According to Ayurveda, human beings are composed of three fundamental, mind body principles known as doshas. These three elements- vata, pitta, kapha- govern all the psychological, physiological and path physiological (disordered) functions of one’s consciousness, mind and body. The specific proportion of the doshas within an individual (prakriti = nature) is determined at the time of conception and governs each person’s particular mental and physical style of functioning.
The doshas are responsible for the development, maintenance and breakdown of biological tissues and functions. The three doshas govern all the metabolic activities including anabolism (kapha), catabolism (vata) and metabolism (pitta). They also govern psychological functions and are responsible for both positive and negative emotions. In addition to the inherited proportion of doshas, your mind body functions are influenced by each impulse of sensory experience that is processed by your nervous system. By becoming aware of your own prakruti and understanding how thoughts, feelings, experiences and behavior can modulate psycho-physiological balance, you can make more conscious choices.
The vata dosha governs all movement and activity. This includes mental activity as well as neuromuscular, respiratory, circulatory and digestive activity. Vata is the motivating force behind the other doshas and is responsible for the circulation of information and nourishment throughout the body. Due to its changeable nature, it is the dosha that most readily becomes imbalanced. Vata dosha is composed of the Ayurvedic elements of ether and air and has the qualities of being dry, light, unstable, quick, cold and rough.
The pitta dosha governs metabolic and transformational functions. It is often equated with the fire element and is responsible for digestion, assimilation, body temperature and the coloration of the blood and skin. In the mind, pitta is responsible for digesting new ideas and for strong emotions. Pitta has the qualities of being hot, sharp, fluid and slightly oily.
The kapha dosha is the principle that provides the material for maintaining the structure of the body. Composed of the Ayurvedic elements, earth and water, kapha is responsible for providing biological strength. Kapha is also responsible for providing lubrication to the joints and secretions throughout the respiratory tract. Kapha dosha has the qualities of being heavy, oily, stable, cold and smooth.
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