The Five Elements

Ayurveda is based on the principle that anything and everything is made of a combination of five elements: space – or ether, air, fire, water and earth. These elements have certain qualities, atributes, and therefore impacts on our body and mind, and their particular combination and prevalence of one or more of them will determine in every one of us a specific prakriti or doshic profile. If you have taken any of the tests I posted a couple of days ago, you should know by now what your inherent prakriti is. There are seven type of prakriti: Vata Prakriti, Pitta Prakriti, Kapha Prakriti, Vata-Pitta Prakriti, Vata-Kapha Prakriti, Pitta-Kapha Prakriti, Sannipata (mixed, also called “tridoshic”) Prakriti . As I mentioned in one of my previous posting, Vata dosha is a combination of Space and Air, Pitta is made of Fire and Water, and Kapha is Water and Earth. I’m listing below the different characteristics of each element, so you can start understand how these elements – manifestating through your Prakriti and predominant dosha(s) – work for you, and sometimes against you developping then some imbalances. Keep in mind that a element or food that has an alike doshic characteristic than your own predominant dosha, will tend to stimulate and eventually “aggravate” that element in you. So, as an example, if your Prakriti shows a highly predominant Pitta Dosha, then eating chilies which are Fire will enhance and increase even more your Pitta leading to the manifestation of an imbalanced Pitta – such as sweating, irritability, heartburn –  and even more such if external elements such as hot weather add their contribution to it.

Characteristics of the Five Elements

Space              (Sanscrit: Akasha)
Qualities – soft, light, subtle and abundant.
Action – provides room, looseness, openness
Facilitates – sound and non-resistance
Substance – anything that is light, profuse, and ethereal
Example – hollow and light foods – popcorn, wafers
Intake – increases softness and lightness in the body

Air                      (Vayu)
Qualities – weightless, mobile, cool, dry, porous and subtle
Action – motion or movement, evaporation, dryness
Facilitates – touch and vibration.
Substance – anything dry and airy, or that creates gas
Example – toast, cookies, cabbage, beans
Intake – increases coolness, dryness, movement and

Fire                     (Agni or Tejas)
Qualities – hot, sharp, dry, subtle, weightless and rough
Action – radiation of heat and light
Facilitates – form, color and temperature
Substance – anything combustible and spicy
Example – chilies, ginger, pepper, clove, cumin
Intake – increases digestion, metabolism (fire and heat),
glow and color of skin

Water                 (Jala or Apa)
Qualities – oily (unctuous), moist, cool, soft, and sticky
Attribute – cohesion, lubrication
Facilitates – fluidity and taste (via saliva)
Substance – anything liquid, fluid or watery
Example – drinks, soups, melons, cucumber
Intake – increases smoothness, coolness, softness and
flow of fluids

Earth                   (Prithvi)
Qualities – heavy, rough, solid, stable, slow
Attribute – resistance, density
Facilitates – fragrance, odor and shape
Substance – anything solid and heavy
Example – fried foods, cheese, cakes, banana
Intake – increases heaviness, stability, obesity and
solidity in the body

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