We all have different body types, disposition to illnesses, different lifestyle preferences, and different sets of personality traits. We have unique behavioral patterns and we respond to similar situations differently and uniquely. Some people love the hot weather and others prefer cooler climates and cold foods and beverages. Some have a sweet tooth, others cannot stand it. Some have amazing metabolism while others struggle to digest. What may be healthy for you may not be healthy for someone else. What explains some people’s disposition to anger, calmness or lethargy? And yet it is said that we are all part of the whole. How do we as humans relate to the cosmos that is?
The answer is hidden in the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit in this gem of a sutra—Yat Pinde Tat Brahmande, which means, that which is within your body is also in the cosmos as that which is outside is within too and the microcosm is not separate from the macrocosm. This sutra is our best bet in understanding the subtle concept of Doshas and how formative it is to who we are. What are Doshas and how do they define us?
Matter consists of the five elements of nature-air, water, space, fire and earth and our bodies are made of nothing but matter. Doshas are three fundamental bio-energies that get their qualities from a combination of the five elements of nature. Still fuzzy about it? Let us explain.
Our body type, moods, personality traits, and disposition to illnesses are influenced by what is termed as Prakruti in the science of Ayurveda. Ancient deeply probed Ayurvedic texts state that this basic constitution of ours is more or less determined at the time we are conceived and remains so through our life and it is what gives us our individual physiological and psychological identities. Prakruti is governed by tridoshas—vata, pitta, and kapha—which control vital life processes in our body-mind complex. The pitta dosha, constituted by the fire and water element, governs digestion. The vata dosha is the air and space element and it governs all types of movements in the body. The kapha dosha is made up of earth and water elements, governs lubrication, moisturization and reinforcement in the body. It is the grounding dosha.
Commonly, in a person, two of three doshas dominate that form our prakruti. When you live a life in alignment with the tendencies and nature of the predominant doshas, then what you achieve is a life of total balance, one where your body, mind and spirit is in harmony with nature. But owing to various factors and influences like poor lifestyle choices, or choices that we unknowingly make that aggravate the doshas, stress, pollution or impurities in the environment and lifestyle practices that are not aligned to the laws of nature, doshas can get out of balance. When doshas stay imbalanced, toxins build up in the system and the dosha-related functions in the body are affected, leading to illnesses and disease. For example, people with predominance of kapha should have more warm foods, stay in warmer climates or atmosphere. But if they are continuously exposed to colder climates, consume food cold or heavy in nature, kapha dosha is bound to get out of balance, resulting in sluggishness, lethargy, and low energy.