The Types of Dosha in Ayurveda – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha

types of dosha

Introduction

In the previous blog, we looked at the concept of dosha in detail. Doshas are the metabolic patterns that run our metabolism. They are the fundamental concepts of Ayurveda.

Doshas frame our bodies and minds. Doshas are the defining factors for the ideal diet, lifestyle, prevention, and treatment of an individual. That’s why it is crucial to understand the dosha concept.

Types of Dosha

There are 3 kinds of doshas:

VataDosha

The word Vata emerges from the Sanskrit root “va”, which denotes speed, motion, or enthusiasm. Vatadoshais the kinetic energy in the body. Voluntary as well as involuntary motion in the body is controlled by vata. Therefore, vata governs all the action-based functions of the body, right from batting of the eye-lid to peristalsis in the intestines. It is the master of all motion happening in the body.

It is the most powerful of all 3 doshas. Vatadosha regulates the nervous system of the body. Vatadoshacauses mental traits like hyperactivity, quickness, talkativeness, quick grasping and short memory.

Vata is invisible but produces visible effects. Let us compare the dosha system to the cleaning department in an office. The cleaning department is invisible as it works mostly after the office is closed. But its presence can be marked by the cleanliness and orderliness in the office.

Properties of Vata:

Ruksha (Dry)

Laghu (light)

Sheeta (cold)

Khara (rough)

Shukshma (sublime)

Chala (mobile)

Properties of a dosha are the characteristics that it produces as a result of its action. It also signifies the factors that can increase that particular dosha. Now if we look at the properties of vata, these are the factors that increase the vata system in the body. For example, excess cold, excess exercise (mobility), very light/dry food, rough(uncooked/hard) food can cause excess vata and disturb the balance of the 3 doshas. On the other hand, increased vata can produce similar effects on the body, for example, roughness/dryness in the skin, feeling of cold (improper temperature regulation), weakness/thinness in the body, and body pain.

Abode of Vata

The abode of a dosha is the part of the body in which it is dominant. The abode of vata is the pelvic region, large intestine, ears, skin, regions below the waist like organs of the urinary system, bones, and limbs. The primary abode of vata is the large intestine.

Summary

Vatadosha is dry, light, cool, rough, sublime, and mobile. It is the biophysical energy that governs all motion inside the body, whether it is running or batting of an eyelid.

PittaDosha

The word “Pitta” means the creation of heat, transformation, or change in color because of repetition/penance/activity, like the way a fire is produced by rubbing two stones. Pittadosha is responsible for all kinds of heat and chemical transformations happening in the body. Pitta is responsible for digestion, vision (chemical reactions in rods and cones cells in the eye), thermal regulation, and regularization of the chemical composition of body fluids (especially blood). Mental traits like courage, grasping acumen, and anger, are produced prominently by PittaDosha.

Dosha in ayurveda

Properties of pitta

Sasneha(Moist/oily)

Tikshna (Sharp/penetrating)

Ushna (hot)

Laghu (light)

Visra gandha (unpleasant smell)

Sara (spreading)

Drava (fluid/melted)

Because of its unctuous, penetrating, and hot characteristics, pitta aids in digestion and all kinds of chemical/heat-based reactions in the body. It disintegrates the heavy substances to their lighter form. Pitta ensures fluidity of body liquids like blood, lymph, etc. It helps in the assimilation (spreading) of the nutrition in the entire body.

On the other hand, excess exposure to these pitta enhancing factors through diet, lifestyle or mental traits like anger can cause the pittadosha to get deranged from its normal balanced state. Excess heat can cause acidity and trigger inflammation in the body. Very light food can cause the digestive fire to burn the body tissues and cause peptic ulcers. Alcohol spreads very fast in the pitta dominant body as compared to the others. These properties are also reflected in the characteristics of a pitta dominant person.

Abode of pitta

Pitta resides in body parts near the naval region. The primary abode of the pitta is the small intestine where the major part of the digestive process takes place. Other places of pitta dominance are the stomach (peptic acids), sweat, lymph/ tissue fluid, blood, eyes, skin (formation of skin layers, melanin, and sebum.)

Summary

Pittadoshais oily, sharp, hot, light, liquid, and produces a distinct body odor. It is the biophysical energy responsible for all heat transactions or chemical reactions inside the body.

Kaphadosha

Kaphadosha is the main factor of our physical existence. The word “Kapha” means ‘the one that expands in contact with water.’ Kaphadosha is responsible for the presence of matter and fluids in our body and keeps the body hydrated. Kaphadosha maintains lubrication and integration in the body joints. It maintains the tissue fluid that nourishes the body. Kapha is responsible for healing and recuperation. It ensures cell growth and replacement. Kapha is the primary factor for the strength and stamina in the body. It forms the mass of muscles in the body. Kapha is responsible for physical as well as mental stability. Kaphadosha is responsible for mental traits like forgiveness, peace, patience, and persistence.

Properties of Kapha

Snigdha(unctuous)

Sheeta(cold)

Guru (heavy)

Manda (slow)

Shlakshna (slimy/mucus-like)

Mritsna (sticky)

Sthira (stable)

With the help of properties like oiliness, stability, and heaviness, Kapha maintains and lubricates the huge masses of muscles, joints, and supporting structures. It helps to regularize the body temperature by absorbing the excess heat. The mucus present in the body by the virtue of Kaphadosha helps to protect the external layer of the channels present in the body. This includes the nasal mucosa and intestinal tract. The layer of fat protects the body organs from shock and displacement. Mucus in the alimentary canal facilitates the movement of food and ignites the digestive process. All the above properties help Kaphadosha perform its functions properly.

Abode of Kapha

The dominant areas for Kaphadosha are the chest, throat, head, pancreas, joints, stomach, tongue, tissue fluid (rasa), fat, and nasal canal. The primary site for Kaphadosha is Ura Pradesh or the chest region.

Summary

Kaphadosha is oily, cold, heavy, slow, slimy, sticky, and stable. It is the metabolic pattern that nourishes and rejuvenates the body.

Take Away

There are three types of doshavata, pitta, and kapha. Like the three legs of a stool, these doshas form a perfect balance in metabolism. Their contrasting properties and sites of action help them to effectively balance each other.

This is a brief description of dosha, their site, and their properties. I hope that helps you to gain a basic understanding of the dosha concept. However, if you are interested in exploring authentic Ayurveda, I suggest that you try reading CharakSamhita for better context and more comprehensive information.

Dr. Kanika Verma
Dr. Kanika Verma is an Ayurvedic physician in India. She studied Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery at Govt Ayurveda College in Jabalpur and graduated in 2009. She earned additional degrees in management and worked for Abbott Healthcare from 2011-2014. During that period, Dr. Verma used her knowledge of Ayurveda to serve charitable organizations as a healthcare volunteer.

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