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Recognizing that human beings are part of nature, Ayurveda describes three fundamental energies that govern our inner and outer environments: movement, transformation and structure. Known in Sanskrit as Vata (Wind), Pitta (Fire) and Kapha (Earth), these primary forces are responsible for the characteristics of our mind and body. Each of us has a unique proportion of these three forces that shapes our nature. If Vata is dominant in our system, we tend to be thin, light, enthusiastic, energetic and changeable. If Pitta predominates in our nature, we tend to be intense, intelligent, goal-oriented and have a strong appetite for life. When Kapha prevails, we tend to be easy-going, methodical and nurturing. Although each of us has all three forces, most people have one or two elements that are more obviously expressed.

For each element, there is a balanced and imbalance expression. When Vata is balanced a person is lively and creative, but when there is too much movement in the system, a person tends to experience anxiety, insomnia, dry skin, constipation and has difficulty completing tasks. When Pitta is functioning in a balanced manner, a person is warm, friendly, disciplined, a good leader and a good speaker. When the fire element is out of balance, a person tends to be compulsive, irritable and may suffer from indigestion or an inflammatory condition. When Kapha is balanced, a person is sweet, supportive and stable but when it is out of balance, a person may experience sluggishness, weight gain and sinus congestion. An important goal of Ayurveda is to identify a person’s ideal state of balance, determine where they are out of balance and offer interventions using diet, herbs, aromas, massage, music and meditation to reestablish balance.