Finding the Doshas in the Pulse [video]
Vasant Lad is a renowned Ayurvedic physician and founder of the Ayurvedic Institute. Learn more about his live webinar series and online education at AyurPrana.
Our daily living is part of our daily existence together. The body, mind, and consciousness are the trinity of life, tridanda (tripod), and these three are connected by prana.
Prana is the creative, constructive, dynamic force behind our existence. The outer expression of prana is the breath, which we cannot live without. The inner expression of prana is heart pulsation, which is also happening because of that divine life force that is prana.
All of that is circulating throughout the body up to the capillary ending. So if you feel the capillary pulsation, it is prana. When you feel the radial pulsation, it is prana. When you feel carotid pulsation, it is prana.
When we feel the presence and pulsation of vata, pitta, and kapha, that is the nadi. So when we grab the radial artery, and we go in a little bit—not too deep, not too superficial—then we can feel the nature of pulsation with three fingers.
If vata is the predominant dosha in the body, then the nadi, the pulse, will best be felt under the index finger. This pulse is called vata nadi serpa gati because its movement (gati) is horizontal, fast, and feeble, like a cobra (serpa).
If you feel a strong throbbing under all the three fingers, but it is predominantly felt under the middle finger, you'll notice that pulse is jumping like a frog. This is called manduka gati (frog movement). Manduka means frog and gati, again, means movement. When the pulse moves like a manduka, it is pitta. And that is best felt under the middle finger.
Then finally, when we feel a quite distinct pulsation under the ring finger, and it is a wavy pulse, a deeper pulse that moves like the wave of water, as if a swan is floating or swimming on the surface of the water, that is called hamsa gati (swan movement). When the pulse is moving like a wave of water, or like the swimming of a swan, that is hamsa gati, which belongs to kapha.
Ancient Ayurveda talks a great deal about the movement of nadi. To test your own, you can grab your wrist (right hand for males, left hand for females). Don’t grab from above or over the wrist, because then the whole artery will be changed. Instead, go behind the wrist and fold the fingers around it from underneath. Feel between the arteries, taking care not to press down too deep or too superficially.
Feel under which finger you get the prominent pulse. Maybe you will get a prominent pulse under two fingers—index and middle, (vata-pitta). Or under the middle finger and ring fingers (pitta-kapha).
So namaste, dear friend. This is a very brief opening of the doors of perception to these departments of life. Through the nadi, we can understand the pranic force, the life force of vibration—both in the form of prakriti and in the form of vikriti.