Ayurveda & You
How do our bodies get their unique characteristics? Why does one person like the heat whilst another finds it unbearable? Why doesn’t medicine or food affect everyone in the same way?
Everything in nature (including our bodies) is made up of the 5 elements –
- Space (also called Ether)
Depending on which elements are dominant, that person’s constitution will be mainly VATA, PITTA or KAPHA – or a combination of one or more. Below are some examples of typical Vata, Pitta and Kapha dominant people.
VATA: Space + Air
VATA INDIVIDUALS tend to have light, flexible bodies which are slim and sometimes underweight. Their muscles and veins are quite prominent. They tend to have cold hands and feet due to poor circulation and are very uncomfortable in cold, windy weather due to lack of insulation. Their joints can be ‘clicky’ and dry. They may be fair-haired and have crooked or protruding teeth. Because space and air are drying, they tend to have dry skin, dry cracked heels and brittle nails.
Vata individuals are multi-taskers. They have many ideas at a time and are always thinking. They are always talking fast, jumping from topic to topic. There’s never a dull moment with a Vata friend. Because they prefer constant activity, they love to be creative, travel and exercise vigorously – but they have little stamina and tire easily. As a result of all the rushing around they tend to have busy minds, causing insomnia or interrupted sleep, but will usually wake up refreshed.
Emotionally, because of the qualities of space and air, Vata individuals easily become unsettled. They can experience feelings of emptiness, lonliness and insecurity. This can be alleviated by eating Vata balancing foods.
Vata individuals love to express their creativity, and combining this with travel would be their ideal job. They seem drawn to erratic hours and constant stimulation. You will often find Vatas in journalism on on the stage.
Disorders: When Vata becomes imbalanced, ailments appear, and the ailments most likely to affect Vata individuals are constipation, bloating, weakness, arthritis, pneumonia, dry skin and lips, cracked heels, nervous disorders, depression, tics, mental confusion, palpitations, breathlessness, tight muscles and backache. There are 81 disorders in total as Vata is the main culprit in disease formation. Don’t worry though, it may be quick to become imbalanced, but it is just as quick to recover!
PITTA: Fire + Water
PITTA INDIVIDUALS are always warm as fire is the predominant element and can therefore find the summer heat uncomfortable. This can cause tempers to flare. Pitta individuals have a tendency to be sweaty and as a result, they are not inclined towards strenuous physical work. The Pitta body is of medium build and height. Generally they have bright eyes, and less wrinkles than Vata dominant individuals. They typically have warm, oily, freckled skin which may be coppery and they often have coppery or red hair as well. They may suffer from bleeding gums or nosebleeds and have slightly yellow teeth.
Pitta individuals have a strong appetite, metabolism and digestion which means that they can eat a large amount of food and digest it without any trouble. When Pittas don’t eat though, they become irritable and hypoglycaemic. Pitta individuals sleep soundly and tend to wake up refreshed.
Pitta individuals are the workaholics of the professional world. They are intelligent and organised, thriving on challenges and stress. You will usually find them in positions of authority.
Emotionally, Pitta types have very strong emotions like anger and hate and are easily agitated. They have sharp minds which can be judgemental and critical when Pitta is in excess – even criticizing themselves. The next time you see a ‘hot-headed’ individual in action, think ‘Pitta’.
Disorders associated with Pitta are not as numerous as Vata’s. In fact, there are 40 classical Pitta disorders, for example – fevers, inflammatory diseases, ulcers, excessive hunger, heartburn, jaundice and rashes.
KAPHA: Water + Earth
KAPHA individuals have strong, solid bodies. Kapha men are broad-chested, heavy boned and have well developed muscles whereas Kapha women tend have a large, rounded bust. Because of the heavy properties of water and earth, they tend towards coldness and weight gain. This is also responsible for Kaphas being heavy and lethargic and not fond of exercise. They speak slowly, walk slowly and are slow to decide. They love to sleep but may find it difficult to wake up in the mornings, often feeling tired.
Due to the cold, heavy and sluggish qualities of Water and Earth, Kapha individuals find winter very difficult. They have a sweet tooth, but due to a slow metabolism, they gain weight easily which they struggle to lose. In spite of this, they are healthy with good stamina. They have strong white teeth and may have olive skin which tends to be smooth, soft and oily. Kapha predominant individuals generally have big dark eyes and thick, dark hair.
With their excellent long-term memories and caring, compassionate nature, Kaphas are well suited to work in the caring profession. They are calm and spiritual by nature and can often be found in religious vocations too.
Emotionally Kapha types are typically loyal and steadfast. They are sweet and forgiving, but when unbalanced they can be greedy, possessive and stubborn.
Disorders are few, 21 common disorders to be precise, but owing to the stable and heavy nature of Kapha, they are slow to develop and slow to be eliminated. The main diseases of Kapha are obesity, diabetes, colds, sinus congestion, hayfever, allergies, and phlegm.
Most people are made up of one, two, or all three doshas in equal or varying degrees. That is why there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ health plan.
Once you know the attributes of each dosha, people-watching becomes a fascinating hobby!