What is Ayurvedic Self Pulse Diagnosis?

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  • Written By: KD Morgan
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  • Last Modified Date: 07 March 2020
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Ayurvedic self pulse diagnosis is a technique where you learn to read and heal your own body. It stems from vedic knowledge over 5,000 years old which views the body, mind and spirit as one. Like the Chinese pulse diagnosis from the ancient Yellow Emperor’s Medicine Book, Ayurvedic pulse diagnosis uses the approach that perfect health is our birthright and it should be enjoyed throughout our lives.

Any disease is viewed as an imbalance that can be corrected. It is explained that disease results when undigested food (ama) turns toxic and obstructs the energy channels of the body. The most common adjustments are diet or lifestyle. In some cases, herbs will be added to the prescription. Ayurveda uses the whole plant when prescribing herbs, as the intelligence of the plant needs to be present in order for healing to be complete.

The premise in ayurvedic self pulse diagnosis is that when the mind and body are aware of each other, that they can take care of each other. This causes a self-awareness experience that naturally integrates the body and mind. In addition, the objective experience of checking the pulse will dictate the correcting prescription required in bringing the body back into balance.


Doshas and subdoshas are instrumental in ayurvedic self pulse diagnosis. According to ayurveda the intelligence of the blood transmits information via the bloodstream throughout the body. Specific combinations of the five elements; fire, water, earth, air and space form the principles, or doshas, vata, pitta and kapha. These three principles can be felt in the pulse.

Vata is expressed as movement within the physiology. Pitta is experienced as heat and metabolization, and kapha is seen as structure. The specific details of every bodily function as well as how that function expresses itself within the context of the entire body can be understood by these three doshas. Maintaining a balance of the doshas according to a person’s individuality is considered the basis of perfect health. Only when the doshas get out of balance will a person experience discomfort and disease.

Ayurvedic self pulse diagnosis uses the radial artery to investigate the patient’s state of health. The technique begins by placing the index finger just down from the natural bump at the thumb side of the wrist (radial styloid). Place the middle finger, followed by the ring finger so that the three fingers are placed on the radial artery in succession. For men, the right wrist should be used and for women, the left. You will need to hold the pulse wrist in the investigative hand so that the fingers will wrap around the hand in order to be in the correct position.

To begin the technique, just rest your three fingers gently on the radial artery, close your eyes and relax. Soon you will pick up your pulse. If not, press a little deeper until you feel your pulse. If you have difficulty finding your pulse, it would be beneficial to practice on someone else until you become familiar with the feel and can find your own pulse easily.

Finding the doshas in your pulse is pivotal to ayurvedic self pulse diagnosis. Each finger represents one of the three doshas. Your index finger represents vata dosha, your middle finger is pitta and your ring finger is kapha.

Each of the doshas express themselves according to their own characteristics. The index finger, which is vata, can be thought to feel like a snake. Vata being air and ether will slither through your fingers. Pitta being fire and water will be strong and hop like a frog at your middle finger. The elements of water and earth that make up kapha glide across your ring finger pad like a swan.

Next experiment with going deep into the pulse and then very lightly on the surface until you can comfortably find your pulse at any intensity. It is usually best to start by going deeply enough to stop the pulse, then slowly lighten the pressure until you feel your pulse pick up again. Then remain there and experience the vata (snake), pitta (frog) and kapha (swan).

This deep pulse represents your true essence or your specific nature where your soul’s knowledge and wisdom reside. The deep pulse is your body’s balanced state (prakriti). This is your body’s own particular formula that supports a perfect state of health.

Our superficial or surface pulse is a great diagnostic tool that represents the mistakes that have been created in our body and where the imbalances can be detected. This is where we need to recognize the spikes and inconsistencies in our pulse. If our deep pulse and our surface pulse are in synchrony, then our doshas are in balance.

There is a third pulse to consider which is located between the deep and the surface pulse. Ayurveda considers this the junction point which links the two pulses together and integrates consciousness and the body. We experience this pulse more intuitively and recognize and locate the imbalance at its inception. By simply experiencing the pulse at this level, we can reestablish and balance our doshas, even if our intellects cannot grasps the process. The act of attending to your pulse will also aid the healing process as your body responds to that influence.

As you progress in your studies of ayurvedic self pulse diagnosis, you will become aware that the pulse feels unique at different places on each finger. For example you may discover that specific locations on the pad of each finger have a stronger or more prominent pulse than others. This additional breakdown of the dosha detail will give you more precise information regarding your imbalances.

Within each dosha, there are five subdoshas, or subdivisions, that can be felt. Each subdosha governs specific areas of the main dosha. This helps us to further understand what imbalances are affecting our body. The pad of each finger has designated areas for each subdosha.

The five subdoshas of Vata are:

  • prana vata
  • udana vata
  • samana vata
  • apana vata
  • vyana vata.

Pitta subdoshas are:

  • pachaka pitta
  • ranjaka pitta
  • sadhaka pitta
  • alochaka pitta
  • bhrajaka pitta

The subdoshas of kapha are:

  • kledaka kapha
  • avalambaka kapha
  • bhodaka kapha
  • tarpaka kapha
  • shleshaka kapha

The best way to familiarize yourself with the feel of the variations in the pulse is to begin taking your pulse right after a meal. This is a time when your pitta pulse will be at its strongest because your digestion will be activated. Next begin taking your pulse during the changeover times between vata-pitta-kapha. This is a time when you can feel the subtleties flow from one dosha to the next.

There are professionals (vijas) available to check your pulse and confirm your findings. It is best to consult with these experts periodically until you become fluent with your ayurvedic self pulse diagnosis practice. Checking the pulse of others is also a good exercise to accustom yourself with the details of the pulse. This will help you recognize all the variations possible and familiarize yourself with the subtleties. Once you have learned ayurvedic self pulse diagnosis, you will be able to research any disease or inconsistency in your body or of your loved ones.


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Discuss this Article

Post 4

What is meant by gulom roga?

Post 3

The ayurvedic self pulse is really more than a diagnosis. When we are ill and go to the doctor, the doctor can check our visible symptoms and then diagnose what the illness is.

But the ayurvedic self pulse can tell us about imbalances and potential problems with our body before there are any symptoms. So it's really like a prevention method, rather than a treatment of symptoms after the imbalance has lead to a disease.

Post 2

I followed the article and tried doing this. I was able to pick up the pitta really strongly. It really does feel like something is hopping!

It was hard to differentiate between the deep and light pulse though. I can tell that this takes a lot of work and experience to get right. I might just try checking the synchronization of the pulses for now until I can find someone who can show me how do it exactly.

Where can I find a vija? Should I check with an Ayurvedic Treatment Center to see if they can teach me?

Post 1

I would really love to learn how to do this. I find that having the comfort of being able to visit the doctor at anytime sometimes prevents us from exploring and understanding our own bodies. But I think that this is the first step to being healthy because no one can know us better than ourselves. This method sounds like a great way to begin doing this.

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