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AYURVEDIC TRIDOSHA THEORY
According to Ayurveda, the universe is made of five primordial elements, namely earth, air, fire, water and ether. These elements themselves are inanimate, but in combination, give rise to three main biological forces or principles in the human body, called doshas – , and, as every human being has a different balance of elements, one dosha is typically predominant in our constitution and ascertains our personality.
The Tridosha Theory
When the five eternal substances – space, air, fire, water and earth combine to form the human body, they do so by creating three vital energies, or doshas. These are the forces that govern all psycho-physiological functions in the body and mind respectively. They construct the body and serve to maintain it in a dynamic state of health. However, when these vital forces are aggravated, due to improper gross or subtle factors, the body- mind connection begins to suffer and the disease process begins.
It is the most powerful among the doshas. Formed by the interaction of space and air, Vata is movement, the body in motion. Warm food, moderately heavy textures, added butter and fat; salt, sour, and sweet tastes; soothing and satisfying foods, All are good for settling the disturbed Vata. Use food such as: warm milk, cream, butter, warm soups, stews, and hot cereals, fresh baked.
Formed by the interaction of fire and water…the polarity of these two elements plays an important role for Pitta, which regulates the body metabolism and transformations in the body’s form. Cool or warm but not steaming hot foods; bitter, sweet, and astringent tastes, are what are perfect for this body type. Take cool, refreshing food in summer. Reduce the consumption of salt, oil and spices, all of which are “heating” to the body. Salads are good, so is milk and ice cream.
It is formed by the structural properties of earth, with water in its role as a lubricant to different tissues of the body, which also aids strength and adds stamina to the body. Warm light food, dry food, cooked without much water, minimum of butter, oil and sugar are recommended for this body type. Stimulating foods with pungent, bitter and astringent tastes and deep fried foods are best avoided. Eat lightly cooked foods or raw fruits and vegetables. ‘Eat’ spicy, bitter and astringent foods. Watch out for eating that little bit extra, a typical Kapha tendency
Tridosha: The Science Of Ayurveda and the Three Doshas (Vata, Pitta, Kapha)
The ancient science of Ayurveda is the oldest known form of healthcare in the world. Often called the mother of all healing, it originated in India some 5000 or more years ago.
Recently Ayurveda has been having a profound impact upon the world of health care. Popular books by Deepak Chopra, M.D. and Andrew Weil, M.D. have called attention to the potential of this ancient healing system to bring healing to those suffering with chronic disease. In addition, Ayurveda promises to improve the health and longevity of just about everyone.
Ayurveda is a science of Self understanding. By understanding your own unique nature or constitution, you can begin to understand how you interact with your environment and thus make choices that will lead you toward greater health.
Ayurveda defines disease as the natural end result of living out of harmony with one’s constitution. Our constitution is the inherent balance of energies within our bodies and our minds. It describes who you are on the most fundamental level. This unique balance of energy determines everything from our bone structure to our predisposition toward certain health challenges. Our constitution defines what we are naturally attracted to as well as what repels us. It defines what is in harmony with our nature and what will cause us to move out of balance and experience sickness and disease. Because we all have a different balance of energy, Ayurveda shows that the path to optimal health is different for each person depending upon their constitution.
The science of understanding our nature or our constitution is the science of Tridosha. Tridosha defines the three fundamental energies or principles which govern the function of our bodies on the physical and emotional level. The three energies are known as vata, pitta, and kapha. Each individual has a unique balance of all three of these energies. Some people will be predominant in one while others are a mixture of two or more. Let’s look at each of these now.
The vata dosha is said to be made up of the air and ether elements. This means that it has qualities which are similar to these elements. Vata is very much like the wind–it is light, cool, dry and mobile. In the body, those people with a vata nature experience more of these qualities. Their bodies tend to be light, their bones thin, and their skin and hair dry. They often move and speak quickly. When out of balance, they may lose weight, become constipated and have weakness in their immune and nervous systems.
These qualities also reflect in their personality. Those with a vata nature tend to be talkative, enthusiastic, creative, flexible, and energetic. Yet, when out of balance they may also become easily confused and overwhelmed, have difficulty focusing and making decisions and have trouble sleeping. This becomes more apparent when they are under stress. Emotionally they are challenged by cool emotions like worry, fear, and anxiety.
In order to bring balance to vata, programs are designed which emphasize the opposing qualities of warmth, heaviness (nourishment), moistness, and stability. In the diet, this is reflected in the consumption of cooked grains such as rice and cooked vegetables, as well as the intake of warm milk with spices. Pungent herbs like ginger which increase internal heat and nourishing herbs like ashwagandha bring balance to Vata. Ayurvedic programs include not only herbs and diet but also color and aroma therapies, detoxification, yoga, and meditation.
