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What Is a Dosha?

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  • Written By: Page Coleman
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 12 November 2014
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The concept of dosha, or vital energy, is used in ayurvedic medicine to describe a person’s emotional, mental, and physical characteristics. Vata, pitta, and kapha are the three different vital energies in the tridosha system. Each is composed of two of the aruvedic Great Elements. which are fire, water, air, ether, earth. Ayurvedic practitioners can assist people in balancing their doshas to improve well-being.

Doshas are dynamic, and the influence of each may change according to circumstances. Many people have one type that tends to predominate, though that isn’t true for everyone. For optimal well being, each person’s vital energies should be balanced and work in harmony with each other.

Ayurvedic medicine practitioners use their knowledge of the vital energy systems to determine peoples’ predominate dosha. Once that is known, the practitioner can make suggestions to help in balancing all three vital energies. Based on the predominate type, various colors, foods, and activities can be used to subdue the primary vital energy and encourage non-dominant types to flourish.

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Vata, which is a combination of the air and ether elements, exemplifies the concepts of dry, changeable, scattering, light, fragile, and animated. Physically, a person of this type will usually be thin, and may be either short or tall. Their personality will tend to exhibit vitality, joy, freedom, generosity, and creativity. The vata dosha influences sensory stimuli transmission, the circulation of blood, oxygen, and thoughts, along with emotional expression. Vata types may feel easily chilled and depressed, and the colors yellow and gold may cheer and warm them.

The pitta type’s elements are fire and some water. Qualities include sharpness, oiliness, flow, light, and hot. Pittas are usually more robust and athletic in appearance than vatas, and will tend to display intelligence, courage, confidence, and ambition. The bodily functions of understanding sensory stimuli transmission, maintaining body temperature, and digesting food are ascribed to this type. Pitta types are thought to have a warm constitution, and so they may choose blue and purple colors for their cooling tendencies.

Kapha, the third dosha, is made up primarily of water with some earth. Cold, heavy, oily, slow, clammy, thick, soft, and calm are just a few qualities that describe this vital energy. People of this type tend to be heavy and slow-moving. Physical functions attributed to the kapha vital energy include lubrication, such as fluid in joints, stamina, strength, longevity, sleep, and long-term memory. These types may also use color for balancing, and red will help stimulate kaphas.

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