Now let’s talk a little more about the cornerstone of Ayurveda, the doshas…
The doshas are known by their original Sanskrit names: vata, pitta, and kapha.
The vata dosha combines the elements space and air. It is considered the most powerful dosha because it controls very basic body processes such as cell division, the heartbeat, breathing, discharge of waste, and the mind. Vata can be aggravated by, for example, fear, grief, staying up late at night, eating excessively dry cold foods, or eating before the previous meal is digested. People with vata as their main dosha are thought to be especially susceptible to skin and neurological conditions, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, anxiety, and insomnia.
The pitta dosha represents the elements fire and water. Pitta controls hormones and the digestive system. A person with a pitta imbalance may experience negative emotions such as anger and may have physical symptoms such as heartburn, rashes, or inflammation. Pitta is upset by, for example, eating spicy or sour food, fatigue, or spending too much time in the sun. People with a predominantly pitta constitution are thought to be susceptible to hypertension, heart disease, infectious diseases, and digestive conditions.
The kapha dosha combines the elements water and earth. Kapha helps to maintain strength and immunity and to control growth. An imbalance of the kapha dosha may cause excessive sleepiness, obesity, problems with blood sugar, or nausea immediately after eating. Kapha is aggravated by, for example, greed, sleeping during the daytime, eating too many sweet foods, eating after one is full, and eating and drinking foods and beverages with too much salt and water (especially in the springtime). Those with a predominant kapha dosha are thought to be vulnerable to diabetes, obesity, and respiratory illnesses such as asthma.
Now let’s talk briefly about treatment. The goal of treatment is to restore each person’s doshas to their original state of balance, what they were born with. Ayurvedic treatment is tailored to each person’s constitution. The goal is not to acquire equal amounts of all 3 doshas but rather to attain one’s own individual unique balance. Therapies include:
• Dietary recommendations individualized to each person
• Cleansing and detoxification therapies
• Herbal therapies
• Exercise: Individualized to a person’s constitution
• Massage: Medicated herbal oils are often used.
Next week: a great Ayurvedic recipe for summertime.