Ayurveda is the world's oldest system of natural health care. While some may find the language and terminology of Ayurveda challenging at first (I know I did!) it's truly worth dipping your toes into the simple side of this beautiful science and treating yourself to the increased peace and energy that comes from understanding your unique nature and your relationship to all nature.
The Ayurveda articles on this website are written by a westerner for westerners, my aim is to make the essence of Ayurveda easily understandable and available to anyone who wants to gain insight into the art of genuine effective self-care that Ayurveda promises.
To gain a basic understanding of Ayurveda and begin the journey of self-discovery it's helpful to know about the doshas - and that's what this little piece is all about...
What are the three Doshas?
The three doshas are the primary energetic life forces of the body. They are called vata, pitta and kapha, and they are the subtle force behind all physical and mental functioning. In Ayurveda, the doshas are the key to preventative healthcare, or the diagnosis and treatment of illness.
Dosha is a sanskrit word which means “that which spoils, or causes things to spoil”, from this we can understand that the doshas have the propensity to cause disease in the body, this happens when they are aggravated, or out of balance. But there is much more to the doshas than their "spoiling" aspect, the doshas are essential to life, and they govern basic biological functions in the body, such as: movement, metabolism and lubrication.
When balanced, the doshas bestow qualities upon us specific to our individual type such as creative expression (a positive trait of vata), analytical thinking (a positive trait of pitta) or affection and loyalty (a positive trait of kapha). I will cover more on the individual doshas (vata, pitta, and kapha) later and help you discover your main doshic type too, but first: here's a basic idea of the concept of the doshas and why they are so important to us.
Doshas & Diversity
Each dosha has it's own set of unique characteristics which are derived from it's association with a combination of the material elements: ether (or space), air, fire, water and earth. The doshas influence the physiology and mental nature of you and everyone you know. They are also observable in the world around you; not only are there are vata, pitta and kapha types of people, but animals, foods, trees, flowers, music, seasons and even different times of day and night can be neatly filed under the three different doshas of vata pitta and kapha.
We each contain all three doshas, but how much we exhibit each dosha varies; it is this varying proportion of the doshas that gives you your unique nature. You may have something in common with all mankind, and some specifics in common with some others, but ultimately you are a unique individual and that uniqueness is crafted by your unique blend of doshic qualities.
Note: The distribution of the doshas varies from person to person: most people have one or two dominant doshas, there is a type where all three doshas are present equally, but it extremely rare.
Why discover your dosha?
Understanding the doshas means understanding yourself. Knowledge of your main dosha type can give you vital clues on what to eat and how to live to stay healthy and happy. The science of the doshas honours your individuality, it will help you support your true nature, better understand your children, and partners and reveal simple lifestyle measures that can keep you and your family running harmoniously.
Microcosmic You You are a unique mini universe, but there is constant interplay between your internal doshas and the influence of the doshas around you, for example: the weather, the food you eat, the behaviour and nature of those around you, all affect your internal doshic state.
Ayurveda gives you the power to understand these interactions and keep yourself feeling balanced, healthy and calm.
If you have ever wondered why some people you know are more sensitive to spicy food than others, or some dislike the wind, and others the damp, or why some people react more angrily to stressful situations while others will head for the coach with a packet of cookies - Ayurveda can tell you.
Invisible and Everywhere You can't directly see the doshas but you can quickly learn to spot them by their effects. For example: Cold, dry, windy weather is vata weather, and hot humid weather is pitta weather.
At first it all seems rather disconnected, but soon you can discover simple clues that link it all together. The easiest way to do this is to look deeper into the doshas and look at the related elements that give them each their properties.
Related Articles on Ayurveda:
- Ayurveda & Body Types: Do you Know Your Dosha?
- Ayurveda & Body Types: Doshas and the Elements
- Ayurveda - it's Elementary!
- Ayurveda Defined
- Ayurveda: 8 Golden Rules for Good Digestion
- Ayurveda: Clues for Easily Understanding the Doshas
- Ayurvedic Home Remedies: How to Get Dry Cough Relief from Bananas