In Ayurvedic philosophy, the five elements combine in pairs to form three dynamic forces (interactions) called “doshas”. Dosha means “that which changes”, because they are constantly moving in dynamic balance, one with the others. Doshas are primary life-forces or biological humors. They are only found in life forms (similar to the concepts of organic chemistry), and their dynamism is what makes life happen.
There are three main Doshas – or forces: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. The combination of these doshas during our conception determines our body constitution, which results in one out of 10 possibilities: Vata, Pitta, Kapha, Vata-Pitta, Pitta-Vata, Vata-Kapha, Kapha-Vata, Pitta-Kapha, Kapha-Pitta, and Vata-Pitta-Kapha (tri-dosha).
Vata – is a force conceptually made up of elements of ether and air. In the body, Vata is movement and manifests itself in living things as the movement of nerve impulses, air, blood, food, waste materials and thoughts. The characteristics of Vata are: cold, light, irregular, mobile, rarefied, and rough. These qualities characterize their effect on the body. Too much Vata force can cause nerve irritation, high blood pressure, gas and confusion. Too little Vata can mean nerve loss, congestion, constipation and thoughtlessness.
Pitta – is a force conceptually created by the dynamic interplay of water and fire. Pitta is manifested by the quality of transformation. It is the enzymes which digest our food and the hormones which regulate our metabolism. In our mind, the Pitta force is the transformation of chemical/electrical impulses into understood thoughts. Pitta has eight characteristics: hot, light, fluid, subtle, sharp, malodorous, soft and clear, each of which affect the body. Too much Pitta can cause ulcers, hormonal imbalance, irritated skin (acne) and consuming emotions (like anger). Too little Pitta can result in indigestion, inability to understand and sluggish metabolism.
Kapha – is the conceptual equilibrium of water and earth. Kapha provides structure and lubrication as it draws on the conceptual characteristics of the elements of its elements. At one level, it is the cells which make up our organs and the fluids which nourish and protect them. Kapha force is expressed according to the following qualities: oily, cold, heavy, stable, dense and smooth. Too much Kapha in the body manifests in mucous buildup in the sinus, lungs an even the colon. In the mind it creates rigidity, a fixation of thought and inflexibility. Low Kapha causes the body to experience a dry respiratory track, burning stomach (due to lack of mucous), and inability to concentrate.
The doshas are constantly changing and balancing each other in all living things. They make life happen but are always being affected by our environment, climactic influences, our diet and our thoughts.