Ayurveda Elements - Healing Principles of Health

In Ayurvedic philosophy, the Five Great Elements (Pancha Mahabhuta) make up our natural world. These Five Ayurveda Elements can also be attributed to the different manifestations of Human Consciousness because of their similarly clear, subtle, mystical, and omnipresent qualities. The relationship between the Five Elements is a dance amongst themselves and originates from the First Element, Ether, otherwise known as Space. In turn, Ether becomes Air causing friction to create Fire, becoming denser into Water and finally coagulating into Earth. Therefore, all Five Elements become contained in Earth as one.

Just as the natural world provides macro-ecology, the individual experiences a micro-ecology reflected by the natural world around them. Ayurvedic principles provide the tools to unite our inner ecology with our external ecology to build harmony. The principles aim to bring focus and balance to the Five Ayurveda Elements (Air, Fire, Water, Earth, Ether/Space) both internally and externally to restore and bring forth optimum mental and physical health emotionally and spiritually.

This article will highlight the Five Great Ayurvedic Elements of the three Doshas and your Constitution, explaining why each is unique and how you can discover their qualities during an Ayurvedic retreat, both inside and outside.

Ayurveda Elements
How to understand the Ayurveda Elements?
Table of Contents

What are The Five Ayurveda Elements?

The Ayurveda elements are Air, Fire, Water, Earth and Ether.

Ayurveda Elements
Ether Element
Akasha (Ether, Space)

The Ether Element, known in Sanskrit as The Akasha is considered to be the first and most subtle element. In Sanskrit, it translates to “all-enclosing, omnipresent or all-pervading.” It permeates through the cosmos and is the omnipotent force for all life, sound, vibration and creation. It is the creative life force energy that gives drive and consciousness to existence. All the openings, passages, pathways and movements in our body are what correspond to the Akasha element. There is space within our ears so we can hear sound. There is space within our throat so we can swallow. There is space within our eyes so we can look at our environment. There is space between our joints so we can move, run, walk and dance. There is space within our hearts to keep the blood flowing.

Akasha is more than just the absence of matter, it is the original form of existence to which everything, and everyone formed and to which everything, and everyone shall return to.

Vayu (Air)

The Air Element, known in Sanskrit as Vayu, not only means air as a mixture of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide and other gases but also as a dimension of movement. Out of all of the 5 Ayurvedic Elements, Vayu is the most accessible and easiest element to gain some mastery of. Most yogic practices involve an element of breath work, called pranayama. Prana means life force in Sanskrit and is the most available to our existence every moment of the day. Without Air, we have no breath or ability to move through life. The impact of the air that we breathe is very immediate. Most people can’t go without air for more than three-and-a-half to five minutes before causing serious damage or suffocation. The qualities of Air evoke movement, ease, lightness, speed but also unpredictability and flightiness.

Ayurveda Elements
Air Element
Ayurveda Elements
Fire Element
Tejas or Agni (Fire)

The Fire Element, known in Sanskrit as Agni, is essential for your health. Agni is the intelligent force of each cell, each tissue and every system within the physical body. Metaphorically speaking, fire stands for intelligence, wit, clarity, truth, presence, and light. The element of fire lives in the physical body, keeping us “burning” and moving. This fire directs the release of hormones via the endocrine system and oversees the digestive, metabolic, and regulatory functions. Ayurveda identifies that Fire also resides in an even more subtle place: our minds. In our minds, fire provides clarity, illumination, and truth. This subtle aspect of fire is called Tejas in Ayurvedic philosophy, and it directs all mental, emotional, and spiritual activity, including the crucial mental actions of discernment and discipline. Fire is the element responsible for burning, clearing, cleansing, transforming and illuminating, but also for destruction, rage, power, impatience and recklessness.

Apas (Water)

The Water element, known in Sanskrit as “Apas”, is the Fourth great element and evolves from Ether or Space, Air and Fire because it contains all aspects of the other three elements. Apps represent fluidic matter and provide the body with basic nourishment, protection against dissolution, give motion and soothe pain and inflammation. We as humans are made up of 70-75% water. It is the element that primarily protects our body and provides it with its most fundamental nourishment. Water is healing; it protects, nourishes, and binds the body together. By its qualities, water is cooling, hydrating, heavy, smooth, stagnant or inflow. It is the antidote to the symptoms that have the opposite of these qualities such as deep sensitivity, emotionally ungrounded, dehydrated, on-edge, low self-esteem or if your heart has become hardened.

