Brain Function: Balance vs. Imbalance

Your brain is your body’s master switch. If it’s not functioning at its best, several other parts of your body aren’t too.

Brain function and mental health are typically governed by your innate metabolic personality or prakruti. In fact, your brain activity reflects your prakruti. For instance, in ‘light and quick’ people, the frontal executive system of the brain, which deals with attention switching, detecting errors, decision making, and emotional input, is more active than in ‘slow and steady’ people. As a result, the former are overstimulated, quick to take action, and able to multitask.[1]

To observe how good your brain function is, note your behavior, mood, memory, attention, and learning abilities. Now think back to a time when you were in your best health, that is in balance. Everything you did was in tune with your metabolic personality. If you are still functioning pretty much as before, with a little adjustment for your age and stress levels, you are in balance.

In Balance

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Every metabolic personality has unique advantages when it comes to brain function. Allowed to function in a supportive environment and at their own pace, people from each personality can stay balanced and happy.

Light and Quick (Vata)

  • You are perceptive and sensitive. You notice what’s going on around you.
  • You are creative and your head is abuzz with ideas. You often have out-of-the-box solutions.
  • You grasp ideas quickly and learn fast.
  • But since you have a short-term memory and a short attention span, you do best at short-duration tasks. Anything long-term bores you since you need constant stimulation. You are also good at multitasking.
  • You talk fast and react impulsively. You usually speak your mind. Sometimes, you may overreact.
  • You are moody, with distinct highs and lows. When you are in a good mood, you are great to hang out with.

Slow and Steady (Kapha)

  • By nature, you are calm, composed, and compassionate.
  • You are moderately creative. You are more methodical and like sticking to routine.
  • You are extremely detail-oriented, but you learn things slowly and by repetition. Once a plan of action has been established, you execute it well.
  • It takes you a while to shake off inertia and find motivation before a new task. But once you are on board, you work hard to achieve perfection. You have a strong long-term memory and a good attention span. So you work better in long-term projects.
  • You have a measured response in words and action to most situations. It is difficult to rile you up. You speak softly and slowly.
  • You have an even mood most of the time. Since you are nurturing and loving in nature, most people find it easy to confide in you.

Intense (Pitta)

  • You exude confidence and passion. You find interest in a lot of things, especially anything involving a physical or mental challenge.
  • You are dynamic in your approaches and can quickly think of a solution to a tricky problem. You do not give up easily.
  • You learn purposefully and quickly.
  • Any project can get you excited. You work in a goal-oriented way, sustaining the same level of motivation and focus through the project. You have a strong memory.
  • You are always alert and can react very quickly to challenges around you. You decide quickly, sometimes acting on the impulse.
  • You tend to have a short fuse. You speak confidently and sport a no-nonsense attitude. You are known to be the life of the party.

Slight to Moderate Imbalance

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In the course of the day, or a period, depending on a variety of factors like the season, diet, lifestyle, stress, or incidents around you, you would tend to fall out of balance. If the trigger for this imbalance is temporary – say, stress is mitigated or you readjust to your new environment – the imbalance can be fixed with a proper diet, lifestyle, and the herbs that are right for you at this juncture.

Light and Quick (Vata)

  • You are very sensitive, nervous, and feel the world is behaving unjustly with you.
  • You have many ideas but they are not turning out to be well-fleshed. Your attention span is shorter than it used to be. You find it difficult to focus on one task at hand and tend to flit between tasks. You are probably reading more than one book at a time. Your memory is a tad fuzzy now, especially when it comes to the details, thanks to the lack of focus.
  • Some days you speak a lot, some days you bottle up your emotions and avoid human contact. If pushed, you would probably end up snapping at people.
  • Your mood swings are more frequent, with very distinct highs and lows. Your mood may change rapidly. Emotions seem to be on the surface.

Slow and Steady (Kapha)

  • You feel lonely and low, often for no reason. You find little interest or excitement in anything.
  • You feel lethargic, sluggish, and drowsy. Your mind feels blocked or foggy. Because you procrastinate on every task, it’s now difficult to stick to routine.
  • You need a lot of motivation to start a task. But once involved, you can become obsessively engrossed, creating imbalances in other aspects of your health.
  • You have low self-worth but rather than talking to anyone, you bottle up your emotions. You find it too tiring to meet people, but with one or two dear ones you could become clingy.

Intense (Pitta)

  • You feel easily irritated and angry. You can also become jealous of others successes.
  • Nothing seems to please you. You lose your patience easily and are critical of yourself and others.
  • You experience burnouts which are marked by a feeling of malaise and an unwillingness to do anything.
  • You can become domineering and express yourself sharply.

Severe Imbalance

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When you let a minor imbalance stay unaddressed for a long time, negative tendencies associated with your energy type become stronger, almost leading to disease. If the imbalance seems to be severe, progressive, and disruptive, speak to your healthcare provider. Your diet, lifestyle, and the herbs can be further modified to support your treatment.

Light and Quick (Vata)

  • You become insecure and fearful. You feel targeted and persecuted.
  • Because of anxiety, you experience dizziness, nausea, fatigue, abnormal breathing, and panic attacks.
  • You could develop several types of phobias, social anxiety, and bipolar disorder. You may even feel suicidal.

Slow and Steady (Kapha)

  • You have low self-esteem, pity yourself, and try to cling to others.
  • In extreme stages, you can go into depression. This is different from feeling blue once in a while. When depressed, you want to withdraw from all activities, feel exhausted after regular everyday tasks, experience uncontrollable emotions, including guilt and shame, and may even feel suicidal.

Intense (Pitta)

  • You have severe and uncontrollable anger. You could become reckless and hostile.
  • In extreme stages, you can suffer from psychosis.

Living to your best every day is impossible without an active, uncluttered, and sharp mind. To consistently make sense of the world and act appropriately, keep your brain functioning optimally with the right kind of food, herbs, exercise, and activities.


1. Travis, Frederick T., and Robert Keith Wallace. “Dosha brain-types: A neural model of individual differences.” Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine 6, no. 4 (2015): 280.