One of the most fundamental aspects of Ayurvedic medicine is the dosha system. Each individual has a certain constitution, often referred to as their dosha.
Each dosha corresponds to a number of the five basic elements. In this article, we will explain the basic doshas elements so you can gain a deeper understanding of these important concepts.
The Doshas Elements & Qualities
The Ancients believed that there were five primary elements in the Universe, which comprised all matter and energy. According to Ayurveda, all processes, objects, emotions, and entities can be attributed to some combination of these five elements.
These five elements are:
- Earth, which is hard, grounding, and stable.
- Fire, which is hot, wild, and passionate.
- Water, which is cool, fluid, and moving.
- Air, which is quick-moving, cool, and abstract.
- Ether, which is clear, light, soft, immeasurable, and formless – which usually refers to non-material phenomena.
It is believed that the various combinations of these elements gave rise to the material universe and all that resides within it. The doshas are believed to be primary expressions of these elemental combinations:
- Vata, a combination of air and ether. These elements are reflected in the fact that Vatas are generally light, quick-moving, quick-thinking individuals that can become unstable relatively quickly.
- Pitta, a combination of fire and water. This is reflected in the fact that Pittas are generally hot and passionate (fire) as well as fluid and eager to move (water).
- Kapha, a combination of earth and water. This is reflected in the fact that Kaphas are generally strong and stable (earth) and cool and smooth (water).
Why Bother Learning the Dosha Elements?
Learning about the elements of the doshas can be very useful because it can help you understand how to balance your constitution. In particular, you can learn how to cater your diet to help you feel your best.
Since the Ayurvedics identified the role of the elements in all things, they also identified how these elements play out in foods. Foods are all various combinations of earth, air, water, and fire.
The foods that you would want to eat would be those which do not correspond to the elements of your dosha.
The goal of eating in Ayurveda is not to fill a nutritional void; rather, it is to bring balance to the mind and body. This is done by pacifying the dosha.
For example, a Vata often becomes unbalanced, experiences anxious, quick thinking, and has digestive issues. These are issues related to the excessive influence of the air and ether elements.
The best route for a Vata would be to consume heavier foods associated with denser elements, such as water and earth.
- Vata (air and ether) should eat foods associated with earth and water, such as grains, root vegetables, and oily foods.
- Pitta (fire and water) should eat light and grounding foods, such as fruit, legumes, and vegetables.
- Kapha (earth and water) should eat airy, light foods to promote passion and energy, such as fruits and vegetables.
Following a diet based on the doshas elements can take practice, but it will assuredly help you feel healthier.
Written by Nigel Ford
Reviewed by Dr. Jayant Lokhande, MD (Botanical Drugs), MBA (Biotechnology)