What are Doshas ?

     According to Ayurveda, everything in this universe is made up of five elements, namely, earth, water, fire, air and ether (space). These elements combine to form the three doshas, vata, kapha, and pitta, or metabolic types and are represented in the human body in different forms. For instance, bones and teeth are earth, blood and lymph are water, the metabolism is fire, oxygen is air, and ether is the spaces found between matter, represented best by vibration or sound.

Each dosha is formed by the combination of basic five elements, earth, fire, water, air and ether (space). Vata is a combination of Ether (space) and Air, Pitta is formed by combination of Fire and water and Kapha is a combination of Water and Earth. These various doshas govern different functions and different attributes in the individualís body.

Vata governs movement and neural-electrical impulses. It is responsible for some of the basic body functions such as the heartbeat, cell division, movement of food in digestion and the workings of the nervous system. Vata body areas are the large intestine, pelvis, bones, skin, ears, and thighs. Vata imbalances can cause conditions like high blood pressure, constipation, anxiety and dry skin. People with Vata as dominant dosha are believed to be quick thinking, thin, and fast.

Pitta controls transformation, perception, metabolism, digestive system and hormones and is responsible for functions like digestion and temperature. Pitta body areas are the small intestines, stomach, sweat glands, skin, blood, and eyes. Pitta imbalances can cause ulcers and acne, indigestion, heartburn and arthritis. People with pitta as their primary dosha are usually have a fiery personality and oily skin.

Kapha governs structure and lubrication of the body and is believed to be responsible for strength, immunity, and growth. Kapha body areas are the chest, lungs, and spinal fluid. Kapha imbalances can cause runny nose or productive cough, painful joints, diabetes, obesity and gallbladder problems. People with kapha as their dominant dosha are thought to be calm and have a solid body frame.

All these doshas are present in every human being but the balance differs. Usually only one dosha is prominent and determines the constitution or Prakriti of an individual. Doshas are constantly being formed and reformed by food, activity, and bodily processes. The balance of these doshas depends and changes with lifestyle or diet; mental and physical exertion; weather, chemicals, or germs etc. Thus a person's chances of developing certain types of diseases are related to the balance of doshas, the state of the physical body, and mental or lifestyle factors. The prakriti is believed to be unchanged over a person's lifetime.