The prakrati or constitution of a person is based on three important characteristics called doshas which are : vata, pitta, and kapha. Each dosha is made up of one or two of the five basic elements: space, air, fire, water, and earth. Each dosha has a particular function and can upset the body for different reasons. Doshas are constantly being formed and balanced by food, activity, and bodily processes. An imbalanced dosha will produce symptoms that are related to that dosha and are different from symptoms of an imbalance of another dosha.
Imbalances may be caused by an unhealthy lifestyle or diet; too much or too little mental and physical exertion; or not being properly protected from the weather, chemicals, or germs.
The vata dosha is a combination of the elements space and air. It is the most powerful dosha because it controls very basic body processes such as cell division, the heart, breathing, and the mind. It goes out of balance by, for example, staying up late at night, eating dry fruit, or eating before the previous meal is digested. People with vata as their main dosha are thought to be especially susceptible to skin, neurological, and mental diseases.
The pitta dosha is a combination of fire and water. Pitta is said to control hormones and the digestive system. When pitta goes out of balance, a person may experience negative emotions (such as hostility and jealousy) and have physical symptoms such as heartburn . Eating spicy or sour food; being angry, tired, or fearful; or spending too much time in the sun can upset Pitta. People with a predominantly pitta constitution are thought to be susceptible to heart disease and arthritis.
The kapha dosha is a combination of water and earth. Kapha helps to keep up strength and immunity and to control growth. Kapha dosha imbalance may cause nausea immediately after eating. Sleeping during the daytime, eating too much sweet foods, eating after one is full, and eating and drinking foods and beverages with too much salt and water can disturb Kapha Dosha. People with a predominant kapha dosha are thought to be vulnerable to diabetes, gallbladder problems, stomach ulcers, and respiratory illnesses such as asthma.