In ayurveda – the oldest healing system on the planet – every treatment and health measure is based on an understanding of an individual’s unique mind-body constitution. The first question ayurvedic doctors ask is “Who is my patient?” They want to find out the patient’s constitutional type, known in ayurveda as a dosha. By knowing a patient’s dosha, an ayurvedic doctor can tell which diet, physical activities, supplements, and medical therapies are most likely to help, and which might be useless or even cause harm.
Dosha is a Sanskrit word that translates as “mind-body constitution” or “mind-body personality.” According to ayurveda, there are five master elements or mahabhutas that make up everything within our bodies and everything outside of our bodies: space, air, fire, water, and earth. Space carries all the aspects of pure potentiality – infinite possibilities; air has the qualities of movement and change; fire is hot, direct, and transformational; water is cohesive and protective; and earth is solid, grounded, and stable.
The Three Primary Doshas Biological systems weave these five master elements into three primary patterns known as doshas. They are most easily thought of as mind-body principles that govern our style of thinking and behaving.
Vata dosha, woven from the elements of space and air, regulates movement and change in our minds and bodies.
Pitta dosha, comprised of fire and water, governs digestion and metabolism.
Kapha dosha, made from earth and water, maintains and protects the integrity and structure of our mind and body.
All three doshas are present in every cell, tissue, and organ – for movement, metabolism, and protection are essential components of life. What makes life interesting is that although everyone has all three doshas, each of us mixes them together in a unique way, which determines the distinctive qualities of our mind and body. Typically, each person has one primary dosha.
“One whose doshas are in balance, whose appetite is good, whose tissues are functioning normally, whose wastes are in balance, and whose self, mind, and senses remain full of bliss, is called a healthy person.” ~ Sushruta Samhita