Vata Dosha, Pitta Dosha and Kapha Dosha
Fragment from the book ‘AYURVEDIC Kitchen. A complete guide to regaining an maintaining health by using the millenary AYURVEDIC practices’ by Sunita Gosh and Dr. Narayan Mustt
A biological doctrine considered to be the heart of AYURVEDA is TRIDOSHA. The entire philosophy and all the practical applications of AYURVEDA are based on the theory of the three DOSHA. AYURVEDA looks upon the three DOSHA as being the reference and analysis points for all the aspects of the body.
The concept of the three DOSHA is completely unique and it belongs exclusively to AYURVEDA. TRIDOSHA is a Sanskrit term in which TRI has the meaning of three, and DOSHA is translated as ‘what has the tendency of quickly coming out of balance’. TRIDOSHA (the three DOSHA) represents the manifestation of the five essential subtle elements – the five major elements, as they are known in the AYURVEDA tradition – within any being. According to AYURVEDA, all these five elements combined in different proportions give birth to the constitution typologies – each of us having a specific complexity with which we are born and which is responsible of all the physiological and psychological processes through which we pass during our life.
The five major elements manifest in the shape of three principles, namely:
- the air and ether element will give birth to VATA DOSHA;
- the fire and water elements will give birth to PITTA DOSHA;
- the earth and water elements will give birth to KAPHA DOSHA.
These three new principles are related to all the functions of our body, of the mind and of the soul and they are present in various proportions in each part of our being.
Each human being has all the three DOSHA present within her/his structure. Still, one (or two) of them generally has a certain predominance.
VATA DOSHA essentially represents the movement and it can be recognized within the body as the respiration, the contraction and de-contraction of the muscles, the operations of the nervous system. At the emotional level, VATA DOSHA is related with the feeling of freedom, with creativity, nervousness and fear. People who present a predominance of the VATA element within their structure are easy to be noticed due to the accelerated rhythm in which they live life – they are moving fast, talking fast, often have sudden changes in life and they adapt with great difficulty to the routine. VATA is perceived in nature under the form of the wind.
PITTA DOSHA essentially represents the energy which gives birth to transformation. PITTA is recognized within the body at the level of the digestion, which includes both the digestion of food and the “digestion” of certain emotions and ideas. It is the one conferring to the body a certain temperature, the color of the skin and the intellectual understanding. The emotions characteristic to the persons having predominantly PITTA DOSHA will be perfectionism, the tendency to lead, the courage and the pride. In the nature it is represented by the sun and it has a powerful masculine presence.
KAPHA DOSHA is the one giving the cohesion of the elements. It is the one conferring the physical structure, the resistibility of the organism and it gives a certain power and stability. KAPHA is responsible for the capacity of memorizing, the emotion of love, the state of profound calmness, the patience, but also the greediness. KAPHA is also the potential energy (as for instance the fat deposited by the body and which is afterwards used in the periods of food deprivation). In nature it is represented by the moon, the feminine energy which mostly is mild and gentle.
A certain balance between the three DOSHA-s is absolutely necessary for a perfect state of health. The illness is always an expression of the imbalance which appeared at one point between the three DOSHA-s. Everything is good as long as it doesn’t provoke us an imbalance at the level of the three DOSHA-s and it stops being good in the moment it disturbs this balance of ours.
Maintaining ourselves in a state of balance is a continuous effort, since we’ll have to work in the direction of maintaining ourselves on a certain line in front of the changes continually brought by life. By adopting certain specific measures (health food, activities etc.) we’ll be able to protect ourselves from their excessive increase as well as of an eventual deficit of the DOSHA-s.
Determining one’s own basic constitution
The persons characterized by the predominance of VATA DOSHA have the tendency of possessing a more delicate physical structure and an appearance which is light and they are either very tall or very short. The persons belonging to the predominantly VATA typology present difficulties in gaining weight. That is exactly why, they dispose of small energy reserves, they get quickly tired and also they quickly get unbalanced.
Their skin has the tendency to be dry and cold, very light or very dark as color. The hair is dark as color, dry, sometimes curly and with a predisposition to get damaged. The nose, the hands and the legs have the tendency to be cold because of the defective blood circulation characterizing the VATA type of constitution. The color of the eyes is generally hazel.
The movements and talk are generally fast and their sleep is light and with often interruptions. Mentally these persons are restless and they have all the time many new ideas. They are creative and imaginative, but they present at the same time a feeling of fear and insecurity. They are also shy, they don’t know how to come in front and they prove less volitional power, this is exactly why they need much more stimuli to become down to earth beings.
There is a certain aerated characteristic in the way they walk and a quality of lightness in the way they laugh. The change is most probably their second nature. The predominant senses for VATA DOSHA are the hearing and the touch. Within the circadian cycle, VATA DOSHA is predominant between 2:00 – 6:00 and 14:00 – 18:00. The season in which it is predominant as manifestation in nature is autumn-winter. The tastes which bring an increasing of VATA DOSHA are the bitter, the piquant and the astringent.
When VATA DOSHA is in excess there appear states of weakness, strong wish for food, quivers, flatus, constipation, insomnia, loosing the sensorial functions, the dissipated talk, nervousness, debility.
