Balance & the Doshas
Balance is a dynamic state. We never actually 'get there.' We are constantly working with our environment to adapt as the circumstances keep changing. For example, you might feel very balanced, and then the sun hits the highest point in the sky (around noon time), you take a hot yoga class, and then go out for Mexican food. The time of day and your activities during that time create an increase of the fire energy in your body, thus throwing you out of balance. You might start to notice excess heat in the body, manifesting as irritability, acid reflux, or skin rash.
If you think of a balancing pose in a yoga class, you never get to a point where you say "aha! I am balanced!" because you know that staying balanced means that you are constantly making micro-adjustments to adjust to any little change. Ayurveda guides us towards how to find balance in an ever changing world. Everything has the ability to move us towards balance or away from it, depending on where, when, and why it is used. Ayurveda offers us the opportunity to become more aware of what we actually need (rather than just what we want) so that we are able to adjust to our environment and maintain vibrant and steady health.
Doshas govern all physical and mental processes and provide every living being with an individual blueprint for health. Everything and everyone is made up of all five elements (and thus all three doshas). Every person, however, has a completely unique combination — making Ayurveda a very personalized science. At the moment of conception, each person receives their personal blueprint, or prakruti, which is their perfect combination of the elements for ideal health. Based on the mother's diet and lifestyle during pregnancy, as well as diet and lifestyle throughout life, one may move into a state of vikruti, or imbalance. The goal of Ayurveda is to bring you towards your prakruti; to support you in making the micro-adjustments that will help you adapt to the time of day, the time of year, the time of life, as well as any imbalance that you are currently experiencing so that you can experience vibrant health and deep connection to Source.
The word dosha literally translates to "at fault." This gives us a glimpse into how these elements work within the body. The doshas are constantly affected by whatever comes in through the senses. They are affected by what we see, smell, taste, touch, and hear, as well as the climate, the season, and the time of day. The doshas are the organizing energies in the body. They each carry with them a bundle of specific qualities, which is the easiest way to define them. For example, we know something is primarily composed of air and ether elements (or primarily vata dosha) when we see the qualities of cold, light, dry, rough, mobile, irregular and changeable. So, as we learned earlier in this chapter, if there is an excess of these qualities, we would simply bring in the opposite qualities (hot, heavy, moist, smooth, stable, predictable) with our diet and lifestyle activities to balance vata in the body.
Knowing your prakruti (your personalized doshic blueprint) is valuable, as it shows you the ways that you are most likely to move out of balance, and thus, the activities that should generally be favored or avoided. The best way to know your prakruti is to see an experienced Ayurveda Practitioner who can use ashatvidha-pariksha, or the eight methods of diagnosis. Rather than placing emphasis on discovering your prakruti, through this chapter we will focus on the many ways that you can know if you have an imbalance in any of the doshas, and discover the tools that will support you in coming back to your ideal state of health.