Three Doshas of Ayurveda
In Ayurveda, doshas are the functional intelligences within the body mind complex. These dynamic energies manifest in the body through their qualities, specific sites, and the active roles they play in orchestrating the processes that create and sustain the body. In other words, they are the energies that make things happen in the organism. Ultimately, any aspect related to metabolic function and its relationship to health and disease boils down to the harmonious actions of the three doshas.
Ayurveda is a common sense science with a profound knowledge of all the systems and functions of the body (from the grossest to the most subtle aspects), but for practical purposes it is important to understand that any imbalance in the doshas is what really triggers the disease process. This is why Ayurveda encourages the prevention of imbalance and restoration of balance through the management of the doshas with a natural, down to earth Ayurvedic regime that includes proper diet and lifestyle, Ayurvedic herbs and herbal preparation, as well as dinacharya or daily healthy routines, yoga and meditation practices suited to your unique, individual constitution, Ayurvedic therapies for relaxation and rejuvenation, and Panchakarma for deep detoxification. These are the tools to your optimal health and long life with Ayurveda.
General Description of Ayurvedic Doshas and Their Manifestations in the Body
Most of us have a predominant dosha in our constitution, and some people have a dual doshic constitution, where two doshas are equally predominant. It is extremely rare to find someone with all doshas in equal proportions. In any case, is it important to remember that the body mind complex is a dynamic unity and all three doshas are constantly interacting with each other and with the environment. In Ayurveda, there are three dosha-predominant constitutions or Prakrutis (also prakritis): Vata predominant, Pitta predominant, and Kapha predominant; three dual dosha constitutions, where two doshas are equally or nearly equally predominant: Vata-Pitta, Pitta-Kapha and Vata-Kapha; and one tridoshic Prakruti with all three doshas equally prominent: Vata-Pitta-Kapha. The following are general descriptions and attributes of each dosha.
VATA: The Energy of Movement in Ayurveda
Vata is the principle of mobility that regulates all activity in the body —from how many thoughts one might have during a given period to how efficiently food moves through our intestines. Vata is in charge of functions such as the pulsation of the heart, respiration, circulation and elimination. It is responsible for joy, happiness, creativity and speech. Vata is also in charge of the vital life essence, or prana. Thus when vata (prana) leaves the body, life ceases.
The colon is the most important seat of vata dosha. Vata is also present in the nervous system as motor neuron impulses; in the ears; in the pelvic cavity, lower back, sacrum and thighs; and in the joints and skin. When vata is increased, there may be signs and symptoms connected to these locations.
Vata has the qualities or attributes of dry, light, cold, rough, subtle, mobile (erratic), and clear. These qualities translate into the makeup of the vata individual, as shown in the chart of vata attributes.
THE VATA INDIVIDUAL
|Qualities||Manifestations in the Body|
|Dry skin, hair, lips and tongue; dry colon, tendency toward constipation; hoarse voice.|
|Light muscles, bones, thin body frame; light, scanty sleep; tendency to be underweight.|
|Cold hands and feet; poor circulation; hates cold and loves hot; stiffness of muscles.|
|Rough cracked skin, nails, hair, teeth, hands and feet; cracking joints.|
|Subtle fear, anxiety and insecurity; fine goose pimples; minute muscle twitchings, fine tremors; delicate body.|
|Fast walking and talking; doing many things at once; restless eyes, eyebrows, hands and feet; unstable joints; many dreams; loves travelling but does not stay long at one place; swinging moods, shaky faith, scattered mind.|
|Clairvoyant; understands immediately and forgets immediately; clear, empty mind; experiences void and loneliness.|
|Dry choking sensation in the throat; hiccough, burping; loves oily foods and mushy soups; craves sweet, sour and salty tastes; tendency toward constipation.|
Physically, vata persons have light, flexible bodies and big, protruding teeth. They have small, recessed, dry eyes. With irregular appetite and thirst, they often experience digestive and malabsorption problems. Vata types tend to be delicate in health, so they may have few or no children.
In their behavior, vata individuals are easily excited. Indeed, they are alert and quick to act without much thinking. They may give a wrong answer but with great confidence. They have good imagination and enjoy daydreaming. Vata individuals are loving people but may love someone out of fear or loneliness. Fears of darkness, heights and enclosed spaces are not uncommon. Because of a tendency to change, vata people may often move furniture or residence to keep from feeling bored. They do not like sitting idle, and seek constant action. Due to their active nature, they make good money but spend it on trifles and have difficulty saving.
Any of the qualities of vata in excess can cause an imbalance. Frequent travel, especially by plane, loud noises, constant stimulation, drugs, sugar and alcohol derange vata, as does exposure to cold and cold liquids and foods. Vata people should go to bed by 10 p.m. since they need more rest than the other types. In general, people with excessive vata should dress warmly and eat warm, moist, slightly oily, heavy foods. Steam baths, humidifiers and moisture in general are beneficial. Daily oil massage before the shower or bath is also recommended.
General Guidelines for Balancing Vata Dosha:
- Keep warm
- Eat warm foods and spices
- Keep calm
- Keep a regular routine
- Get plenty of rest
- Avoid cold, frozen, or raw foods
- Avoid extreme cold
PITTA: The Energy of Digestion and Metabolism in Ayurveda
Pitta represents the Fire principle in the body. Everything that enters the body must be “digested” and assimilated, from sensory perception to food for nourishment. In addition to the gastric fire, pitta also includes the enzymes and amino acids that play a major role in metabolism, and even the neurotransmitters and neuropeptides involved in thinking. Some of the responsibilities of pitta are to regulate the body heat through the chemical transformation of food and to give a person appetite, vitality, and the capacity to learn and understand.
Pitta is hot, sharp, light, oily, liquid, and spreading in nature. It is sour, bitter, pungent to the taste, and has a fleshy smell. These qualities are revealed in the body of the pitta person, as shown in the chart of pitta attributes.