Ayurveda Elements
Water Element
Ayurveda Elements
Earth Element
Prithvi (Earth)

The Earth element, known in Sanskrit as “Prithvi” is the fifth and final great element. It is the final element because it evolves out of all five elements and contains the essence of all. Earth represents the densification of all matter until it becomes solid. Prithvi by its quality is stable, heavy, dry, dense, hard and tangible. When you are feeling ungrounded and unearthed you may feel flighty, chaotic or stuck in your head.

The Five Ayurveda Elements and their Relationship to the Doshas

The Five Great Elements exist within all of us, and they all combine to form what is known in Ayurveda as a Dosha which forms your overall Constitution. The Dosha is the basic governing principle that forms differently in each individual’s overall makeup, in Ayurveda we call this Your Constitution. There are 3 Doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha, which are predetermined from the moment of your conception. An Ayurvedic doctor at Sen Wellness can guide you to understand what your Dosha is based on a series of questions about your lifestyle, food habits and energetic levels.

Vata is formed from the Air & Ether Elements

Its primary principle is movement and flow. Vata is that impulsive, spontaneous ease that is light-footed and gone with the wind in your hair. Vata resides in the colon, large intestines, pelvis, lower back and thighs. It is the breeze that ignites your digestion, eliminating toxins and waste. Yet it is also responsible for the flowing movement in your body, the metabolism and cellular behaviour. It is the fuel to your fire (Agni), your intellect, your passions and your intuition as it is also an integral part of your nervous system. As described earlier regarding the movements of the Elements and their relationship to one another – It also has a very key part in determining the other two Doshas; Pitta and Kapha.

Kapha is formed from the Earth & Water Elements

With its cooling and soothing properties, Water gives primary protection to the body against too much heat (Pitta) and movement (Vata). However, Kapha provides the underlying structure and foundation making way for the growth and development of matter and tissue in the body. As Kapha increases in the body, there is also an increase in thickening fluids alongside the structure of the body. Kapha provides protection and lubrication to all the body organs in the form of mucous, brain fluid and synovial fluid for the joints. Kapha mostly resides in the upper body including the respiratory system, upper stomach, mucous membranes, joints and head.

Pitta is formed from the Fire & Water Elements

The main attribute of Pitta is that of transformation. Its qualities are hot, light and flowing. Imagine Pitta as the caterpillar evolving into a beautiful butterfly out of its chrysalis or the boiling water that steams and evaporates. Pitta, like Agni, is passionate and sharp. It manifests in you as your inner confidence and passions. It is found within the body in the stomach and small intestine. It is the driving force behind your internal temperature, but also your intellect, intuition and emotions. Pitta is responsible for your metabolism, mostly impacting the blood, eyes, skin, liver, stomach, spleen and gallbladder.

The Doshas and their Imbalances

Vata is a combination of Air and Ether, it is without Fire, Water or Earth. Therefore, its properties associated with Vata dosha include dryness, coldness, mobility and lightness. It is responsible for the Central Nervous System, respiratory system and general mobility in the body. When Vata is in balance, it gives clarity, energy, enthusiasm and creativity. However, when it is out of balance it can cause nervousness, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia and digestion issues.

Pitta is a combination of Fire and Water. It has properties that include heat, a build-up of acidity or tartness and the ability to spread (think like Wild Fire). It is responsible for your metabolism, the endocrine system, speech fluency, motivation, intellect and good mental and physical digestion. When it is out of balance it can cause rage, irritability, impatience, stress and frustration. It can also cause skin irritations and gut problems.

Kapha is a combination of Water and Earth. Its properties include coldness, stability, weight and oiliness. It is responsible for the immune system and the lubrication of the body. When it is in good balance it supports strength, stamina, motivation, a healthy immune system and strong mental stability. However, when it is out of balance, there can be symptoms of lethargy, weight gain, stubbornness and depression.

Ayurveda Elements

How an Ayurveda Retreat can help Balance the Elements

Ayurveda Elements
Sen Wellness Sanctuary

If you keep the Five Great Elements controlled, vibrant and focused, health, wellbeing and success in the world as assured. If you want to live strong, you need to constantly be in touch with the Five Great Elements. Build resilience with the Elements.

