Ayurveda is based on the five basic elements found in nature; Ether, Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. These five elements, combine to create the basis of the three Doshas, or Constitutions of an individual, which are: Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Vata (Air + Ether)
The Air quality in Vata can be most strongly related to the qualities of electricity—very quick, mobile, subtle and light. Ether can be most strongly related to the quality of outer space—very light and extremely subtle. The qualities of the Air and Ether elements combined are cold, dry, light, mobile and subtle.
Pitta (Fire + a dash of Water)
The Fire quality in Pitta can be most strongly related to the qualities of a campfire—very hot, mobile, clear, unstable and light. The qualities of Water in Pitta are heavy, moist and dense. As Pitta is the Dosha in the middle of the spectrum, it has a little more substance than Vata but not as much substance as Kapha. The water quality of Pitta helps give it substantiality. The qualities of Fire and Water combined are hot, slightly moist, clear and unstable.
Kapha (Water + Earth)
The Water quality in Kapha can be most strongly related to the qualities of flowing water—moist, heavy, smooth and cold. The qualities of Earth can be most strongly related to soil—cold, heavy, dry, dense and stable. The qualities of Water and Earth combined are moist, heavy, dense and stable.
Each person is born with a unique combination of the Doshas, which creates their Constitution, or Prakruti. Constitution affects all aspects of one’s general physical, emotional mental and spiritual make-up. For instance height, weight, body shape, physical features, talents, interests, spiritual inclination, thought processes and personality traits are all affected by how the Doshas have uniquely combined within an individual.
When Doshic imbalance occurs this is referred to as Vikruti. The Doshas can become unbalanced for many reasons, but typically start with disharmonious diet and lifestyle choices.
Balanced Vata tends to be enthusiastic, artistic, flowing, creative, full of ideas, spiritually inclined and excellent at healing. Imbalanced Vata prone to anxiety, fear, self-destructive behavior, “spaciness” and is easily overwhelmed.
Balanced Pitta tends to be focused, fiery, analytical, business-minded, project oriented, organized and excellent at leading and teaching. Imbalanced Pitta is prone to anger, frustration, intensity, criticism and has a strong tendency to be in the intellect and not in the heart.
Balanced Kapha tends to be a strong supporter, nurturer, hard worker, loyal and gets the job done–though it may take time. Imbalanced Kapha is prone to melancholy, sadness, stubbornness and can have a hard time being inspired or motivated.
A state of optimal health is achieved when one is in perfect balance for their Constitution. A sub-optimal state of health occurs when one or more Doshas are out of balance.