Vata, Pitta, & Kapha
The Three Energetic Forces of Nature
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Vata, pitta & kapha—collectively known as the doshas—the foundation concepts in the tradition of Ayurveda. What are they? The doshas are energetic forces of nature, functional principles that help us to better understand ourselves, and the world around us. TAKE THE DOSHA TEST to find out which of the doshas make up your constitution and state of imbalance.
We have the three doshas within us. Vata, pitta, & kapha are each essential to our physiology in some way, so no one dosha is better than. Each of them has a very specific set of functional role in our body. When the doshas are out of balance, they will show as an imbalance in on our health. But before we get into the specifics of each of the three doshas, it is helpful to understand their elemental composition, and their broader role in the natural world.
The five elements in Ayurveda: ETHER (space), AIR, FIRE, WATER, & EARTH.
VATA is characterized by the mobile nature of Wind (AIR) energy.
PITTA embodies the transformative nature of FIRE energy.
KAPHA reflects the binding nature of WATER energy.
All of the doshas contain all five elements (as do all things in nature), but each is predominantly composed of two elements.
VATA is characterized by the mobile nature of Wind (AIR)+ETHER energy.
PITTA embodies the transformative nature of FIRE+WATER energy.
KAPHA reflects the binding nature of WATER+EARTH energy.
The particular ratio of vata, pitta, and kapha within each of us provides us with a blueprint for optimal health (otherwise known as our constitution), and garners a significant influence on our individual physical-Body, mental-Mind, and emotional-Soul character traits—as well as our unique strengths and vulnerabilities. If you don’t know your Ayurvedic constitution, please consider setting up your DOSHA TEST, an assessment of both your constitution and your current state of balance.
The Qualitative Nature of the Doshas
Dosha Qualities for Vata
Dry, Light, Cold, Rough, Subtle, Mobile, Clear
Dosha Qualities for Pitta
Hot, Sharp, Light, Liquid, Spreading, Oily
Dosha Qualities for Kapha
Heavy, Slow, Cool, Oily, Smooth, Dense, Soft, Stable, Gross, Cloudy (Sticky)
Balancing the doshas is very intuitive because, it took me a little bit of time to understand each dosha and the elements. But as soon as you figure it out your dosha, just focus on yours, until you get the idea. Don’t worry on understanding all the doshas and their qualities. I found it easier when I just focused on my own study. Now because of my understanding, I could study all of them without being confused. When any one of the doshas is aggravated, we can generally promote Balancing your DOSHA, reducing the influence of that dosha’s qualities, and increasing their opposites. (Think about it as a color wheel, how we mix the colors to make new ones kinda exercise). And if we know which specific qualities are aggravated, we can focus on Pacifying the DOSHA those qualities in particular, while favoring foods, herbs, and experiences that amplify their opposing energies. The following table shows the ten pairs of opposites most commonly referenced in Ayurveda.
Ayurveda’s Ten Pairs of Opposites
Heavy - Light
Slow (Dull) - Sharp(Penetrating)
Cold - Hot
Oily - Dry
Smooth - Rough
Dense - Liquid
Soft - Hard
Stable - Mobile
Gross - Subtle
Cloudy (Sticky) - Clear
The Doshas Functions
Each of the three doshas has a unique personality determined by its particular combination of elements and qualities. At the end of the day, each dosha naturally governs specific physiological functions:
Dosha Primary Functions Vata Movement and Communication
Dosha Primary Functions Pitta Digestion and Transformation
Dosha Primary Functions Kapha Cohesiveness, Structure, and Lubrication
Embodies the energy of MOVEMENT and is often associated with WIND (and the air element). Is linked to creativity and flexibility; Governs all movement the FLOW within the body—the flow of the breath, the pulsation of the heart, all muscle contractions, tissue movements, cellular mobility—and communication throughout the mind and the nervous system.
click here to go to the Balancing VATA page
Represents the energy of TRANSFORMATION and is closely aligned with the FIRE element. Is largely liquid, which is why water is its secondary element. Pitta is neither mobile nor stable, but spreads(LIKE FIRE)—much as the warmth of a fire warming the surroundings, or as water flows in the direction dictated by the terrain. Closely related to intelligence, understanding, and the digestion of foods, thoughts, emotions, and experiences; it governs nutrition and metabolism, body temperature, and the light of understanding.
click here to go to the Balancing PITTA page
Kapha lends STRUCTURE, solidity, and cohesiveness to all things, Associated with EARTH and water elements. Embodies the watery energies of love❤️ and compassion. Kapha hydrates all cells and systems, lubricates the joints, moisturizes the skin, maintains immunity, and protects the tissues.
click here to go to the Balancing KAPHA page
Understanding Imbalances in the Doshas
Imbalances in the doshas are generally caused by the seasons, personal diet, lifestyle choices, as well as stress or emotional sitauatins. These disturbances tend to upset the natural state of internal equilibrium represented by one’s constitution. When the doshas become aggravated, each of them disrupts the body in its own unique way.
When out of balance, VATA tends to cause fear, anxiety, isolation, loneliness, and exhaustion. It leads to both physical and energetic depletion, disrupt proper communication, and cause all sorts of abnormal movements in the body, such as tics, tremors, and muscle spasms.
When out of balance, pitta causes fiery, reactionary emotions such as frustration, anger, jealously, and criticism. Imbalanced pitta is often at the root of inflammatory disorders, which can affect organs and tissues throughout the body.
When out of balance, kapha triggers emotions of attachment, greed, and possessiveness and can also create stubbornness, lethargy, and resistance to change. Physically, kapha tends to invite stagnation and congestion in organs and tissues throughout the body—including the mind.