When you arrive at The Sanctuary, each guest will have a private consultation with our Resident Ayurvedic Doctor. The primary focus for our practitioners at Sen Wellness is to discover the root cause of dis-ease, whether that be due to certain lifestyle choices, stress, medical prerequisites or emotional imbalances. You will then be prescribed a comprehensive, personalised programme of treatments and herbal medicines depending on your constitution and any imbalances present. Ayurvedic practitioners share the belief that disease (dis-ease) begins from within. The emotional and mental dis-ease that forms in the guise of anxiety, depression or stress perpetuates a build-up of negativity in the system, which can lead to a manifestation of painful physical ailments such as muscle aches, digestion problems, lethargy or skin irritations. The symptoms of these ailments can be identified by our highly qualified Ayurvedic doctors who can diagnose even the most subtle issues forming in the body. These symptoms are then identified and addressed with bodywork treatments such as massage, diet, herbal remedies, yoga and breathwork exercises.

The 5 Treatments you can expect at an Ayurvedic Retreat with Sen Wellness

  • Ayurvedic Massage
  • Diet
  • Herbal Medicine
  • Yoga
  • Breathwork

This is the holistic approach that we create at Sen Wellness Sanctuary during your retreat to encourage your whole being to come into full balance with the Great Five Elements and your constitution.

Schedule at the Sanctuary

During your retreat at Sen Wellness Sanctuary, your daily routine revolves around the Ayurvedic principles known in Sanskrit as dinacharya, meaning “to be close to the day”. This routine is deeply in touch with the rhythms of nature, the cycles of the earth, moon and sun.

Waking at Dawn with a refreshing herbal tea, alongside the animals and nature surrounding the Sanctuary, allows you to tune in with the day from the beginning. Starting your day with a Yoga class is the best way to kick-start your Agni (Fire) so that you feel energised for the day. The daily pranayama breathwork opens your Vayu (Air) and Akasha (Ether, Space) elements.

After Yoga, you are welcome to swim in the Indian Ocean or the cool Sanctuary Pool, connecting with the water allows you to refresh and connect with your apas (Water).

A healthy but light breakfast is served after Yoga, based on a tailor-made Ayurvedic diet to support your constitution, food is the medicine of the Earth and brings you deeper into connection with your internal Prithvi (Earth) element. At the Sanctuary, your diet consists of a selection of home-cooked and raw vegetables and little-to-no dairy products.

The rest of your day is open to rest, relaxation, or a local excursion to the surrounding areas. All your treatments are scheduled during the day so you can enjoy your prescribed Ayurvedic massage and treatments in a peaceful, natural environment. This routine provides a structure that supports your internal system to restore balance and harmony to your biological and emotional balance. During your stay, this routine will support you with a greater toolkit of self-care practices that you will be able to integrate back home.

