Article
Ayurvedic Body Types
By Diane Vanas on August 20th, 2008(viewed 1710 times).






Ayurvedic Body Types

The concept and importance of constitutional variety is fundamental in Ayurveda. This is the notion that we are all different and so what may be medicine for one person may even harm another. There are as many unique constitutions as there are human beings. For the sake of practicality, Ayurveda has categorized three main constitutional types. These types (or doshas) are called “Vata,” “Pitta,” and “Kapha,” very roughly translated as “Air,” “Fire,” and “Water/Earth” respectively.

The word dosha literally means “fault.” Vata, Pitta and Kapha are positive forces in the body but they are also faults, in a way, because they can change. They can increase or, less often, decrease beyond what is appropriate for our constitution. This vitiated dosha causes an imbalance in the body or mind, creating an environment for disease to flourish. There are ways to bring an increased dosha back into balance through diet, lifestyle and herbal supplements.

Ayurvedic herbal supplements are used to reduce or pacify one or more doshas that have increased in our bodies. So, for instance, if you have too much Pitta or “fire” in your body, this may manifest as a hot, red, burning rash. Then you would choose an herb, or a combination of herbs that are cooling, and thereby “reduce” or “pacify” Pitta.

Your Constitution

Are you Vata, Pitta or Kapha? (Lifelong Characteristics, Qualities and Tendencies)  

VATA

  • My lifelong tendency has been to be thin and lanky        
  • I find having a routine in life to be challenging        
  • My skin tends to be rough and dry, even if I don't live in a dry, arid climate (but especially if I do)        
  • My joints are fairly prominent        
  • My teeth are protruded and/or crooked        
  • My hair is kinky, curly and tends to be dry or frizzy        
  • It is usually easy for me to lose weight and I usually have difficulty gaining weight      
  • Usually in my life I enjoy hot weather        
  • I tend to dislike wind        
  • I tend to dislike dry

PITTA         

  • I have a medium build with medium bone structure        
  • I enjoy competitive activities and enjoy physical or intellectual challenges        
  • My teeth are medium-sized and/or a little yellow (stained doesn't count)        
  • I have fair skin which easily sunburns        
  • I have a lot of moles or freckles        
  • I am or am becoming bald, I have grayed early, or I have thin or fine hair        
  • Chili peppers, tomatoes and spicy food in general tends to cause me digestive distress, including heartburn or stomachache or loose stools, (even if I really enjoy the taste and am attracted to these things)
  • I prefer a cool climate to a warm one
  • I dislike heat, especially humid heat and feel easily fatigued by it
  • I have a sharp, intelligent, aggressive mind

KAPHA

  • I have a sturdy constitution with a large bone structure
  • I enjoy having a routine in life        
  • My teeth are large, straight and white        
  • My hair is a little wavy, thick and lustrous        
  • My eyes are large and luxurious        
  • I enjoy sleep and generally sleep deeply        
  • I gain weight easily and have difficulty losing weight        
  • My appetite is slow and steady        
  • I tolerate most climates well but usually in my life I have preferred warm weather    
  • My energy and stamina are consistent. When I have a lot to do I do it at a pace that I can maintain for a long time

VATA

The main qualities of Vata are dry, light, cool, rough, subtle and mobile In excess, the dry and rough qualities may manifest themselves as dry or brittle skin, lips, hair, nails or bones (e.g. osteoporosis), as constipation, or as feeling "dry" emotionally. The "light" quality may manifest itself as giving you a lanky physique but excess lightness may manifest as being underweight, having muscle wasting, light bones, insomnia or feeling "spacey" or insecure. The cold quality of Vata may lead you to feel cold more easily than others around you, have cold hands and feet and crave warmth. The subtle quality may express itself as being introverted, creative and having an active fantasy life. The mobile quality may lead to a healthy ability to "multi-task" or, in excess, to scattered attention, a fidgety tendency, tremors, and nervousness. It may manifest as extremes; as in being very tall or very short or being drastically different weights at different times in your life. Qualities opposite to Vata are moist, grounding, warming, smooth, oily and stabilizing. It is therefore best for Vata individuals to seek out physical and emotional environments, routines, and foods that possess these opposite qualities.

