PRINCIPLES OF AYURVEDA / DOSHAS - VATA PITTA KAPHA

Have you ever wondered
* What actually accounts for differences in people ?
* Why are some people hyperactive and fast moving, while others exude grace and stillness ?
Why can some people eat a five-course meal with ease, while others can barely finish a salad ?
* Why are some people inherently joyous, while others carry the weight of the world on their shoulders ?
* Modern genetics offers some insight, but what about the characteristics and idiosyncrasies that make every person unique ?
Ayurveda answers all of these questions with the Three Doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.

The doshas are biological energies found throughout the human body and mind. They govern all physical and mental processes and provide every living being with an individual blueprint for health and fulfillment.

Ayurveda believes that all living and non-living things in the universe are made of five basic elements Prithvi (Earth), Jala (Water), Teja (Fire), Vayu (Air) and Aakash (Ether). Even the human body is made up of these elements, which are collectively known as the panchamahabhutas. Various combinations of two of the elements further create the Tridoshas, which is another important basic principle the Ayurvedic system is based upon.

Vata Dosha :-

The elements combine with Ether and Air in dominance to form what is know in Ayurveda as Vata Dosha. Vata governs all movement in the mind and body. It controls blood flow, elimination of wastes, breathing and the movement of thoughts across the mind. Since Pitta and Kapha cannot move without it, Vata is considered the leader of the three Ayurvedic Principles in the body. It's very important to keep Vata in good balance.

Vata sub-types and their normal functions :-

Prana Vata: The senses, creative thinking, reasoning, enthusiasm, leader of all 15 categories of Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Udana Vata: Quality of voice, memory, movements of thought.
Samana Vata: Movement of food through digestive tract.
Apana Vata: Elimination of wastes, sexual function, menstrual cycle.
Vyana Vata: Blood flow, heart rhythm, perspiration, sense of touch.

Vata sub-types and their abnormal functions :-

Prana Vata: Worries, overactive mind, sleep problems, difficulty breathing.
Udana Vata: Dry coughs, sore throats, earaches, general fatigue.
Samana Vata: Slow or rapid digestion, gas, intestinal cramps, poor assimilation, weak tissues.
Apana Vata: Intestinal cramps, menstrual problems, lower back pain, irregularity, diarrhea, constipation, gas.
Vyana Vata: Dry or rough skin, nervousness, shakiness, poor blood flow, stress-related problems.


Causes of Vata imbalance :-

-Eating Vata-aggravating foods 
-Eating while anxious or depressed
-Eating on the run
-Drinking alcohol, coffee, or black tea
-Smoking cigarettes
-Following an irregular daily routine
-Going to bed late at night


Tips to balance Vata :-

-Eat a Vata-balancing diet.
-Eat in a peaceful environment.
-Engage in wholesome and contemplative activities (like spending time in nature). 
-Follow a regular daily routine.
-Go to bed early.
-Meditate daily. 
-Do gentle physical exercise like yoga, swimming, tai chi, or walking.


Features of Vata Body type People :-

Vata people generally are either too tall or too short, with thin frames which reveal prominent joints and bone-ends because of poor muscle development. The hair is curly and scanty, the eyelashes are thin and the eyes lusterless. The eyes may be sunken, small, dry, and active. The nails are rough and brittle. The shape of the nose is bent and turned-up.
Physiologically, the appetite and digestion are variable. Vata people loves sweet, sour and salty tastes and like hot drinks. The production of urine is scanty and the feces are dry, hard and small in quantity. They have a tendency to perspire less than other constitutional types. Their sleep may be disturbed and they will sleep less than the other types. Their hands and feet are often cold.
Psychologically, they are characterized by short memory but quick mental understanding. They will understand something immediately, but will soon forget it. They have little willpower, tend toward mental instability and possess little tolerance, confidence or boldness. Their reasoning power is weak and these people are nervous, fearful and afflicted by much anxiety.
Vata people tend to earn money quickly and also to spend it quickly. Thus, they tend to remain poor.

