About Ayurveda — The Five Elements
When you learn about Ayurveda, you learn that everyone has their own constitution that is unique to them. Dosha is the term used meaning “constitution” in Ayurveda.
But before describing the doshas, or the Ayurvedic constitutions, it is important that you understanding their building blocks.
The Five Elements: The Building Blocks of the Doshas
The five elements — ether, air, fire, water, and earth – are the building blocks of the doshas. The elements are metaphors used to describe the state of your body and mind.
Ether represents space and expansiveness. When someone has a balanced ether element, they are open to new ideas and thought processes, and they may even be philosophical.
A great example of out-of-balance ether is when post-partum, women feel “a space where something used to be” in the womb, which can contribute to a host of psychological imbalances. In this case, we would say that the ether element is present and needs to be reduced.
Another example of the ether element out of balance is when someone is spacey, or zoned out. Ether is cold, dry, and unstable, and so symptoms associated with it have these qualities. There are foods, herbs, and lifestyle practices that increase or decrease the ether element.
The Air element represents movement, change, and variability. Anything that moves in the body, from circulation to elimination, to the movement of the mind, is described by the air element. Some examples of air imbalance is anxiety, worry, insomnia, poor circulation, and constipation. Air is cold, dry, light, and mobile, and so symptoms associated with it have these qualities. There are foods, herbs, and lifestyle practices that increase or decrease the air element.
The Fire element represents metabolism, heat, transformation, and understanding. Digestion of food, as well as sensory and mental impressions is due to the fire element. When the fire element is healthy, people have strong digestion and immune system, as well as a perceptive and logical mind. When the fire element is out of balance, there is inflammation, burning sensations, heated emotions, fever, and so on. Fire is hot and so symptoms associated with the fire element are hot. There are foods, herbs, and lifestyle practices that increase or decrease the fire element.
The Water element represents the idea of flow. The body is also made of water!! From our saliva to protective mucus membranes, to the fluid in our joints, the water element is very important for the body. When the water element is healthy, skin is soft, and mucus membranes are healthy. When the water element is out of balance, there is water retention and excess mucus for example. The water element is moist, and so symptoms of the water element have this quality. There are foods, herbs, and lifestyle practices that increase or decrease the water element.
The Earth element represents the idea of solidity, stability, and structure. The presence of healthy earth element would be for example healthy bones and tissues, as well as emotional stability and reliability. When the earth element is out of balance, there can be for example excess tissue, growths, heaviness, stagnation, depression. The earth element is heavy, and so symptoms associated with the earth element are heavy. There are foods, herbs, and lifestyle practices that increase or decrease the earth element.