Ayurveda means science of the lifespan; from birth to immortality. According to ayurveda we are all unique individuals with a different physical, psychological, and emotional makeup. We don’t have to leave our health and happiness to chance. We can be the creators and maintainers of our own good health.
The goal of ayurveda is to prevent all (mental, physical, emotional, behavioral, and environmental) disease and to help us evolve. To evolve is to change from one state to the other. For example, from grief to joy, from suffering to happiness, from ignorance to knowledge, from ill health to vibrant health, etc.
According to the ayurveda the body is made up of dhatus (tissues), malas (waste products), and doshas (which loosely translates to Energetic Force).
There are three doshas, the Tridoshas:
- Vata dosha - Responsible for all Movement in the body.
- Pitta dosha - Responsible for all Metabolism in the body.
- Kapha dosha - Responsible for all Structure & Lubrication in the body.
The Vata dosha is the most important of the three doshas. This is for two
reasons. First, if Vata becomes imbalanced for long enough and sufficiently
enough, it can cause both Pitta and Kapha to become imbalanced; this is
called a Tridoshic imbalance and is the most difficult to overcome. Secondly,
Vata is the main driver or mover of the body, including the other two doshas,
all the tissues (dhatus
) and all of the waste products (malas
Vata provides the following functions:
- All eliminations: fetus, semen, feces, urine, sweat, and a few others.
- Assists with all the various metabolisms in the body (called Agni in the ayurveda).
- Controls all of the various movement of body (both physical &
mental), including such things as respiration, heart beat,
motivation and contraction of muscles.
- Relays all sensory input from the various sense organs to the brain.
Qualities of Vata dosha: cold, light, dry, rough, hard, mobile and the ability to penetrate fine particles.
The Pitta dosha is associated with fire or heat. Wherever there is
transformation, there is Pitta (doing its job). Whether it is in the GI tract,
liver, skin, eyes or brain doesn't matter, for these are all locations where
Pitta provides the following functions:
- Metabolism - at all the various levels from digestion of food to transformation of all other material.
- Thermogenesis - maintains the proper body temperature.
- Vision - converts external images into optic nerve impulses.
- Appetite - the feeling of hunger and thirst.
- Comprehension - of information into knowledge, also reasoning and judgment.
- Courage & Braveness - to face the situation.
- Complexion - gives color and softness to skin.
Qualities of Pitta dosha: hot, sharp, slightly oily, penetrating, liquid, light and can be sour and foul smelling when excessively increased.
Kapha is the heaviest of the three doshas. It provides the structures and the
lubrication that the body needs. These qualities help to counterbalance Vata's
movement and Pitta's metabolism. A big, heavyset football player or wrestler is
a person with a predominance of Kapha.
Kapha provides the following functions:
- Strength - to perform physical tasks.
- Moistness & Lubrication - to prevent excessive friction from occurring between the various parts of the body.
- Stability - to add the necessary grounding aspect to both mind and body.
- Mass & Structure - to provide fullness to bodily tissues.
- Fertility & Virility - to produce healthy offspring.
Qualities of Kapha dosha: cool, heavy, dense, stable, oily and slimy.
Why should I care ?
Because by learning how to balance the Tridoshas, the following goals can likely be achieved:
- Prevention of many diseases before they take hold.
- In many cases, slowing down or reversing the disease process; particularly the case in many auto-immune disorders.
- Assistance in becoming totally healthy: physically, mentally, and spiritually. In other words, maximize your full potential.
Learning to balance the Tridoshas is reasonably easy (atleast, that's my
experience). Much of ayurveda is common sense; it is based upon the Laws of
. The tools one uses to balance the Tridoshas are lifestyle management
and the proper nutritional protocols
goes into great detail explaining all of these
different aspects of the body, how the functioning of the body
can go wrong, and what to do in order to correct the problem.
Likewise, it also explains how each individual can create a
customized nutritional protocol and lifestyle plan that can
prevent disorders (eg: disease) from occurring in the first place.
What causes the Tridoshas to become imbalanced ?
Each of the three doshas have a certain quantity, quality, and function. When
all of these are balanced, it is called normal or balanced (Dosha Shamya
However, this balanced state is not stable; it is always changing. The doshas
will become either increased (vriddhi
) or decreased (kasaya
). Both of these
states lead to imperfect health. However, increased doshas have much more power
to cause problems than decreased doshas. The important point here is to
understand that each dosha has a set of qualities (gunas
) associated with it
which can increase or decrease in quantity (see the list above).
Now it's important to understand the two kinds of imbalances:
- Natural imbalance is due to time and age, which are mild and
normally do not cause many problems. Vata, Pitta, and Kapha increase and
become predominant at different times during one's life, a season and
certain times of day. For example, Vata is predominant during the latter
part of one's life, during the fall season and during late afternoon, as
well as during the last part of night and the last part of digestion.
Pitta is predominant during middle age, during the summer season, at
midday, at midnight and during the middle part of digestion. Kapha is
predominant during childhood, during the spring season, in late morning,
at the first part of evening and during the early part of digestion.
- Unnatural imbalances of the doshas can be caused by such things as:
inappropriate diet, inappropriate lifestyle, trauma (like a car accident),
viruses, parasites, etc. While some of these are beyond our control, the
type of lifestyle we live and the foods we eat are within our control.
To learn how to reduce the Tridoshas, it is first necessary to understand what
causes the Tridoshas to increase. The reason, according to a simple rule in
ayurvedic principles, is: "Like increases Like, while Dislike (opposite)
decreases Like." For example, if you are cold and you eat ice cream, you
will become colder; or if you are hot and you eat chilli peppers, you will
become hotter. Also: colors are an easy way to stay balanced: Vata = yellow, Pitta = red and Kapha is green. The examples, which seem so obvious, are the basis for much of what is done in ayurveda. Herein lies one of the true beauties of ayurveda: its
principles are so simple, so basic.