Understanding Doshas

Ayurveda believes that the human body is governed by the three main forces or energies named as vata, pitta, and kapha. Together they are called as – doshas. These energies are formed from the combination of panchamahabhutas in different proportions. They are responsible for all the functioning of the body.

Each dosha holds a very important role in maintaining the health of an individual. Doshas when in balance maintains the health and on the other hand, any kind of imbalance in any one of the three doshas leads to the disease. The diet and lifestyle have a direct effect on these doshas.

Doshas in action

According to Ayurveda, the actions of vata, pitta, and kapha doshas in the body are similar to the actions of air, sun and moon respectively have on the universe.  

Air is the representative of vata, both have a similar act of “Vikshepa.” Vikshepa means to move. Vata here is responsible for all the actions of the body like taking a breath, and blood circulation. Similarly, air does all the movements in the universe.

Sun is the representative of pitta, both have the action of “Aadan.” Aadan means to transform. Pitta is responsible for digesting and transforming food to the level which can be absorbed within the body. Similarly, sun absorbs and transforms energy in the universe.

Moon is the representative of kapha, both have the action of “Visarga.” Visarga means to nourish. Kapha is responsible for the nourishing and endurance of the body. Similarly, the moon nourishes the universe.

Vata Dosha

Vata dosha is formed with the air and space element. It represents the air and is responsible for all the movements of the body. Its main qualities are light, dry, and cold.

Pitta Dosha

Pitta dosha is formed with fire and water elements. It represents the fire and is responsible for the metabolism, temperature, and digestion. It is hot, sharp, and acidic by nature.

Kapha Dosha

Kapha dosha is formed with earth and water elements. It represents the water and is responsible for the lubrication inside the body. It is slow, heavy, oily, cold etc by nature.

Combination of Doshas

Now we know that there are these energies called as doshas inside our body doing their action to keep us healthy. What is next? Is it more than that? Well, yes it is. These powerful energies combine together in different proportions during the process of conception, depending upon the various factors like season, and parental mind-body constitutions. This unique combination imparts us with an exclusive mind-body type (constitution) otherwise known as “Prakriti.” These three life forces- vata, pitta, and kapha, are present in different proportions in each individual – in some individuals, it is vata which is dominant, in some pitta and in some it is kapha. So it is different for each one of us. Prakriti remains the same throughout the life, it never changes. Our mind-body type represents each individual’s inherent strength and weakness. We respond to environmental changes, diet, and lifestyle on the basis of our mind-body type. So each one of us needs to take care of our health on the basis of this unique mind-body type.

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Similar & Opposite Qualities

Ayurveda has huge denotation about the concept of similar and opposite for the treatment modalities. It is well said in Ayurvedic texts, “सर्वदा सर्वभावानां सामान्यं वृद्धिकारणम | ह्रासहेतुर्विशेषश्च प्रवृत्तिरुभयस्य तु | |” This shloka depicts that when any substances are increased inside the body then they should be treated with the substances with opposite characters. Similarly, when there is a decrease of any substance inside the body it is treated by giving the substance with similar characteristics in more quantity. This concept of similar and opposite is expressed in the terms of gunas i.e. characteristics of the substance. Few examples of similar opposite characteristics are like hot-cold, dry-oily, light-heavy, hard- soft and so on.

Treatment example, if someone is suffering from hyperacidity, the main cause behind it is the increase of pitta dosha in excess. Now, here it is very important to give substances that are opposite to the qualities of pitta. Here the cooling substances like mint juice and licorice should be given. The substances that are hot like garlic and ginger should be avoided because they are hot in potency. Giving such cooling herbs, diet and lifestyle here will undoubtedly help to reduce the long-term hyperacidity also.