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All that exists in this universe of ours can be described in terms of one or more attributes (guṇas). They are present in every element, dosha, thought, star, mountain, mood, food, and breath.

This speaks to the core of Āyurvedic treatment, since one of its foundations is to identify the attributes of an imbalance or disorder and then implement treatment using the opposite guṇas. 

Āyurveda recognizes that each person is different and has a unique mind-body constitution. This is expressed through the doshas, Vāta, Pitta, and Kapha; governing principles that influence and determine biological and psychological characteristics.

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The Elements and Their Attributes

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Attributes of Ether
Guṇas (Qualities): Clear, light, subtle, soft, immeasurable
Karmas (Actions): Vibration, expansion, non-resistance, freedom, love.
Tanmātrā: Sound

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Attributes of Air
Guṇas (Qualities): Mobile, dry, light, cold, rough, subtle
Karmas (Actions): Movement in a particular direction.
Tanmātrās: Sound and touch

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Attributes of Fire
Guṇas (Qualities): Hot, sharp, light, dry, subtle
Karmas (Actions): Brilliance, luminosity, penetration, the flame of intelligence.
Tanmātrās: Sound, touch, form

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Attributes of Water
Guṇas (Qualities): Cool, liquid, dull, soft, oily, slimy
Karmas (Actions): Downward movement, cleansing, cohesiveness, adhesiveness, percolation
Tanmātrās: Sound, touch, form, taste

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Attributes of Earth
Guṇas (Qualities): Heavy, dull, static, dense, hard, gross
Karmas (Actions): Gravitation, downward attraction
Tanmātrās: Sound, touch, form, taste, odor

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vāyuh pittam kaphaś ceti trayo doshāh samāsatah.
vlkrtāvlkrtā deham ghnanti te vartayanti ca

In brief, vāta, pitta, and kapha are the three doshas.
They support the body when normal and destroy the body when abnormal.
Ancient Āyurvedic sutra

 

VĀTA DOṢA

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  • Dry – dry skin, hair, nails, lips, loneliness, fear, hoarse voice

  • Light – low body weight, anxiety, small or frail body frame, sleep is light

  • Cold – cold hands and feet, poor circulation, stiff muscles, indifference

  • Rough – rough skin, cracking joints, cynical mood

  • Subtle – fear, anxiety, insecurity, emotions, tremors, addictions

  • Mobile – fast walking and talking, restlessness, insecurity

  • Clear – isolation, creative, understands but forgets information quickly

Vāta doṣa is associated with Air and Ether. In the body it promotes movement and lightness. Vāta people are generally thin and light physically, dry-skinned, very energetic, and creative. When vāta is out of balance, there are often nervous problems, hyperactivity, sleeplessness, lower back pain, and headache. 

More info on Vāta dosha.                                        

PITTA DOṢA

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  • Hot – passion, anger, high body temperature, strong appetite

  • Sharp – sharp memory and intellect, irritability, improves concentration

  • Light – bright eyes, light body frame, alertness

  • Oily – oily skin, oily feces, vigor

  • Liquid – excess urine and sweat, liquid stools

  • Spreading (mobile) – rash, acne, leadership qualities, inflammation, seeks fame

Pitta doṣa is associated with Fire and Water. In the body, it is primarily responsible for metabolism and digestion. Some Pitta characteristics are medium-built bodies, fair skin, strong digestion, and good mental concentration. Pitta imbalances show up as anger and aggression and stress-related conditions such as gastritis, ulcers, liver problems, and hypertension. 

More info on Pitta doṣa.

KAPHA DOṢA

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  • Heavy – large body frame, lethargy, tendency to be overweight

  • Slow – slow walking and talking, slow digestion, patience

  • Cool – cold/clammy skin, colds, cough, congestion, stagnation

  • Oily – well-lubricated skin and joints, relaxation

  • Smooth – smooth skin, calm nature, flexibility

  • Dense – thick skin, nails and hair; thick subcutaneous fat, strength

  • Soft – compassion, tenderness

  • Static – attracted to a sedentary lifestyle, support, stability

  • Cloudy – often foggy-minded and slow in the morning, attachment

Kapha doṣa is associated with Water and Earth. Those people characterized as kapha are generally large framed or heavy with more oily complexions. They tend to be slow, calm, compassionate and peaceful. Kapha disorders can manifest emotionally as greed and possessiveness, and physically as obesity, fatigue, bronchitis, and sinus problems.

More info on Kapha doṣa.

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Use the chart below to get a general idea of your constitution (prakuti).
Remember, see a certified Ayurvedic practitioner to get more accurate information and guidance.

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