The pitta dosha is said to be made up of the fire and water elements. Fire is more predominant, and those people with a predominant pitta nature have many of the qualities of fire within them. Pitta tends to be hot, sharp, and penetrating. It is also somewhat volatile and oily. The oily nature of Pitta is related to the secondary component of water. People with a Pitta nature reflect these qualities. They tend to feel warm and have somewhat oily skin, penetrating eyes, and sharp features. They tend to have moderate weights and good musculature. When out of balance they tend toward diarrhea, infections, skin rashes and weakness in the liver, spleen, and blood.
These qualities also reflect in their personalities. Pitta people tend to be highly focused, competitive, capable, courageous, energetic and clear communicators who get right to the point. They like to solve problems and when under stress they dig in their heels. They can however also become overly intense and speak with a sharp tongue. They make great friends but feared enemies. Emotionally they are challenged by the heated emotions of anger, resentment and jealousy.
In order to bring balance to pitta, programs are designed to emphasize the opposing qualities of coolness, heaviness (nourishing) and dryness. Cool spices like fennel are recommended in the diet along with foods such as raw vegetables, cooked rice, and wheat, as well as most beans. Sweet herbs like shatavari are used to nourish the body while bitters like dandelion root temper the fire. A Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist puts together programs that not only include foods and herbs but also aromas, colors, massage, detoxification, yoga, and meditation.
Within the kapha dosha there is a predominance of the water and earth elements. Like these elements, kapha tends to be cool, moist, stable and heavy. In the body these qualities manifest as dense, heavy bones, lustrous, supple skin, low metabolism, and large, stocky frames. In addition, those with a kapha nature tend to feel cool. When out of balance, kapha individuals are prone to gaining weight and tend to have weaknesses in their lungs and sinuses where there is an accumulation of mucus. Those of kapha nature are also most prone to non-insulin dependent diabetes mellitus.
The elements of water and earth also reflect in the personality. The heavy, stable nature of kapha reflects in a stable personality which is not prone to quick fluctuations. Those with a kapha nature handle stress very well, often not even noticing that it exists. They don’t like change, are generally conservative, and would prefer to keep things just the way they are. Those with a kapha nature are also comfort seekers. This relates to the soft, watery nature of kapha. Too much comfort, however, can lead to a lack of motivation and feeling of becoming stuck. When kapha is out of balance, the heavy emotions of depression and lethargy result.
In order to bring balance to a kapha nature the opposing qualities of lightness, dryness and warmth are recommended. These qualities are integrated in dietary and herbal programs as well as aroma and color therapies, detoxification, yoga and meditation. Grains such as quinoa and amaranth are recommended as well as hot spices like cayenne pepper. Lots of vegetables and very little nuts or dairy are prescribed. Cleansing herbs like guggul and pungent ones like clove bring balance to kapha.
We must remember that we are all a combination of the three doshic energies. On the most fundamental level, pitta is our metabolism, kapha is our structure, and vata is the mobility that brings action and life into creation. Without all three energies, we simply could not exist.
To determine a person’s constitution, a Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist conducts a two hour consultation taking a look at every aspect of a person. This physical, emotional, and spiritual evaluation identifies the balance of energies in a person’s body as well as areas of imbalance. Once the nature of the person and the imbalance are identified, the Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist can then put together a treatment program utilizing the appropriate diet and herbs, aromas, colors, yoga and meditation aimed at restoring or maintaining balance.
Optimal health is achieved through Ayurvedic Medicine when we are living in complete harmony with our environment. In order to live in harmony, we must first understand our own natures. Only then can we intelligently make choices which support us on our journey.
What Is Tridosha : Vata, Pitta And Kapha Doshas
Things can seem to be huge when eyed from human vision but are just barely visible elements when viewed from the lens of the universe. We are made from the same dust from which the universe is made up of, the same five elements- earth, water, ether, air and fire. We are not in any manner disconnected from the universe, whereas it lives within us, breathes with us. Science which still views every human from a single vision and perspective, has its roots emerged from the science of Ayurveda.
Ayurveda has been serving the humans for many years and holds the same perception that the creator had while the creation of human existence i.e. based on the five elements, just the degree of each element differs for different humans.
We all are different, have different skill sets, different identities, different perspectives and in a similar way our body consists of different energies. Ayurveda shows that the path to optimal health is different for different people, which is based on the nature of their body. The science of understanding the nature of our body or the energies it consists of is known is Tridosha.
Tridosha is made up of 5 elements (mahabhutas) air, ether, fire, water and earth. Each body is a composition of these five elements, ruled by any one of the elements. It is not possible for any element to be absent from the composition. When the imbalance happens, it signifies the dominance of any one of the doshas.
Every Body Consists of all the Three Doshas
Tridosha defines three different energies or principles called Vata, Pitta and Kapha which consist of our body and govern its function on physical and emotional levels. Each individual has a balance of these three Doshas and imbalance of these can lead to several diseases or sufferings such as diarrhea, weak nervous system, weak metabolism, constipation, anxiety, depression etc.
