Nature inside and outside
Our nature is not only outside our skin, but also inside. The outside and inside nature are interlinked and influence each other with the changes that happens as time goes by, year after year, which is what makes our body grow and age. The outside nature changes every day from morning to evening and every year through the seasons. According to the changes in the nature outside our inside nature - our body and mind - also changes from hour to hour, season to season, and year after year. That's why ayurveda suggests us to take care of our Mother Nature, which has the ultimate power to create and maintain our inner nature, and to protect and heal our body-mind systems from the diseases with its natural medicines, the healthy choices of food, and the natural therapy - the lifestyle tuned with the rhythm of the nature.
Prakruti (Birth dominant elements)
In Sanskrit ‘pra’ means ‘original’ and ‘kruti’ means ‘creation’. According to ayurveda terminology prakruti denotes the core nature or the basic characteristics of a person by birth. The inner nature of a person (body and mind) is constituted with five elements (earth, water, fire, air and ether) at the time of conception. And during the lifetime the body-mind system of the person is functioning with the influence of the combination of these elements that creates three forces (kapha-pitta-vata). If carefully examining a person’s overall life we can see that among the five elements some elements and their corresponding force are slightly or much higher than the other even from the birth. These leading constitutional elements are considered as the birth dominating elements that shape the core nature (prakruti) of a person.
Three forces in the nature
Our planet has an ecosystem, which consists of countless living and non living bodies. Ayurveda describes all bodies in the nature as the united form of five elements, which means that every body, regardless if living or non-living, is constituted with five fundamental elements: earth, water, fire, air and ether.
While earth, water and fire stays silent in a non-living body like a piece of metal or a dead tree, only air and ether functions as a force in the process of decomposing that body. In a living body all elements are active with the functions of: growing (with the force of kapha by the earth-water elements), maintaining (with the force of pitta by the fire-water elements) and decomposing (with the force of vata by the air-ether elements).
In a living body, the force of kapha functions as the generator of a body through building new cells, the force of pitta functions as the maintainer by controlling the metabolism and sustaining the central heating system of the body through the blood circulatory system. And the force of vata functions as the destroyer of the old body cells and eliminates the toxins in the system.
We can see the influence of these three major forces in every body in the nature, creating changes from time to time, from season to season. For instance, in the spring a leaf is sprouting from the branches with the influence of kapha and then changes its colour from green to yellow through the summer and autumn and fall down to earth in the winter with the influence of pitta and vata, and in the later stage when the leaf is dead, only vata.
The role of vata in the nature is to decompose things and release the elements to return to the nature to support the functions of kapha to construct new bodies. This is how a fallen leaf is decaying on the ground during the late autumn and winter, returning its elements to the Mother Earth and in the following spring fertilising the tree by its essence, climbing back to life through its roots.
Recognize the constitutional elements
At the time of conception, according to the dominating elements’ influence in the first cell, the core nature of the child is formed. And with the support of the corresponding forces’ level of domination, the body is forming in the mother’s womb as seven dhatus - the constitutional tissues of a body system. The seven dhatus are the seven forms of tissues building the body: rasa (plasma), rakta (blood), mamsa (muscle), medha (fat), asthi (bone), majja (bone marrow) and shukra (reproductive tissues).
The core nature of the person is described through the physical features and the mental characteristics developed with the support of the birth dominating elements and functions with the level of their forces.
When a person’s birth dominating elements are earth and water, it’s corresponding force is kapha which overrules the construction of the body tissues and builds large physical features like broad, heavy bones and muscle structure and moist, thick and oily skin texture. The kapha nature is slow in physical movement and mentally often attached to people and surroundings and have difficulties to adapt to fast changes in life.
If a person is dominated by the fire and water elements by birth, its corresponding force is pitta and s/he generally stays in medium weight with light/sensitive skin and hair. Opposite to kapha nature, pitta dominants are recognised by their quick and sporty actions, they are sharp and precise in their speech, and often take intellectual and result oriented decisions on time.
A vata dominant physique is naturally shaped with sleek bones and lean muscles, and has tiny features compared to the other two natures. The vata nature hardly gains body weight and the skin often has a tendency to get dry especially in the cold season. Like the wind in the nature, the mental quality of vata dominants can vary from time to time; for instance, moods can change from very energetic and cheerful to tired and anxious in a short period of time.
