Ayurveda and the Elements
Ayurveda is deeply rooted in Mother Nature. Everything in and around us is made of the same “stuff.” The seers knew that all of Nature form the individual since we are all created from, exist in, and return to it.
According to Ayurveda, Pure Consciousness is manifested into a sound. Sound is energy, a vibration which is manifested into Ether or Space.
Space is ever present, without space we can’t exist, space gives freedom to move. It is subtle, omnipresent, when there is resistance there is no space, when in the universe, it is seen as the vast space that holds the planets and the stars, in our bodies space can be understood as various hollows of the body; the space between your cells, the skull giving the perfect fit to your brain or the abdominal cavity that holds digestive organs. Space is love. Space is consciousness.
Air flows through our body and is responsible for all cells communication, when in the universe or nature is seen as the wind, the one that gives the movement for planets and comets, whereas in the body Air is seen as that which provides communication to all processes in your body and allows everything to move in an intelligent direction.
Fire in our body, it is seen as the digestive fire that burns your food and gives your heart the capacity to love and your eyes the capacity to see and send information to the cerebral cortex, to obtain a response, giving a name to what we see. It provides the body with heat, it is the cause of all metabolic and chemicals functions. Fire in the universe represents the sun and the stars.
Water is our sustaining ‘Amrita’ or nectar, making more than 70 percent of our body mass, in your body is reflected as various fluids such as saliva, blood, plasma, etc. It is seen in nature as the oceans, seas, and rivers.
We nourish ourselves with food from Earth and eventually, our body returns to earth from which it came, in the universe earth is seen as the dense planets, in your body, it is seen as the denser and solid parts like bones, cartilage, muscle, and anything that’s tangible.
The five elements are associated with the five senses and act as the gross medium for the experience of sensations. Space facilitates sound. Air promotes touch. Fire facilitates form or vision. Water facilitates taste and Earth enables smell.
In Ayurveda, the ratio and relationship of the elements determines our constitution or nature and predispositions to health and imbalances. When elements combine together, they form bio-psychic forces called Doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha)
Vata is born out of Air and Space. Pitta from Fire and Water. Kapha from Earth and Water.
Vata is composed of the elements ether (space) and air. The word Vata stems from a Sanskrit word Vayu which means “ that which moves things”, sometimes translated as wind. It is considered to be the most influential of the three Doshas.
Air is responsible for all movement related functions such as respiration, movement of the thoughts, all physical movement such as breath as well as all involuntary movements. Space relates to our mental space, environment even emotions, intercellular space and anything that provides room in our bodies such as cavities and any hollow spaces. On an emotional and mental level Vata is responsible for creativity and flexibility, but when Vata is out of balance, it shows its negative aspects as fear and anxiety.
Factors that increase Vata Dosha: Eating too much bitter, astringent and pungent taste such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, sprouts, beans, dry fruits, mushrooms, and raw foods. Staying awake until late hours or not sleeping at all. Eating junk food, frozen food, and food that have been microwaved.
Pitta is composed of the elements fire and water. The term means “to shine” it carries the meaning also “of that which digests” Pitta digestive functions includes all chemical and metabolic transformations in the body as well as the processes which promote heat production.
Fire relates to metabolism and the digestive system in general, including the appetite due to it’s fiery and liquidity, it also governs hot emotions like passion, anger, and jealousy when the element presents out of balance. It allows us to process not only food but also emotions and it is responsible for the brightness of our thoughts. Water relates to the bodily tissues that are liquid: plasma, blood, sweat, urine, and saliva.
Factors that increase Pitta Dosha: Drinking too much tea, coffee, and alcohol. Smoking. Eating salty, sour, hot and spicy food, tomatoes, eggplant, and onions. Too much explosion to heat and sun. Anger. Overworking and being overly competitive.
Kapha is composed of the elements water and earth. The term means “that which holds things together, to embrace, coherent.”
Earth relates to the structural tissues of the body like the skeleton, muscles, skin, and nails. It gives compactness, cohesion, structure, and stability to the body. In Kapha, water manifests differently to the water aspect of Pitta - here water relates to the lubrication of the bodily structures such as in the pericardial fluid and synovial fluid. Kapha gives love, expresses compassion and loyalty but too much of the earth element in Kapha can reveal greed and attachment.
Factors that increase Kapha Dosha: Eating sweet, sour and salty tastes, fats, oily and fried food, ice cream, dairy products, and too many nuts. Too much sleep especially during daytime. Overeating and spending too much time in damp, cold climates.