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What are Doshas and Prakriti?

Have you ever wondered why people respond differently to the same food and environment? Why are some people hyperactive, energetic, and lively, while others sluggish and lazy? Why can some people eat a five-course meal with ease, while others can barely finish a salad? Why are some people inherently joyous, while others carry a depressive mind? Modern genetics offers some insight, but what about the characteristics that make every person unique?

Ayurveda answers all of these questions with the Three Doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.

The doshas are biological energies found throughout the human body and mind. They govern all physical and mental processes and provide every living being with an individual blueprint for health and fulfillment.

The doshas derive from the Five Elements of Ayurveda and their related properties.

Vata is composed of Space and Air, Pitta of Fire and Water, and Kapha of Earth and Water.

The physical volume of a human being is mainly composed of Kapha. The chemical processes and reactions in the body are on account of the manifestation of Pitta. Similarly, body movements and activities are attributed to Vata.

For an individual to remain healthy, these three basic substances (doshas) must be in equilibrium. Any substantial imbalance of these doshas will cause disintegration of the body which leads to disease.

When we consume food, it is digested and nutrients (Saara) and waste (Mala) are produced. The nutrients nourish the seven bodily tissues (Sapta Dhatu) and the waste is thrown out of the body through sweat, urine, feces, nasal and eye discharge, etc. While this is happening, the three doshas move from one part of the body to another part and induce sound health, resistance to disease, and physical strength in an individual. But, if the doshas are vitiated they produce disease in the body.


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The main functions of Vata are to give motion to the body, conduction of impulses from sensory organs, separation of nutrients and waste from food, secretion of urine and semen.

In healthy conditions, it performs all the physiological functions in the body like speech & hearing. It regulates the normal circulation in the body and it is also responsible for the formation and development of the fetus in the intra-uterine stage. Given the primary elements of Vata are Air and Space, it helps mobilize the function of the nervous system.

When vitiated, it produces psychosomatic disorder, causes weight loss, loss of physical strength and it may cause congenital deformities.

Functions and Location of Vata

The functions and location of five types of Vata :

  1. Praan Vata - upper chest cavity, tongue, nose, and head. Mind control and respiration.

  2. Udaan Vata - umbilical region and neck. Responsible for nasal functions.

  3. Vyaan Vata - chest cavity around the heart and travels all around the body. Responsible for blood circulation throughout the body and also for other bodily movements.

  4. Apaan Vata - intestine, rectum, and urinary bladder. Its main function is the evacuation of urine, secretion of semen and expulsion of feces.

  5. Samaan Vata - stomach and is responsible for digestion of the food and separation of waste from nutrients. It also regulates the temperature of the body and one of its most important functions is to influence the movement of Pitta and Kapha.

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Pitta is the fire principle which uses bile to direct digestion and hence metabolism into the venous system.

Pitta is the key reason for the endocrine functions in the body. It is the by-product of human blood (Rakta). Pitta is of the same structure as blood and both originate and function in spleen and liver.

Pitta can be physically observed - a yellow-colored viscous liquid, it has a fleshy and unpleasant odor and it feels warm when touched.

Pitta provides volume and color to the blood, induces proper digestion and right vision. It is responsible for body heat, thirst, appetite, complexion and intelligence.

Functions and Location of Pitta

The functions and locations of five types of Pitta:

  1. Paachak Pitta - between the stomach and duodenum. When vitiated, it causes a burning sensation, increases appetite, thirst, causes yellowness of urine, feces and the eyes.

  2. Ranjak Pitta - in the liver and spleen. It induces the formation of blood in the liver and spleen.

  3. Saadhak Pitta - in the chest cavity around the heart. Responsible for intelligence and enthusiasm.

  4. Alochak Pitta - around the eye sockets and it helps in vision.

  5. Bhraajak Pitta - in the skin all around the body. It maintains the health of the skin and regulates body temperature.

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Kapha is the water principle that relates to mucous, lubrication, and the carrier of nutrients into the arterial system.

When compared to Vata and Pitta, Kapha is the most stable of the three doshas and it is mainly composed of water. It is responsible for the formation of bodily structures.

It is white in color, thick, viscous, slimy, and soft to touch. The body owes its softness, smoothness, moisture, and coolness to Kapha.

The Kapha joints together various structures of the body and the joints. It promotes healing, immunity, and tissue-building within the body. Kapha provides stability, physical strength, and sturdiness to one’s body.

Functions and Location of Kapha

The functions and location of five types of Kapha:

  1. Kledak Kapha - in the stomach and its primary function is to moisten the food material and aiding digestion.

  2. Avalambak Kapha - is located in and around the heart and its primary function is to nourish, protect, and lubricate the heart.

  3. Bodhak Kapha - is located at the back (root) of the tongue and in the pharynx and it is responsible for the perception of taste.

  4. Tarpak Kapha - is located in the head/skull cavity and its main function is to nourish the brain and to maintain the sensory functions.

  5. Sleshmak Kapha - is located in our joints. It is oily and viscous in nature and it nourishes the joints and keeps them lubricated.

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Prakriti (Constitution of Body)

And here's the most promising theory and the answers why a particular dish works well on one's body but vitiate in the other.

As described above, according to Ayurveda, every person is constituted of the Three Doshas - Vata Dosha, Pitta Dosha, and Kapha Dosha. 

And, there's one of the three Doshas that is most dominant which determines the basic or primary constitution (Prakriti) of an individual. For example, a person with a dominant Pitta Dosha is said to have ‘Pitta Prakriti’ as his primary constitution.

Ayurveda is all about identifying the dominant Dosha, having service to that Dosha with appropriate intake and avoidance of specific nutrition. It also needs to maintain a good balance between the other two Doshas.

I know you are now excited to identify your own Dosha and Prakriti. Take the quiz here and design your nutrition to lead a healthy Ayurvedic life.

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