Excellent4.8Based on 169 reviews from Ayurveda ElementsElisa B.1701430042 ★★★★★ I just came back after spending a week at Sen Wellness, and the experience was above my expectations.The location is beautiful, immerse in nature and with an amazing beach available.Yoga and meditation classes vary every day, and I can say I learnt so much.The main feedback I’d like to leave is about the team: all of them did everything in their power to make us guests happy, they personally cared about our wellbeing.I can say I came back relaxed, but also changed and nourished internally, I’m looking at problems with a different perspective.I am already planning to be back!Ayurveda ElementsPia S.1697801887 ★★★★★ All I could have asked for in an Ayurveda retreat. Beautiful place and nature, with lovely people and a lot of thought and intention in the programs.Ayurveda ElementsRichard S1697016861 ★★★★★ hat an incredible place and lovely team and special stay. Situated between the beach and the lagoon you are surrounded by wildlife and feel completely isolated from the outside world. The treatments, food and yoga/meditation work together to ensure an incredibly restorative and nourishing stay. Ten days seemed a good length of time to stay to maximise the benefits.Thank you to all the team at Sen for a magical stayAyurveda ElementsMithi T.1694508202 ★★★★★ Heaven on earth. A must-visit if you wish to disconnect and self-connect.Ayurveda ElementsIrene Boñal B.1693817075 ★★★★★ I came for the second time to this place and it can never disappoint… a truly healing place where you can connect with yourself and with others. I have met some amazing people here both times I have come. The staff really care and worry about you. Thank you ♥️ the first time’s review (last year’s) is just below which still applies.Mind-blowing experience. I am so happy I came to this place - I was planning for 5 days and stayed 10! All the team made me feel like home since I arrived. The kitchen staff are super nice and the food is amazing and healthy! The doctor and masseurs listened to me and gave me a therapy adapted to my needs from the very first day. The doctor, managers and reception were also always there for everything I needed. The yoga teachers are amazing healers that guided me through my journey in the sanctuary and for my home. I know I’ll apply their yoga and spiritual teachings in mind for my daily life. On top of that, a monk comes every week to have a 1-to-1 session with you. Personally, this was a very productive session for me!Moreover, the mini pool in the beach has an amazing sunshine - I’d recommend everyone to go one morning when in here!Amazing place to reconnect with myself which is what I was looking for. I’ll definitely come back😊Ayurveda ElementsElaine L.1693770775 ★★★★★ The most nourishing, relaxing and healing week I have ever experienced in the most beautiful setting!! 7-day Ayurvedic and Yoga retreat left me feeling like a new person. I will definitely be returning.Ayurveda ElementsJill L.1693328040 ★★★★★ My two trips to the Sanctuary were equally special. Both were in January, one in 2016 and then again in 2020. It was a perfect way to start the year. The sheer beauty of this part of Sri Lanka is restorative in itself, but when coupled with the luxury and care of the Sanctuary, it becomes a deeply healing experience. I will go back again as soon as I can.Ayurveda ElementsDi S.1693132092 ★★★★★ I arrived exhausted and frazzled from a flight that had lost my bag in transit with the clothes I left London in and raging sinuses from the plane's insanely fierce aircon. Within days the sinus infection was healed with Ayurveda. This was the start of a 10 day healing journey that was pure magic. I stayed in an eco cabana - bed super comfy! - waking up to amazing birdsong. The nature here is lush (bring your mozzie spray!) , the complex open and airy, the food delicious (mainly veggie). Everyone on the team - from the Ayurvedic doctors and practitioners, the amazing manager, the chef and his crew, the yoga teachers to the boys who do the cleaning know what they're doing and radiate positive energy. Days are structured but the vibe is relaxed, open and easy. The Cacao ceremony was amazing. The Fire ceremony also. I'd go back in a heartbeat.Ayurveda ElementsEmma C.1692720436 ★★★★★ I came to the sanctuary at a difficult time for me personally. I came home feeling mentally and physically restored. It was just the tonic for me.The sanctuary is set in a beautiful and peaceful location, a stone’s throw from the sea and never-ending empty beaches.I loved the daily yoga sessions - I had a brilliant teacher the week I was there - which has an open front so we often saw monkeys swinging by.But it were the Ayurvedic treatments and meals, made with fresh local produce, that were out of this world.The communal dining is such a great idea, particularly if you come on your own like I did. And the sanctuary is run by a fantastic and caring team who went out of their way to make my experience truly unforgettable.I really do hope to return again one day.Ayurveda ElementsStephanie U1692379552 ★★★★★ Sen Wellness is really a Sanctuary where you can really connect back to you, your body and nature. The 10 days Spring Retreat was so fantastic, the breathing, moving and the food was always great. The location is far off from everything and you pretty much have the beach to yourself. All the animals like baby turtles, monkeys, squirrels, peacocks combined with nature was just magical. Also all the staff took great care of everyone induvidually. I will definitly be back!!Ayurveda ElementsLara Y1692369607 ★★★★★ My husband and I stayed at Sen Wellness Retreat for 11 days in February 2023. We highly recommend Sen Wellness. It is not a resort, it’s a true retreat. Our stay was an absolute dream come true. From the moment we passed through the gate, took our shoes off, and set our feet on the grounds, we found ourselves in a serene atmosphere that washed away all the stress and worries of everyday