Ayurveda and the Doshas

Read any introductory information on Ayurveda and you are likely to see some mention of the three doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. What are doshas? What do they have to do with balance and well-being?

According to Ayurveda, there are fundamental elements that make up the universe: space, air, fire, water and earth. These same elements make up the human physiology. How do these elements work within our bodies? Each dosha is actually a combination of two elements. The Vata dosha consists of space and air. The Pitta dosha consists of fire and water. And finally, the Kapha dosha consists of water and earth. Each dosha is further divided into five subdoshas (additional information available). Together, all three Doshas and their subdoshas orchestrate the activities which occur within our body, mind and spirit.

Your unique combination of the three doshas you inherit upon conception is called your original constitution or prakruti. Most people have two doshas that are more or less dominant; but a person could have one dominate dosha with two other doshas being less dominant. Each of us has a unique doshic thumbprint. An Ayurvedic Practitioner performs visual and pulse assessments, along with a detailed questionnaire to discover what an individual’s unique doshic make-up is, as well as, the exact nature of any imbalances. This allows them to recommend an individualized program for maintaining or restoring balance back to your original doshic thumbprint, prakruti.

Many factors such as the dietary habits, your lifestyle, the climate and altitude where you live, exposure to pollutants, your work environment, the nature of your relationships and your age, can cause one or more of the doshas in your prakruti to change from its original balance. This imbalance is referred to as vikruti. When left uncorrected, disease can begin to develop, usually before you notice any symptoms. If one works with an Ayurvedic Practitioner at these early stages a disease can be diverted. That’s why restoring balance/wellness is the most important goal of the Ayurvedic approach to health. In addition, Ayurveda can help once disease is present and can work alongside allopathic (Western Medicine) approaches.