Tridosh: The 3 Ayurvedic Doshas Essential for Optimal Health

In this blog, we’ll uncover the essence of Tridosh (Three doshas) of Ayurveda, revealing its profound impact on our physical, mental, and emotional health. Along the way, we’ll also shed light on the symptoms that arise when these energies become imbalanced, empowering you to identify and address any potential disruptions to your health.

Understanding Tridosh: The Foundation of Ayurveda

Tridosh refers to the three fundamental doshas in Ayurveda: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. In the Atharvaveda, it is mentioned that the human body is composed of these doshas. Maharshi Vangbhata further emphasized their significance by stating:

वायुः पित्तं कफश्चेति त्रयो दोषाः समासतः,
विकृताविकृता देहं घ्नन्ति ते वर्तयन्ति च ||”

This means that Vata, Pitta, and Kapha are indeed the three doshas of the body. When they are in balance, they promote good health. However, if these doshas become imbalanced, they can lead to various diseases.

In the Charak Samhita, Maharshi Charak also talks about a similar concept. He likens the control of our body to how the Earth relies on elements like Air, Sun, and Moon. Just as life on Earth would be impossible without these elements, our bodies are guided by the influence of three doshas.

In simpler terms, just as the Earth needs Air, Sun, and Moon for its existence, our bodies require the balance of these 3 doshas for our well-being. If this balance is disrupted, it can lead to various health issues. This comparison highlights the fundamental role of these doshas in our bodies.

In the Sushrut Samhita, there’s a valuable saying: “दोष धातु मल, मूलं हि शरीरम्,” which means that doshas, dhatus, and malas are the foundation of our body. Dhatus are the building blocks in our body, responsible for how our organs work and the structure of our body. We’ll explore these dhatus and malas more comprehensively in a future blog.

Ayurveda offers guidance on how to keep these doshas in balance through lifestyle, diet, and other practices. So, let’s explore these three doshas one by one.

Exploring the Tridosh: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha

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1) Vata (वात – Vaayu, Air):

Vata, which translates to Vaayu or Air, is a fundamental dosha. Think of it as the air we breathe. Without air, life as we know it couldn’t exist. Just as we need food and water, we also need this air (oxygen) to survive. It plays a crucial role in our body.

It is responsible for the movements in a body, including the ability to speak. When we talk, we inhale and exhale air (Vata), which enables us to form words. If someone struggles to breathe properly, they may have difficulty speaking.

When Vata is in balance in our body, it contributes to good health. But when it becomes imbalanced, it can give rise to up to 80 different types of health issues.

A deficiency of it can result in symptoms such as drooling, loss of appetite, frequent belching, poor metabolism, and digestive problems. On the other hand, excess Vata may lead to dry skin, hair loss, brittle nails, muscle twitching, abdominal bloating, and anxiety.

There are five types of Vata in our body, each located in different areas: Praan (प्राण – above the heart), Apaan (अपान – below the navel), Udaan (उदान – in the throat or neck area), Saman (समान – in the navel region), and Vyan (व्यान – spread throughout the entire body).

  1. Praan (प्राण):
    This Vata is located above the heart. It’s associated with the inhalation and exhalation of breath, making it crucial for respiration. It governs the intake of oxygen and removal of carbon dioxide, which is essential for sustaining life.
  2. Apaan (अपान):
    Apaan Vata is situated below the navel. It primarily controls functions related to the lower abdomen, including the elimination of waste, reproductive processes, and the movement of urine and feces. It plays a significant role in maintaining proper digestion and reproductive health.
  3. Udaan (उदान):
    This Vata is located in the throat or neck area. It influences speech, communication, and the ability to express oneself. It’s responsible for the functioning of the vocal cords and the production of sound when speaking or singing.
  4. Saman (समान):
    Saman Vata resides in the navel region. It plays a central role in the digestive process by balancing the distribution of nutrients and energy in the body. It also ensures that the food we consume is properly digested and nutrients are evenly distributed to nourish the entire body.
  5. Vyan (व्यान):
    Vyan Vata is unique as it is spread throughout the entire body. It acts as a pervasive force, facilitating the flow of energy and coordination of bodily functions. It is responsible for the circulation of blood, nutrients, and impulses through the nervous system, ensuring the smooth operation of all bodily processes.

Each of these Vata types serves specific functions and contributes to the overall balance and functioning of our body. When they are in harmony and work together effectively, they promote good health. However, any imbalance or disruption in these Vata types can lead to various health issues related to the areas they control. Balancing these types is essential for maintaining overall well-being in the Ayurvedic tradition.