 

Pitta Dosha :-

The elements with Fire and Water in dominance combine to form the Pitta Dosha. Pitta governs all heat, metabolism and transformation in the mind and body. It controls how we digest foods, how we metabolize our sensory perceptions, and how we discriminate between right and wrong. Pitta governs the important digestive "agnis" or fires of the body.

Pitta sub-types and their normal functions :-

Alochaka Pitta: Functioning of the eyes.
Bhrajaka Pitta: Healthy glow of the skin.
Sadhaka Pitta: Desire, drive, decisiveness, spirituality.
Pachaka Pitta: Digestion, assimilation, metabolism for healthy nutrients and tissues.
Ranjaka Pitta: Healthy, toxin-free blood.

Pitta sub-types and their abnormal functions :-

Alochaka Pitta: Bloodshot eyes, poor vision.
Bhrajaka Pitta: Skin rashes, acne.
Sadhaka Pitta: Demanding, perfectionist, workaholic.
Pachaka Pitta: Acid stomach.
Ranjaka Pitta: Early graying, anger, toxins in blood.


Causes of Pitta imbalance :-

-Eating Pitta-aggravating food
-Eating while angry 
-Drinking coffee, black tea, or alcohol 
-Smoking cigarettes
-Over-working
-Being overly competitive


Tips to balance Pitta :-

-Eat a Pitta-balancing diet. 
-Eat in a peaceful environment.
-Avoid artificial stimulants.
-Engage in calming activities, like spending time in nature.
-Meditate daily.
-Do calming physical exercise, such as yoga, swimming, tai chi, or walking.


Features of Pitta Body type People :-

These people are of medium height, are slender and body frame may be delicate. Their chests are not as flat as those of vata people and they show a medium prominence of veins and muscle tendons. The bones are not as prominent as in the vata individual. Muscle development is moderate.
The pitta complexion may be coppery, yellowish, reddish or fair. The skin is soft, warm and less wrinkled than vata skin. The hair is thin, silky, red or brownish and there is a tendency toward premature graying of hair and hair loss. The eyes may be gray, green or cooper-brown and sharp: the eyeballs will be of medium prominence. The nails are soft. The shape of the nose is sharp and the tip tends to be reddish.
Physiologically, these people have a strong metabolism, good digestion and resulting strong appetites. The person of pitta constitution usually takes large quantities of food and liquid. Pitta types have a natural craving for sweet, bitter and astringent tastes and enjoy cold drinks. Their sleep is of medium duration but uninterrupted. They produce a large volume of urine and the feces are yellowish, liquid, soft and plentiful. There is a tendency toward excessive perspiring. The body temperature may run slightly high and hands and feet will tend to be warm. Pitta people do not tolerate sunlight, heat or hard work well.
Psychologically, pitta people have a good power of comprehension; they are very intelligent and sharp and tend to be good orators. They have emotional tendencies toward hate, anger and jealousy.
They are ambitious people who generally like to be leaders. Pitta people appreciate material prosperity and they tend to be moderately well-off financially. They enjoy exhibiting their wealth and luxurious 

Kapha Dosha :-

The elements with Water and Earth in dominance combine to form the Kapha Dosha. Kapha governs all structure and lubrication in the mind and body. It controls weight, growth, lubrication for the joints and lungs, and formation of all the seven tissues — nutritive fluids, blood, fat, muscles, bones, marrow and reproductive tissues.

Kapha sub-types and their normal functions :-

Tarpaka Kapha: Moisture for nose, mouth, eyes and brain.
Bhodaka Kapha: Sense of taste, which is essential for good digestion.
Kledaka Kapha: Moisture of the stomach lining for good digestion.
Avalambaka Kapha: Protects the heart, strong muscles, healthy lungs.
Shleshaka Kapha: Lubrication of the joints, soft and supple skin.

Kapha sub-types and their abnormal functions :- 

Tarpaka Kapha: Sinus congestion, poor sense of smell.
Bhodaka Kapha: Poor sense of taste, food cravings due to lack of fulfillment.
Kledaka Kapha: Impaired digestion, poor absorption.
Avalambaka Kapha: Lethargy, respiratory problems, lower back pain.
Shleshaka Kapha: Weight gain, oily skin, loose or painful joints.


