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Dosha Theory

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The Dosha Theory

Seat of the Doshas
Taste and the Five Elements
Six Tastes and their Effect on the Doshas
Prana, Ojas, Tejas (The Three Vital Essences)
Agni & Ama


Ayurveda defines a human being as the assemblage of the five maha bhutas plus jivatman (individual consciousness).  The five maha bhutas give rise to the doshas (psycho-physical tendencies).  The doshas are derived by combining different pairs of the five elements.  The three doshas are: Vata, (ether/air) Pitta (fire/water) and Kapha (earth/water).  The five elements are the building blocks of all matter and the doshas organize the elements for their function in the human body. 

There are seven possible combinations of vata, pitta and kapha. Every individual has all three doshas within them but it is the dominance of any one, two or all three that makes up a person’s individual prakruti (constitution). Established at conception, prakruti is the psycho-physical constitution of an individual.  It creates the inborn tendencies that influence how one experiences life.  When functioning normally and present in normal quantities, the doshas maintain balance in all body processes.  When out of balance they create dis-ease.  The imbalanced state is referred to as vikruti.  If the present state of the doshas is the same as prakruti, that individual is balanced and healthy.  Vikruti is the result of any aspects of diet, lifestyle, emotions, age, and environment which continually change from moment to moment. No matter what the constitution, it is possible to achieve optimal health through proper diet, cooking methods, lifestyle habits and an attitude towards life that specifically suits each individual.   

Vata – The word Vata is derived from the Sanskrit verb “vah” which means vehicle; to carry; to move.  The elements of ether and air combine to form the dosha of Vata.  Vata is connected to the nervous system and therefore reaches every part of the body.  Traditionally, Ayurveda calls these the “winds” of the body – the impulses traveling along nerves, muscles, blood vessels and anywhere there is bodily motion. Vata has the qualities of dry, light, cold, rough, subtle, mobile, and clear and is responsible for joy, happiness, creativity, speech, sneezing and elimination.  Vata is associated with the guna sattva and the vital life force of prana. 

Pitta – The word Pitta is derived from the Sanskrit word “tap” meaning heat; austere.  The elements of fire and water combine to form the dosha Pitta.  Pitta is responsible for metabolism and is equated with the body’s heat as well as digestion of food and thought.  Pitta has the qualities of hot, sharp, light, liquid and slightly oily and the attributes include acuteness of sight, sharp thinking, concentration and comprehension.  Pitta is associated with the guna rajas and the fire element Agni.    

Kapha – The word Kapha is derived from the Sanskrit roots “Ka” which means water and “pha” which means to flourish.  The elements of water and earth combine to form the dosha Kapha.  Kapha comprises all our cells, tissues and organs as is responsible for maintaining structure of the body as well as keeping it moist and well lubricated.  Kapha has the qualities of cold, dense, moist, soft and cloudy and the attributes include love, compassion, forgiveness, a steady mind and great memory.  Kapha is related to the guna tamas and the elements of  earth and water.

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