2) Pitta (पित्त – Agni, Fire):

Pitta is all about fire, just like Agni. It’s like the furnace that keeps your body’s fires burning. You might wonder, why do we need fire in our bodies? Well, it’s all about maintaining the right body temperature. If your body gets too cold, it can lead to problems like low blood pressure and an improperly functioning heart. So, having a balanced Pitta is essential.

Pitta, or this “fire,” comes in 13 different types in your body, each with a unique role. It’s crucial for digesting the food you eat and also plays a role in your eyesight. If it gets out of balance, it can lead to around 40 different types of health problems.

When it is low, it can result in issues like poor digestion, constipation, gas, bloating, and pale nails. On the other hand, when it is excessive, it can lead to a burning sensation in your food pipe, increased body heat, reduced sleep, and skin discoloration.

There are five types of Pitta: Pachaka (पाचक), Ranjaka (रंजक), Sadhaka (साधक), Alochaka (आलोचक), and Bhrajaka (भ्राजक).

  1. Pachaka:
    It resides in your stomach, small intestine, and large intestine, where it aids in digestion. Think of it like throwing something into a fire – it turns it into ashes. Similarly, Pachak digests the food you eat.
  2. Ranjaka:
    It is found in your liver and spleen. The spleen, a small organ under your ribcage on the left side, cleans your blood and helps fight off germs to keep you healthy.
  3. Sadhaka:
    It is located in your heart and brain, takes care of your emotions, intelligence, decision-making, and processing sensory information. It ensures emotional balance, mental clarity, and the ability to concentrate and make sound judgments.
  4. Alochaka:
    It takes care of your eyes and vision, ensuring color perception, shape recognition, and pupil control. To keep it balanced, prioritize liver health (Ranjaka Pitta) and emotional well-being (Sadhaka Pitta). Include green veggies, carrots, and Amla berry in your diet while avoiding spicy foods. Gentle eye massages, Eye Yoga, and eye rinses with water can also support healthy Alochaka Pitta.
  5. Bhrajaka:
    It is present in the skin and is responsible for giving your skin a healthy glow. It is responsible for colour, texture and complexion to the Skin.

These five types of Pitta work together to support various bodily functions, including digestion, emotional balance, and eye health. When it remains in balance, it promotes overall well-being. However, imbalances in these types can lead to a range of health issues. Maintaining the balance of these Pittas is essential for good health.

3) Kapha (कफ – Mucus, Phlegm):

Kapha, often referred to as Shleshma or Phlegm, plays a vital role in your body. When Kapha is out of balance, it can lead to around 20 different types of health issues. It acts like the grease in the joints, allowing your body parts to move smoothly. If it decreases, it can lead to stiffness, sleep disturbances, body swelling, throat irritation, joint pain, and even shivering of the heart.

When it is in excess, it can spread throughout the body, causing colds, coughs, sluggishness, weight gain, breathlessness due to its effect on the lungs, and persistent headaches.

There are five types of Kapha in the body, each with a specific role. Kledaka (क्लेदक), Avalambaka (अवलम्बक), Bodhaka (बोधक), Tarpaka (तर्पक) and, Shleshaka (श्लेषक).

  1. Kledaka:
    It is found in the stomach, maintains moisture and lubrication for food digestion. It helps kickstart digestion by moistening and breaking down the ingested food.
  2. Avalambaka:
    It is located in the chest area, especially around the heart and lungs, provides stability and protection to these crucial organs, maintaining chest structure.
  3. Bodhaka:
    It is present in the mouth and tongue, plays a role in taste perception and salivation, kickstarting digestion by moistening food with saliva.
  4. Tarpaka:
    It is located in the head and brain, sustains brain and nervous system moisture and nourishment, supporting cognitive functions, memory, and overall brain health.
  5. Shleshaka:
    It is located in the joints, lubricates and safeguards the joints, ensuring flexibility and preventing conditions like arthritis.

These different types of Kapha work together to keep various aspects of our body functioning smoothly. When it is balanced, it contributes to overall well-being. However, imbalances in these types can lead to a range of health issues. Ayurveda offers guidance on how to maintain the balance of it through lifestyle, diet, and other practices to ensure the body functions optimally and remains in good health.

So, that sums up these three doshas. The key is to always strive for a balance of these in our body. To maintain this balance, it’s essential to start with a balanced daily routine. Then, ensure your diet is appropriate, incorporate daily yoga, and prioritize a healthy lifestyle.

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