forms are jogging (not running), cycling, and trekking. All require kapha’s endurance and support pitta’s need for heart-pumping action.
Experiencing the Best of Both Doshas
Managing diet and living habits help to balance the doshas inside us to counteract changes in the environment. This is why Ayurveda always uses diet and routine as a starting point for re-establishing balance.
A balanced pitta-kapha constitution is a positive, powerful force that can accomplish many great feats. By consciously managing your diet and routine, you can tackle great challenges with stamina and positivity with your fiery motivation and ability to stay grounded and endure hardship. You can also experience clarity, compassion, and joy quite easily. But equilibrium requires body awareness and knowledge of what causes imbalance and how to bring it back into harmony.
To learn more about the qualities specific to pitta and kapha, click here for a more in-depth look at pitta, and here for a close-up of kapha.
Linda Reynolds has studied and practiced Ayurveda and Yoga for more than 6 years. From a career in academia to a full-time freelance-writer and nomad, Linda has always enjoyed research and writing, particularly about topics that support increased self-awareness. Linda loves to sing, play guitar, do yoga, and take long walks in nature. Her greatest act of courage so far was selling everything she owned and leaving Canada to travel and discover a new way of life.