"He who follows the path of Ayurveda shall attain health, happiness and gratification"
What Is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda means The Science of Life. It is an ancient medical practice with historical roots in India. Ayurveda believes in curing the root cause of the problem instead of relieving the symptoms of a disease alone.
The Tridosha Theory
According to Ayurveda, the universe is made of five primordial elements namely earth, air, fire, water and ether. These elements are inanimate, but in combination, give rise to three main biological forces or principles in the human body called the Doshas.
Doshas are the forces that govern all psycho-physiological functions in the body and mind. According to Ayurvedic literature, the health and wellbeing of a human depends on the balance between these Doshas.
Doshas and Related Elements
The most powerful of the three Doshas, Vata Dosha is said to be made up of the air and ether elements. This means that it has qualities which are similar to these elements - light, dry and cool. People with a predominant Vata Dosha tend to have these qualities. Their body is seemingly light with dry skin and hair. They often move and speak quickly. When out of balance, they may lose weight, become constipated and have weakness in their immune and nervous systems.
These qualities also reflect on their personality. Those with a Vata nature tend to be talkative, enthusiastic, creative, flexible, and energetic. Yet, when out of balance they may also become easily confused and overwhelmed, have difficulty focusing and making decisions and have trouble sleeping. This becomes more apparent when they are under stress.
In order to bring balance to Vata, one must emphasize on the opposing qualities of warmth, moistness, and stability. In the diet, this is reflected in the consumption of cooked grains and vegetables, as well as the intake of warm milk with spices. Pungent herbs like ginger which increase internal heat and nourishing herbs like ashwagandha bring balance to Vata.
The Pitta Dosha is said to be made up of the fire and water elements. Fire is more predominant, and people with a predominant Pitta nature have many of the qualities of fire within them. Pitta tends to be hot, sharp and penetrating. It is also somewhat volatile and oily. The oily nature of Pitta is related to the secondary component of water. People with a Pitta nature reflect these qualities. They tend to feel warm and have somewhat oily skin, penetrating eyes, and sharp features. They tend to have moderate weights and good musculature. When out of balance they tend toward diarrhoea, infections, skin rashes, and weakness in the liver, spleen and blood. These qualities also reflect on their personalities. Pitta people tend to be highly focused, competitive, capable, courageous, energetic and clear communicators who get right to the point. They like to solve problems, and when under stress, they dig in their heels. They can, however, also become overly intense and speak with a sharp tongue. They make great friends but are feared enemies. Emotionally they are challenged by the heated emotions of anger, resentment and jealousy.
In order to bring balance to Pitta, opposing qualities of coolness, heaviness (nourishing) and dryness must be focused. Cool spices like fennel are recommended in the diet along with foods such as raw vegetables, cooked rice, wheat, and most beans. Sweet herbs like Shatavari are used to nourish the body while bitters like dandelion root temper the fire.
Within the Kapha dosha, there is a predominance of the water and earth elements. Like these elements, Kapha tends to be cool, moist, stable and heavy. In the body, these qualities manifest as dense, heavy bones, lustrous, supple skin, low metabolism, and large, stocky frames. In addition, those with a Kapha nature tend to feel cool. When out of balance, Kapha individuals are prone to gaining weight and tend to have weaknesses in their lungs and sinuses where there is an accumulation of mucus. Those of Kapha nature are also most prone to non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.
The elements of water and earth also reflect on the personality. The heavy, stable nature of Kapha reflects in a stable personality which is not prone to quick fluctuations. Those with a Kapha nature handle stress very well, often not even noticing that it exists. They don’t like change, are generally conservative, and would prefer to keep things just the way they are. When Kapha is out of balance, the heavy emotions of depression and lethargy result.
In order to bring balance to a Kapha nature the opposing qualities of lightness, dryness and warmth are recommended. Grains such as quinoa and amaranth are recommended to be included in the diet as well as hot spices like cayenne pepper. Lots of vegetables and very little nuts or dairy should be added in the diet plan. Cleansing herbs like guggul and pungent ones like clove bring balance to Kapha.
We must remember that we are all a combination of the three Doshas. On the most fundamental level, Pitta is our metabolism, Kapha is our structure, and Vata is the mobility that brings action and life into creation. Without all three energies, we simply could not exist.