What are the Doshas and Gunas

Ayurveda_PracticeIn Ayurveda, everything is composed of the five elements: air, water, fire, earth and ether. These elements then combine to form the three doshas, or constitutions: vata, pitta,, and kapha. Your individuality comes from a unique combination of three basic bio-energies, or doshas, that are themselves combinations of the five elements:1-2

  • Vata: Composed of ether and air; generally speaking, vata types tend towards quickness, high creativity, unpredictable movements, and nervousness.6-7
  • Pitta: Composed of fire and water; pitta characteristics are determined, and they tend towards strong leadership capabilities, willpower, drive, and sometimes anger.6-7
  • Kapha: Composed of water and earth; kapha doshas move slowly and surely, and tend to be both stable and loyal, but can also can be predisposed towards greediness when out of balance.7

While we all have some of each dosha, most of us tend to have an abundance of one dosha, or possibly a predominant combination of two.2

The word gunas applies to both the three types of mental and physical attributes (which parallel the doshas) and 20 fundamental sensory qualities (represented in opposite pairs).1,3

Gunas affect the mindset of the three dosha types in different ways, and are mirrored in nature. Satva appears to influence the most positive aspects of each balanced dosha, while tamas brings out the worst character traits of the doshas. Rajas emphasizes mental activity, but must be kept in balance.1,3

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