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The ancient art of Ayurveda

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Originating in India, Ayurveda is an ancient healing practice that was passed from the gods to the sages, and then on to humans. It is considered the science of life. Its foundation lies in the three forces, or gunas: Creation (sattva), Change (rajas), and Destruction (tamas). These forces cannot be without the others; they all exist together. It is through their interactions with each other that the five elements are created: Ether (space), Air, Fire, Water, and Earth.

This process is happening all around us, all the time. Here again, none of these elements exist individually, they are born from one another. Together, they compose everything we see, touch, think, and experience.

The Three Doshas

The Five Elements are most commonly found in three specific pairings, called doshas. Dosha literally translated means impurity, as in two elements mixed together. The combinations are:

Ether + Air = Vata

Fire + Water = Pitta

Water + Earth = Kapha

In Ayurveda, the doshas refer to particular qualities within a person, place, or thing. These qualities stem from the elements themselves. For example, if a person has a vata quality, they may typically be cold (space) and very mobile (air). The following chart breaks down the attributes within each element, thus making up the three doshas.

dosha Vata Pitta Kapha
elements Ether Air Fire Water Earth
qualities dry rough light fluid moist
light mobile sharp flexible dense
vast cold hot soft heavy
cold dry slightly oily moist oily
transparent thin penetrating heavy cold

While a person may find that one specific dosha rings predominantly true to him or her, it is important to note that everyone and everything is made up of a combination of all the elements, and therefore has parts of each dosha in their makeup as well.

The Practice of Ayurveda

By understanding the three doshas, one can identify his or her primary qualities. This type of knowledge allows for alternative healing methods and provides insight for preventative self-care. Overall, Ayurveda imparts a comprehensive understanding of one’s physical, mental, and emotional existence.