Did you know that your physical, mental and emotional health as well as health issues are rooted in your biological framework. Most people know about Ayurvedic 'Doshas' - Vata dosha, Pitta Dosha and Kapha Dosha, but do you know that the three doshas, which are the functional units of the body are formed from the very combination of the five elements or Panchamahabhutas. 

At the core of this biological framework are the Panchamahabhuta or the five great elements

  1. Akasha Mahabhuta or Space Element

  2. Vayu Mahabhuta or AIr Element

  3. Agni Mahabhuta or Fire Element

  4. Ap Mahabhuta or Water Element

  5. Prithvi Mahabhuta or Earth Element.



“ The 5 elements are the gatekeepers of the material world. Once you learn to use and transcend them, then can you open up to the secrets of your soul."

The five element theory or the Panchamahabhuta theory is one of the foundational theories on which the principles of Ayurveda rests. Understanding these Ayurvedic five elements is crucial to understanding your own physical reality. 

  • Human beings are created from the very five elements of nature and our health and happiness depend on the balance of these five elements.

  • These provide the foundation for the entire material/manifested world.The same five elements aka 'Panchamahabhuta' in Ayurveda make up the entire universe and also create the human body. The five gross elements make up both the animate and inanimate world.

  • Understanding the five elements helps you understand the physical body as well as the mind, which can help optimize its health.

Lets learn about these in a bit more detail

  1. Akash Mahabhuta or Space element:

    Akash means a free or open space and indicates the ether or space.  When in the universe, it is seen as the vast space that holds the planets and the stars. In our bodies the same element can be understood as various hollows of the body- that skull cavity that accommodates your brain or the abdominal cavity that holds various organs.
    When in balance - Akasha Mahabhuta is physically expressed as unobstructed, normal size and structure for organs, normal sound, speech, and hearing; Mentally it can be seen as the ability to hold space for others, express ideas and thoughts, communicate well. Akasha Mahabhuta is all-encompassing and is essential to our feeling of being connected with the inner spirit and the outside world and helps you hold the space for others.

  2. Vayu Mahabuta or the Air element :

    Vayu can be understood by its movement. When in the universe or nature is seen as the wind, the one that gives the movement for planets, comets etc, whereas in the body Air is seen as the one that fills your lungs, that which gives movement to all processes in your body and also the gas that you are so uncomfortably bloated with.
    In your body a balanced Vayu Mahabhuta/ Air Element is expressed as normal breathing, proper circulation of fluids, normal nerve conduction, cell division and cellular exchange, bowel movement, passing gas etc; mentally this is expressed as new ideas, creativity, being able to go with the flow, quick and timely thinking. Air is the immediate source of life. A lack of air will kill us faster than a lack of any other element. Thus, the concept of Vayu (air) is synonymous with that of Prana (life energy). 

  3. Agni Mahabhuta or the fire  element:

    Agni Mahabhuta can be understood by its heat and brilliance. Just like in the universe, the fire is  represented by the sun and the stars, in our body, it is seen as the digestive fire that burns your food, and your eyes that light up your world.
    A balanced Agni Mahabhuta in the body is expressed as normal body temperature, good and robust digestion, optimal blood formation, optimal function of liver & gallbladder and the entire digestive apparatus, good vision, healthy glowing skin; mentally it is expressed as will power, courage, determination, passion, purity of thoughts. Fire is the generator of energy in the body just as the sun is the generator of energy for the earth. Fire element also holds the key to the transformation of the elements as it is situated right in the middle amongst the five elements and can change the states of the elements, just like fire can melt ice into water, evaporate water into steam and the lack if it can condense it back into water and ice.

  4. Ap Mahabhuta or the water element:

    Ap Mahabhuta or Water can be understood by its fluidity and the nourishment it provides.. It is seen in nature as the oceans, rivers, and seas and in your body as various fluids- saliva, blood, plasma etc that nurture and support the body
    In the body a balanced Ap Mahabhuta or Water element is expressed as of the body fluids and juices, the phenomenon of taste, the function of urinary system- kidneys, bladder and process of urination, hormonal balance; mentally it is expressed as calmness, happiness, being able to navigate through stressful situations, ability to enjoy life, arousal, excitement. The water element also dictates sex and intimate relationsips. Water is the protector of the body. It provides the body with its most basic nourishment. Water protects against the dissolution of the ether element, the roughness and motion of the air element and the heat of the fire element. The water element soothes all pain and inflammation in the body and is also needed for stress free emotions.

  1. Prithvi Mahabhuta or the earth element

    Prithvi Mahabhuta can be understood by its structure, density and stability. When in the universe is seen as the dense planets, in nature as trees, mountains and in your body, it is seen as the denser parts like bones, nails, and hair.
    A balanced Earth Element In the body is seen as - normal dentition, strong and sturdy bones and other structures like hair; mentally it is expressed as feeling structured,  the capacity to organize thoughts, the ability to compartmentalize, peace, quiet, satisfaction, contentment, humility.  The Earth element represents the solid state of matter and also the structure of the universe. Earth gives form to the human body, and to all of creation, and has both structure and stability. Earth is also associated with the material affairs- your house, finances, properties, and your capacity to manifest your dreams into reality. Having balanced Earth element in the body makes us grounded, stable, humble, able to receive and manifest material things. Earth element is the core element of the root chakra which governs your sense of security and safety


Thus these five elements not only make your doshas, but also each and every cell of your body and balancing the five elements is the key to balancing your body. If even a single element goes out of balance, it creates disharmony leading to ill health.