Know Yourself Through Ayurveda
By Chahna Tailor
Ayurveda is being accepted as an alternative medicine in the USA and in the Western world in general. Although it can be complex, some basic understanding of the science should allow us to begin applying some of the concepts. So, where do we start? Understanding our body type is fundamental so let’s start there.
Ayurveda recognizes that the universe and our bodies are created through combinations of five elements. The panchamahabhuta (five great elements) fuse to create three doshas, or humors – vata, a combination of akash (ether) & vayu (air), pitta, combined from tejas/agni (fire) & jal/aap (water), and kapha, which is the mixture of water & prithvi (earth).
Everyone has all three doshas in the body, but the prominence of each can be as individual as a fingerprint. There are seven prakritis (constitutions): Vata, Pitta, Kapha, Vata Pitta, Vata Kapha, Pitta Kapha, or Tridoshic (VPK). Let’s detail the three doshas.
Vata is “that which moves things” and can be translated as wind. It is considered to be one of the most influential doshas. It moves everything from the food through the digestive process to the air you breathe. It is one of the easiest doshas to come out of balance and can even push other doshas out of balance. Vata has characteristics such as: dry, hard, rough, light, flowing, sharp, clear, subtle, mobile, and cold.
A person that has a primarily vata constitution can have dry skin/hair, brittle nails, is characterized by irregularity in features and mentality (can have pitta and kapha features), become cold easily, rough skin, light on their feet, have low endurance, does not sweat much, smaller eyes, prone to constipation, thin but prone to gain weight around the midsection, and can be either super short or very tall. They are creative, innovative, prone to anxiety, an overthinker, restless, have an active mind, procrastinate, are airy, and live in a dream land.
Pitta is “that which digests” and can be translated as to shine. Pitta has to do with digestive function, chemical and metabolic transformations in the body, and heat promotion. Characteristics that are associated with pitta are hot, light, flowing, sharp, clear, subtle, mobile, smooth, soft, and wet.
A person that has primarily pitta dosha is of medium frame, has sharp, penetrating eyes and features; sweats easily, likes cold weather, will gain weight evenly over the body, prone to balding and early graying, and athletic. They have a sharp way of speaking, are direct, competitive even with themselves, focused, driven, disciplined, a thrill-seeker, prone to anger outbursts, the life of the party, and can be a workaholic.
Kapha is “that which holds things together” and translates to mucus/phlegm. It can be seen as that which provides structure to the body. Characteristics associated with kapha are heavy, gross, dense, static, dull, cloudy, smooth, soft, wet, and cold.
Persons with kapha dosha have soft skin, generally on the heavier side, gain weight in the hips and thighs, have luscious hair, big eyes, soft features, rounded nose, full lips, small but wide hands, are very strong, have thick skin, are cool to the touch, can sweat a lot, can be prone to sluggish digestion, and can go without a meal with no problems. They like to chill, enjoy routine, could eat the same thing every day, can be prone to depression, are grounded, stable, can be lethargic, lazy, are the most loving out of all doshas, nurturing, helpful, and prone to allergies.
This list of qualities is not exhaustive but definitely a start to getting to know the doshas and yourself. Understanding your dosha & prakriti, one can use Ayurveda to bring about balance. Any issues you find such as sluggish digestion, endurance, memory, etc., can be addressed through Ayurveda so you can feel your best. For a detailed assessment and specific recommendations, feel free to reach out!
About the Author
Chahna Tailor is a Yoga Instructor and Ayurvedic Health Counselor with a background in occupational therapy. Chahna completed her yoga training in Rishikesh and recently completed an Ayurveda internship in Kannur, Kerala. Chahna’s company, Namaskar To You provides yoga, pranayama,meditation, and Ayurveda services. . She is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Ayurvedic Medicine.