Our health pays the price for today’s fast-paced routine. When we fall sick, we pump in over-the-counter medication and rough it out. What if we told you that the changing weather, location and even your job profile can adversely affect your health because of your inherent nature? Surprised? Allow us to introduce you to the ayurvedic concept of doshas.
In an interesting interview, ayurvedic physician Dr Manikantan Menon spoke to Soulveda about the concept of doshas and the connection between Ayurveda and yoga. Excerpts from the interview:
Can you tell us about the ayurvedic concept of doshas?
There are three doshas–vata, pitta and kapha. These are biological energies that govern the human body, much like the departmental heads in an organisation. The internal and external systems of the body should function smoothly for it to be in perfect health. These energies dictate our physical aspects and are also connected with the mind.
What are they?
According to Ayurveda, the entire creation is composed of earth, water, fire, air and space–the five elements also known as the panchamahabhuta. Even doshas are characterised by these five elements. For instance, earth is an element that is still, water is cooling and moves downwards, fire rises against gravity and heats–it is their nature. By this definition: vata is formed by air and space, pitta by fire and kapha is formed by earth and water. The human body is governed by these five elements. For example, fire is in our digestive system and behind the functioning of our eyes.
Can you give us examples to explain how these doshas affect us?
If you have a little rigidity in the mind, you are not able to accept change, it indicates a lack of water element or kapha. On the other hand, the kapha element is dominant in a person with an accommodative mind. Vata or the air element is dominant if one has an active mind with several thoughts.
Can there be visible signs of a particular dosha dominant in a person?
On some days, you wake up enthusiastic and plan to get a lot done in the day, but you end up doing things at random without much productivity. This is a sample of a vata day. A pitta day is when you wake up angry and irritated for no apparent reason and blame everyone else for minor things. A kapha day is when you are really lazy and don’t want to move. If these reactions continue for a week or a month and are left unattended, you could be sowing the seed for an illness. How quickly you take remedial actions matters.
Is there an ideal dosha balance?
Balance for every individual is different. The ratio of three doshas at the time of birth determines the natural characteristics of a person. This is known as prakruti. It is also known as your element composition and is evident in every person’s characteristics. For example, a person with a strong vata tendency is likely to be active, talkative, agile and restless. These traits are attributed to the nature you are born with. As you grow, you eat certain kinds of food and engage in certain activities, all of which can disrupt your vata, pitta or kapha balance. They are also affected by external and internal stimuli. For example, if you eat a lot of spicy food, your pitta will be off-balance. The hot spices increase the fire element, which pitta is very sensitive to. As for external stimuli, hot summers add to pitta imbalance.
Can you explain this balance further?
Balances cannot be ascertained in measurement units. However, in theory, we can take the example of someone having 30 percent pitta, 35 percent kapha and 35 percent vata when in natural state. If any of the three doshas rises or diminishes above or below its natural level, say, the pitta rises to 60 percent, there will be an imbalance leading to diseases.
“Vata, pitta and kapha affect our physical and mental states. You need to know which dosha is dominant in your nature as it gets affected by changes in seasons and locations.”