Doshas (also called Tridosha) are the three vital energies in Ayurveda and simplify the rather complex system of the five elements (fire, water, earth, ether and air, ) that the sages used to explain the ayurvedic principles. They are the basis of any system in nature.
Every Dosha consists of two of those five elements with one dominating and one subordinate element.
These Doshas can be seen as the dynamic forces responsible for all the processes within our body and mind. They describe physical characteristics as well as mental preferences and Ayurveda aims to keep the Doshas in balance as an overly strong influence of one Dosha can cause all kinds of undesirable conditions.
Their names Vata, Pitta and Kapha are Sanskrit terms that are difficult to translate to Western languages so they are best described by their features and effects on body and mind:
- Vata: Air, Ether—the movement principle. Light, cold, dry, mobile, subtle and rough.
- Pitta: Fire, Water—the energy principle. Light, hot, greasy, sharp and fluid.
- Kapha: Water, Earth—the structure principle. Heavy, cold, greasy, stable and softening.
To easily understand the Doshas, think of a car: it wheels which give the car its mobility; this is “Vata”. It has an internal combustion engine which creates the energy to move the car; this is “Pitta”. And it has a chassis that provides the overall structure of the car; this is “Kapha”.
Most people are dominated by one or two of the Doshas and they come into picture in different and individual ways. All doshas always exist side by side, their relation to each other constantly changing.
In fact, they are not different energies, but just different sides of one single energy. Each two Doshas share one characteristic, whereas the third one is the opposite. It is through this principle of opposites that the Doshas can be kept in balance.
Trying to understand the Doshas you should try and feel the influences of them. For example, a windy day would add Vata energy to the overall balance, because it has a cooling and drying influence.
There are two main influences that can imbalance one’s Doshas: the time of the day and the season (eg. noon promotes Pitta) the personal lifestyle (covering habits like eating or exercise and sensory experiences)
To keep your Doshas in balance you first have to find out which Dosha or combination of them is dominant in your body. Preferably this would be determined by an experienced practitioner of Ayurveda.
However, in the Western World those specialists might be hard to find at times, but you can determine your dominant Dosha through careful observation. Our Dosha Test should help you telling you a certain tendency, but no one knows you as good as you do. Once you start observing yourself it will get easier to see the influences that steer your actions, thoughts and feelings.
Understanding them (and thus yourself) better helps immensely to stay in control and keep your life in balance.