What are Ayurveda Vata, Pitta and Kapha Doshas?

 

Vata, Pitta, and Kapha Tridoshas – A deep dive into the three bio-energies responsible for the existence of life!

Vata, Pitta, and Kapha Doshas–  These energies are needed to be balanced to maintain a healthy body and mind constitution. Natural regulation leads to a healthy state whereas an unnatural regulation leads to discomfort. One must be conscious of the fact that whatever is happening in our mind and body is the consequence of the continuous grind of Tridoshas.

 

Sanskrit Shloka:

“Vayuh: pittam kaphashcheti trayo dosha: samaasata:

Vikritavikrita deham ghnanti te varttayanti ca”

[Ashtang Hridayam 11/1]

 

Their poise is essential for a flourishing mind and body whereas disturbance of natural function can be destructive. One must learn their body constitution to live a sophisticated and healthier life.

 

Tridoshas

Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, each of them have a different set of constitutions, properties, and functions for operating different physiological roles.

Vata manages the nervous system; Pitta with its fire element controls the metabolism and hormonal flow whereas Kapha works as the support system of our body.

 

Constitution of Tridoshas

Ayurveda follows the principle of Pancha-Mahabhuta which says, the whole universe is comprised of Pancha-Mahabhuta (Five fundamental elements) i.e. Aakash (space), Vayu (Air), Agni (Fire), Jala (Water), and Prithvi (Earth). There is no existence of any living or non-living entity which are devoid of these elements.

 

Mahabhuta (Element) Characteristics
Aakash Aparighata (Free flow without any obstruction)
Vayu Chalatva (Mobility)
Agni Ushnatva (Heat or Fire)
Jala Dravata (Liquidity)
Prithvi Kharatva (Rough or solid)

 

Vata, Pitta, and Kapha have a unique constitution of these elements for their peculiar characteristics.

Doshas Mahabhuta (Elements) Qualities
Vata Air + Space Dryness, lightness, coldness, roughness, minuteness, and movement.
Pitta Fire + Water Unctuous, piercingly enters deep tissues, hot, light, foul odor, fluidity or mobile, and liquid in nature.
Kapha Water + Earth Unctuous, cold, heavy, mild, viscous, smooth, slimy or jelly type, stable or immobile.

 

Sanskrit Shloka:

Guru manda hima snigdha ślakṣṇa sāndra mṛdu sthirā: | guṇā: sasūkṣma viśadā: viṃśati: saviparyayā: ||

(Ashtanga Hridayam 1/19)

According to Acharya Vagbhatta and Charak, there are in total 20 types of basic characteristic qualities in the universe. 10 of them are mentioned in the first verse of the above given shloka and the rest are their complete opposites. They are:

 

Guru (Heavy) Laghu (Light)
Manda (Slow) Tikshna (Fast)
Hima (Cold) Ushna (Hot)
Snigdha (Unctuous) Ruksha (Dry)
Slakshna (Smooth) Khara (Rough)
Sandra (Solid) Drava (Liquid)
Mridu (Soft) Kathina (Hard)
Sthira (Stable) Chala (Unstable)
Sukshma (small) Sthula (Huge)
Vishada (Non-slimy) Picchila (Slimy)

 

Primary functions of Tridoshas

 

Doshas Primary functions
Vata Movement and communication
Pitta Digestion and metabolism
Kapha Lubrication, and structure

 

Location of Doshas in the body

Although Tridoshas occupy the whole of our body yet there are some specific organs where the majority resides.

 

Doshas Location
Vata Waist and hip region, ear, bones, skin, and large intestine is the primary location.
Pitta Stomach, sweat, blood, lymph, plasma, eye, skin. The umbilicus is the primary location of Pitta dosha.
Kapha Head, throat, stomach, small intestine, plasma, fat, nose, and tongue. The chest is the primary seat of Kapha dosha.

 

 

Vata dosha

Though every dosha has its different peculiar importance, balanced Vata dosha is the significant most among Tridoshas. In its presence of an unbalanced state, no dosha would be able to perform their function because they need its movement and communication feature to travel and act throughout the whole body.

Responsible for all the movements in the body, it helps in the circulation of nutrients through blood flow throughout the body. It regulates respiration and locomotion.

In its balanced state Vata fills the body with enthusiasm and regulates all the mind and speech activities. Vata dosha is responsible for the initiation of natural urges (urine, feces, tears, sneezing, etc.) while maintaining the decent functioning of sense organs.

With respect to its distinct functions, Vata is of five types:

Types of Vata Location Movement Function
Prana Vayu Head Moves in the chest and throat Regulates respiration, will power, intellect, and vision.
Udana Vata Chest Nose, throat, and umbilicus Initiation of speech, effort, enthusiasm, memory, and complexion.
Vyana Vayu Heart Whole body All the locomotory actions.
Samana Vayu Stomach Alimentary canal Digestion and assimilation
Apana Vayu Large Intestine Bladder and genitals. Urination, defecation, menstruation, and labor during childbirth.

