Understanding Your Doshas - Part I

Understanding Your Doshas - Part I

In Ayurveda, the source of all existence is believed to manifest itself as the male and female energies, or the purusha and prakruti respectively. Both these energies are timeless and present in every living being (including humans!) as well as inanimate objects. Human beings - an inevitable result of the merging of these two energies - are considered to be a reflection of the universe; every single element that is present in nature is present in human beings.

The five elements of nature are the building blocks that are instrumental to the science of Ayurveda; these five elements include space, air, fire, water and earth and are believed to exist in all universal matter. Since human beings are believed to be a reflection of nature, these five elements are also believed to be a part of our physical bodies and deeply influence the way we function.


Also referred to as ‘ether’, space is empty, light and subtle. It is also formless and considered to be universal. In the physical body, space is associated with sound and the sense of hearing. Spaces in the body include the mouth, nose, gastrointestinal tract, respiratory tract, abdomen and thorax. Psychologically, space is associated with a sense of freedom and peace and is responsible for the feelings of love, compassion, separation, isolation, insecurity and fear.


The element of air is light and clear and associated with the sense of touch. It moves in space  and manifests itself as the movements of the muscles, the pulsations of the heart, the expansion and contraction of the lungs and sensory and neural impulses that move to and from the brain. The element of air is also responsible for breathing, ingestion, the movement of the intestines and elimination. Psychologically, it is associated with the feelings of happiness, joy, excitement, fear, anxiety and insecurity.


A hot, sharp, penetrating and luminous element, fire manifests when moving air produces friction. In the human body, the proverbial fire in the solar plexus regulates body temperature and metabolism, including the actions of digestion, absorption and assimilation. Fire is important for transformation, comprehension, recognition and understanding and is crucial for the manifestation of ambition, competitiveness, anger, hatred and envy.


The element of water is fluid, heavy, soft and dense. It is associated with the sense of taste; without water (or more specifically, moisture), our tongue cannot taste anything. Water manifests in the human body as plasma, saliva, nasal secretion, urine and sweat and is believed to be associated with the feelings of contentment, love and compassion.


As the most solid of all five elements, earth is heavy, hard and rough and gives strength and structure to the human body. The solid structures of the body (bones, cartilage, nails, teeth, hair and skin) are a manifestation of the earth element. Earth is associated with the sense of smell and promotes the feelings of forgiveness, support and growth. When off balance, it can also create feelings of attachment, greed and depression.

Stay tuned for our next post where we uncover how these five elements manifest themselves into the three doshas.

Soha Joshi

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