According to Ayurveda, the human body is composed of three fundamental elements or categories called dosa, dhatus and malas.
The dosa's are composed of al five mahabhutas (elements), but one or the other of the mahabhutas is predominant.
Ether & Air
Active, restless and energetic
Fast metabolism, thin with little muscle development and protruding joints
thin with little muscle development and protruding joints
Speech fast, learn quickly, shy, anxious, very flexible
Fire & Water
Medium build, with greater muscular development
Skin soft and warm
Lot of body heat, often perspire excessively
Speak loudly and passionately and often dominate conversation, desire position of leadership
Eearth & Wateer
Solid bodily frame
High muscular development
Skin thick, smooth and moist
Slow digestion, sluggish energy, heavy sleepers
prefer routine, slow learners but good memories, sentimental, nostalgic and romantic, very group or family oriented
Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth, the five basic elements manifest in the human body as three basic principles or humours, known as the tridosha. From the Ether and Air elements the bodily air principle called vatha is manifested, this principle is called the Vatha dosha. The Fire and Water (or Tejas and Jala) elements manifest together in the body as the fire principle called Pitha. The Earth and Water elements (or Prithvi and Jala) manifest in the body as the bodily water humour known as Kapha.
These three elements: Vatha-Pitha-Kapha govern all the biological, psychological and physiopathological functions of the body, mind and consciousness. They act as basic constituents and protective barriers for the body in its normal physiological condition; when out of balance they contribute to the disease processes. The tridosha are responsible for the arising of natural urges and for individual preferences in foods: their flavours, temperatures and so on. They govern the creation, maintenance and destruction of bodily tissue, and the elimination of waste products from the body. The tridosha are also responsible for psychological phenomena, including such emotions as fear, anger and greed: and for the highest order of human emotions such as understanding, compassion and love. Thus, the tridosha are the foundation of psychosomatic existence of man.
The basic constitution of each individual is determined at conception. At the time of fertilisation, the single male unit, the spermatozoon, unites with the single female element, the ovum. At the moment of this union, the permutations and combinations of bodily air, fire and water that manifests in the parents bodies determine the constitution of the individual.
In general, there are seven types of constitutions:
1.Vatha. 2.Pitha. 3.Kapha. 4.Vatha-Pitha. 5.Pitha-Kapha. 6.Vatha-Kapha. 7.Vatha-Pitha-Kapha.
Among these seven general types, there are innumerable subtle variations that depend upon the percentage of vatha-pitha-kapha elements in the constitution. The constitution is called prakruti in Sanskrit, a term meaning “nature”, “creativity” or “the first creation”. In the body, the first expression of the basic five elements is the constitution. The basic constitution of an individual remains unaltered during the lifetime, as it is genetically determined. The combinations of elements present at birth remain constant. However, the combination of elements that governs the continuous psycho pathological changes in the body alters in response to changes in the environment. Throughout life, there is a ceaseless interaction between the internal and external environment. The external environment comprises the cosmic forces (macrocosm), while the internal forces (microcosm) are governed by the principles of vatha-pitha-kapha. A basic principle of healing in Ayurveda holds that one may create balance in the internal forces working in the individual. By altering diet and habits of living this counteracts changes in his external development.
According to Ayurveda, the first requirement for healing oneself and others is a clear understanding of the three dosha. The concept of vatha-pitha-kapha is unique to Ayurveda and it holds the potential for revolutionising the healing systems of the West. However, the concept of the three principles and the Sanskrit words, vatha-pitha-kapha, are very difficult to translate into western terms.
Vatha is the principle of movement. That which moves is called vatha. Therefore, vatha may be translated as the bodily air principle. However, the element of Air in the external atmosphere is not the same as the air in the body. Bodily air, or vatha, may be characterised as the subtle energy that governs biological movement. This biological principle of movement engenders all subtle changes in the metabolism. Vatha governs breathing, blinking of the eyelids, movements in the muscles and tissues, pulsation's in the heart and all expansion and contraction. Also to be considered are the movements of cytoplasm, cell membranes and movement of single impulses in nerve cells. Vatha also governs such feelings and emotions as freshness, nervousness, fear, anxiety, pain, tremors and spasms. The large intestine, pelvic, bones, skin, ears and thighs are the seats of vatha. If the body develops an excess of vatha, it will accumulate in these areas.
Pitha is translated as fire, although the term does not literally mean “fire.” The fire of a candle or the fire in a fireplace may be seen; however, the bodily heat-energy, the pitha-dosha, which manifests as metabolism is not visible in this way. Pitha governs digestion, absorption, assimilation, nutrition, metabolism, body temperature, skin coloration, the lustre of the eyes; and also intelligence and understanding. Psychologically, pitha arouses anger, hate and jealousy. The small intestine, stomach, sweat glands, blood, fat, eyes and skin are the seats of pitha. Pitha is formed from the elements fire and water.
The translation of kapha is biological water, and this bodily principle is formed from the two elements, Earth and Water. Kapha cements the elements of the body, providing the material for physical structure. This dosha maintains body resistance. Water is the main constituent of kapha, and this bodily water is responsible physiologically for biological strength and natural resistance in the body. Kapha lubricates the joints, provides moisture to the skin, helps heal wounds, fills the spaces in the body, and gives biological strength vigour and stability. Kapha also support's memory retention, gives energy to the heart and lungs and maintains immunity. Kapha is present in the chest, throat, head, sinuses, nose, mouth, and stomach, also Joints, cytoplasm, plasma, and liquid secretions of the body such as mucous. Psychologically, kapha is responsible for emotions of attachment, greed and long standing envy; it is also expressed in tendencies toward calmness, forgiveness and love. The chest is the seat of kapha.
A balance among the tridosha is necessary for health. For example, the air principle kindles the bodily fire, but water is necessary to control fire, otherwise the bodily fire would burn the tissues. Vatha moves kapha and pitha, since kapha and pitha are immobile. Together the tridosha governs all the metabolic activities: anabolism (kapha) catabolism (vatha), and metabolism (pitha). When vatha is out of balance, the metabolism will be disturbed, resulting in excess catabolism, which is the breakdown or deterioration process in the body. When anabolism is greater than catabolism, there is an increased rate of growth and repair of the organs and tissues. Excess pitha disturbs metabolism, excess kapha increases the rate of anabolism and excess vatha creates emaciation (catabolism). In childhood, anabolism and the kapha elements are predominant, since this is the time of greatest physical growth. In adulthood, metabolism and the element of pitha are most apparent, because at this stage the body is mature and stable. In old age, catabolism and vatha are the most in evidence, as the body begins to deteriorate.