Feb 20 , 2019
In the Part-1 we learnt about the brief history, principles and qualities of Ayurveda. In this part we focus on learning the most important concept of Doshas. So let’s dive right in. Human interaction with the outer world is dictated by our five senses, known as the five organs of perception - hearing, sight, touch, smell and taste. We all know this fact, but most of us don’t know that each sense is related to one of the five elements - ether, air, fire, water, and earth. Every human body is unique and a combination of five vital elements in variable proportions, impacting the Koshas, or the layers. Let us know about the five elements, also known as the the koshas or Maha Bhutas.
The Elements Earth: Strongest of all, Earth indicates stability, represented in bones, nails, and teeth in the body. It forms the physical sheath of our being called Annamayakosha. Earth element is related to the sense of smell.
Water: Always flowing and dissolving like a liquid, represented as blood, water, and lymph in the body. It is the energy sheath known as Pranamayakosha. Water is related to the organ of taste.
Fire: This is the Energy or heat, transformation and metabolism. It represents the digestive system and regulates body temperature. It is the mental-emotional sheath known as Manomayakosha, which creates our thoughts and emotions. Fire element is related to the organ of sight.
Air: Indicative of motion and lightness. It represents body’s respiration process and the movement of nerve impulses. This is the wisdom sheath known as Vijnanamayakosha. Air is related to the sense of touch, the skin.
Ether: Indicative if space, omniscience and emptiness. It represents body’s space between cells, and commonly known as the bliss sheath or Anandamayakosha. It is related to the ear, organ of hearing and expression of speech. Ether is the medium through which sound is transmitted.
The Three Doshas These five elements may look separate but when they combine, it gives rise to the three doshas. The doshas are responsible for the psychological and physiological characteristics that makes us, what we are, how we are, what we like/dislike, how we react to situations and also our body’s weaknesses and strengths. Therefore, the science of understanding our nature or constitution is termed as the science of Tridosha. Tridosha signifies the three fundamental energies or principles, known as Vata, Pitta and Kapha which govern the function of our bodies on the physical and emotional level. Each one of us have a unique balance of all these three energies, which makes us different from others. And that’s why Ayurveda says no two people can be treated similar. The three Doshas should be balanced for health and vitality. Every individual has all three Doshas, but generally one or two are dominating, determining one’s characteristics, tendencies and traits.
Vata (Air and Ether): Vata Dosha being combination of Air and Ether, is the most powerful of the Doshas, being the life-force itself. Vata force creates movement, controls breathing, impulses, blinking, sensual acuteness and heart pulsation. Vata type of people tend to be lean, light and tall. When this Dosha is in balance, people are creative and flexible; but when it goes out of balance, people are unstable, anxious, and fearful, and suffer from insomnia, poor digestion, loss of sensory balance, fatigue and psychological problems. The attributes that help recognize Vata Dosha are dry, cold, rough, subtle, light, mobile, hard, changeable and clear. Vata affects these parts of the body- hips, thighs, colon, ears, bones and the sense of touch. Its imbalance is first noticed with disturbance in colon, where it starts accumulating. Through Ayurveda, this can be identified and the imbalance can be cured by expelling the toxins out of the body.
Pitta (Fire and Water): Pitta Dosha being combination of Fire and Water, associates with metabolism, digestion, assimilation, and body temperature. If you’re a Pitta type, you may experience heartburn, the most common Pitta disorder after eating hot, spicy foods. To pacify this fire inside body, you require a coolant or more alkalizing food. Pitta’s usual attributes are oily, sharp, hot, mobile and liquid. Pitta type of people tend to have medium muscular builds, they are warm, extrovert, leaders and quick decision makers. When the pitta is imbalanced, it makes the person angry and hostile, short tempered resulting in high blood pressure and heart diseases.
Kapha (Water and Earth): Kapha Dosha is the combination of Water and Earth, associates with muscles and bones. It is like a “glue” that holds the cells together. Kapha type of people tend to have heavier builds with larger bones. When they are in balance, they are peaceful and stable soles, loving and forgiving, though possessive and greedy at times. In the body, it is manifested in the form of congestion, respiratory issues and so called ‘obesity’. Kapha attributes include heavy, cloudy, slow, cold, oily, smooth, dense and static. Kapha imbalance can cause diseases like diabetes, hyperglycemia, and nervous disorders. Welcome to the world of Ayurveda! Keep reading to understand the ancient science of health and healing.