The three fundamental concepts in Ayurveda are:
- Food is medicine.
- Disease can be prevented and eradicated by changing one’s daily habits.
- Lifestyle recommendations must be individualized based a person’s physical-mental-emotional blueprint, or dosha.
The emphasis in Ayurveda is on prevention of disease through balance. Balance is created through the knowledge of one’s dosha. Implementation of specific lifestyle changes are in accordance to one’s dosha.
The ancient texts of Ayurveda identify three fundamental doshas, that are present in everyone. Each person has characteristics of all three doshas, but one dosha is usually most dominant, one secondary, and the third least prominent. The original Sanskrit words for the three doshas are vata, pitta, and kapha. Disease is caused by either an excess or deficiency of vata, pitta, or kapha, which results in cellular dysfunction. Creating total (physical, mental, and emotional) balance requires an understanding of how these three doshas work together in the body.
Each of the doshas is a unique combination of the basic five elements that comprise all of life—space, air, fire, water, and earth. Vata is a combination of space and air and represents movement. Vata governs activities such as breathing, blinking, movement of muscles and tissues, beating of the heart, and even movement within cells. When vata is in balance it promotes enthusiasm, creativity and flexibility. When vata is out of balance it produces fear, fatigue, insomnia and anxiety.
Pitta is a combination of fire and water and represents digestion and metabolism. Pitta governs digestion, absorption, assimilation, and body temperature. When pitta is in balance it promotes intelligence, contentment, and abundant energy. When pitta is out of balance it arouses anger, jealousy, inflammation, and impatience.
Kapha is a combination of water and earth and represents structure and lubrication. Kapha creates the structure of the body, such as the bones, muscle, and tendons. It also lubricates the joints and moisturizes the skin. In balance, kapha is expressed as love, forgiveness, and stability. When is it out of balance, kapha leads to attachment, greed, obesity, and dullness.
To find out which dosha is predominant in you, take our dosha quiz.