September Newsletter: Ayurveda 101-The Three Doshas
Greetings & Namaste!
This month we're going to dive into exploring the three doshas and better understanding how they interact with our body and the world around us!
As one of my friends and fellow yoga practitioners aptly put it, “Ayurveda is the Yogi’s medicine cabinet.” Ayurveda is a system of holistic medicine & self-care regimens that stems from the same ancient Vedantic wisdom as Yoga. What I find the most radical and empowering aspects of Ayurveda is that it is preventative medicine; it focuses on the well being of the whole person—physiologically, psychologically & spiritually; and it seeks to address disease at the root of its intersection within the body-mind-spirt paradigm.
In Ayurveda, human biology and psychology is inherently linked to the forces of nature and the cosmos through the five great elements of ether, air, fire, water and earth. These elements are what create the three Doshas of Vata, Pitta and Kapha; Vata dosha comprises ether and air, pitta dosha comprises fire and water, and kapha dosha comprises water and earth. Since these doshas comprise the various elements, they also exhibit the unique qualities of the elements of which they are composed. Vata dosha is cold, rough, dry, light, movable and erratic; pitta dosha is hot, sharp, oily, transformative, and creative; kapha dosha is cold, moist, soft, heavy, thick and sticky.
Since the human body, nature and the cosmos are all interconnected within Ayurveda;s philosophical and scientific principles, the doshas exist in nature and the cosmos as well as in the human body. At a basic level, every day is organized according to the three doshas from dawn to dusk and moonrise to sunrise. Starting with daytime hours, kapha time is 6-9am, pitta time is 10am-1pm, and vata time is 2-5pm. Moving into the evening hours, kapha time is 6-9pm, pitta time is 10pm-1am and vata time is 2-5am. From this basic daily dosha movement, we can observe the similar patterns of the doshas in the seasons of the year. Late winter and early spring is linked to kapha dosha, mid and late spring is linked to vata dosha, summer is linked to pitta dosha, and autumn and early winter is linked to vata dosha.
In addition to the movement of the doshas through the days and the seasons, the life-cycle is also connected to the doshas. Birth, infancy, childhood and adolescence is the kapha period; the fertile, virile adulthood years mark the pitta period; and the wisdom years of senior adulthood is the vata period. Since all the time of the day, seasons of the year and periods of the life-cycle are connected to the three doshas, they also exhibit the unique elemental qualities of the doshas and interact with the human body accordingly.
The three doshas are all present in the human body and primarily govern various aspects of digestion (each primary dosha does have five “sub-doshas” that govern and regulate specific organs and/or body functions, but we’ll get into that another time!). Kapha dosha is connected to the first stage of digestion starting at the mouth through tasting the food, mixing it with pre-digestive enzymes (saliva) and moving the food into its the stomach to mix with powerful stomach acids to start breaking it down. Pitta dosha is connected to the second stage of digestion in the small intestines when other digestive acids from the liver and pancreas mix with the partially digested food after passing through the stomach. Here in the 18-foot long track of the small intestines food is further digested and its vital nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream. Vata dosha is connected to the final stage of digestion when the leftover matter from the digested food moves into the colon for water absorption and finally elimination from the body through the rectum and anus. These three stages of digestion function through the unique elemental qualities of the doshas the govern each stage.
While all three doshas exist in the body to regulate/ maintain various bodily functions, the unique expression of a human being’s mind-body is usually predominated by one or two of the three doshas, thus primarily expressing the unique elemental qualities of the predominant dosha(s) in the mind-body. This doshic mind-body constitution is called a person’s Prakriti which is a Sanskrit word meaning “nature.” Most commonly people have a dual-dosha prakriti of Vata-Pitta, Vata-Kapha, or Pitta-Kapha; Some people have a mono-dosha prakriti of just Vata, Pitta or Kapha, and few people have a tri-dosha prakriti of Vata-Pitta-Kapha.
One’s unique prakriti nature is established at birth and never changes, yet one’s doshas can fluctuate day to day. However, when the doshas fluctuate into a space of sustained imbalance, the imbalanced dosha state is called Vikriti and can initiate the disease process in the mind-body. Ayurveda’s aim for sustaining health and wellness in the mind-body is to address the root of disease, which is not only the vikriti, but the sources of vikriti in the mind-body.
The next few months we’ll explore the three doshas in their prakriti (natural) and vikriti (imbalanced) states starting October with the “Master Dosha” Vata.
My Sept-Dec 2018 class schedule is out! I no longer teach the Wed 12pm vinyasa class at Liberation Yoga or the Thur 9:30am pitta class at Kali Yuga Yoga. I now have a new FREE WEEKLY PUBLIC CLASS at the Vanderbilt University Black Cultural Center!! Every Thursday 6-7pm you'll be able to join me for "Air & Earth" vinyasa flow & restorative mix-up.
In addition, I have added a new monthly community meditation class at the Downtown Nashville Public Library! This is also free and no experience is needed! Join me the 1st Monday of every month 12:15-12:50pm for a guided group meditation on the 2nd floor of the Downtown library in the Children's Theatre.
I would like to share some news on my personal journey:
The time has finally come! My partner and I leave for Europe today Sept 4th and will be back in the states on September 24th. We've been planning this trip since the beginning of this year and now we're going to do it! I'll have plenty of photos to share, but I will be mainly offline save posting photos on Instagram so if you want to follow me on my three-country European adventure look me up on IG at @yogibassist
Love & Light <3