Have you ever wondered why people gain weight at different rates, walk at different speeds and are prone to different health problems?
According to the ancient Indian healing system Ayurveda, the answer lies in your constitution type or Dosha. This beginner’s guide will help you identify your Dosha, discover which elements govern you and learn how to live the optimum lifestyle for your constitution type.
What’s a Dosha?
Dosha literally translates as “that which changes” and is a type of life force which determines your biological and psychological attributes. There are three basic types of Dosha: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Although some people have one prevailing Dosha, most people are characterised by two Doshas. It’s rare to be entirely Vata, Pitta or Kapha and even rarer to be all three.
In terms of your physical body, the three Doshas loosely correspond to the Western terms Ectomorph (Vata), Mesomorph (Pitta) and Endomorph (Kapha). However unlike the Western terms, these Dosha types apply to both your body and mind and each Dosha is associated with two elements.
Check your Dosha: Profiles
Vata is considered the “leader of the Doshas” and can mimic Pitta and Kapha. It governs the movement of the body. Those who are primarily Vata type tend to be tall, thin and have trouble gaining weight. With a long lean body, prominent bone structure and a quick, light gait, Vata types often have irregular eating and sleeping patterns and feel the cold more than other Dosha types.
Quick minded, enthusiastic and vivacious, Vata types are talkative and learn quickly but often have trouble remembering what they have learnt and have difficulty making decisions. They are emotional by nature and their moods change quickly.
Vata imbalance can lead to digestive problems, gas, bloating and dry skin, as well as a loss of control over your activity and a racing, unfocused mind, which can lead to anxiety and depression.
The best way of balancing Vata is to seek warmth and stability, by sticking to a regular sleeping and eating schedule, wearing warm clothing in warm colors appropriate for the season and favoring soothing, calm music and sweet, heavy aromas. Light exercise which focuses on balance and flexibility, such as yoga, Tai Chai and aerobics is perfect for Vata types. Low-fat dairy products, olive oil, rice, wheat, nuts, cooked vegetables, spices and sweet heavy fruits are all recommended for pacifying Vata, however beans, barely, corn, sprouts, cabbage, raw vegetables and dry, light fruits should be avoided.
Feisty, driven and highly determined, Pitta types make excellent decision makers, speakers and teachers. They tend to have a well-defined body with good muscle tone, a rosy complexion, symmetrical features and find it easy to gain and lose weight.
Pitta types are efficient, focused and orderly in their activities and they love a challenge! These intelligent perfectionists are very direct, sharp-witted and outspoken, however they often considered stubborn, struggle to tolerate disagreements and can be overly critical of themselves and others.
Out-of-balance Pitta types are highly argumentative, short-tempered and can suffer from excessive body heat, heart burn, burning sensations and skin rashes.
To bring Pitta back into balance it is important to make choices which are calming and stabilizing. By balancing rest and activity, spending time outside surrounded by nature and making sure that they laugh many times every day, Pitta types can calm down and rediscover balance. Cool colors and light, calming aromas are also helpful. The recommended diet for Pitta types is high in dairy products, wheat, barley and rice as well as sweet fruits and cooling seasonings such as coriander, cilantro, cardamom, saffron, and fennel. Foods and flavors to avoid include hot spices and sour, acidic fruits.
Kapha is the Dosha which governs the structure of the body and people with this type of Dosha tend to be soft and solid in build, with smooth skin, big eyes and full features. They have a tendency to hold on to excess weight and usually eat less frequently than Pitta types but enjoy bigger, heavier meals. With a slow metabolism and steady, measured gait, Kapha types sleep soundly and peacefully.
Often described as loyal, strong, patient and caring, Kapha types make faithful friends and are able to enjoy life, as long as they stay in their comfort zone. They are often resistant to change and protective of their routine.
The physical effects of Kapha imbalance can be excessive sleep, becoming overweight, fluid retention, asthma and diabetes. Additionally, they may cling to unproductive or even destructive relationships, jobs or other comforts, which can lead to depression.
Stimulation is the best way to balance Kapha. Getting regular exercise, frequently decluttering and throwing out things that are no longer useful and favoring bright colours and stimulating aromas can help bring Kapha back into balance. Beans, ginger tea, honey, light fruits and most vegetables are great for controlling Kapha. Heavy fruits, dairy, nuts, oats, rice, wheat and sweeteners other than honey should be cut out or reduced.
An experienced Ayurvedic doctor is able to determine your Dosha (or Doshas) simply by taking your pulse and can prescribe highly individualized treatments, meal plans and programs designed to help you make the most of your body. The best place to experience such treatments is an Ayurvedic retreat, either in India, the home of Ayurveda, or an authentic Ayurveda resort in Europe. See our recommendations below or visit our website to book.
Ayurveda in India: Kairali – The Ayurvedic Healing Village
Located in the Kerala, one of our most popular destinations for Ayurvedic cures, Kairali offers various Ayurveda programs including authentic Panchakarma and has won multiple awards for holistic Ayurveda treatments.
Ayurveda in Sri Lanka: Heritance Ayurveda Meha Gedara
Contemporary Ayurveda resort in the home of Ayurveda belonging to the Aitken Spence Group with its own meditation and yoga center, as well as an Original Panchakarma Spa.
Ayurveda in Europe: AYURVEDA MALLORCA – House of Silence
A center of excellence for an authentic Ayurveda in Majorca. A professional and international team of Ayurveda-experts offer excellent Ayurvedic treatments in an Asian ambience with a fantastic view over the Mediterranean island.