Types of Doshas

What are Dosha and Prakriti?

Dosha And Prakriti – Know Thyself

Dosha are one of the most intriguing principles of Ayurveda. It is because the classical Ayurveda text states that they cannot be seen but become visible by only through their functions. This looks a little mystical but the same thing can be said about electricity as well. One cannot see the electricity but we know it because of the things that it does. Well, Dosha are more complicated, they are complex physiological systems and not a single entity like electricity.

We all know about the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems in the body. Ayurveda actually proposes 3 kinds of systems as compared to the two mentioned in allopathy.

Concept of Dosha

Vedic science believes “Yatha anu, tatha parmanu”, meaning – As is an atom, so is the universe. So let us try to understand the concept of Dosha with the example of an atom. An atom can undergo 3 kinds of functions – either it is hyperactive with excess energy (Vata), or in the state of transformation through heat/chemical reactions (Pitta), or stable inside a molecule (Kapha). These 3 functions are able to define the state of an atom at any point in time. They are the 3 grand systems of function that work as good on an atom, as inside a human body.

Why “Dosha”?

It is interesting to note the meaning of the word “Dosha”. It is a Sanskrit word, meaning “the one which maligns or spoils”. They run the body so why are they called Dosha? It is because they have their own inertia. They are automated systems, with a tendency to corrupt. Let us take an example of a machine. If the machine is made to run for an exceedingly long time, it might break its parts, unless it is stopped by some external force. Again, it might get burnt in a similar condition, unless stopped. If not run for many days, it might become stuck and has to be cleaned, in order to ensure runnable condition. Now Dosha work in the same manner, they go on producing their syndrome unless balanced by the body physiology. They are not auto correcting or conscious systems. Because of their inherent characteristic to go wrong, they are called Dosha.

Dosha and Human Body

Now let us try to define the 3 systems in the context of the human body. Dosha are mechanisms to address the utilization of energy inside the body. There are 3 fundamental kinds of energy – Kinetic energy, heat (transformational) energy and the latent energy. Here Vata is the system for handling kinetic energy, Pitta is for heat energy and Kapha is for latent energy.

Similar to the sympathetic system, Vata is the lord of all activities happening in the body. Whether it is the blinking of the eye lids or a game of sword fighting, Vata is involved everywhere. Now it looks to be a pretty broad spectrum and a little vague as well. But it can be clarified by understanding the sites of each Dosha. In case of Vata, all nerves are the abode of Vata, which means that all nervous communication comes under Vata. Similarly, all hormonal communication comes under Pitta. The absence of activity or conversion gives place to Kapha, which is a passive system respectively.

Each Dosha has its special sites, functions and qualities.

Qualities of Dosha

  • Vata- Cold, Light, Dry, Irregular, Rough, Moving, Quick, Changeable
  • Pitta – Hot, Light, Intense, Penetrating, Pungent, Sharp, Acidic
  • Kapha – unctuous, cool, heavy, slow, smooth, soft, and stable.

Sites of Dosha

Vata – Pelvis and limbs

Pitta- Region from the diaphragm to pelvis – mid abdominal cavity.

Kapha – Above the diaphragm

Functions of Dosha

Vata – all activities involving change in kinetic energy

Pitta –  all activities involving change in Heat energy

Kapha – all activities involving change in Latent energy

Types of Doshas

Prakriti – The Body Type

These systems are not only governed by the Dosha, they are also formed by them during the gestational period of an individual, as the foetal development takes place.

This brings us to another important aspect of Ayurveda – Prakriti, or the fundamental body constitution, which is unique for everyone.

Now all persons have 3 systems in the body, but their bodies are all different because the systems have a different level of dominance in the body physiology.

Let us take the example from the construction industry. All architectural structures have the same ingredients – bricks, cement, sand etc. But the base of a swimming pool will have a different proportion of the same ingredients as compared to the walls of the building. It will be more resistant to the water based erosion, whereas the external walls will not be so water resistant but thicker and stronger. In a similar way, the body of each individual is dissimilar with different Dosha supremacy.

