Tridosha (three three rulers/ body humors)
The concept of the Tridoshas is unique to medical science. Ayurveda considers the body to be made up of tissues (dhatus), waste products (malas), and doshas (Energetic Forces).
Tridoshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) assist in the creation of various tissues of the body and to remove any unnecessary waste products from the body. It is also the Tridoshas that influence all movements, all transformations, all sensory functions, and many of the other activities in the human body and mind.
The Doshas are dynamic energies that constantly change in response to our actions, thoughts, emotions, the foods we eat, the seasons, and any other sensory inputs that feed our mind and body. That’s why in Ayurveda we advise to make lifestyle and dietary decisions that foster balance within our Doshas.
When we live against our intrinsic natures and support unhealthy patterns that lead to physical and mental imbalances.
The word vata means to blow or move like the wind.
Vata derives from the elements of Space and Air and translates as “wind” or “that which moves things.”
It is the energy of movement and the force governing all biological activity. Vata is often called the “King of the Doshas,” since it governs the body’s greater life force and gives motion to Pitta and Kapha.
- Just as the wind in balance provides movement and expression to the natural world, the balanced Vata individual is active, creative, and gifted with a natural ability to express and communicate.
- When the wind in a Vata type rages like a hurricane, negative qualities quickly overshadow these positive attributes.
- Common signs of Vata imbalance include anxiety and bodily disorders related to dryness, such as dry skin and constipation.
Qualities of Vata: The qualities of Vata are dry, rough, light, cold, mobile and having ability to penetrate fine particles.
5 Types of vata:
- Prana: relates to chest and respiration.
- Udana: concerns the upper gut. This responsible in emesis and other motility disorders of upper gut. Also responsible for the voice.
- Samana: refers to the intestines. It controls the churning movements required to digest the food and formation of stool.
- Vyana: refers to the whole body and mainly chest. Related with cardiac functions.
- Apana: relates to rectum and genito-urinary tract. Controls evacuation of stools and urine, ejaculation of sperms, and delivery of child.
Locations of Vata:
The main locations of Vata in the body are the colon, thighs, bones, joints, ears, skin, brain, and nerve tissues.
- All eliminations: fetus, semen, feces, urine, sweat, and a few others.
- Assists with all the metabolisms in the body (Stimulates the Agni)
- Controls all of the various movement of body (both physical & mental), including such things as respiration, heart beat, motivation and contraction of muscles
- Relays all sensory input from the various sense organs to the brain
- Psychologically, Vata governs communication, creativity, flexibility, and quickness of thought.
Ways Vata Becomes Imbalanced
- Eating Vata-aggravating foods like popcorn, rice, beans, cayenne pepper, coffee and alfalfa sprouts
- Eating while anxious or depressed
- Eating on the run
- Drinking alcohol, coffee, or black tea
- Smoking cigarettes
- Following an irregular daily routine
- Going to bed late at night
How to Balance Vata:
Eat in a peaceful environment.
Engage in wholesome and contemplative activities (like spending time in nature).
Go to bed early.
Do gentle physical exercise like yoga, swimming, tai chi, or walking.
One should put efforts to establish regular daily routine to eating schedule; to sleep and to work at regular times. It is very important to regulate vata dosha.
Eat warm, moist, heavy texture food, which is soothing and satisfying.
The food with sweet, sour and salty taste is good to balance Vata dosha.
Food such as warm milk, butter, cream, warm soups, hot cereal, etc is satisfying.
Regular relaxing exercise and avoiding strenuous exercise help.
Vata is cold and dry in nature so warm nourishing food stabilizes vata. Cold salads, greens, raw vegetables, iced drinks are not food for persons with vata imbalance.
Warm sesame oil whole body massage before bath or head massage before sleep will help balance vata.
Pitta derives from the elements of Fire and Water.
The Pitta dosha is associated with fire or heat. It is mainly associated with transformation in the body.
It is the energy of digestion and metabolism in the body that functions through carrier substances such as organic acids, hormones, enzymes, and bile.
Pitta is most closely related to the element of Fire
Qualities of Pitta:
Hot, Sharp, Slightly Oily, Penetrating, Liquid, Light and can be sour and foul smelling when excessively increased
5 Types of Pitta:
- Pachaka: controls digestion of food by controlling secretion of enzymes.
- Ranjaka: controls colour of skin and complexion. It converts Rasa (plasma) to Rakta (blood). So white colored plasma gets converted red colored blood.
- Sadhaka: located in brain. Transform the sensory messages to actual perception.
- Bhrajaka: located under the skin. Regulates body temperature.
- Alochaka: resides in eyes and is responsible for vision. Rods and cones cells of retina may be related to it.
The main locations of Pitta in the body are the small intestine, stomach, liver, spleen, pancreas, blood, eyes, and sweat.