PDE (Presently dominating elements)
The elements with the highest influence in your body-mind system by birth are considered as your birth dominating elements (prakruti) which shapes your core nature. Though your birth dominating elements won’t change during your whole life, with the influence of the age dominating force your physical and mental qualities can vary. It often happens when your life passes through different ages, seasons and even different times of the day and night.
It's important to remember that your PDE (presently dominating elements) might be different than your prakruti (birth dominant elements) because of wrong diet or lifestyle for a long period of time. This state is considered as an imbalance (vikruti) and is a state that makes many people confused about which recommendations to follow. While practicing ayurveda keep in mind, that you always need to follow the recommendations to balance your PDE, whether it is your prakruti (birth dominant elements) or vikruti (imbalance).
Balance or imbalance
Whatever our prakruti (birth dominant) is, if we don’t take care of our body and mind with right aahar (food), vihar (lifestyle) and vijar (thoughts), while growing through different seasons of life - childhood, youth, mid-age and old-age, one or two or even all three forces can get out of balance and cause symptoms in the initial stage and diseases of the organs in the long period of time.
The imbalance of the elements, vikruti, needs to be observed in time and corrected immediately. That is why, whatever your prakruti is, if you have a vikruti, traditional ayurveda recommends you to correct that imbalance before you start working with your birth-dominant elements (prakruti).
Keep in mind that your vikruti (imbalance) might not always be your prakruti (birth dominant element). That is why you always need to consider your PDE (present dominating element) to follow ayurveda recommendations.
Kapha, pitta and vata - in one glance
...motherly and caring
...symbolically meaning love
...binding everything together
...replacing new tissues
The heart is the seat of kapha and love is its natural feeling. Physically, while the heart purifies the blood and nourishes the body tissues, mentally, it cultivates the feeling of love. In a well balanced state of kapha, the heart stays as the spiritual centre of the body and promotes the subtle energy known as ojus, and constantly rejuvenate all the body-mind systems with its presence.
In the physical, mental and spiritual functions of a heart, an uninterrupted flow is considered as a sign of health while blockage means disease. For instance, in a kapha excess body saturated fat can accumulate in the blood streams and make obstacles in the circulatory system. Also, kapha imbalance can complicate a love relationship with over-attachment and possessiveness, where the feeling of love won’t flow naturally which causes jealousy and sadness in mind.
...adventurous and dominating
...symbolically meaning light
...pedagogic and organised
...controlling the body heat
...promoting the vision of the eyes
...supporting digestion & immunity
The solar plexus is the cradle of pitta. The balanced state of pitta gives a strong digestion and immune power, good eye vision and healthy skin, sharp memory and mental patience, efficiency in speech and action. Spiritually, solar plexus is considered as the seat of tejas which, in a state of balance in pitta, promotes one's inner radiance as well as intelligence and courage in the mind.
Like the excess heat from the sun can cause problems on the life on earth, if the pitta is aggravated it can cause problems in the metabolism, low immune power and blood values, high stress, anger or irritation and dissatisfaction in life. And in a long period of pitta imbalance, body tissues can get damaged by the acidic power and externally it causes skin diseases like eczema or psoriasis, while internally it creates ulcers or tumours, usually in the digestive system, the stomach, liver, spleen and pancreas.
...creative and artistic
...symbolically meaning life/change/time
...helping the body to eliminate the toxins
...supporting the vocal cords
...destroying the old cells
...coordinating body movements
Vata resides in the lower abdominal area and controls the functions of the reproductive organs, colon and rectum. The balanced state of vata promotes necessary body movements and creative thoughts in the mind. Spiritually, by the movements of air vata is controlling prana, the vital life energy in the subtle body, according to the changes outside - the time and seasons in the nature.
Since the primary duty of vata is to eliminate the old cells in the body, the aggravated state of this force can cause excess destruction of tissues. General vata symptoms are: pain in the knees and hips, cold and dryness in the skin, stiffness in the muscles and joints, indigestion and gas formation in the colon, reproductive disease of prostate/ovaries, menstrual disorders and miscarriages. And on the mind level vata imbalance gives distracted thoughts, fearful feelings or dreams and anxiety as the deep emotion.
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