What is Ayurveda? Vata, Pitta, Kapha Explained
Everything in nature follows the embedded rhythm and laws of the universe. This is perhaps most obvious in the changing of seasons, which is just one of endless examples. Every year nature repeats its cycle through spring, summer, fall, and winter, and through each of these seasons everything in nature responds. For example, winter beckons plants and animals into hibernation and spring triggers them back to life.
When we notice the essence of the universe and its patterns, it becomes clear that everything exists harmoniously and cyclically. Despite Western society’s teachings that often suggest otherwise, we are not excluded from this harmony. In fact, the rhythm of nature is permanently ingrained in our being because we are born from the same womb as everything else in life. This is the truth that forms the foundation of Ayurveda.
What is Ayurveda
Ayurveda is the oldest system of healing in the world and translates from Sanskrit as “the sacred knowledge of life.” Nearly 5,000 years ago, Ayurveda grew its roots in India and since then has been used to form many of the natural healing systems now popular in the West, like Chinese Acupuncture.
Ayurveda’s teachings remind us of our intimate connection with nature, and instills the knowledge we need to reconnect and regain balance between our internal and external environments. We do this by focusing collectively on the mind, body, and spirit. According to Ayurveda, these three aspects of our being work together for overall health.
Unlike Western medicine which prioritizes disease management and treatment, Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of disease prevention. Ayurveda doesn’t exist separately from Western medicine, and in fact the two can coexist. However, Ayurveda’s focus is different in that it digs to the primary contributing factors of one’s health and encourages changes at the foundational level.
Ayurveda believes that like everything else in nature, we are each composed of a combination of Earth’s five elements: air, water, fire, earth, and space. These elements are split into three primary energies called doshas, and Ayurveda states that our health and wellbeing depends upon our unique combination and balance between these three energies. You can learn your Ayurvedic body type by taking this dosha quiz.
Ayurveda’s three doshas include Vata (air and space), Pitta (water and fire), and Kapha (earth and water). Each person’s constitution is dominated by one or two of these energies in particular, and therefore awareness of your constitution, tendencies, and behaviors empowers you to incorporate qualities and habits into your life that balance your dominant energy. Balance leads to ease while imbalance causes dis-ease.
Vata: the energy of movement
Vata is composed of air and space and governs blinking, breathing, muscle and tissue movement, and pulsation of the heart. Like the wind, Vata manifests as movement and impulse, which supports communication, expansive consciousness, and more.
Vata in balance: promotes creativity and flexibility
Vata out of balance: produces fear and anxiety
Pitta: the energy of digestion and transformation
Pitta is the fire of the body and is responsible for digestion, absorption, nutrition, metabolism, body temperature, courage, and ambition. It’s also closely related to intelligence, understanding, thoughts, and emotions. The qualities of pitta include hot, sharp, light, liquid, and oily.
Pitta in balance: promotes intelligence and understanding
Pitta out of balance: arouses anger, hatred, and jealousy
Kapha: the energy of lubrication and structure
Kapha is responsible for stability and is represented in the body as bones, muscles, and tendons, providing the overall structure that holds the body together, much like soil does for plants. Kapha has heavy, cool, soft, and dense qualities that lubricate the joints, moisturize the skin, and maintain immunity. Kapha is also the source of nourishment, regeneration, stamina, and compassion.
Kapha in balance: promotes love, calmness, and forgiveness
Kapha out of balance: leads to depression, lethargy and attachment
What happens when the doshas are out of balance?
When you have optimal health, your doshas are in balance. But when balance is disrupted, especially for long periods of time, your body is thrown out of balance, becomes vulnerable to disease, and can experience a number of symptoms including anxiety, constipation, joint pain, trouble sleeping, exhaustion, indigestion, a weakened immune system, and more.
Many factors both internal and external can influence the balance of doshas including our emotional state, diet and food choices, seasons and weather, personal trauma, daily schedule, work and family relationships, and overall daily habits. Though each person is an integral part of the whole and is intimately connected to everything else in nature, we are also unique beings who require personalized tools and practices dependent upon our particular energetic makeup. Once we understand these factors and how they personally influence our well-being, we become empowered with the knowledge needed to take appropriate steps to eliminate or diminish the causes of imbalance and stabilize our health.
Perhaps it’s not surprising that so many people in Western society suffer from chronic disease and experience symptoms like anxiety, exhaustion, constipation, and many more. After all, we live in a culture that has severed its connection to the natural world. Through diet, daily lifestyle habits, and an excessive reliance on Western medication with a lack of herbal support, many of us are thrown out of balance without our awareness of it even happening.
Through diet, herbs, daily habits, meditation, exercise, seasonal cleansing, and more, you can begin to establish balance, and ZV Botanicals is devoted to supporting you along your journey of doing so. With artisanal Ayurvedic herbs, cannabinoid-rich Hemp CBD oil, and signature essential oil blends, we formulate dosha-specific products to promote health including organic, hand-crafted, small batch signature massage oils, mouth pulling oil, healing salve, therapeutic tinctures, and digestive bitters.
Our minds, bodies, and souls yearn for harmony with the natural world. When in balance, we maintain the greatest level of health and therefore experience the highest quality of life. We each understand this harmony innately, but many of us have forgotten it due a slew of societal teachings and habits. These have disconnected us from what we know, and always have known instinctively.
Ayurveda is the science that reminds you and invites you back into balance where you can experience ease, joy, and a sense of connectedness with nature and all beings. With nature’s help, you can heal yourself.