Have you ever wondered what actually accounts for differences in people? Why are some people hyperactive and fast moving, while others exude grace and stillness? Why can some people eat a five-course meal with ease, while others can barely finish a salad? Why are some people inherently joyous, while others carry the weight of the world on their shoulders? Modern genetics offers some insight, but what about the characteristics and idiosyncrasies that make every person unique? Ayurveda answers all of these questions with the Three Doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. The doshas are biological energies found throughout the human body and mind. They govern all physical and mental processes and provide every living being with an individual blueprint for health and fulfillment.
According to Ayurveda, everything that exists in the universe is made up of PANCHMAHABHUTA or the five elements; earth, water, fire, air and space (ether). All that exists in the universe, exists within us. We all contain these same five elements in different amounts. When prana, the energetic equivalent of breath, or the life energy mixes with the five elements, the doshas are formed. There are three doshas or constitutions: Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Vata dosha is formed when prana mixes with the elements air and space. Vata governs all movement. The qualities of Vata are light, dry. airy, quick, and cold. They are thin and either tall or short. They have asymmetrical features. When Vata people are in balance, they are creative and easily adaptable. They have a great way with words. When Vata people are out of balance, this leads to fear and anxiety.
Pitta, heat, is made up of the elements fire and water. Pitta governs digestion, nutrition, metabolism and body temperature. The qualities of Pitta are hot, sour, pungent, sharp and acidic. Pitta people have strong digestion. Their build is athletic. When Pittas are in balance, they are intelligent, cerebral and sharp. When out of balance, they are hot and easily angered. Pittas tend toward rashes.
Kapha which is the flesh body or the mucus body and is made up of the elements earth and water. Kapha is our bones, muscles, teeth and everything dense in our bodies. The qualities of Kapha are slow, steady, heavy, oily, and cold. When Kapha people are in balance, kapha people are loving, nurturing and grounded. When out of balance, they are needy, melancholy and heavy in body and mind.
PRAKRITI or Our constitution
Just like we contain all of the elements, we all contain Vata, Pitta and Kapha as well, but in varying degrees. Our dosha is determined at the time of conception. This is our constitution or our Prakriti which we are born with and it never varies. It is like our thumbprint. Most people are dominant in two of the doshas. It is more rare to be tridoshic, to have equal amounts of all three doshas.
VIKRITI or Our condition
Vikriti is our condition. or a disease or Dysfunction
Vata, pitta, and kapha are each essential to our physiology in some way, so no one dosha is better than, or superior to, any other. Each of them has a very specific set of functional roles to play in the body. That said, when the doshas are out of balance, they can wreak havoc on our health. Imbalances can be caused by stress, emotional trauma, as well as poor diet and lifestyle choices. In most cases, these disturbances cause an increase in one or more of the doshas, upsetting the natural state of internal equilibrium represented by one's constitution.
When the doshas become aggravated, each of them disrupts the body in its own way. Therefore, vata, pitta, and kapha are each associated with a particular set of health challenges, and tendencies toward disease. While we are all susceptible to an excess in any of the three doshas, we also tend to be somewhat predisposed to imbalances in our predominant doshas.