Doshas -the fundamental principles of bioenergy
The key to understanding Ayurveda lies in the doctrine of the three doshas. According to these teachings, there are three fundamental energy forces at work in the human organism. They govern all physical and mental functions of the body and are called Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Due to the different functions of the three Doshas, they all have their own individual characteristics derived from the five elements: ether, air, fire, water and earth. When paired, these elements form the three Doshas.
Vata is derived from the elements ether and air and is considered to be the absolute life energy.
Features: light, nimble, fast, subtle, cold, dry, rough.
Functions: Controls all voluntary and autonomic movement, influences the muscle skeleton, regulates the internal organs, circulation, respiratory system and all excretion processes. It also affects spiritual receptiveness, clarity and alertness.
Pitta is associated with the elements fire and water and is regarded as the metabolic principle.
Features: hot, light, flowing, liquid, sharp, piercing, slightly oily.
Functions: regulation of body temperature, digestion and metabolism, blood formation, skin and eyesight, intellect and emotional expression.
Kapha is made up of the elements earth and water. The immune system is dependent on this Dosha.
Features: heavy, cold, soft, sweet, stable, slow, oily, smooth, sturdy, languid.
Functions: responsible for body structures and fluid balance, regulates mental stability and harmony as well as memory functions.
Who Am I? - Ayurvedic Constitution Types
Everyone has all three Doshas, meaning that one, two or even all three can dominate your constitution. The features of the dominating Doshas permeate the physical and mental characteristics of a person. In Ayurveda there are 7 different types of constitutions in total: Vata, Pitta, Kapha, Vata-Pitta, Pitta-Kapha, Vata-Kapha and Vata-Pitta-Kapha.
Your constitution dictates your strengths and weaknesses. It can inform you of your susceptibility to illnesses and explain different reactions to food, sensations and climate or living conditions. For these reasons, determining the constitution type plays an important role in ayurvedic therapy and illness prevention.
Main Features of the Vata Type:
Light frame and minimal weight, tendency towards dry skin, intolerant of windy or cold weather, irregular eating patterns and digestion, tendency towards constipation, great capacity for enthusiasm, quick action, quick wit and good short-term memory, prone to worrying and to sleep disorders.
Main Features of the Pitta Type:
Medium-heavy build, normal skin, aversion to heat, extreme hunger and good digestion, prefers cold food and cold drinks, does not like to skip meals, often has red hair, freckles, and moles, works in a systematic and organised manner, average perception and memory, good speaker and sharp intellect, more adventurous and courageous character, prone to impatience, easily excited.
Main Features of the Kapha Type:
Sturdy and heavy build, tendency to smooth and oily skin, light feeling of hunger and slow digestion, strong rather dark hair, strength and endurance, approaches things slowly and methodically, calm and balanced personality, slow learner, good long-term memory, deep and long sleep, hard to get worked up.
Health and Illness in Ayurveda
According to ayurvedic teachings, the dynamic harmony of the Doshas is an essential requirement for good health. When Vatta, Pitta and Kapha are completely functioning and interacting correctly then the person is in balance and therefore healthy. If one or more Doshas become imbalanced this leads first to mood disorders, and illness in the long term if left to develop.
But how can doshas become imbalanced? According to Ayurveda, as our body is closely connected to our surroundings we are constantly coming into contact with influences which alter the balance of our Doshas. Such environmental influences include time of day, seasons, food, weather, work, sleep, stress and our own actions. All of these things can bring Doshas out of balance.
The goal of every ayurvedic treatment is to re-establish balance of the Doshas and to detect and treat imbalance as early as possible in order to avoid an outbreak of disease. Initially, relatively small changes in the diet or single ayurvedic treatments such as an oil massage can be enough to bring the Doshas back to their original balance. If the condition has developed further, then an original Ayurveda cure with a focus on Panchakarma has been proven to be very effective.