Ayurveda recognizes three primary life-forces in the body, or three biological humors called VataPitta and Kapha, which correspond to the elements of ether & air, fire & water, and water & earth. As the active or mobile elements, they determine the life processes of growth and decay.


The Ayurvedic term for humor is dosha, meaning that which darkens, spoils or causes things to decay. When out of balance, the doshas are the causative forces behind the disease process.


Each dosha exists in a second element that serves as the medium for its manifestation, acting as its container.


Each dosha has its respective site in the body and has a major quality, a shared quality and performs specific actions. When the dosha is out of balance it results in aggravated states.


Their actions, on both the body and the mind, are described as follows:

The root of the doshas, tissues and waste materials of the body is Vata. In its natural state it sustains effort, exhalation, inhalation, movement and the discharge of impulses, the equilibrium of the tissues, and the coordination of the senses.

Pitta governs digestion, heat, visual perception, hunger, thirst, luster, complexion, understanding, intelligence, courage and softness of the body.
KAPHA gives stability, lubrication, holding together of the joints and such qualities as patience.
VATA is the most important or primary of the three biological humors. It governs the other two and is responsible for all physial processes in general. For this reason, disturbances in Vata have more severe implications than the other two doshas, affecting the mind as well as the entire physical body. The quality of our life, through our care of the life-force, is the primary factor in both health and disease.
PITTA governs all aspects and levels of light and warmth in the body and mind. KAPHA is the material substratum and support of the other two doshas and also gives stability yo our emotional nature.
 
Aggravated
When aggravated, the doshas give rise to various symptoms and various diseases.
Vata in excess causes emaciation, debility, liking of warmth, tremors, distention and constipaton, as well as insomnia, sensory disorientation, incoherent speech, dizziness, confusion and depression.
Pitta in excess causes yellow color of stool, urine, eyes and skin, as well as hunger, thirst, burning sensation and difficulty sleeping.
Kapha causes depression of the digestive fire, nausea, lethargy, heaviness, white color, chills, looseness of the limbs, cough, difficult breathing and excessive sleeping.

  • HIGH VATA (high air) results in the prana and the mind losing their connection with the body, causing decay and loss of coordination. There is hyperactivity at the expense of the vital fluids and the physical body begins to waste away.
  • HIGH PITTA (high fire) results in the accumulation of internal heat or fever, with inflammation and infections. We literally begin to burn ourselves up.
  • HIGH KAPHA (high water) results in the accumulation of weight and gravity in the body, which inhibits normal function and causes hypoactivity through excess tissue accumulation.
 
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KAPHA
KAPHA is the material substratum and support of the other two doshas and also gives stability to our emotional nature.
KAPHA is the biological water humor, also translated as phlegm. It means 'that which holds things together.'
Kapha dosha provides substance and gives support, and makes up the bulk of our bodily tissues.
It also provides our emotional support in life, and relates to positive emotional traits like love, compassion, modesty, patience and forgiveness.
KAPHA, water, exists in the medium of earth, which contains it. Our physical composition is mainly water contained within the boundaries of our skin and mucus membranes (earth).
Kapha (water) is located in the chest, throat, head, pancreas, sides, stomach, lymph, fat, nose and tongue. Its primary site is the stomach.
 
Main Attributes
KAPHA Heavy Cold
 
PITTA
PITTA governs all aspects and levels of light and warmth in the body and mind.[/blockquote]
PITTA is the biological fire humor, also translated as bile. Its meaning is 'that which digests things'.
Pitta dosha is responsible for all chemical and metabolic transformations in the body.
It also governs our mental digestion, our capacity to perceive realtity and understand things as they are.
Pitta (fire) is located in the small intestine, stomach, sweat, sebaceous glands, blood, lymph and the organ of vision. Its primary site is the small intestine.
 
Main Attribute
PITTA Hot Light
Pitta governs digestion, heat, visual perception, hunger, thirst, luster, complexion, understanding, intelligence, courage and softness of the body.
 
Aggravated state of Pitta
Pitta in excess causes yellow color of stool, urine, eyes and skin, as well as hunger, thirst, burning sensation and difficulty sleeping
HIGH PITTA (high fire) results in the accumulation of internal heat or fever, with inflammation and infections. We literally begin to burn ourselves up.[
 
VATA
VATA is the most important or primary of the three biological humors. It governs the other two and is responsible for all physial processes in general. For this reason, disturbances in Vata have more severe implications than the other two doshas, affecting the mind as well as the entire physical body. The quality of our life, through our care of the life-force, is the primary factor in both health and disease.
VATA is the biological air humor, also translated as wind. It means 'that which moves things'.
Vata dosha is the motivating force behind the other two doshas, which are 'lame', incapable of movement without it.
It governs sensory and mental balance and orientation, and promotes mental adaptability and comprehension.
VATA, air, is contained in ether. It resides in the empty spaces in the body and fills up the subtle channels.
Vata (air) is located in the colon, thighs, hips, ears, bones and organ of touch. Its primary site is the colon.
Main Attributes:
VATA Dry Cold

 
The root of the doshas, tissues and waste materials of the body is Vata. In its natural state it sustains effort, exhalation, inhalation, movement and the discharge of impulses, the equilibrium of the tissues, and the coordination of the senses.
 
Aggravated State of Vata
Vata in excess causes emaciation, debility, liking of warmth, tremors, distention and constipaton, as well as insomnia, sensory disorientation, incoherent speech, dizziness, confusion and depression.
HIGH VATA (high air) results in the prana and the mind losing their connection with the body, causing decay and loss of coordination. There is hyperactivity at the expense of the vital fluids and the physical body begins to waste away.
 
Location of Doshas 

Vata (air) is located in the colon, thighs, hips, ears, bones and organ of touch. Its primary site is the colon.


Pitta (fire) is located in the small intestine, stomach, sweat, sebaceous glands, blood, lymph and the organ of vision. Its primary site is the small intestine.


Kapha (water) is located in the chest, throat, head, pancreas, sides, stomach, lymph, fat, nose and tongue. Its primary site is the stomach.


From Ayurvedic Healing: A Comprehensive Guide, by Dr. David Frawley   Used with permission from Dr. David Frawley.