The first session of the Yoga and Ayurveda course gave as an introduction to the five elements: Ether or Space; Air; Fire; Water and Earth.
These five (pancha) are called the mahabhutas, or panchamahabhutas.
Knowing the physical and energetic characteristics of each of the mahabhutas is key to understanding Ayurveda because these elements combine in infinite variety to create our personal mind/body constitutions, and they are the building blocks for creating balance.
When the body is out of balance, mahabhutas with opposite qualities are used to return that imbalance to balance (ie., health and well-being). The panchamahabhutas are fundamental to Ayurvedic diagnosis and treatment.
On week 2 of the Yoga and Ayurveda course, we are going to see how these five basic elements combine and manifest in the human body as three basic principles, or humors, known as the tridosha.
From the Ether and Air elements, the bodily air principal called vata is manifested.
The Fire and Water elements manifest together in the body as the fire principle called pitta.
The Earth and Water elements manifest as the bodily water humor known as kapha.
These three constitutions or Doshas: vata – pitta – kapha, govern all the biological, psychological and physiopathological functions of the body, mind and consciousness.
The tridosha act as basic constituents and protective barriers for the body in its normal physiological condition; when out of balance, they contribute to disease processes.
The tridosha are responsible for the arising of natural urges and for individual preferences in foods: their flavours, temperatures and so on. They govern the creation, maintenance and destruction of bodily tissue, and the elimination of waste products from the body. They are also responsible for psychological phenomena, including such emotions as fear, anger and greed and also the highest order of human emotions such as understanding, compassion and love.
Thus, the tridosha are the foundation of the psychosomatic existence of man.