How do you feel when you’re in balance? Truth is, our “balance point” looks and feels a little bit different for everyone, but you’re likely familiar with how great you feel once you’re in alignment with your mind-body rhythms - and how not so great you may feel when your out of whack.
Ayurveda, otherwise known as “the science of longevity”, and a great place to start is learning about your relationship with the elements (earth, wind, fire, water, ether/space) and the unique combinations they create called doshas. All three doshas are present in everyone, but the ratio between them varies a great deal from one person to the next. The three doshas are: vata, pitta, and kapha, and while each of us has a combination of these three doshas in our bodies at any given time, there is a particular combination of doshas we are born with, called our constitution.
Essentially, we want to work with our bodies to maintain a state of our own unique balance (i.e. there are doshas that are elevated within our body at a given time, and that’s “normal” for us). Problems arise if the doshas accumulate beyond healthy limits (i.e. determined by one’s constitution), ultimately wreaking havoc on our health.
Of course, a great starting point is to figure out your own Ayurvedic constitution and your current state of balance. With this information, you can live your life (from diet & exercise to many other lifestyle regimes) to best suit your overall well-being.
Vata types tend to be slender and lanky. They are very quick both mentally and physically - enjoying creative endeavors, meeting new people, and traveling to new places. In balance, vatas are flexible, have lively imaginations, and are true creative thinkers. When imbalanced they can get anxious, ungrounded, and can seem like their “head is in the clouds”. They tend to feel cold often and hence dry and enjoy warm, humid weather. Likely, they also experience constipation, dry skin, and cracking joints.
The strong air element influence in their constitution causes their energy, mood, and appetite to fluctuate dramatically. Thus, it is important for vata types to eat and sleep regularly - rather than switch between grounding heavy foods mixed with stimulants to uplift and sustain their intense lifestyles (often what they are most tempted to do!).
Pitta types are ruled by the fire element, making them innately strong, intense, yet irritable. They tend to have an average build and endurance with powerful musculature. They often have more sensitive skin that easily reddens in the sun, during exercise, massage, and when blushing. They stick with their strong will and are passionate about doing what they think is right. They approach work and play with the same intensity and competitiveness. They are natural leaders and quick learners, but with this comes a tendency to act judgmental or impatient toward people they feel are slower or less focused than themselves. They have strong digestion and intense appetites, both for food and challenges. It is common for them to suffer from health conditions such as inflammation, rashes, acne, and loose stool.
For balance, pittas need to manage their "fiery" tendencies, channeling them in productive ways as to combat the potential for their destructive consequences - meditation and mindfulness are of particular importance for these folks!
Kapha types have strong frames and are naturally athletic - as long as they are exercising regularly to control their weight, which easily rises. With that said, the strong influence of the earth and water elements makes them innately grounded, compassionate, and loyal. They value doing things in a methodical, step-by-step manner, and like to stick to a regular routine in their personal and professional lives.
When out of balance, they can become unmotivated, stubborn, and complacent - event amongst obvious signs for change. Their metabolism tends to be slow and their appetite for both food and stimulation is less intense than vata or pitta types. Kapha skin is thick, oily, and with visible pores. They do well with exposing themselves to new environments, people, and occasionally fasting.
Ayurveda teaches us that all health-related factors must be based on an understanding of your unique mind-body makeup - i.e. living by your unique constitution of doshas. You can think of it like the first step on your journey to optimal health, guiding you towards the best foods, activities, and lifestyle practices to restore and maintain your unique state of vibrant balance.
Want to take the test to find out what type you are? We love the free Dosha Quiz by The Chopra Centre available here!