Dominance of any of the dosha doesn’t signify the absence of other two doshas but defines the nature (prakriti) of that individual. Prakriti is pre-defined during the evolution of new human life in the womb itself.
Ayurveda, the science of life and well-being has been dwelling on earth from past 5000 years. It’s practice is rooted in India and from many years people of India and surrounding nations are enjoying enormous benefits of natural science i.e. Ayurveda.
Now Ayurveda has been recognized and practiced throughout the different parts of the world due to its mystical results.
The basic structure of Ayurvedic treatment relies on the theory called, ‘Tridosha Tatva’. The word Tridosha is derived from the sanskrit word ‘Tri’ which means ‘three’ and ‘Dosha’, meaning ‘pollutant’.
These three pollutants play a major role in the well-being and functioning of the human body. To be more precise, our body functions in harmony when these three Doshas are in balance.
Types of Doshas
Vata, Pitta and Kapha- are the three types of Doshas as described by Ayurveda.
- Vata Dosha consists of air and space and is known to govern the mind and body.
- Pitta Dosha consists of Fire and water and governs the metabolic activities within the body.
- Kapha Dosha consists of water and earth and governs the structural aspects and strength of the body.
Vata Dosha is made up of air and space elements and possess qualities similar to these elements. Vata Dosha holds characteristics very similar to wind such as light , cool, unstable and dry. People with Vata dosha tend to have quite lean physical appearance due to thin bones, light bodies and they tend to have dry skin and hair. People with Vata Dosha move and speak quickly. They tend to be talkative, enthusiastic, creative, energetic and flexible.
When out of balance, physically they tend to lose weight, become constipated and experience weakness in their immune and nervous system and mentally, suffer from anxiety and overwhelmed, have difficulty focusing and making decisions and tend to have trouble while sleeping.
They cannot function under stress very well and the symptoms of imbalance become more apparent while suffering from it. Emotionally they are charged by cool emotions such as fear, worry and anxiety.
In order to bring balance to Vata, emphasis on opposite characteristics is important such as moisture, stability, nourishment and warmth. Balance of Doshas can be achieved by the medium of diet, yoga, meditation and aromatherapy. All these aspects will be explained in detail further in the article.
Pitta Dosha is made up of fire and water elements, fire being the dominating one. Pitta Dosha holds characteristics very similar to fire such as hot, sharp and penetrating. People with Pitta Dosha tend to feel warm, have oily skin, sharp features and penetrating eyes. They have good musculature and moderate weight. People with Pitta are highly focused, competitive, capable, courageous, clear communicators and are generally known as problem solvers.
When out of balance they tend to suffer from diarrhea, infections, skin rashes, odorous sweating, fever and weakness in liver, spleen and blood. They possess quite ignorant nature when in stress and tend to be overly intense and sharp with tongue. Emotionally they are charged with heated emotions of anger, resentment and jealousy.
In order to bring balance to Pitta, emphasis on opposite characteristics such as coolness, heaviness (nourishing) and dryness is important. Balance of Doshas can be achieved by the medium of diet, yoga, meditation and aromatherapy which will be discussed further.
Kapha Dosha is made up of water and earth elements. Kapha Dosha holds characteristics very similar to water such as moist, cool, stable and heavy. People with Kapha Dosha tend to have heavy bone structure, supple skin; low metabolism and large body frame.
They are not prone to quick fluctuations due to their stable personality and do not approve of change due to their comfort-prone nature. They are generally conservative and prefer to keep things the way they are. They possess a soft and watery nature.
When out of balance they tend to gain weight quite easily and suffer from weakness in liver, sinuses, depression and lethargy. Due to their comfort prone nature they can often feel a lack of motivation and feeling of being stuck.
They are very good stress handlers and do not have any impact on stressful situations on their physical or mental health.
In order to balance kapha Dosha, emphasis on opposite characteristics is important such as dryness, lightness and warmth.
How to Balance Doshas using Meditation:
- Vata dominance:
- Jaap meditation:
When vata dosha is at its dominance the person can feel unstable and suffer from restlessness and anxiety. Jaap meditation or mantra meditation is considered to be most effective when the body needs a rhythmic hold or stability in life. Use of mala beads or rudraksh beads can be used while chanting the mantras as vata dominated people will find it difficult to contain the stillness while chanting.
Rudraksha beads will work as an anchor to guide you through the mediation and be patient. There are also specific meditation techniques such as Ajapa Japa, taught in our classes and teacher training courses. This is an excellent technique to help calm the nerves and reduce vata. Another meditation which may play a significant role is Trataka on flame. This steady gazing technique on flame helps a lot centering the mind and enhances the power of concentration and memory.