The Meaning of Ayurveda and the Doshas

The meaning of Ayurveda is literally the Knowledge of Life!

Life in the sense of the world around us, and the world within us, our own nature.

According to Ayurveda, the 5 elements of space, air, fire, water and earth are the building blocks of matter, and purvey qualities. 

Space, akash

Is the etheric form of matter. It’s the space that contains everything else. The space around us and the cavities within our bodies: our abdominal cavity, heart and lungs cavities. It has a light quality. And we call someone who has those qualities: “spacey”

Air, vayu

Is the gaseous form of matter. It’s the gas in our body, the air we breathe and the wind that makes things move. When you look at body of water and see ripples it’s because of the wind. And when you hear leaves in a tree rustle, it’s because of the wind. Therefore, air has mobile, light as well as dry qualities. We call someone who has those qualities “airy fairy”, they’re all over the place physically abut also mentally.

Ayurveda Basics

Fire, agni

Is the radiant form of matter. It’s the light of the sun and purveys the idea of transformation. The “fire” element transforms through heat and light. For example, plants metabolize sunlight into chlorophyll, and carbon dioxide into oxygen. It’s the warmth of the wood fire. Our bodies are warm because of its metabolic processes like digestion. Agni is also the metabolism of thoughts and impressions, it’s the ability of our mind to understand, discriminate, and classify as well as the heat of an argument. The qualities of the “fire” element are hot, dry and stable.

Water, apa

Is the liquid form of matter and purveys the idea of flow and fluidity. It’s the rivers, oceans and lakes of the earth and the fluids in our bodies. Apa is also phlegm, mucus and fat. The qualities of the “water” element are wet, cold, heavy and stable. And water is linked to the emotions.

Earth, prithvi

Is the solid form of matter and purveys the idea of stability, solidity and structure. It’s the earth and the earth-like tissues in the body, our muscles and bones. The qualities of earth are cold, dry, heavy and stable. We call someone who has these qualities, “earthy”, “grounded”.

When the elements combine, they’re create Vata, Pitta and Kapha doshas

The meaning of doshas is tendencies.We have all 3 doshas in different percentage which gives us our unique personality, functional and physical tendencies.

This is how we identify the Ayurveda mind-body constitution of a person and the nature of their imbalance or symptoms.

Vata Dosha is air and space combined. 

People who have a Vata dosha dominant constitution tend to be long and thin with an oval face and a long neck. When they are in balance, they are: bubbly, light hearted, enthusiastic, inspired, expansive, philosophical, with a quick mind, an ability to notice details, creative and artistic. However, when they’re out of balance,  they’re overly reactive, indecisive, impulsive, moody, distracted, ungrounded, nervous, worried, anxious and fearful; they become highly sensitive, tend to ramble and are consistently late. They are the ones who will have symptoms such as gas, bloating, constipation, dry skin (dandruff), insomnia, restlessness and constipation.

Pitta and Kapha Dosha

Pitta dosha is fire and water combined. 

People who have a Pitta dosha dominant constitution are characterized by their big appetite for food and life! When they’re in balance, they are: perceptive, focused, productive and goal oriented, passionate, succinct, friendly; they make excellent teachers and leaders. However, when they’re out of balance, they can be overly aggressive, intense, judgmental, angry, critical, jealous, envious, abrasive, vengeful, and prone to burnout. They experience symptoms like burning indigestion, diarrhea, oily skin, rashes, acne and inflammation.

Kapha dosha is water and earth combined.

People who have a Kapha dosha dominant constitution look very sturdy and strong. When they’re in balance, they’re calm, sweet, gentle, dependable, empathetic, and compassionate. However, when they’re out of balance, they tend to experience mental sluggishness and excessive attachment; they feel sentimental, lethargic, melancholy, stubborn, complacent and controlling. They experience symptoms like fatigue and heaviness after eating, depression, sadness, obesity, swelling and congestion.

Like attract like and healing happens when we apply the opposite qualities.

When Vata dosha is out of balance, it means that there’s an excess of dry, cold and mobile qualities. We bring balance back by adding more cooked and nourishing foods instead of cold salads and juices. Instead of going for a run at night, we give ourselves a calming massage with warm oil.

When Pitta dosha is out of balance, it means that there’s and excess of  hot quality. We bring the balance back by eating more cooling foods, instead of spicy, hot foods. Instead of getting into arguments, we go for a walk and watch a calm view of the ocean or we meditate.

As for Kapha dosha, when it’s out of balance, it means that there’s an excess of cold, moist and heavy qualities. We bring balance back by eating spicier and lighter foods instead of sweet, fried and salty foods. Instead of sitting on the couch feeling sluggish and unmotivated, we go for a walk or take a Vinyasya Yoga class!

Ayurveda addresses diet and lifestyle to create a healthy environment where healing can happen!