Know Yourself: Your Ayurvedic Body Type
When one finds themselves seated beside a flowing stream of water, completely engrossed in its presence, it can be quite challenging to comprehend a fundamental truth of life—we are an integral part of it.
Human beings are composed of water and the other five elements that exist in the natural world. This realization serves as the foundation of Ayurveda, an ancient science of wellness and longevity that has been practiced for over 5000 years. Ayurveda is so precise that when an Ayurvedic doctor examines a person’s pulse, they can not only identify the underlying imbalances causing existing ailments but also provide intricate details about the individual’s body type, behavior, and potential predispositions.
The essence of Ayurveda lies in achieving balance—balance between the body, mind, and spirit, as well as balance between the three doshas (tridosha) that derive from the five elements of nature. This is accomplished by first determining an individual’s prakruti or inherent nature. Subsequently, the existing imbalances in the doshas are assessed. Finally, Ayurveda offers a comprehensive roadmap for individuals to lead a healthy and harmonious life through the use of specific herbs, holistic cleanses and detox treatments, and personalized diets tailored to their unique dosha constitution.
At the core of Ayurveda’s approach to well-being lies the understanding of one’s Ayurvedic body type or constitution. By knowing their constitution, individuals can optimize their quality of life, health, and happiness by adhering to the recommended dietary and lifestyle practices for their specific constitution.
Ayurveda is a personalized form of medicine that recognizes the absence of a one-size-fits-all approach to wellness and treatments. It employs an ancient and time-tested diagnostic tool called Nadi Pariksha, or pulse diagnosis, to identify imbalances within the body.
An Ayurvedic pulse diagnosis conducted by an expert is the most effective means of determining one’s constitution. It aids in identifying the dominant dosha and current imbalances, known as vikritis. Pulse diagnosis in Ayurveda delves much deeper than the Western method, encompassing an examination of an individual’s entire being.
THE GOOD LIFE (For Your Type)
Ayurveda, the science of longevity, encompasses the knowledge of how to lead a long and healthy life. The term “Ayu” refers to the lifespan that we spend with our physical body. The spirit, on the other hand, is immortal and can exist with or without the body. However, the duration of time that the combination of body, mind, and spirit remains intact is known as “ayu.” Ayurveda aims to provide guidance on how to live this time happily and in good health. To achieve this, Ayurveda identifies four aspects:
-What is beneficial for the body,
-What is detrimental,
-What brings happiness, and
-What causes sadness.
In a way, living according to Ayurveda is comparable to driving a car. Once we understand the rules of the road, we can navigate safely. Similarly, once we comprehend these four aspects of life, we can lead a fulfilling existence. To do so, it is essential to understand our body and mind. The body is composed of five elements: space, air, fire, water, and earth. These elements function as three bio-dynamic forces, known as vata, pitta, and kapha. They are also referred to as dhatus, substances, dosha, or prakriti, which represents our natural constitution. Understanding our Ayurvedic body type holds great significance. The five elements combine to form three fundamental bio energies, or doshas: kapha, vata, and pitta. These doshas govern our life functions, personality traits, and the mind-body complex that make us unique individuals. Each dosha possesses distinct characteristics. The pitta dosha, consisting of fire and water elements, primarily governs digestion. The vata dosha, representing the air element, is responsible for all types of bodily movements. Lastly, the kapha dosha, associated with the earth element, provides moisture to the skin and lubrication to the joints. It serves as the grounding dosha. Typically, two of the three doshas dominate in an individual.
Individuals who possess a greater proportion of the space and air element at birth are said to have a vata constitution. The vata constitution is characterized by the dominance of space and air qualities. Typically, those with a vata constitution exhibit a slender physique, are more talkative, and tend to be restless. They often have a lower body weight, dry skin, brittle nails, thin hair, and slightly sunken eyes. The movement of their joints may produce audible sounds while walking. In terms of climate preference, vata individuals generally favor warm or hot weather and may struggle with tolerating cold temperatures. Due to their difficulty in gaining weight, they typically maintain a thin physique with a low body weight.
Vata is primarily located in the abdominal region below the navel, encompassing the colon, pelvis, pelvic organs, thighs, skin, ears, nervous system, and lungs. It plays a crucial role in facilitating movement within the body and mind. Some of its key functions include sensory impulses, breath regulation, excretion, speech, and the pumping of blood. Additionally, vata stimulates agni, the digestive fire responsible for the efficient breakdown and assimilation of nutrients in the body.
Signs of Vata Imbalance
- Dryness and roughness of skin
- Too much weight loss. Emaciation happens.
- Irregular bowel movement or constipation
- Pain in bones, joints
- Fear and restlessness
- Abnormal pulse rate
- Preference for hot environment and surroundings
Diseases Caused by Vata Imbalance
Imbalance of this dosha can cause irregularity in functioning of bowel movements, nervous system, disorders in muscles and joints, etc. Here are some of the disorders that vata imbalance can cause:
- Loose teeth
- Facial Paralysis
- Acute stress
- Tonic and Clonic Seizures
- Earache and hearing disorders
- Stiff legs
- Cramps in calf muscles
- Stiffness in the neck
Remedies for Balancing Vita
- It is advisable to retire to bed prior to 10:00 pm and awaken by 6:00 am.
- Establish a consistent daily schedule by adhering to fixed timings for meals, rest, and professional commitments (dinacharya).
- Consume warm beverages and indulge in freshly cooked, warm, wholesome meals.
- Consume food items that possess inherent sweetness, sourness, and saltiness in their taste profile.
- Incorporate ample quantities of premium oils or ghee and invigorating spices such as ginger, black pepper, cinnamon, and cumin into your everyday eating regimen.