Signs that you need to balance (to reduce) VATA DOSHA:
- you feel all the time worried, anxious, overwhelmed;
- you feel tired but incapable to relax or to slow down the rhythm;
- it is difficult for you to sit down even for a second;
- it is difficult for you to fall asleep, and when you manage your sleep is agitated;
- your skin is dry and rough;
- the digestion is irregular, with frequent signs of constipation;
- you almost permanently have the feeling of a dry throat;
- you have ejection less than once a day;
- you feel that you cannot stay immobile and that you have to continually move;
- you feel as if fallen ‘from the moon’, it is difficult for you to remember certain things for a longer period of time, attention is very much affected and it is difficult for you to focus on one single thing.
The persons belonging to the PITTA typology generally have medium shapes. Their warm skin can be very delicate and sensitive, having a refined hairiness and tendencies towards whitening and premature hair loosing. Since for the PITTA typologies the body temperature is generally high, they can very easily unbalance their PITTA DOSHA by prolonged exposure to the sun. Their eyes are very sensitive.
Their states are changing slowly and they are the type of very busy people, usually achieving many things in life. They are the academic type having a speech with many academic hues, precise and clear. They are fast, ardent, ambitious, often judging the others. Their sleep is moderate and they prefer the shady climate. They have trust in their own forces and their practical spirit echoes from everything they do. These persons hold dear to their opinions and principles, which often can lead to fanaticism. The predominant sense in the case of the PITTA typology is the sight. In the circadian cycle, the predominance of PITTA DOSHA is between 10:00 – 14:00 and 22:00 – 2:00. The season in which it is predominant is the late springtime and the summer.
The characteristics of PITTA DOSHA are: warm and oily; piquant, sharp, ardent; liquid and acid; always flowing in a way lacking limitations.
Any toxic nourishments, like the alcohol and the tobacco, immediately bring an imbalance to the PITTA. The toxic emotions like: jealousy, intolerance, and hatred also have to be avoided when we wish to keep PITTA DOSHA in balance.
The increasing of PITTA DOSHA manifests as the whiteness of the eyes and of the skin, and a de-coloration of the urine, of the faeces. Also there might be noticed an excess of hunger or of thirst, sensations of burning and reduced sleep as duration.
Signs that you must balance (reduce) PITTA DOSHA:
- you have the tendency to be slightly irritated, critical and to ask too much from the others;
- you are obsessed by working or by a project and you cannot stop to take a break;
- you wake up early in the morning and then it is very difficult for you to fall asleep again;
- your hair is irritated or sensitive or inflamed;
- your hair is whitening and thinning prematurely;
- you have sensations of burning or acidity in the stomach;
- you hardly tolerate other beings or the situations provoking for you;
- you feel frustrated, you quickly become furious;
- you feel too hot, no matter where you were;
- you have a permanent sensation of thirst, your eyes get red;
- your speech is often sharp or sarcastic, you easily start a dispute.
The KAPHA typology is more robust and denser than any other typology. The skin is thick, shinny, clean, usually with pale shades or towards white, with cold touch. The hair is thick and dense, with a healthy aspect, usually curly. The eyes are blue or hazel, big and attractive, slightly wet, with the white part of the eyes usually very white. They have the greatest capacity of endurance and they are endowed with much calm and much patience.
From the mental point of view they are calm, stabile and firm. They can be possessive or greedy, but they are cautious and difficult to be taken out of their state of calmness. The human beings who have KAPHA DOSHA predominantly are the most content of all the constitutions, but at the same time they seem to be less passionate due to their tendency of introversion and of withdrawal.
Their capacity of understanding is slower, but once they understood, they will not forget. One can notice a certain slowness in the way in which they step and a kind of serenity in their smile. The predominant senses for KAPHA DOSHA are the taste and the smell. The dominance of KAPHA DOSHA within the circadian cycle is between 18:00 – 22:00 and 6:00 – 10:00. The season in which KAPHA DOSHA manifests predominantly is the winter and spring until late spring.
The tastes bringing an accentuation of KAPHA DOSHA are the sweet, the sour and the salty.
The characteristics of KAPHA DOSHA are: heaviness, coldness (but not as cold as VATA DOSHA), mildness, oily which confers lubrication, sweetness, stability which confers immunity, sleepiness.
The disharmonious growing of KAPHA DOSHA brings forth the weakening of the gastric activity, excessive salivation, apathy, the feeling of heaviness, coldness, dyspnea, coughing and prolonged sleep, burping as if we were right after a heavy meal.
Signs which show you that you must rebalance (reduce) KAPHA DOSHA:
- you easily put on more weight, even if you don’t eat excessively much;
- it is very difficult for you to wake up even after a prolonged sleep, and when you wake up you have the feeling that you are tired and not rested;
- the digestion is weak, you feel heaviness and lethargy after the meals;
- you feel too withdrawn, it is difficult for you to face the changes;
- you feel often a lack of mental motivation
AYURVEDA calls the five fundamental forces which build up any being in the creation as: ‘the five major elements’ (PANCHA MAHABHUTA). Every element represents a universal quality of the perceivable world.
The five elements are looked upon as the physical manifestations of the cosmic consciousness, being created in a certain succession – first AKASHA (space or ether), then VAYU (the air), TEJAS (the fire), APAS or JALA (water) and in the end PRITHIVI (the earth). These are present both in the exterior world (macrocosm) and at the level of each human being (microcosm). Any manifestation in this universe contains each of the five elements in variable proportions, and their predominance is in a continuous change.