Prakriti or the body constitution is formed by the combination of 3 Dosha in different combinations. Examples of Prakriti are –

Vata, Pitta, Kapha: Vata dominant Prakriti with Pitta as the second dominant Dosha and Kapha as the recessive Dosha.

Pitta, Vata, Kapha: Pitta dominant personality with Vata and Kapha at mid and weak positions respectively.

Let us consider the first example of Prakriti – Vata, Pitta, Kapha. Such person will be inherently hyperactive, thin with scarce hair, prone to anxiety etc. which are attributed qualities of Vata.

Prakriti decides the physical and mental attributes of an individual. Not only this, it also gives an accurate prognosis of diseases that can easily occur, because of his Dosha combination. Now digestion of the above-mentioned person (primarily Pitta function) will have a tendency to get deranged by Vata, causing indigestion. He will be selectively prone to Vata based disorders like arthritis, epilepsy, paralysis etc.

In the case of the second example, the Pitta dominant person will be athletic in built, with strong digestion and prone to anger. This person will be more prone to hyper acidity and blood/skin based disorders.

Prakriti can be calculated based on the physical examination and general questioning by an experienced Vaidya. It can be accurately examined by the Nadi pariksha as well. Prakriti examination is the basis of all treatment in Ayurveda. Without a proper Prakriti diagnosis, ayurvedic treatment will be like shooting arrows in the dark.

Benefits of Sattvik Diet

How Being Vegetarian Helped my Yoga Practice?

You might have often heard that yoga practice and vegetarianism go hand in hand and it might have bothered you about why you need to have a vegetarian diet to be a yogi. Well, the crux of the matter is that different kind of food kindles the different parts of our brain. While fruits and vegetables spark the satvik or calming elements in your body, too much of meat and protein rich food invariably incite the rajasik and tamasik element that leads to excitement or anger or even desire. While there is no reason for absolutely abstaining from non-veg but a predominantly vegetarian diet is always helpful.

Toning the Body Better

I feel that a predominantly vegetarian diet helped me to tone and adapt my body better to the rigors of yoga. After all, yoga helps in detoxing the body, cleansing the internal organs, strengthening the immune system and improving the overall blood flow. A diet rich in greens, fruits and vegetables go a long way in not just easing out the digestive process for me but also the natural administration of vitamins and antioxidants worked much better with the yogasanas in helping me gain better control on my system.

Calming Our Mind

This brings us back to the issue of the Satvik behave or the calming of our mind. The fact that sattva means clarity and essential lightness and a fiber rich diet, high in legumes, nuts, natural food can easily help in creating the satvik force and helping me achieve better harmony with nature. On the other hand, processed and animal protein rich diet dulls the mind and sparks the tamasik and rajasik element in the body. They also take more time in getting digested and can be a strain on the body if there is no balance in the amount of intake of different food groups.

Regulating The System

Another important benefit of a predominantly vegetarian diet I feel is that I am able to regulate my overall system or body much better. The natural elements, the fiber-rich fruits and vegetables which are naturally high in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants boost the system with the required armory to deal better with any type of malady. I feel it also worked a long way in improving the immunity and at no point of time do I feel heavy or uncomfortable after a meal.

Concept of Ahimsa

Yoga fundamentally preaches achieving oneness and harmony with nature and nothing can help you achieve it better than following vegetarianism and the concepts of non-violence. It is for this reason that when you stop your dependence and gradually withdraw from animal protein, you also start developing more compassion for your fellow companions and in general all living beings around you.

Conclusion

So, it would not be wrong to conclude that a predominantly vegetarian diet is an ideal accomplice for my yogic practices. It helps me to rein in my mind and body a lot better and allows me to practice the yoga asanas to their final fruition quite easily.