Vital energies - Doshas

In Ayurveda, there are three vital energies or functional capacities which are present in everyone and everything with an overall control. These functional capacities or fundamental principles- Vata, Pitta and Kaphatogether are called Doshas. Dosha, literally means the things that ‘can spoil’ or ‘one with the capacity to vitiate other components’. Each dosha has its own qualities and functions through which it controls the body functions.


These terms have their origins from their root words – Vata from the root word “va” which means gati (movement), Pitta from the root word “tap” which means paka (transformation) and Kapha from the root word “slish” which means poshana (nourishment or lubrication). Precisely, Vata is the energy of movement; Pitta is the energy of digestion or metabolism and Kapha, the energy of lubrication and structure.

Dosha and its effects:

Three doshas are composed of five elements (as per the theory of five elements – everything is composed of five elements), but each dosha has two predominant elements.

  • Vata – Air and Space elements
  • Pitta – Fire and Water elements
  • Kapha – Water and Earth elements

Each dosha, with their attributes, controls the physiological and psychological functions as well as the physical and mental characteristics. The predominant dosha manifests the tendency of its primary qualities in an individual.

Vata dosha:

The primary motivating force and the strongest dosha. Composed of Air and Space elements, it has the qualities of dryness, lightness, coldness, roughness, subtlety and mobility.

At the physiological level Vata governs the movements of the body (both physical and emotional) like blood circulation, inhalation and exhalation, movements of the internal as well as the external body parts, heartbeats, pulsations, elimination of wastes, cellular movements, nervous system, sense of touch and hearing. At the psychological level it controls mind, emotions, promotes ideas, creativity, joy etc.

Pitta dosha:

Represents the energy of transformation and is closely connected with fire. Composed of Fire and Water elements it has the qualities of hotness, sharpness, intensity, lightness, oiliness (unctuousness), liquidity and spreadingness.

At the physiological level Pitta governs digestion, absorption, assimilation and metabolism of food, tissues and cells, maintains body temperature, skin complexion, hormone functions and sense of vision and taste. At the psychological level it governs intelligence, understanding, thought process and discrimination between right and wrong.  

Kapha dosha:

Represents the energy of stability and support. Composed of Water and Earth elements, it has the qualities of oiliness (unctuousness), coldness, heaviness, slowness, steadiness, smoothness and sliminess.

At the physiological level, Kapha governs growth, stability of body tissues, fills the cavities in the body, moisturizes the skin and food, lubricates the joints and stores energy. At the psychological level, it governs love, patience, forgiveness, greed, attachment, and mental inertia.