Recently, I had the opportunity to interview over 30 students concerning their individual struggles in implementing Ayurveda into their lives. Again and again, the students revealed that they felt confused and unsure about their constitutions. This was in spite of the fact that many had previously studied Ayurveda and/or taken online ‘guess your dosha’ tests.
It reminded me that I, too, had taken many online tests and struggled for years to determine who I was according to Ayurveda. There were some questions whose answers jumped right out, things that I was certain about. Other areas, such as my digestion, elimination, weight and certain aspects of my personality, remained a mystery. When I finally had a personal ayurvedic assessment with my teacher, I vehemently disagreed when she informed me that I had more Pitta and less Kapha than my self diagnosis. Looking back, the intensity with which I disagreed with her assessment only validated the predominance of Pitta she spoke of.
Here are 5 problems with online dosha quizzes:
1. Quizzes are reductionist. All three doshas exist in varying degrees in each individual.
2. They conflate symptoms ( vikruti) with your long term healthy patterns (Prakruti)
3. They provide a snapshot of whats going on for you right now, rather than your long term patterns.
4. They don’t take into account how your current diet, lifestyle, age and environment affect your dosha.
5. They play to our tendency to answer based on an idealized versions of ourselves, i.e., who we want to be rather than who we are.
Truth be told, online tests rarely reveal who we really are. I equate dosha tests with a daily online horoscope. There are 12 zodiac signs and 9 billion people. Your zodiac sun sign is a general way of describing you. It’s not accurate, it can’t be, as it simply doesn’t take into account your unique personality based on all the planetary alignments at the exact time you were born. If you’ve ever had your complete natal chart done, you provided the astrologer with all the information needed to precisely determine who you are. The same professional assessment, based on the necessary information, offers a deeper understanding of your dosha.
Online tests don’t provide a context that outlines the specific role the doshas perform.
Vata manages Air and Ether and is responsible for all our physiological functions, like thinking, moving, speaking, breathing, digesting, eliminating and more. Pitta manages the elements of Fire and Water and is responsible for converting and metabolizing food, sunlight, visual impressions, thoughts, etc into a form our body can use. Kapha manages the elements of Earth and Water and is responsible for our physical structure, such as skin, muscles, bones, organs and all fluids in the body.
Your constitution (prakruti) defines your unique Psycho-physical makeup and functional habits. In other words, it describes your healthy long-term patterns. The doshas, however have unlimited ways of expressing themselves, hence why we call Ayurveda an individualized system of classification. What works for one person may not work for someone else.
To truly get a sense of who you are requires an analysis of your physical, functional, mental, emotional and spiritual layers. Far more than just your appearance, your regular long-term patterns of diet, lifestyle, relationships and the many ways you interact with your environment are assessed.
The goal of an Ayurvedic practitioner is to identify and treat the presenting pathology (vikruti) as well as the root cause of disease. Once the pathology has been balanced, your constitution will reveal itself. For example, if you frequently experience digestive symptoms of bloating and gas, this is an imbalanced aspect of Vata dosha. These symptoms, (vikruti) mask your deeper, more permanent constitution( prakruti). The root cause of your symptom may be what you are eating, or it may be driven by other factors such as your emotions.
What we currently present, is what we mistakenly associate as our constitution, when in actual fact its the imbalances that are masking our constitution. Simply put, what we currently present may not be who we truly are.
Think about it. How well do you truly know yourself? Its taken me ages to get a better understanding of who I am…and truth be told, even now, my husband, friends and mother see aspects of my personality that I am still unaware of. I have concluded (reluctantly) that I may not always be the best qualified person to assess who I am. This fact, combined with my deep respect for this modality, is why I have an ongoing relationship with a professional Ayurvedic practitioner.
Your dosha describes everything about you. I liken it to a road map to wellness and disease. It can reveal everything about you, including physical and psychological functions, psycho spiritual aspects, personality, health challenges, exercise preferences, choice of friends and partners as well as how you dress, spend money, furnish your home, optimal career choices, preferred climate, physical environment and more.
Clearly, there is no way that a dosha test can determine those aspects of you. Its a wonderful fun way to play and get an idea, but its not complete, because you are a wonderful complex unique individual. Online quizzes are simply not the standard for dosha analysis, so don't be surprised if your practitioner tells you your dosha is different from the results of your self-test.
Call to action
Consider or revisit an online test you may have taken, what does it say about you. Were you able to use the assessment to make changes and improve your life? Have you ever consulted with an Ayurvedic practitioner and if so was their assessment different to yours? Let me know your experiences by leaving a comment on the blog.
Let me know if you may be interested in my upcoming online course “Discovering your true Nature” an in depth Ayurvedic assessment to understand your constitution coupled with individual coaching with an Ayurvedic Practitioner. …..
I hope that you find this blog interesting and that you’re curious to find out more.
Please leave a comment on the blog and share your challenges and successes when taking an online dosha test.
All my love and gratitude
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