Ayurvedic Body Types(Prakriti)
While we are a composite of the five elements, certain elements are seen to have the ability to combine and thereby create various physiological functions. In Ayurveda, we study these functions and the influence of the five basic elements, which fall under three classifications known as Doshas: Vata, Pitta, Kapha.
The three body types in Ayurveda called doshas, are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Your body type shows you how you use energy. Vata spends energy, Pitta manages it, Kapha stores it. That's why Vata tends to be underweight and depleted, Pitta tends to be medium weight and focused, and Kapha tends to be overweight and congested.
Dosha affects your body physically, mentally, and spiritually. Vata people tend to be hyperactive and inspired. Pitta people tend to be disciplined and logical. Kapha people tend to be couch potatoes, but nurturing. Dosha is just a broad approximation. The benefit of dosha is perspective, like looking at the forest instead of the trees. Every individual has a different constitution and perfect health is different for each person.
The wind and space elements are combined to form the Vata principle. The Vata dosha can be seen as the force that directs nerve impulses, blood circulation, respiration, and elimination of wastes (sweat, urine, and other waste products of the body). It also controls the various movements of the body, both physical and mental, including breathing, heartbeats, extension and contraction of muscles, etc.
Vata - Air + space
1. I am slender and don’t gain weight easily.
2. I am taller or shorter than average.
3. “Thin” describes many of my bodily features (such as my hair, neck, fingers, and lips).
4. My energy fluctuates and often comes in bursts.
5. My appetite is variable (i.e., high one day and low the next).
6. I have a tendency to become bloated, gassy, or constipated.
7. My skin frequently becomes dry & rough.
8. I tend to have cold hands and feet.
9. I am a light sleeper and often have difficulty falling asleep.
10. I prefer warm, moist weather to cold or dry weather.
1. I am creative and imaginative.
2. I enjoy artistic forms of expression.
3. My mind is active and often restless.
4. I learn quickly but also forget quickly.
5. I become “exhausted” quite easily.
6. I have a tendency to feel anxious, nervous, and fearful.
7. I speak quickly and use hand gestures.
8. I am always on the go.
9. My lifestyle and daily routine are irregular.
10. My dreams are active and colorful.
The manifestation of the fire element. It is associated with body temperature and is also a primary force for any kind of transformation in our biological processes. The major functions of Pitta are digestion and metabolism of food, appetite, maintaining the body temperature, and maintaining skin softness and clear complexion. It is also active in the functions of the liver, eyes, and brain.
Pitta - Fire + Water
1. I have a medium build and gain or lose weight easily.
2. My height is average.
3. My physical features are sharp or pointed (such as my nose, chin, and teeth
4. My energy and activity levels are high.
5. My appetite is strong; I can eat large quantities of food.
6. My bowel movements are regular; I occasionally have diarrhea.
7. I perspire quite easily.
8. My skin is a combination type and has a reddish tone.
9. My eyes are penetrating and light in color.
10. I prefer cooler weather and become irritable in hot weather.
1. I am goal-oriented and achieve anything to which I put my mind.
2. I have a good sense of humor.
3. I have a strong intellect and enjoy learning new things.
4. I have a natural ability to lead others.
5. I am a perfectionist.
6. I tend to become irritable, impatient, and angry.
7. I am critical of myself and others.
8. Many people think I’m stubborn.
9. I become irritable-if I skip a meal.
10. I enjoy competition.
The combination of earth and water elements manifests as Kapha, which is the heaviest of all three doshas! The major functions of Kapha are maintaining the shape, structure, and lubrication of the body, performing physical movement and tasks, growth of body tissues, and fertility. Kapha also acts as a balancing force between the restlessness of Vata types and the laziness of Pitta types.
Kapha - Water + Earth
1. I gain weight easily and lose weight with great difficulty.
2. I am short and stocky or tall and sturdy.
3. “Thick” describes many of my bodily features (such as my hair, neck, fingers, and lips).
4. I have abundant strength and stamina.
5. My digestion is weak and I often feel heavy after eating
6. My bowel movements are highly regular.
7. My skin is smooth and oily and tends to be pale.
8. I sleep deeply and soundly.
9. I catch colds quite frequently.
10. I prefer hot weather over cold or damp weather.
1. I have a big heart and prefer to focus on the good in the world.
2. I am calm in nature and not easily angered.
3. I prefer a slow, relaxed lifestyle.
4. I don’t learn as quickly as others, but my long-term memory is excellent.
5. I become sentimental quite easily; I often think about the past.
6. I am methodical in my actions.
7. I am highly protective of myself and my family.
8. I let negative emotions build up rather than addressing them.
9. I usually let others take the lead.
10. I am a natural listener and frequently help others with their problems.
The interplay among these three doshas determines the qualities and conditions of our body and mind. A harmonious state of the three doshas creates balance and health; an imbalance, which might be an excess or deficiency of a dosha, manifests as a symptom of the disease.
Balancing the Doshas
Ayurveda helps people heal by balancing the doshas. When the doshas are balanced, the body is in homeostasis (a state of zero change), and that is a state of perfect health. In this state of balance, the doshas are silent. When the body is healthy it automatically repairs and protects itself. When doshas are aggravated or provoked, they stress the body and cause disease. For example, beans aggravate Vata. Chilies provoke Pitta.
Generally, to balance dosha, Ayurveda uses opposites:
“Like increases like and opposite heals”
If the body is cold, Ayurveda recommends hot food.
Ayurveda also uses the six tastes to balance the doshas.
Six Tastes In Ayurveda(Shadrasa)
A healthy diet is very important for a healthy body and a healthy mind. An ideal diet, according to Ayurveda incorporates the six tastes prescribed in the literature and comprises a wide variety of fresh fruits, grains and milk etc.
“Taste” means “Rasa”. It is the sensation perceived by the tongue. Each taste is due to predominance of 2 great elements. The basic principle of diet in Ayurveda is that physical changes as well as mental effects can be observed after consumption of different food types. In this way, food can directly and indirectly affect the three doshas of an individual. We can achieve a balance in these three doshas by regulating diet with these 6 tastes.
Every taste is associated with a physical and emotional response. Sweet taste causes physical satisfaction and attraction, whereas bitter taste causes discomfort and aversion. Knowledge of the different tastes brings awareness to our food cravings.
A balanced Ayurvedic diet includes all of the six tastes in every meal, but each individual should adjust the quantity of the tastes for his or her own body. For example, Kapha should use less sweet taste while Vata and Pitta would benefit from using more sweet taste.
Tastes are not in the food, but rather, they are on the tongue. One of the first signs of illness is altered taste. Altered taste leads to poor food choices and cravings. When taste buds are altered balanced diet is recommended to balance the doshas.
Cravings are our body's best attempt to heal itself. For example, “Excess Kapha causes circulation to become sluggish, resulting in low energy. Then, Kapha craves sweets for a quick boost, which adversely enhances kapha even more”.
The Concept of Agni (Fire) in Ayurveda
The Ayurveda diet especially talks about “Agni or fire” and Agni is a concept in the Ayurveda diet. Ayurveda says life is not possible without Agni (fire) and it has the power to boost life. Agni is an inevitable factor for life and the Agni concept in Ayurveda is a world wide accepted reality. The main source of life is Agni and it’s a prominent invention of Ayurveda, thousands of years ago. Agni can be defined as a digestive fire. The Ayurveda diet is deeply rooted in agni concept. Everyone should be careful about their food habits and keep the digestive fire not too weak.
As Ayurveda emphasizes very much on digestive fire because it believes if our digestion is good then only every tissue of our body will get proper nourishment from the food that we eat.