Ayurveda identifies three basic types of energy or functional principles that are present in everyone and everything. These are vata, pitta and kapha. These principles can be related to the basic biology of the body.

Vata - space | air – Principle of movement

“Ruksha sheeto laghu sookshamchaloathah vishadah kharah, vipreetgune dravya marutah samprashamyati” {Charak Samhita Sutrasthanam 1#59}

Due to predominance of space and air, nature of Vata is dry, cold, light, subtle, clear and coarse.

Vata governs breathing, blinking, muscle and tissue movement, pulsation of the heart, and all movements in the body. In balance, vata promotes creativity and flexibility. Out of balance, vata produces fear and anxiety.

Pitta - fire | water – Principle of transformation

“Snsnehamushnam teekshnam cha dravamlam saram katu vipreetgune pittam dravyerashu prashamyati” {Charak Samhita Sutrasthanam 1#59}

Due to predominance of fire, nature of pitta is slightly dry, hot, sharp, liquid, sour, mobile and pungent.

Pitta governs digestion, absorption, assimilation, nutrition, metabolism and body temperature. In balance, pitta promotes understanding and intelligence. Out of balance, pitta arouses anger, hatred and jealousy.

Kapha – water | earth – Principle of cohesiveness and growth

“Guru sheeta mridu snigdhamadhura sthira picchila shleshmanam prashamam yanti vipreetgune guanaha” {Charak Samhita Sutrasthanam 17#114}

Due to predominance of Water and earth, nature of kapha is heavy, cold, soft, moist/oily, sweet, not moving/stagnant, sticky.

Kapha supplies the water for all bodily parts and systems. It lubricates joints, moisturizes the skin, and maintains immunity. In balance, kapha is expressed as love, calmness and forgiveness. Out of balance, it leads to attachment, greed and envy.