The Three Doshas
At the heart of Ayurveda is its concept of the three Doshas, or the three different basic types of human constitu-tion. Ayurveda recognizes three primary life-forces in the body, or three biological humors called Vata, Pitta and Kapha, which correspond to the elements of Air, Fire and Water respectively. These three Doshas, in their natural and disturbed states, give life to the body, and also destroy it. By understanding the three Doshas, the individual may understand their nature and determine a unique treatment or lifestyle adjustment unique to one’s own needs.
|Vata||Cold, Dry, Light, Irregular, Fast, Mobile, Rough, Changeable||Air|
|Pitta||Hot, Oily, Light, Penetrating, Soft, Sharp, Malodorous||Fire|
|Kapha||Cold, Wet, Heavy, Regular, Slow, Dull, Static, Smooth, Dense and Cloudy||Water|
The biological Air humor is called Vata, which means literally, ‘that which moves things’. It contains the secondary aspect of ‘ether’ as the field in which it moves. The spaces in the head, joints and bones all serve as its containers.
Vata governs movement and is responsible for the discharge of all impulses both voluntary and involuntary. It works mainly through the brain and nervous system. In the digestive system, it relates to the lower abdomen, particularly the large intestine where gas (air) accumulates. The sense of touch and hearing, which corresponds to the air and ether elements, are part of it. Vata is the force that di-rects and guides the other Doshas because life itself derives from air. Vata allows for agility, adaptability and facility in action. Its power animates us and makes us feel vital and enthusiastic.
Vata rules the basic mobility and sensitivity of the mental field. It energizes all mental functions from the senses to the subconscious.
Functions of Vata:
- Responsible for all the movements of the body, even at the cellular level.
- Controls the metabolic processes. Due to its stimulating action, it is responsible for the catabolic process as well.
- Controls the movements of the other two doshas., Pitta and Kapha
- Cell Division
- Stimulates all sensory and motor centers
- Controls respiration
- Controls the normal function of the intellect.
- It is the originator of zeal and joy.
The biological fire-humor is called Pitta, which means “that which digests things”. Fire cannot exist directly in the body, but is held in hot liquids like the blood and digestive fluids. For this reason, Pitta contains a secondary aspect of water.
Pitta governs transformation in the body and mind, as digestion, and assimilation on all levels, from food to ideas. It predominates in the digestive system, particularly in the small intestine and liver, where the digestive fire operates. It is also found in the blood and in the sense of sight that corresponds to the fire element. Pitta is re-sponsible for all heat and light from sensory perception down to cel-lular metabolism. Mentally, Pitta governs reason, intelligence, and understanding—the illuminating capacity of the mind. It allows the mind to perceive, judge and discriminate. Anger is its main emotion-al disturbance, which is fiery, heats us up, and helps us defend from external attacks.
- Heat production
- Increase appetite and thirst
- Maintains color, luster and complexion of skin
- Maintains vision
- Increases the catabolic processes
- Improves the mental activities
- Concerned with various emotions like joy, fear, anger and courage.
The biological water humor is called Kapha, meaning “that which holds things together”. It contains a secondary aspect of ‘Earth’ as the boundary in which it is held, the skin and mucous membranes. Kapha governs form and substance and is responsible for weight, cohesion and stability. It is the fluid solution, the internal ocean in which the other two humors move. It constitutes the main sub-stance of the body. It provides for proper lubrication and discharge of secretions. It cushions the nerves, mind and senses.
Kapha predominates in the bodily tissues and in the upper part of the body—the stomach, lungs and head where mucous accumulates. It relates to the sense of taste and smell, which correspond to water and earth.
Kapha governs feeling, emotions, and the capacity of the mind to hold onto form. It gives mental calm and stability but can prevent growth and expansion. Desire and attachment are its main emotional imbalances, the holding onto things in the mind, which can over-burden the psyche.
- Constitutes the main body mass
- Responsible for strength, stability and firmness of the body.
- Maintenance of body fluids
- All anabolic processes including growth and development of the body
- Healing of wounds
- Responsible for particular mental attitudes, zeal, knowledge, memory, absence of greed, forgiveness
- Negative mental qualities like
Determining the Individual’s Dosha
Every person (and thing) contains all three doshas. However, the proportion varies according to the individual and usually one or two doshas predominate. Within each person the doshas are continually interacting with one another and with the doshas in all of nature. This explains why people can have much in common but also have an endless variety of individual differences in the way they behave and respond to their environment. Ayurveda recognizes that different foods, tastes, colors, and sounds affect the doshas in different ways. For example very hot and pungent spices aggravate pitta; but cold, light foods such as salads calm it down. This ability to affect the doshas is the un-derlying basis for Ayurvedic practices and therapies.
Balanced tri-Dosha means a healthy person—A balance among the tri-dosha is necessary for health. Together, the tridosha governs all metabolic activities. When their actions in our mind-body constitution are balanced, we ex-perience psychological and physical wellness. When they are somewhat unbalanced, we may feel uneasy. When they are more obviously unbalanced – when one or more of the three dosha influences are excessive or deficient-discernible symptoms of sickness can be observed and experienced. Regardless of the percentages of vata, pitta, or kapha influences, your basic constitution represents your psycho-logical and physical nature. When balance is maintained, health is at optimum.
Taking the dosha test: Choose the best definition to describe the following traits. When finished, find the total score for each category. The dominant score is the dominant Dosha. The second most domi-nant score is the constitution ancillary. Together, the three scores represent your unique mental and physical make-up. If the scores are all relatively balanced, this indicates a tri-Dosha (balanced) disposition.