The Three Dosha Explained - Vata, Pitta & Kapha

Posted by Lala Naidu on

Kapha - lends structure, solidity and cohesiveness to all things, and is therefore associated primarily with the earth and water elements. Kapha also embodies the watery energies of love and compassion. This dosha hydrates all cells and systems, lubricates the joints, moisturizes the skin, maintains immunity, and protects the tissue.

Kapha primarily the dosha related to structure refers to the slimy alkaline secretions, whose main divisions are:

  1. the alkaline digestive secretions of the stomach and intestines, which help to digest food;
  2. the salivary secretions in the mouth, which also help in digestion;
  3. the lubricating secretions in the bone joints and glands, which are necessary for the smooth operation of all anatomical structures in the body.
  4. the internal secretions of the endocrine glands, principally the ones in the brain. These secretions anoint and vitalize the seven dhatus, which are lymph, blood, tissue, fat, bones, marrow, and sexual secretions.

Kapha also includes the anabolic activity, which is responsible for tissue growth and repair, and the storing of heat and energy reserves. All the hormones, enzymes, etc. necessary for these processes are likewise included.

Pitta - represents the energy of transformation and is therefore closely aligned with the fire element. But in living organisms, pitta is largely liquid, which is why water is its secondary element. Pitta is neither mobile nor stable, but spreads - much as the warmth of a fire permeates its suroundings, or as water flows in the direction dictated by the terrain, Pitta is closel related to intelligence, understanding, and the digestion of foods, thoughts, emotions, and experiences; it governs nutrition and metabolism, body temperature, and the light of understanding.

The heat-producing and digestive secretions (bile, etc.) and all catabolic processes - the metabolic fires - which break down food into usable materials for the body and release heat are collectively known as pitta.

The fires required for the total digestion and breakdown of foods are thirteen in number. Their principal seats are in the liver, pancreas, intestines, etc. and in the seven dhatus. The fires in the seven dhatus are known as the seven metabolic fires; the fires in the liver, pancreas, intestines, etc. are known as the digestive fires.

The enzymes, hormones, vitamins, etc. that are indispensable for total digestion and breakdown of foods are also included as fire functions.

Other seats of pitta are in:

  1. the head, providing will power, perseverance, and intellect;
  2. the eyes, providing production and maintenance of eyesight;
  3. the skin, providing the body luster and immunity from disease.

Vata - The Sanskrit term for the activity dosha is vata. In the physical body vata represents the directional nerve currents, often referred to as vauys or winds, and the functions which each performs. The nerve currents are five in number and provide the body with animation and sensation. Vata also includes certain endocrine glands whose secretions have a stimulating effect on the body and increase the general nervous activity. The gaseous matter in the body is also part of the wind humor.

Kapha, pitta and vata although usually identified with mucous secretions, bilious secretions, and nerve currents, are actually universally comprehensive terms. All factors (foods, lifestyle and conditions) which increase moisture, sliminess. etc. and anabolic activity in the body are kapha-predominant or aggravating. Factors which increase heat and catabolic and digestive activities in the body are pitta-predominant or aggravating. Factors which increase dryness, gaseous matter, and nervous activity in the body are vata-predominant.

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