Causes of Kapha imbalance :-

-Eating Kapha-aggravating food
-Overeating
-Eating to offset emotions (like indulging in sweets when depressed)
-Spending too much time in cool, damp climates
-Not engaging in physical activity
-Spending most of one’s time indoors (especially on the couch watching TV!)
-Avoiding intellectual challenges


Tips to balance Kapha :-

-Eat a Kapha-balancing diet.
-Eat in a loving environment.
-Avoid a luxurious, leisurely lifestyle
-Focus on non-attachment in daily life.
-Do emotional housekeeping regularly.
-Make time for introspective activities, like meditation and writing.
-Make a distinction between being nice and being taken advantage of.
-Go to bed early and rise early, with no daytime naps.


Features of Kapha Body type People :- 

People of kapha constitution have well-developed bodies. There is, however, a strong tendency for these individuals to carry excess weight. Their chests are expanded and broad. The veins and tendons of kapha people are not obvious because of their thick skin and their muscle development is good. The bones are not prominent.
Their complexions are fair and bright. The skin is soft, lustrous and oily, it is also cold and pale. The hair is thick, dark, soft and wavy. The eyes are dense and black or blue: the white of the eye is generally very white, large and attractive.
Physiologically, kapha people have regular appetites. Due to slow digestion, they tend to consume less food. They crave pungent, bitter and astringent foods. Stools are soft and may be pale in color: evacuation is slow. Their perspiration is moderate. Sleep is sound and prolonged. There is a strong vital capacity evidenced by good stamina, and kapha people are generally healthy, happy and peaceful.
Psychologically, they tend to be tolerant, calm, forgiving and loving: however, they also exhibit traits of greed, attachment, envy and possessiveness. Their comprehension is slow but definite: once they understand something, that knowledge is retained.
Kapha people tend to be wealthy. They earn money and are good at holding on to it.

We all are made up of unique proportion of Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These ratios of the Doshas vary in each individual and because of this Ayurveda sees each person as a special mixture that accounts for our diversity.

Ayurveda gives us a model to look at each individual as a unique makeup of the three Doshas and to thereby design treatment protocols that specifically address a persons health challenges. When any of the Doshas become accumulates, Ayurveda will suggest specific lifestyle and nutritional guidelines to assist the individual in reducing the Dosha that has become excessive. Also Herbal Medicines will be suggested, to cure the imbalance and the disease.

Understanding this main principle of Ayurveda it offers us an explanation as to why one person responds different to a treatment or diet than another and why persons with the same disease might yet require different treatments and medications.

Other important basic principles of Ayurveda which are briefly mentioned are :

1. Dhatus :- These are the basic tissues which maintains and nourish the body. They are seven in number namely- Rasa (Chyle), Raktha (Blood), Mansa (Muscles),Meda (Fatty Tissues), Asthi (Bone), Majja (Narrow) and Shukra (Reproductive Tissue). Proper amount of each dhatu and their balanced function is very important for good health.

2. Mala :- These are the waste materials produced as a result of various metabolic activities in the body. They are mainly urine, feaces, sweat etc. Proper elimination of the malas is equally important for good health. Accumulation of malas causes many diseases in the body.

3. Srotas :- These are different types of channels which are responsible for transportation of foods, dhatus, malas and doshas. Proper functioning of srotas is necessary for transporting different materials to the site of their requirement. Blockage of srotas causes many diseases.

4. Agni :- These are different types of enzymes responsible for digestion and transforming one material to another.

All these factors should function in a proper balance for good health. They are inter-related and are directly or indirectly responsible for maintaining equilibrium of the tridoshas.

Balance and Harmony of the Three Doshas :

If the proportion of doshas in your current state is close to your birth constitution, then your health will be vibrant. A divergence between these states, however, indicates a state of imbalance. When the three doshas are well harmonised and function in a balanced manner, it results in good nourishment and well being of the individual. But when there is imbalance or disharmony within or between them, it will result in elemental imbalance, leading to various kinds of ailments.

The Ayurvedic concept of physical health revolves round there three Doshas and its primary purpose is to help maintain them in a balanced state and thus to prevent disease.