life. It was an absolute peaceful heaven with calming sounds of the ocean and nature. We stayed in eco-cabana. The blend of natural materials and elements with simple but modern amenities created a perfect balance between rustic charm and contemporary luxury. The room was daily cleaned and had everything we needed for our stay. After meeting with doctor on the first day, our Ayurvedic treatments were tailored to our individual needs, and they were the best part of the experience. Our yoga teacher Thilini was local and made our yoga sessions very meaningful, connecting our body and mind. We still do yoga with her over Zoom ever since we returned home. In a week, we had a new teacher Megan coming. She wasn’t local but she had an extensive knowledge about Ayurveda, local culture and she was great too. The people we had a pleasure of meeting during stay were from all over the world and truly exceptional. The best part was having all meals together around the table and having conversations. Every meal was a delightful journey of flavors and nourishment. The food had many varieties and left us both satisfied and intrigued to try more. Thilini explained to us each food ingredients and shared many stories and information about the local culture. She even took us to the beach late at night for stars gazing and listening to the sounds of the ocean. The staff was very caring, attentive, and tried to provide the best service. By the time we had to leave, we felt so much genuine care and felt like a part of a close-knit community. After returning home, I had a question about medicine for the doctor. Davia sent my question to Dr. Harnika and she replied to me. We left retreat feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, deeply relaxed, and with determination to change our lifestyle.Ayurveda ElementsRahela R.1691383170 ★★★★★ My time at SEN Wellness Sanctuary for the Ayurvedic retreat was an incredibly relaxing experience. The immersion in pure nature, the sights and sounds of flora and fauna wildlife, and the rejuvenating Ayurvedic treatments made it a standout wellness sanctuary worldwide. Daily yoga and meditation sessions, as well as a meeting with a monk, added a spiritual dimension. The wholesome meals were a delight, and the romantic boat ride they arranged for our wedding anniversary was unforgettable. The staff's warmth and dedication created a peaceful, welcoming atmosphere that truly fostered a deep connection with nature. The private beach felt like a personal paradise, offering an exclusive bond with the ocean and sand. My stay at SEN Wellness Sanctuary was truly transformative.Ayurveda ElementsGhurair S.1691373696 ★★★★★ Our time at SEN Wellness Sanctuary was like discovering a whole new world during the Ayurvedic retreat. Every second felt like a soothing melody of relaxation and refreshment for both of us. Being surrounded by untouched nature was like a dream, with all sorts of plants and animals creating a calming atmosphere. The Ayurvedic treatments were like magic, making this place stand out as one of the best wellness spots globally.Each day, we got to do calming yoga and meditation. We even met a monk, which was pretty cool and added a special vibe to our days. The food was delicious and healthy, giving us energy and making us smile. The cherry on top was a romantic boat ride on our anniversary, showing how much they cared about our happiness.The staff was incredibly friendly and worked hard to make the place feel like a peaceful escape. It was like they understood how much we needed to connect with nature. The private beach felt like our own little paradise, where the waves and sand seemed to give us their full attention.And guess what? We're already planning our next visit to SEN Wellness Sanctuary. Our stay changed us in a big way. It felt like we were woven into a beautiful story that mixed nature's beauty, calming activities, and friendly vibes. This experience is something we'll always remember and it inspires us to bring more harmony and renewal into our lives.Ayurveda ElementsKristine S.1691073416 ★★★★★ I was looking to fill my cup with good energy and that’s exactly what I got from Sen Wellness. Highlights for me were the delicious healthy food, the setting surrounded by nature and a protected nesting-turtle beach, the soothing Ayurvedic treatments and the daily yoga/ meditation sessions in peaceful settings or gentle dips in the seaside pool. The staff are superb, treating you like family in their lovely home. The cabanas were super comfortable and had everything I needed. Bring lots of insect repellent, camera storage for all the baby turtles you might witness, and a positive attitude and you’re golden. Worth the three-hour trip from Colombo!Ayurveda ElementsShamail S.1691069614 ★★★★★ Amazing place! Location with the beach on one side, a lake on the other and dense green in between is spectacular. The inclusive meals, daily ayurvedic treatments, and highly attentive staff make this place extraordinary. Looking forward to going back.Ayurveda Elements

The Final Word

In conclusion, Ayurvedic teachings aim to bring awareness to the Five Great Elements (Air, Fire, Water, Earth, Ether/Space) both internally and externally of ourselves, to restore and balance our internal and external health. They combine in various ways, in different proportions to form your individual body type and constitution. This constitution is then determined by the predominant Doshas (Vata, Kapha, Pitta) within you.

At Sen Wellness Sanctuary, we have not only specifically designed our treatment program but also the layout of our building to compliment your wellness journey. This exemplifies the importance of your external world mirroring your internal world and our intention to support you in finding total restoration and balance.


Ayurveda Elements
Sam Kankanamge

Sam Kankanamge BSc (Hons) Osteo, DPO, Dip.Acu is an exceptional, world renowned healthcare professional, with over 25 years-experience transforming patients’ health.