Over 5,000 years ago, the residents of India’s Indus River Valley observed the universe and understood that there are 5 Elements that make up all of nature, including us. These are Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth.
They further identified that these elements combine together into three forces called Doshas. Just as there are various ratios of elements found in nature with water and earth combining to make mud, all three doshas are within us in differing proportions. These forces are Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Ether and air combine to form the force of wind or Vata. This is the concept of movement. In our bodies it is all motion such as circulation, breathing, nervous energy and absorption. Vata people tend to be cold, light, dry and active. In nature we experience Vata on a cool, dry, windy Autumn day.
Fire with a little water combine to form the force of the Pitta type or dosha. This is the concept of all transformative processes. Pitta is responsible for the digestion and transformation of our food as well as our ability to digest information. Pitta people tend to be warm, light and a little moist or oily. In nature a hot, humid day of summer reflects Pitta characteristics.
Water and earth combine to form the Kapha dosha. In our bodies this is the concept of solidity and water or phlegm. Kapha people tend to run cold and are larger in structure than their Vata and Pitta counterparts. A Kapha day would be reflected in the last days of winter as the snows melt and the blossoming flowers announce the arrival of spring.
Everyone has all three forces as a unique combination of these doshas. We might recognize a little of ourselves in all three if we look close enough. Just as the seasons change in their quality, their effects also affect us. In the fall and early winter, we may notice Vata qualities becoming more prominent in our bodies; in the summer Pitta, and Kapha in the late winter and early spring.
The doshas also relate to our mental state. Vata dosha in its balanced state inspires creativity, flexibility and spirituality. Vata individuals, when out of balance, may be prone to indecisiveness, worry, and anxiety. A balanced Pitta person is a leader, visionary and builder. An imbalanced Pitta type may have a lot of impatience, anger or judgement. Balanced Kapha is stable, calm, peaceful, loving and content. An out of balance Kapha personality may be subject to greed, attachment, laziness, or depression.
How does knowing this help us to restore balance?
We balance the doshas by applying their opposite qualities. For example, if you have a vata imbalance you could be experiencing the qualities of cold, light, dry and mobile. I would design a program for you with therapies that are warm, heavy, moist and stable to counter your imbalance.
In Ayurveda, we use food, herbs, daily routines, massage oils, exercise and more to create balance and stable health.
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