The concept of the five elements is one of the most fundamental in Ayurvedic science. These five elements (space, air, fire, water, and earth) exist in all matter, both organic and inorganic. As man is a microcosm of nature, the five elements also exist within each individual. Our psychological tendencies, as well as our five senses and the various aspects of our body’s functioning, are all directly related to the five elements. According to Ayurveda, the five elements manifest sequentially, beginning with space, from the pure, unified, un-manifested Cosmic Consciousness that is the source of all.
These five great elements combine into three basic energies or functional principles, which are present, in varying degrees, in everything and everybody. Space (ether) and air constitute vata. Fire and water combine to make up pitta. Water and earth constitute Kapha. In our bodies, these three doshas or humor govern our psychobiological functioning. Vata–Pitta–Kapha is present in every cell, tissue, and organ. When in balance, they create health. When out of balance, they are the cause of disease.

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