Vata – Pitta – Kapha

Five Elements, Three Doshas

In Ayurvedic medicine, everything in the universe is made up of the five elements:  ether, air, fire, water and earth.  These elements exist first as subtle energies and then coalesce into grosser form and make up the physical universe, including you and me.  The elements join together because they have affinities with one another which enhance their ability to oversee certain biological energies.  Ether and Air combine to form the Vata Dosha, Fire forms the Pitta Dosha and Water and Earth combine to form the Kapha Dosha.  Here are some of the characteristics of each Dosha:


Vata Dosha is kinetic energy—the energy of movement.  It is responsible for how things are regulated and formed, for all movement in and of the body, how input is received by the senses and the assimilation and movement of nutrition from a tissue to cellular level.  It is responsible for the flow of function in the body.

The qualities of Vata Dosha are Dry, Light, Cool, Rough, Subtle, Mobile

Elements:  Air and Ether

  • Key wordsRough, Dry, Cool


Pitta Dosha is metabolic energy—it governs transformation in the body like metabolism, biochemical reactions and digestion.  It is also responsible for body temperature, vision and comprehension (intellectual digestion)

The qualities of Pitta Dosha are Oily, Sharp, Hot, Light, Fleshy-Smelling, Spreading, Liquid

Element:  Fire

  • Key words:  Hot, Oily, Reactive/Irritable


Kapha Dosha is the energy of storage, building and binding—it governs structure and vitality in the body.  It is responsible for the actual structure of the tissues.  It also is the foundation upon which our strength and vitality rests.

The qualities of Kapha Dosha are Unctuous, Cool, Heavy, Slow, Smooth, Soft, Static

Elements:  Water and Earth

  • Key words:  Cold, Wet/Moist, Stable


Each of us was conceived with a unique proportion of the doshas in our systems and this is known as our Constitution, or Prakriti.  When we are in balance, the doshas in our systems are in their appropriate proportion unique to us.  Diet, lifestyle and environment influence the doshas within us and can increase or decrease them.


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