1) Age (Three Stage of Life) and the Doshas
We evolve through three different stages of life, each related to the functions of the dosha that predominates during those years.
Childhood is the Kapha stage. The body grows and builds and constantly demands nourishment to develop strong tissues. Symptoms related to disturbances of Kapha are more common in the childhood stage (i.e.: colds, mucus and congestion). Dry and warm foods will help greatly.
The Pitta stage begins at puberty and lasts through-out the middle years. Teenagers will often experience acne or pimples during this stage as fire increases, and conditions such as acid indigestion are more likely. Cooling foods and meditation will bring back balance.
The Vata age begins at about 55 years or with menopause. Metabolism (Pitta) starts to slow down and the tissues (Kapha) are not replenished so easily. Often, dryness in the body becomes more evident (Vata), followed by the degeneration of the tissues. Oiling the body and proper nutrition can balance this dryness.
No matter what your dosha, you will experience a relative increase in Kapha during childhood, in Pitta during your middle years, and in Vata after menopause and during old age.
The larger environment in which we live affects and expresses the three doshas. For example, plants and herbs have doshas, and so do animals and minerals. Just as we are unique so are flowers that each have their time and a season to bloom.
There are rhythms to each day and master cycles connected with the doshas that run throughout the year. As long as we don’t interfere our body flows with these cycles. This is why air travel can disrupt Vata due to time change leading to jet lag.
Each season has a dominant dosha. Fall and early winter are Vata (Winter) times of the year. Kapha (Spring) predominates in the late winter and early Spring. The warm seasons of late spring and summer are Pitta's (Summer) domain.
Nature tells us that that spring is a heavy time of year relating to the structural parts of the body. Summer is hot and stimulating so connected to the digestive system and Wintertime is cold and dry, just like the dry leaves falling off the trees, water freezes etc. It represents movement in the body controlling the nervous system and the mind.
The Spring-type is at risk of imbalance in the spring lifecycle and the same applies for the other two seasons. So prevention is key to maintain balance. For example, it is important not to feed your children foods that will aggravate their tendency to make mucus and instead reduce cold foods and drinks, cheese, desserts, ice cream, cold cereal and milk, a Big Mac and pizza.
Foods should be selected according to the child's dosha and the current season. For example, in the summer, the Pitta child should avoid sour foods and long exposure to the sun while the Kapha and Vata children should avoid cold foods or foods taken directly from the fridge especially in winter.
Nutrition plays a very important role in keeping balance. An Ayurvedic diet will consider the quality of the food, the child‟s dosha, age, state of health, and the season, time of day and environment in which the child lives. A certain kind of food may increase or decrease a particular dosha, and the same food may create a different effect on the dosha depending on how it is prepared. It is essential to recognize that any food can be harmful or health promoting depending on its preparation, time of consumption and the current health of the child.
A raw carrot, for example, will increase Vata due to its cold and crunchy qualities, while cooked it will subdue vata due to its warm and moist properties. You may also notice that some foods may be good to eat in the morning, yet the same food consumed at night may cause imbalance in the doshas.
As well, certain foods may increase a dosha, yet when prepared with certain spices, will be more balancing. For example, white basmati rice tends to increase Kapha, but prepared with warming spices such as cumin and black mustard seeds, it will become balancing and digestible by people of the same constitution.