The five elements create three doshas which are organizations of the elements expressed in the individual. The doshas are often seen as archetypal energies that express different characteristics- much like your zodiac sign or enneagram. This is useful for learning and understanding how the elements express themselves in bodies and personalities.
However, the word dosha actually means “fault” or “crack”. People are generally dominant in one dosha over the other two. This means that disease will tend to accumulate in the biggest “crack” as it sets in. By understanding our unique combination of elements, we can heal from current disease and protect against disease in the future.
Ayurveda views “dis-ease” as anything opposite of “ease.” From a stiff neck to a heart attack, disease is anything that takes your being out of balance with your true nature which is blissful health of the body, mind and spirit.
Want to learn more about each of the doshas? Let's do a quick introduction.
Vata Vata is the energy of movement. It’s qualities are dry, light, cold, clear, subtle, mobile and rough. Those with a Vata dominant constitution will be light bodied, thin-framed, often very tall and lanky or very short. They are often double jointed and can have unique features like crooked teeth or large, deep-set eyes. Vata-dominant beings have naturally dry skin and will need to hydrate and moisturize regularly. They have clear and subtle minds which makes it easy for them to tap into the etheric realm and be quite empathic. This means that it is important for them to cultivate healthy boundaries and protective practices as well. When in balance, they are very creative, intuitive, flexible and emotionally sensitive. For this reason, they excel in careers involving art, music, bodywork and healing of all kinds. When out of balance, they tend towards anxiety, fear, irregular digestion, weight loss and lack of stability. The most soothing and balancing therapies for them involve healing touch, creating a stable routine and avoiding stimulating and loud situations as they become overwhelmed very easily. Receiving massage regularly, oiling their own body daily, rising with the sun, keeping regular mealtimes, spending time in nature, taking warm baths and keeping their body warm and protected from the elements will keep them feeling their best. Warm and moist foods with adequate healthy fats and protein are very stabilizing. Pitta Pitta is the energy of transformation. It’s qualities are oily, light, hot, spreading, sharp/penetrating, liquid and fermenting. Pitta-dominant beings have medium frames, moderate muscle tone and may have a more “athletic” build. They easily gain muscle and can be very good at competitive sports. When in balance, they are focused, organized, ambitious and goal-oriented. They love having a job to do and a list of tasks to check off so they feel a sense of accomplishment. When out of balance, they tend towards anger, over-criticizing of themselves and others, acidic digestion symptoms and mental unrest due to over-analyzing. The most balancing therapies for Pitta are cooling energetically, calming, simple and playful in nature. Although routine is important for all doshas, when Pitta folks are over-worked, it’s important for them to shake up their routine and play. Taking time to rest, loosen up, have fun and find peaceful and playful hobbies they enjoy will be very balancing. They do well with cooling breathing techniques and cooling foods like coconut, mint, cilantro and lime. It can also be very relieving for them to take cool showers and go for regular swims in the warm months. Kapha Kapha is the energy of structure and lubrication. It’s qualities are oily, heavy, cool, cloudy/sticky, gross (substantial), smooth/slimy, dull/slow, liquid then dense, and soft then hard. Kapha dominant beings are large-boned, stable-bodied and curvaceous. They can be very muscular and solid. In balance they are loving, kind, generous and nurturing. They do well in caretaking careers, as home-makers or parents and in healing fields due to their giving nature. They make wonderful friends and partners because they are very loyal. Out of balance, they can be overly attached, greedy, jealous and easily gain weight. The best way to balance Kapha is to get moving. Kapha dominant folks do well with rising early to see the sun come up, exercising daily to break a sweat, and having friends that motivate them to try new things and go on adventures. They can also be very attached to their routines so getting them to rearrange the old, stuck habits and find more uplifting activities will be supportive. Because Kapha beings are cool, heavy and solid creatures, warm, energizing, well-spiced and light foods are the best dietary medicine.
All of this being said, there are as many elemental expressions as there are people. Many of us are dominant in more than one dosha, making us Vata-Pitta, Pitta-Kapha, Vata-Kapha or Tridoshic, an even blend of them all. We all have a completely unique blend of the elements within us. As we understand the elements more intimately and how they express in our individual lives, we can better evaluate our state of balance. This gives us a more informed perspective as to what practices and therapies will be most balancing at a given time. Ayurveda always asks the question “For Whom and When?”