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Posts Tagged ‘tridosha’

As explained in the previous Foundations post, according to Ayurveda there are three organizing forces (or doshas) in Nature called Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Each dosha is made up of two of the major elements (Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether/Space) and expresses the qualities of those elements.

Vata – The Energy of Air and Space

The Sanskrit word vata is related to the verb vah, meaning vehicle, to carry or move. This meaning underlines the importance of mobility in describing Vata’s character. Like the Air element, Vata moves easily as it is light-weight and insubstantial. We can feel Vata’s presence in the wind and in the movements of our bodies and minds.

When Vata is present, it expresses its inherent qualities, causing the things around it to take on and reflect those same qualities. The qualities of Vata are dry, light, cold, rough, subtle, mobile, and clear. When these qualities are evident, we know Vata is involved.

For example, if someone has a thin body with dry skin, cold hands and feet, rough and irregular digestion, quick-moving thoughts and they can adapt easily to new environments, we would say Vata dosha is dominant in that person. If the weather is changeable or the seasons are transitioning from Summer to Autumn, Vata is dominant in the environment.

In the human body, Vata is responsible for all movement, circulation and rhythm. Its functions include speech, nerve impulses, flexibility, respiration, coughing, the heart beat, peristalsis, elimination, menstruation, labor, orgasm, clarity, and joy, to name just a few.

Vata brings forth the desire for change and is expressed in variability, ranging from a change in clothing style to a change in career, done so simply to keep from feeling bored. Vata detests routine, tending towards spontaneity and exuberant expressions of creativity. Vata is the life of the party, always ready for the next adventure – and perhaps a little spacey at times.

Stay tuned to learn what happens when Vata dosha gets out of balance.

(And until then, Happy Father’s Day!)

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A pivotal concept in Ayurveda is the theory of the tridosha. This theory explains how and why energy moves in nature in certain ways.

Since humans are part of nature, this system also describes us. For example, it gives a rationale for why some people always get heartburn after eating tomato sauce, while others don’t.

The word dosha refers to an organizing principle or pattern. The ancient teachers noticed that certain qualities show up in nature together like a constellation and move in predictable ways.

They observed three primary organizing patterns in the world, and they correspond to the major elements. Since there is no equivalent concept in the English language, we use the Sanskrit terms for these three forces: Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

Vata dosha is made of the elements Air and Space (or Ether). Vata is the most mobile dosha (like air), and it is involved whenever there is movement – when wind blows the trees, when a rabbit’s leg muscles contract and he leaps, or when someone sneezes a piece of dust out of their nose.

Pitta is made primarily of Fire (although there is a little Water in there, too). In any instance of heat or transformation, Pitta is at work – when the sun heats the desert floor, when an apple core decomposes in your compost, or when your face flushes as you step up to the karaoke mic.

Kapha includes the qualities of Water and Earth. The heaviest dosha, Kapha is present wherever there is stability and structure – in the form of a boulder, or the stillness of sleep. Kapha also governs lubrication, both the moisture in the atmosphere and the moisture in the body.

The three doshas interact and influence each other in nature to maintain an overall equilibrium, balancing out each others’ qualities. At times, one dosha will be dominant, and then naturally give way to another dosha, creating a dynamic yet balanced whole. It is a beautifully comprehensive and complex system, which becomes clearer the more you learn about it and look for it (I promise!).

In subsequent posts, I will dive deeper into each dosha and explore how they govern the activities of our bodies and minds. Until then, let me know if you have any questions in the comment section below. I look forward to hearing from you!

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