Ayurveda is an empirical based, natural healing system with 5000 year old roots. The Vedas are oldest-known scriptures that outline Ayurvedic philosophy. Choosing to live a life according your nature is the foundation of health according to Vedic knowledge. Food and lifestyle are the means to achieving abundant energy and radiance. When body, mind and soul are connected and in balance, and the lifestyle honors this connection, health and wellness are at an optimal level.
According to Ayurveda, there are three principle biological energies that flow through the body. These energies are called doshas. The doshas govern all physical, mental and emotional processes. Each person is a unique blend of the 3 doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. These doshas combine in varying degrees to form our personal characteristics. The unique combination of the energies, or doshas, is essentially what creates our personal blueprint. We are therefore, unique in every sense of the word.
Each dosha is created from specific elements, and these give the dosha their specific characteristics. To understand how this translates to our personal characteristics, we should look at the elements first, and their properties. In Ayurveda, everything that is natural has inherent properties that describe them.
Called “Aakasha” in Sanskrit, this is the element of space, and is the subtlest of all the elements. It is the space which allows the other elements to exist. Space is more easily understood as the emptiness and lack of shape or form. Ether requires the impetus from the other elements to move and change, however for this very reason it is very easily disturbed. Ether has the properties of being inherently light, dry and cold.
Air is called vayu in Sanskrit and is the second of the five elements. Air is highly mobile, light and dry. Air is synonymous with prana or lifeforce. Of the 5 elements, air is the most vital as the human cannot survive for very long without it.
- Space and Air together form the vata dosha, and this energy takes on the qualities of these two elements. In the body, vata dosha is responsible for all movement. Nerve impulses, circulation, movement of the digestive track are some of the functions governed by vata.
- Individuals who are vata dominant, are generally very active, creative and easily excitable. They are very expressive and are at their best when challenged with multi-dimensional tasks. These are the people that love to be spontaneous, and love taking on new challenges because they love the novelty of something new. However, vata dosha is also the most susceptible to imbalances because of it highly mobile and sensitive nature.
- Vata types would fare well to balance this high level of activity with some warm, grounding practices. Out of balance, vata types are prone to dryness in skin and hair, pain, insomnia, and anxiety. Self-care is essential to keeping vata in balance.
In Ayurveda, the fire element is known as Agni and is essential to the human body. Without agni, the food we eat would not be converted to energy and essential nutrients. Agni also gives us the fire that we harness for reaching our potential and fuels our desires and ambitions. It is the source of all energy. Agni has the qualities of being light, hot, dry, sharp and flowing.
In Sanskrit, water element is called Apa. The average human body is about 60% water. Water is essential to the life of every cell. Most of the major organs in the body are made mostly of water. Consistent replenishing is absolutely essential for the optimal function of the human body. In Ayurveda, water has the properties of being cool, stable, heavy, moist, and smooth.
- Physiologically, Pitta dosha is the energy that is responsible for all transformation that occurs in the body. Pitta fuels digestion by transforming the food into essential nutrients and energy. Pitta dosha also is responsible for the process in the brain which converts visual sensory stimuli into recognizable images. Pitta also enables the production of the hemoglobin in the blood.
- Psychologically, Pitta dosha is also responsible for the drive, ambition and achievement of the human being. It is what gives us the spark and motivation to achieve.
- Pitta dominant people are generally ambitious, outgoing and great leaders. They are medium build and usually have fair, oily skin. Out of balance, pitta types can be aggressive, angry and irritable. Symptoms of an imbalance can include heartburn, reflux and skin disorders. Pitta would do well by bringing cooling and soothing practices into daily routines.
Earth element is the grounding and highly stable mahabhuta. Earth gives us the solid matter and structure in which all the other elements can survive. The building blocks of the human body are created from the earth element.
The water and earth element of the kapha dosha provides the stability for vata and pitta dosha to function freely. Kapha types are generally well built and sturdy individuals who are dependable, stable and loving. They prefer routines and can be relied upon to be kind and supportive. With large, watery eyes, and thick skin, these individuals usually have thick luxurious hair. They love eating, sitting and sleeping. Out of balance, Kapha types can become stagnant, lethargic, and sluggish. Kapha types need warming and energizing practices to keep them at their best.
*Please note: these statements are not to be taken as a medical prescription or advice. Statements made on this page are for informational purposes only. Please consult with your medical professional before changing your diet or lifestyle. Statement have not been verified by the FDA, and should not be taken as medical advice.