is a holistic healing science, based on the concept of balance
representing health. The word itself is derived from two Sanskrit
words: Ayu (meaning life) and veda (meaning knowledge)
science focuses on living life naturally. It teaches how to live
in society and in the universe without disturbing the delicate balance
of nature. Ayurveda not only addresses illness and treatment, but
is a complete way of life which describes the activities, diet, lifestyle,
etc. which enhance life.
to Ayurvedic texts, the human body is comprised of the five elements
of nature: ether (space), air, fire, water and earth.
- is space, in particular the cellular,
synaptic and visceral spaces which allow the tissues to function
- governs movement in the body. The sensation
that is felt when someone touches the skin is transported to the
brain through movement. Other examples include breathing (through
the movement in the diaphragm) and the shifting of thoughts and desires.
- represents the qualities of change and
transformation. It is therefore the element relative to digestion,
absorption, assimilation and body temperature.
- takes many forms in the body such as:
saliva, plasma, mucus and urine and is necessary for healthy cell
- is the element which forms the solid
structures of the body (i.e. bones, cartilage, teeth, skin, etc.)
in Traditional Chinese Medicine the
Ayurvedic system views the human body as a miniature of nature and
therefore the elements listed above are used to create the structure
of the body.
structural aspects are then combined to create the three doshas (Sanskrit
for "forces that disturb") which are responsible for the
functional aspects of the body. The three doshas are a combination
of two of each of the elements and are used to determine the individuals'
primary constitution and the factors which contribute/are detrimental
to harmony in the body.
is a combination of the air and ether (space) elements, with air
being the predominent force. Its function in the body (as in nature)
is to create movement and is therefore involved in the following
processes: reflexes and motor functions, breathing, circulation of
blood and nutrients, transmission of sensory stimuli, elimination,
movement of thoughts and memory recall.
qualities expressed by Vata are: dry, light, cold, astringent, clear,
active and dispersing.
physical appearance of Vata is:
light body frame, low body fat, little muscular development, can
be very tall or very short
dry, cool to the touch (ex. cold hands and/or feet - poor circulation),
medium/dark skin tone
dry, coarse, dark, curly
narrow or small, brown, gray or slate bue with a dull luster
small with thin, narrow lips
Vata temperment is:
nervous, anxious, mood swings, insecurity, quick to learn but short
prone to constipation (due to dry quality), fluctuating appetite,
very active and mobile but poor stamina, activity comes in bursts
for excess Vata:
regular, but gentle in movements
warm, mildly spiced, moist, nutritious but well cooked
sweet, sour, salty
is a combination of the water element and the fire element, with
fire dominant. As such, it is the fire that fuels the metabolism
and comprehension of mental experiences. Pitta is therefore involved
in the following: digestion, absorption and assimilation of food,
creating the feeling of hunger or thirst, comprehension and reasoning
of thoughts and theories, sensory perception, vision (including luster
in the eyes), serves as the furnace of the body - regulating temperature.
qualities expressed by Pitta are: hot, light, liquid, sour, sharp
physical apprearance of Pitta is:
medium build and good muscular development
fair, warm, oils (may be prone to blemishes), freckles, tendency
toward rashes or reddening
fine, soft, light in color, straight
average in size, lustrous, bright blue, light brown/hazel
medium size with average lips
Pitta temperment is:
organized, driven, easily irritated, love knowledge and have a good
memory, competitive, controlling or dominating traits, enjoy leadership
strong appetite, regular elimination and rapid digestion, generally
enjoys physical activity, has moderate energy levels with average
for excess Pitta:
cool to warm, mildly spiced
sweet, bitter, astringent
is a combination of the water and earth elements with water as the
primary element. Kapha provides substance and support for the body
and acts as the basis for Vata and Pitta. Kapha is involved in the
following functions within the body: lubrication (i.e. joints), bodily
secretions, cell structure, stability of the mind, distribution of
qualities expressed by Kapha are: heavy, dense, cool, slow, liquid,
static and oily.
physical qualities of Kapha are:
large build, good muscular development, tendency to put on weight
due to slow metabolism and digestion
cool, clammy, smooth, pale, oily
thick, wavy, shiny
large, attractive, brown
large mouth with full lips
Kapha temperment is:
relaxed, compassionate, slow, takes time to learn but prolonged memory
strong appetite, slow digestion, may talk and walk slowly, deep sleeper
good stamina and steady energy, generally disinterested in high energy
activities like running and aerobics
for excess Kapha
warm, dry, light, spicy
pungent, bitter, astringent
is important to note that the qualities of Vata, Pitta and Kapha
are present in everyone, and are required to co-exist because they
govern different organs, processes and bodily functions.
one dosha usually predominates and best describes our basic physical
appearance, behaviours, attitudes and emotions. To determine your
primary dosha, take our What's your Dosha?
quiz and learn how to balance your physical and mental state to achieve
health and harmony in your life.
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