 

Pitta Dosha

Pitta represents the fire element energy controlling our body’s metabolic system. The peculiarity of this fire is its liquid nature due to water being its secondary element.

Its primary function is the digestion of food and vision. It maintains the body temperature by spreading enough warmth throughout the body while maintaining skin complexion and suppleness; it is closely related to intelligence and valor.

Types of Pitta Location Functions
Pachaka Pitta (Anala) Stomach and Large Intestine Digestion and transformation of food.
Ranjaka Pitta Stomach Assimilation of food into blood.
Sadhaka Pitta Heart Intelligence, knowledge, and self-consciousness.
Alochaka Pitta Eyes Vision
Bhrajaka Pitta Skin Exhibition of color and complexions.

 

Kapha dosha

Kapha dosha confers stability, firmness, compactness, and lubrication of joints due to the dominance of water and earth element. It offers the mental capacity to withstand emotional stress.

Types of Kapha Location Functions
Avalambaka Kapha Chest Lubrication and nourishment
Kledaka Kapha Stomach Helps in digestion of food by moistening
Bodhaka Kapha Tongue Taste perception
Tarpaka Kapha Head Sense organ nourishment
Shleshaka Kapha Bone joints Strengthens and lubricates joints

 

Tridosha Imbalance

An increase or decrease of individual doshas is termed as Sansarg whereas imbalanced altogether is termed as Sannipata.

 

Causes of imbalance of doshas

The increase of Doshas is perceived to be usually due to excess nutrition (Tarpana), which later on increases Kapha. However, the decrease of Doshas is due to loss of nutrition which is followed by an increase in Vayu (Vata dosha).

Hence, the diseases arising due to the increase of Dosha should be treated by adopting Langhana (therapy causing thinning of the body, reducing the Kapha dosha). The diseases arising from the decrease of Dosha should be treated with Brimhana therapy (causes stoutening of the body, increasing the quantity, etc.)

But in the case of Vata, the order is complete opposite. If Vata is increased, then Brihmana therapy (nourishing therapy for the tissues) should be adopted and if Vata decreases then Langhana therapy should be adopted as it lightens the body with laghu (light) guna.

Tridosha Increase Decrease
Vata Emaciation, black discoloration, tremors, constipation, loss of strength and senses, and irrelevant speech. Debility of body, decreased speech and loss of sensation
Pitta Yellow discoloration of feces, urine, eyes, and skin; excess thirst and hunger with a burning sensation. Weak digestion, cold feel, loss of luster
Kapha Weak digestion, excess salivation, laziness, feels sleepy, cold, and respiratory disorders. Delusion, dizziness, palpitations, and loose joints.

 

Food preferences

The increase of Doshas should be controlled by avoidance of foods that are disliked by the body as body itself knows its requirements better than we do. The decrease of Doshas should be managed by the indulgence of food that is desired for the very same reason.

The Doshas which have undergone increase and decrease generally produce the desire for foods that are distinct and similar (in properties to those of the Doshas) respectively; but not every person can recognize his body’s call due to non-familiarity and devoid of knowledge factor.

 

Levels of Dosha Increase and Decrease

Three states of dosha are described by the Acharyas according to the levels of their dushti (vitiation) due to improper food consumption or seasonal changes.

Chaya

Chaya means increase of an individual dosha slightly on its original seat or location. Generally, it initiates the self-defense mechanism of our body (like increase of body temperature) to aware us of these slight changes in our body. Its ignorance may lead to various diseases.

Kopa

When dosha is not balanced in its chaya avastha, it later on, leads to Kopa avastha. Dosha starts overflowing in other channels of the body and hampers the physiological processes by blocking those channels. In this state, symptoms of discomfort or diseases start to show up clearly leading to disease onset.

Sama

Sama avastha is the state of normalcy. When doshas are restored to their balanced state and levels all the previous symptoms disappear and the body again restores the damages from previous diseases or discomfort.

 

The Seasonal State of Doshas

Doshas in our body when exposed to different seasons respond differently. We should keep this in mind and take necessary precautions according to Dosha-Avastha (State of dosha).

Doshas Chaya Prakopa Prasamna
Vata Summer Rainy Late winter
Pitta Rainy Autumn Spring
Kapha Late winter Early winter Summer

 

Befriend Doshas in your life

To live a meaningful life, you need to understand your body constitution first. Before knowing about a machine you cannot gain complete access to its benefits and functions. Only when you get to the depths of the situation will you be able to handle it more accurately. The same goes for your body.

Tridoshas are the fundamentals of our body and understanding the fundamentals is the first step towards learning about your mind and body. This way you can support your body most of the time without any external help because no-one knows your body more than you do. Listen to your body and it will give you a life full of contentment and prosperity.

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