Ayurveda: Clues for Easily Understanding the Doshas

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It took me a while to gain a genuine understanding of the nature of the three doshas. Then one day it all clicked and I felt I really knew them at last, this little post is about helping things “click” for you.

Once you’ve read these simple examples of the nature of the three doshas of vata, pitta and kapha, you can begin to blow their cover in you and everything around you. You will be able to understand people, food, weather, seasons and activities through this empowering lens that can help you make excellent choices for your health and well-being.


Clues for Understanding Vata



An easy way to understand vata is to think of the wind and it’s effects.

Wind is cold, that’s why weathermen account for the “wind chill factor” when calculating temperatures.

Wind is dry and it’s effect is drying. If you imagine laundry drying on a windy day, or Autumn leaves being blown around and fluttering to the ground in their dried state, you will begin to develop a good working knowledge of the nature of vata.

Wind is mobile, again think of laundry blowing on a washing line, or the branches of trees swaying in the wind and you can see the effect of vata’s mobile nature.

Wind is subtle you can’t see it directly, you can only see it’s actions. You can’t see where it comes from, or where it’s going, it just appears, manifests it’s effect and leaves, so it’s understood to be subtle and so vata is subtle.

Wind is rough, it makes our skin chapped.

Wind is light, it possesses no weight.

And it’s clear, the wind has no colour or form, there may be fog or clouds, but they are due to water not wind or air.

So these are the qualities of vata. Vata is cold, dry, mobile, subtle, rough, light and clear, just like the wind.


Clues for Understanding Pitta


Pitta is like fire.

Fire is hot - obviously :-)

It’s sharp, and penetrating it can cut and push through things.

It’s sour (for this you need to think of the acid nature of pitta fire, like the sour regurgitation that comes with heartburn).

It’s light - in both senses of the word: it's bright and illuminating, and it possesses no weight.

It's slightly oily, a quality of pitta not so easily understood by it's likeness to fire, but derived from it's liquid association with water

It’s motile i.e. it has a moving, creeping quality, it does not move by itself, but can easily be moved by the wind, or by spreading over what it feeds on.

So, pitta is like fire, its: hot, sharp, penetrating, light, slightly oily, and motile.


Clues for Understanding Kapha



Kapha is like clay. It is made of the elements water and earth which naturally make clay, so this is the key to understanding kapha.

Clay is heavy, and dense, you can easily feel it's weight and solid nature.

It's cold, the temperature of clay is always naturally cold, just like the water and the earth from which it's made.

It's static, and sticky, clay is not going anywhere. It stays where you put it. It's stuck, static and sticky.


It's smooth and slimy, clay and kapha are both smooth and slimy, there is no roughness just slippery, slimy, smooth.

Clay is also cloudy - it's murky looking and you can’t see through it.

These are the qualities of kapha. Like clay it is heavy, dense, cold, sticky, static, smooth, slimy and cloudy. Kapha is also dull it has no sharpness.

In conclusion:
These clues to the nature of the doshas are invaluable in learning how to understand and look after yourself with Ayurveda. Your newly acquired understanding can help you begin to know the seasons and their effect on you. The foods you eat, the activities you perform etc. Gradually you are gaining a working knowledge of this incredible science of life and the art of nurturing your life.

Photo credits: flags blowing in the wind by papalars , fire by G. Rivas Valderrama , clay by karpov the wrecked train Technorati


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