Dosha, Prakriti and Vikriti Part 1
Dosha, Prakriti and Vikriti (Part 1, October 18, 2016)
Today I am going to begin the 1st part of a 4 part series, which serves as the basis of Ayurveda: Dosha, Prakriti and Vikriti.
It is believed that we have all 5 elements in each of us: air, fire, water, earth, and space (space meaning the “space” in which reactions take place, for without space, reactions could not happen. Space is an important concept in Ayurveda. Think about cancer. It could be said that cancer might be the overgrowth of cells trying to fill excesses space in the body). These 5 elements combine in pairs to form dynamic forces or interactions called Doshas. The word Dosha means “that which changes” and every living thing is characterized by a Dosha. The pairs of elements or Doshas are: Vata (air and space); Pitta (fire and water); and Kapha (earth and water) (HolisticOnline, 2007).
Because we each have all 5 elements inside each of us, we are combinations of Doshas with 1 being more prominent than the others. For instance, a person who is Kapha is basically someone with the element of earth being more prominent in his or her body. Only a practitioner can help you determine your Dosha as most tests done online or from books only tell you your most prominent Dosha (HolisticOnline, 2007).
For a very long time, I thought I was Pitta (fire). But after I began studying Ayurveda with Dr. Naina Marballi, she informed me I was actually Kapha-Pitta (having more earth than fire). I disagreed and thought I must be Pitta-Kapha (having more fire than earth based on the way I interacted with my environment). Now that I am a practitioner and understand the Doshas more clearly, I realized that back then, I was (and still am) Kapha-Pitta, but was having a Pitta imbalance!
According to Ayurveda, your constitution (combination of elements or Dosha), is determined at the time of your conception, and is unchangeable and fixed throughout your lifetime. This combination is known as Prakriti. However, interactions with your environment cause subtle changes in your body’s elemental make-up. This change does not change your constitution, but rather causes subtle differences from your original Prakriti. The difference is known as Vikriti (your current state) (HolisticOnline, 2007).
Compare your Prakriti to the ingredients in chocolate cake. The fixed amount of ingredients forms a delicious dessert—just as the fixed amount of elements (which is specific to you) creates you! If you change the ingredients in the cake—say add twice as many eggs, the resulting dessert is still cake, but now has an imbalance of eggs which makes the cake taste different. Through interactions with your environment, the level of elements in your body subtly changes. Continuing to interact this way with your environment eventually tips the scale and you become imbalanced. When your elements are not balanced as compared to your Prakriti (original make-up), you may experience illness = Prakriti vs. Vikriti.
Using me as an example, I am Kapha-Pitta. My interactions with my environment such as food that I ate caused me to have more Pitta (fire) than I usually have. This imbalance of fire manifested in acne, acidity, and my emotional state was easily triggered.
As an Ayurvedic practitioner, when you come to see me, I determine your Prakriti (your original constitution), and compare it to your Vakriti (current state) and see which element is not in balance. I then heal you by trying to restore your original balance using “healing through the 5 senses” techniques.
Next week we will begin looking at the different Dosha’s to begin exploring which Dosha you may be. Knowing your Dosha can help you to reduce stress, avoid illness, maintain a healthy weight, and bring overall balance to your life.
HolisticOnline. (2007). Basis for Ayurvedic Philosophy. Retrieved from http://www.holisticonline.com/ayurveda/ayv-basis-prakruti-and-vikruti.htm
Tridosha.com. (n.d.). Self-Test. Retrieved from http://tridosha.com/self-test