Definition - What does Dosha mean?

Dosha refers to a bodily humor (or bio-energy center) in Ayurvedic medicine. The term comes from the Sanskrit dosa, meaning “fault” or “disease.”

There are three doshas in total: vata, pitta and kapha. Their energies are believed to circulate in the body and govern physical, mental and emotional characteristics. Each person has a dominant dosha or combination of doshas. In Ayurvedic medicine, it is believed that health is achieved through balancing the three doshas.

In yoga, the practitioner can achieve health by focusing on asanas that support the doshas, thereby creating mind-body balance.

Yogapedia explains Dosha

The doshas come from the five states of matter: ether (space), earth, water, air, and fire. The vata dosha is associated with ether and air, the pitta dosha with fire and water, and the kapha dosha with earth and water.

  • Vata dosha: The most powerful of the doshas, controls basic bodily functions as well as the mind.
  • Pitta dosha: Controls metabolism, digestion and hormones linked to appetite.
  • Kapha dosha: Controls strength and stability, muscle growth, weight and the immune system.

Among the Ayurvedic treatments to balance the doshas are breathing exercises, diet changes, lifestyle changes, yoga, meditation and stretching.

In yoga, asanas that soothe or support the individual's combination of doshas help bring these energies into balance. For example, standing forward bends, sitting poses and inversions reduce the pitta dosha, but headstands, arm stands and core-engaging asanas strengthen it. Chest-opening asanas help balance the kapha dosha. All yoga poses are good for the vata dosha, but grounded postures, like seated asanas and shoulder stands, are especially beneficial.

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