According to Ayurveda, the five elements (fire, earth, water, air & space) in their biological form combine to form three basic energies in the body. These three basic energies are the primary life forces or biological humors, called doshas in Ayurveda. These three primary doshas are vata, pitta and kapha. They help regulate physical functionings within our body, besides providing us with our individual physical characteristics.
The constitution of a person is primarily determined by the dominant dosha. Your predominant dosha could be any one of the three, a combination of any two or all the three in a balanced form.
To find out your Body Prakrithi, please take the below test.
Health or sickness depends on the presence or absence of a balanced state of the total body matrix including the balance between its different constituents. So when the three Humors or Energies- Vata, Pitta , and Kapha are in a balanced state, the body is healthy, and when imbalanced, the body has diseases. Ayurveda balances these elements through a combination of herbal medicines, essential oils, massage and meditation/exercise.
Diagnosis is always done of the patient as a whole. The physician takes a careful note of the patient's internal physiological characteristics and mental disposition. He/She also studies other factors such as the affected bodily tissues, humors, the site at which the disease is located, patient's resistance and vitality, his daily routine, dietary habits, and the gravity of the clinical conditions and a general physical and pulse examination.
Treatment of the disease involves addressing the causes responsible for disequilibria of the body matrix or any of its constituent parts through the use of Panchkarma procedures, medicines, suitable diet, activity and regimen for restoring the balance and strengthening the body mechanisms.
In 1970, the Indian Medical Central Council Act was passed by the Parliament of India, which aims to standardize qualifications for Ayurveda and provide accredited institutions for its study and research. There are now around 100 colleges in India offering degrees in traditional Ayurvedic medicine some of them supported by the Indian Government which promotes research and teaching in Ayurveda through many chanels at both the national and state levels.
The Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (BAMS) is the dominant five and a half years course, inclusive of one year of internship, leading to graduation. It includes studies in both modern medicine and clinical surgery (Allopathy) and Ayurveda. Modern medicine covers eighteen different streams inclusive of physiology, pharmacology, pathology, pediatrics, and anatomy. Specific Ayurveda studies include the Charak Samhita text (arguably the principal classic reference on Ayurveda), history and evolution of Ayurveda, identification and use of herbs, and Ayurvedic philosophy in diagnostics and treatment.
In many countries, Health Organization statistics demonstrate the popularity of traditional medicine as the primary system of healthcare. In Sri Lanka, for example, the number of traditional Ayurveda practitioners is greater than trained modern medicine professionals. In Kerala, India - renowned for its Ayurvedic centers and also home base of Keva Ayurveda, Ayurveda is the region's official state supported system of heathcare.
Ayurvedic Body Types
There are two distinct, yet inter-related, classifications of a person in Ayurveda. The first relates to the body, and the second to the mind. Your nature is determined by this combination of body and mind types, and is known as your prakriti. Prakriti means "nature". When referring to the theory of creation, it is the unmanifested nature of cosmic matter. When referring to humans, prakriti means the unique physical and psychological nature displayed.
Knowing your dosha and guna provides you with an understanding of your basic physical and psychological nature, and helps you tailor a personal diet and lifestyle that maintains optimum health and peace of mind. Each person has a unique dosha with unique nutritional needs. Establishing your dosha enables you determine suitable diets, exercise and lifestyles to maintain balance. This is the key to maintaining health.
Definition of dosha
It is difficult to translate the precise meaning of dosha. It is often translated as "biological type" or physical constitution. This definition allows a simple and easy understanding of the concept. However, the original definition of dosha is more complex. In Sanskrit, dosha is defined as "doosyati iti doshah." The literal meaning of this is "that which contaminates is called dosha." So doshas may be considered the pathogenic factors, or disease-causing agents in the body. Imbalance of vata, pitta and kapha doshas cause disease in the body. Dosha only refers to the three biological energies of vata, pitta and kapha. As an imbalance of these elemental combinations is the direct cause of physical disease, they are the prime disease causing factors (the "contaminants"). Secondary factors in the disease process, like body tissues (dhatus), toxins (ama) and waste materials (malas) are actually the product of, or dependent upon, an imbalance in the doshas.
People with a predominant kapha dosha tend to have a heavy and solid, or large build. They are often overweight, gain weight easily and have high muscle development (plump and round). Their skin is thick, smooth and moist with few wrinkles. Their complexion is usually clear, fair or pale, and hair is oily, thick and wavy. Their teeth are strong, white and well formed.
People of the kapha type have a moderate or low appetite and slow digestion. They enjoy eating gourmet or luxury foods (that appeal to taste and smell) or buying and preparing food. In movement and activity, they tend to be slow and methodical, with a lot of endurance. However, they are sluggish and lethargic or difficult to motivate. They are prone to sleep heavily and excessively. Their pulse is slow, steady and regular. They have a pleasant appearance and voice. Those with kapha dosha dislike damp conditions.
In temperament, they prefer familiar surroundings and tradition. They learn slowly, but have excellent memories. Money is hoarded (or they are thrifty) and they are good, stable providers. Typically, they are serene and tranquil and their emotions are slow to become excited or aroused. However, they can be sentimental, nostalgic and romantic in nature. They are highly tolerant and forgiving, with medium intelligence. They prefer to belong to a group, club or community. They cling to their family or familiar associations.
You cannot change your elemental nature or dosha. For instance, if you wish to acquire kapha qualities, you cannot do so by eating a lot of food high in kapha elements of water/jala and earth/prithvi. By doing so, you will only disturb your primary dosha. Changing your nature through acquiring positive qualities, and minimizing negative temperamental characteristics, is the role of the mind.
When you are healthy, you are generally instinctively attracted to foods and activities similar in elemental composition to your own body. When you are sick and the elements are unbalanced, you are attracted to those foods opposite in nature. For example, if you are suffering from a cold, or chest congestion (due to an imbalance in kapha), you usually choose to avoid those foods that are kapha in nature such as dairy products, or heavy and oily foods.