A foundational concept of Ayurveda that has no parallel in Western science is the theory of the tridosha. The word dosha refers to an organizing principle or pattern in nature. The ancient teachers of Ayurveda noticed that certain constellations of qualities show up in nature together and move in predictable ways with predictable outcomes.
They observed three primary forces in the world, and they correspond to the major elements. Since there is no parallel in English, we still use the Sanskrit terms for these organizing principles: Vāta, Pitta and Kapha.
Vāta dosha refers to the elements of Space (or Ether) and Air. Vāta is the most mobile dosha (like air), and it is involved whenever there is movement – when wind blows the trees, when a rabbit’s leg muscles contract and he leaps, or when someone sneezes dust out of their nose.
Pitta refers primarily to the element of Fire. In any instance of heat or transformation, we can observe Pitta at work: when the sun heats the desert floor, when an apple core decomposes in your compost, or when your face flushes as you step up to the karaoke mic.
Kapha refers to the qualities of Water and Earth. The heaviest dosha, Kapha is present in stability and structure – the form of a boulder, or the stillness of sleep. Kapha also governs lubrication, both the moisture in the atmosphere and the moisture in the body.
In subsequent posts, we will dive deeper into each dosha and explore how they govern the activities of our bodies and minds. Until then, let me know if you have any questions in the comment section below.