Vata, Pitta and Kapha

Posted by Lala Naidu on

Ayurveda is based on universal laws with a foundational principle that all matter is made up of the five elements or panch mahabhutas: Earth (prithvi), water (apas), fire (tejas), air (vayu), and ether (akash). In the human organism, these five elements show up as three basic principles:

  • Vata (air and ether)
  • Pitta (fire and water)
  • Kapha (earth and water).

“These three elements – vata – pitta – kapha – govern all the biological, psychological and physiopathological functions of the body, mind and consciousness. They act as basic constituents and protective barriers for the body in its normal physiological condition…when out of balance, they contribute to disease processes”, Dr. Vasant Lad

Each human being is a unique expression of vata, pitta and kapha and, as Dr. Lad states above, when out of balance cause disease. The goal is to live in alignment with one’s original constitution. Based on this understanding all ayurvedic recommendations vary according to the individual.

Vata ~ Air and Ether elements

Vata people are creative, active, alert, and restless. They move about and speak quickly but also tire quickly. Physically, they are small-boned with thin, underdeveloped frames. They may be underweight. Veins and muscles may be visible under the skin. Their hair and skin tend to be dry, and fingernails rough and brittle. The skin is pale, cool, and often dehydrated, with a cracked appearance because of the “dry” aspect of vata. Often they have circles under the eyes, wrinkle prematurely, and tend to have many moles. Vata people usually perspire less than other types. They sleep lightly and their hands and feet are often cold. They crave sweet, sour, and salty tastes.

Psychologically, vata people tend to be fearful, over-stressed, and nervous. They have a short memory but are quick to understand. They tend to be impatient and lack assertiveness and confidence.

Pitta ~ Fire and Water elements

Pitta people have a fiery nature. They are intelligent and have good powers over concentration. They often make fine orators. Physically, they are of moderate weight, height, and muscle development. They tend to perspire heavily and have warm hands and feet, and soft fingernails. Their hair is thin and silky and often premature gray. The pitta skin is soft, reddish, yellowish or fair, and often dehydrated. Broken capillaries, rashes, itching, eruptions, allergic reactions, and freckles are common, although pitta people don’t wrinkle as easily as vata people. Pitta people have a strong metabolism and appetite and good digestion. They sleep well.

Psychologically, pitta types are ambitious and like to be leaders. They may feel anger, hate, jealousy more than the other types.

Kapha ~ Earth and Water elements

Kapha people are healthy, happy, peaceful, and “earthy”. They usually have thick frames and well-developed bodies, and tend to be overweight, They are strong, with great endurance and stamina. They speak and move more slowly than others. Their hair is thick, soft, and often wavy, They have a regular appetite and digest slowly, They perspire moderately and sleep well for extended periods of time, Kapha skin is lustrous because of high oil content, and have a soft, pale, cool quality to it but blemishes easily.

Click here to read about > V-P-K Imbalances


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