- It is advisable to refrain from consuming alcohol, caffeinated beverages, and chocolate.
- Ensure that you integrate a regular exercise routine into your weekly agenda.
- Explore the world of Vata-reducing herbs and natural remedies.
Next are pitta people, those who are born with hotter constitutions, containing more of the fire element. A pitta person is generally active, good looking, a perfectionist, dynamic, intelligent and also short tempered. They may have leadership qualities, a moderate build, a smart personality, a sharp nose, and their eyes will also be sharp, sometimes offset with a slight pinkish tint. Due to the unfortunate ease with which a pitta person gets imbalanced, hair loss and early greying are common. They are generally slightly warm to the touch with rosy lips and pink nails with a slight curve.
Though a combination of fire and water, it is more dominant with fire element. It is intensified during summers. The seat of pitta in the body is small intestine, stomach, liver, spleen, gallbladder, blood, sweat glands, sub-cutaneous fat, eyes, and skin.
It is responsible for stability in the body and mind. It regulates body heat, digestion, lightens the appetite, absorption, assimilation, gives vitality, and the ability to understand. It nourishes the body by carrying amino acids and enzymes which are important for digestion of food. It also keeps neurotransmitters and neuropeptides which are responsible for thinking.
It augments understanding and intelligence, if in balance. If out of balance, it gives room for host of negative emotions.
Signs of Pitta Imbalance
- The presence of an intense heat accompanied by a craving for cold items
- Skin exhibiting a yellowish hue
- Feelings of dizziness
- A sense of fatigue
- Decreased amount of sleep
- Heightened levels of anger and restlessness
- A burning feeling
- Excessive thirst and appetite
- An inclination towards perfectionism
- An unpleasant taste in the mouth
- Unpleasant breath
- Episodes of sudden heat.
Different Diseases Caused by an Imbalance in Pitta.
If the imbalance is not addressed promptly, peptic ulcers, inflammation of the stomach or esophagus, can occur. Additionally, skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis, fatigue, migraines, acid reflux tendonitis, herpes, jaundice, bad breath, conjunctivitis, pharyngitis, dissatisfaction, stomatitis, fibromyalgia, redness of the skin, and low blood sugar may also manifest.
Remedies for Balancing Pitta
- Establish a daily schedule that includes set times for meals, sleep, and work (dinacharya).
- Incorporate ghee, also known as clarified butter, into your cooking.
- Hydrate yourself by consuming 4-5 liters of warm or room temperature water each day.
- Surround yourself with individuals who exude happiness and positivity.
- Embrace meditation as a means to cultivate a contented mind. It aids in managing emotions such as anger and irritability. It is recommended to practice a few minutes of meditation twice daily. Sahaj Samadhi meditation from the Art of Living can greatly assist in balancing Pitta aggravation.
- Engage in moderately challenging yogasanas to promote blood circulation and detoxification, thereby pacifying Pitta.
- Seek solace in nature by spending time with plants, walking on grass, strolling alongside a lakeside, and gazing at the moon. These activities can bring tranquility to the mind.
The kapha constitution is characterized by a dominance of the water and earth elements. Individuals with this constitution are typically composed, relaxed, and content. They may also have a tendency to be sluggish and cheerful, and may have a stocky build or be overweight. When given a task, they often struggle to complete it on time. According to Ayurveda, the kapha personality is considered the most carefree and joyful type of person, making it the ideal constitution. They exude cheerfulness consistently. Other physical attributes of kapha individuals include a sturdy physique, thick and dark hair, large eyes with white sclera, and prominent, shiny, white teeth. Their skin may also be thick, moist, and slightly cool to the touch. In terms of personality, while they have a tendency to accumulate possessions, they also possess a generous nature that drives them to serve society.
Kapha is primarily located in the bones, muscles, and tendons, acting as a cohesive force that holds the cells together. It plays a vital role in maintaining moisture within the body, lubricating joints, moisturizing the skin, and supporting the immune system. When in balance, kapha is associated with love, serenity, and forgiveness. However, an imbalance in kapha can lead to negative emotions such as greed and jealousy. Kapha personalities typically have a strong appetite but a low digestive capacity, which can contribute to weight gain. They prefer a laid-back lifestyle and are resistant to change. They possess a sense of peace and equilibrium, but are also sensitive individuals. In the face of injustice towards themselves or others, they may experience bouts of depression. Imbalances in kapha can be caused by factors such as lack of routine, lethargy, lack of exercise, irregular sleep patterns, consumption of heavy foods, frequent eating, and excessive intake of dairy products.
Signs of Kapha Imbalance
- Respiratory disorders
- Sweet taste in the mouth
- Hardening of blood vessels
- Loss of appetite
- Disorders of the joints
Remedies for Kapha Imbalance
- Foods with astringent, spicy, and bitter flavors are beneficial for maintaining a balanced kapha.
- Additionally, consuming dry and warm food can also be helpful.
- It is essential for individuals with a kapha constitution to stay physically active in order to prevent lethargy and inertia.
- Incorporating regular yoga practice into one’s routine can help maintain high energy levels, eliminate toxins, and keep the body active.
- Engaging in controlled and prolonged breathing exercises during Pranayama promotes a calm mind and improves lung health.
- It is advisable to avoid daytime napping, as it can contribute to an increase in kapha.
There are three primary Ayurvedic body types, with variations also existing such as pitta-kapha, pitta-vata, vata-kapha, and saamya, which encompasses all five elements in equal proportions. Our constitution is inherent from birth, and by consuming appropriate food and adhering to a lifestyle that aligns with our Ayurvedic body type, we increase our likelihood of maintaining good health, fitness, and happiness throughout our lives.