Pitta provides the following functions:
- Metabolism – at various levels from digestion of food to transformation of all other material
- Maintains the proper body temperature
- Vision – converts external images into optic nerve impulses
- Appetite – the feeling of hunger and thirst
- Comprehension – of information into knowledge, also reasoning and judgment
- Courage & Braveness – to face the situation
- It governs all processes related to conversion and transformation throughout the mind and body.
- Psychologically, Pitta governs joy, courage, willpower, anger, jealousy, and mental perception.
- It also provides the radiant light of the intellect.
Ways Pitta Becomes Imbalanced
- Eating Pitta-aggravating food like spicy, hot food.
- Eating while angry
- Drinking coffee, black tea, or alcohol
- Smoking cigarettes
- Being overly competitive
- Staying under sun
- over-indulgence in pungent, sour and salty tastes.
Ways to Balance Pitta
Eat in a peaceful environment.
Avoid artificial stimulants.
Engage in calming activities, like spending time in nature.
Do calming physical exercise, such as yoga, swimming, tai chi, or walking Eat cool/warm food; try to avoid too hot food and drinks.
Sweet, bitter and astringent tastes are good to decrease pitta influence.
Complex carbohydrates, milk, sweet fruits, green leafy vegetables are good for pitta.
A glass of warm milk with two teaspoons of ghee will calm down pitta.
Avoid processed foods, oily, spicy heavy and salty foods.
Kapha derives from the elements of Earth and Water.
Kapha is the heaviest of the three doshas.
It provides the structures and the lubrication that the body needs.
These qualities help to counterbalance Vata’s movement and Pitta’s metabolism.
Qualities of Kapha:
Cool, Heavy, Dense, Sweet, Stable, Oily, Viscous and soft.
5 Types of Kapha:
- Tarpaka: located in brain. Protects brain from external injury. Related with cerebrospinal fluid.
- Bodhaka: located in mouth at root of tongue. Responsible for taste sensation of food.
- Avalambaka: Resides in thorax (chest cavity). Lubricates the chest organs. Related to pericardial and pleural fluids.
- Shleshaka: located at joints. Prevents them from friction. Linked to synovial fluid.
- Kledaka: resides in the gut. Protects the mucous membranes of gut from action of fiery pitta.
Chest, throat, lungs, head, lymph, fatty tissue, connective tissue, ligaments, and tendons.
- Strength – to perform physical tasks
- Moistness & Lubrication – to prevent excessive friction from occurring between the various parts of the body
- Stability – to add the necessary grounding aspect to both mind and body
- Physiologically, Kapha moistens food, gives bulk to our tissues, and relates to cool bodily fluids such as water, mucous, and lymph.
- Psychologically, Kapha governs love, patience, forgiveness, greed, attachment, and mental inertia.
Ways Kapha Becomes Imbalanced
- Eating Kapha-aggravating food like milk products, banana, curd etc.
- Eating to offset emotions (like indulging in sweets when depressed)
- Spending too much time in cool, damp climates
- Not engaging in physical activity
- Spending most of one’s time indoors (especially on the couch watching TV!)
- Avoiding intellectual challenges
Ways to Balance Kapha:
Avoid a luxurious, leisurely lifestyle
Focus on non-attachment in daily life.
Make time for introspective activities, like meditation and writing.
Make a distinction between being nice and being taken advantage of.
Rise early, with no daytime naps.
Eat light meals with lightly cooked vegetables, raw fruits and vegetables helps balance kapha.
Stimulating food, which is bitter, pungent and astringent, are good tastes for kapha dosha.
Kapha dominated person need to watch the consumption of sweet, salty, and fatty food as they might gain weight easily.
Butter, dairy, ice cream, cheese, yogurt aggravate kapha.
Ginger, black pepper, fenugreek, cumin’s turmeric these spices should be added to food.
Use honey as sweetener than any other form of sugar.
Take honey ginger and lukewarm water to pep up the morning
Exercise like aerobics, swimming, jogging will help maintain kapha.
Three primary states of existence of doshas:
- Balanced: All three doshas are present in their natural proportions; also referred to as “equilibrium.”
- Increased: A particular dosha is present in a greater-than-normal proportion; also referred to as an “aggravated” or “excess state.”
- Decreased: A particular dosha is present in a less-than-normal proportion; also referred to as a “reduced” or “depleted state.”
Of the three states, the increased or aggravated state leads to the greatest number of imbalances. Such imbalances can arise from dosha- aggravating diet and/or dosha -aggravating life style.
How to balance Doshas:
The key to remember is that like increases like, while opposites create balance.
By simply choosing cooling or more alkalizing foods, you can avoid heartburn, while also supporting your underlying make-up.
Ayurveda offers specifically tailored recommendations for every individual, ranging from general lifestyle changes to the treatment of dis-ease (literally, an imbalance within our natural state of “ease”).
For this reason, Ayurveda can truly be called a system of individualized health care, something remarkably different from the Western model’s “one-pill for all” approach.
Since the doshas are used to detect imbalances before the manifestation of dis-ease, Ayurveda is also a complete system of preventative medicine.