PITTA

The main qualities of Pitta are oily, sharp, hot, light, fleshy smelling, spreading and liquid. So, having a Pitta-predominant Prakriti means that these qualities express themselves generously throughout your mental, emotional and physical make up. You may find them reflected in your strengths and weaknesses. The oily quality allows for softness of skin but, in excess, can manifest as oily skin, acne or perhaps the quality of being a "snake oil salesman"; manipulating situations to your advantage. The sharp quality may manifest as a sharp, bright intellect or, in excess, as a sharp tongue. "Hotness" can manifest as a warm, rosy complexion, warm body temperature, strong metabolism and appetite or, in excess, as ulcers, heartburn or a hot temper. The light quality may lead you to have a slender body or to get light-headed if you miss a meal. The "fleshy-smelling" quality may manifest as a strong body odor. The spreading quality may manifest as a tendency to spread your name or influence or opinion around the local or global neighborhood. This quality can also manifest as a spreading rash. The liquid quality may manifest as excess sweating; when it's combined with the hot quality it can present as excess stomach acid.

Qualities opposite to Pitta are those that are dry, soft, cool, heavy, sweet smelling, and contained. It is therefore best for Pitta individuals to seek out physical and emotional environments, routines, and foods that possess these opposite qualities. A Pitta individual does well to have fresh, cooling foods. They have difficulty skipping meals because they tend to have strong appetites. Because they also have strong digestive systems, they tend to tolerate raw foods better than the other doshas but they must be careful to avoid hot foods, alcohol, caffeine, irritability, high aggression and anger because these will create too much Pitta and weaken the digestive system. The ideal environment for a Pitta individual is cool and dry. Cold weather sports like skiing and ice-skating or early morning exercise is best. Sweet smells, like the essential oils of rose, and khus; melodic music and sweet emotions are also good "medicines" for Pitta. A daily, 10-20 minute, gentle self- massage with warm sunflower oil will cool the heat of Pitta and support you to surrender and "go with the flow" rather than using your will to force the flow.

It is easy for the Pitta individual to feel that, if he just works long and hard enough, he can control everything. This tendency may lead us to strive for control and personal domination in our relationships or career, or we may allow our rampant personal ambition to drive us into eventual mental or physical "burnout."

One of the best medicines for Pitta is surrender. Give your will a rest and take off some pressure. For this reason, it is beneficial for a Pitta individual to enjoy regular meditation.

KAPHA

The main qualities of Kapha are unctuous, cool, heavy, slow, smooth, soft and stable. It is also dense, cloudy and viscous. So, having a Kapha-predominant Prakriti means that these qualities express themselves generously throughout your mental, emotional and physical make up. You may find them reflected in your strengths and weaknesses. The unctuous quality can allow for smooth joint function but, if pronounced, can lead to excess mucous. The cool quality may manifest as cool skin and a laid-back, cool temperament. Heaviness may manifest as a large, sturdy, grounded physical and emotional constitution and, in excess, as being overweight or experiencing a subjective feeling of heaviness in the mind. Slowness may manifest as a slow gait or a slow, steady pace that you can maintain. In excess, you may get stuck in a pattern that may not be the best for you. Softness can manifest as a soft heart that is easily empathic. Another manifestation of this quality is having soft skin. Stability can be an asset that friends, family and colleagues probably recognize and perhaps lean on, but in excess could become stubbornness or sluggishness. You could become so stable that you are disinclined toward any physical activity. Density can manifest as good stamina and strong, well-formed muscles and bones. This enables the Kapha constitution to withstand vigorous exercise. This quality is also responsible for dense, luxurious hair.

Qualities opposite to Kapha are predominantly warm, dry, light and active. It is therefore best for Kapha individuals to seek out physical and emotional environments, routines, and foods that possess these opposite qualities. One of the best medicines for Kapha is activity.

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