Panchakarma wellness treatment shirodhara at Shankara Ayurveda spa.

The Elements of Panchakarma: 3 Steps to Detox

By Lokesh Rathuri
September 6, 2015

What Does Panchakarma Involve?

Panchakarma is the ultimate mind-body healing practice of detoxifying the body while strengthening the immune system and restoring your body’s pH balance. It provides an overall sense of calm and wellbeing.

Panchakarma is a 3 part process: pre-cleansing, main treatment, and post-cleansing.


I.  Cleanse Prep (Purva karma)

The cleanse prep is done before Panchakarma to prepare the body for the main cleanse. This process is divided into 3 steps:

1) Pre-cleanse diet – Pachan: This process stimulates the processing of undigested food, clearing the stomach. When your body is burdened with toxins and digestion is poor, a few days of a kichadi diet alongside Ayurvedic herbs can effectively revitalize your system and prepare you for deeper cleansing.

2) Oil Treatment – Snehana: This process moisturizes the body inside and out through the use of oils and ghee. The combination of internal and external moisturization swiftly releases toxins from the system. Abhyanga massage is often used in this process to get the best results.

3) Steam Treatment – Swedana: Swedana is a steam treatment infused with Ayurvedic herbs based on your constitution. This set of procedures intensifies the benefits of the oil treatments in phase 2, encouraging the body to sweat out toxins, purifying the system for the main cleanses.


II. Main Cleanses (Pradhan karma)

The main phase includes one or more of the 5 processes panchakarma employs to clear the system. The choice of the method depends on your individual constitution and current practice in your region. Vamana can help clear obstructed airways and reduce excessive kapha. In virechana, specially prepared herbs are used to clear toxins from the blood, skin, sweat glands, and digestive tract. Basti restores vata and digestive issues to balance by flushing out toxins from the digestive tract and has been traditionally used to great success with constipation, acidity, kidney stones and stomach troubles. Nasya has traditionally been recommended to help reduce headaches, allergies, and other head, neck, ear, and throat issues. Like this, there are a number of treatments, which are used depending on the person’s constitution.

Panchakarma has many enjoyable procedures, which result in deep cleansing, balance and physical restoration. At the end of the day, this means greater energy and vitality. So don’t worry if some of these procedures sound intimidating at first glance.


Other treatments may include:

Shirodhara (cooling oil stream) – Because of the profound effects it has upon the consciousness, it has often been called “Bliss Therapy.” Shirodhara is a continuous pouring of warm oil in a slow steady stream on the forehead that helps to pacify the subtle aspects of the doshas: nourishing the nervous system, promoting relaxation and tranquility, and improving mental clarity and comprehension. When done in a series, it can help with various neurological and mental imbalances as well. Its benefits are greatly enhanced if they follow a therapeutic massage or Abhyanga, when the body is already relaxed and in a very receptive state.


Marma (replenishing energy treatment) – One of the most restorative treatments for body and mind, Marma stimulates specific energy points that rejuvenate the vital organs of the body, settle the nervous system, and pacify the doshas.


Abhyanga massage (oil massage) – One of the world’s oldest massage therapy techniques, warm oil is rhythmically massaged into your body, loosening toxins, relaxing the nervous system, and providing profound rest, nourishment, and rejuvenation.


Shila Abhyanga (hot stone massage) – This is an ancient practice in which hot basalt stones are placed on core centers of your body for a deep massage that promotes healing and longevity by releasing tension and connecting the flow of prana (vital energy) throughout the body. This balances the physical body, stimulating the circulatory system, softening muscles, helping to release toxins, and relieving pain and muscle spasms. And, it also affects the subtler, emotional body, inducing a state of deep relaxation.

There are more treatments and the selection depends on your constitution and what you need at this important time of cleansing and restoration.


III. Post Cleansing (Paschat karma)

This is the process of gently returning the body to normal life in a way that preserves the progress the Panchakarma treatment has made. Maintaining healthy eating habits, lifestyle choices, and continuing to follow the recommend herbs and lifestyle procedures for your dosha are vital to enhancing the effectiveness of the first two PK steps and your life as a whole.


If you’d like to find out more about Panchakarma and how it can help improve your quality of life, especially in relation to the aging process, you can check out the ebook All About Panchakarma.


ayurveda guide download

Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.


Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: Ayurveda , Detox , Panchakarma

When is the Best Time to Detox?

By Lokesh Rathuri
August 28, 2015

Essentially, whenever you have a desire to feel strong and vibrant and want a boost, detoxing can be very helpful. As part of an integrative approach to preventive care, panchakarma can support your health at any time throughout the year.

detox blog


That being said, it is often recommended to go through a cleanse when you need a bit of extra support, like when your body is feeling run-down.  Perhaps you are going through a change or transition in your life – it could be related to health or other factors (a job change, a big move, or even an emotional change due to stress).


Panchakarma can help. When stressful changes take a toll on your health, a restorative detox can bring the body and mind back into balance.


Crossing Age 40


As the body ages, it goes through a variety of changes, some of which can be painful. Breathlessness, body aches, the “40-year eyeball” — there are numerous ailments that come with getting older.


But all is not lost. Sometimes the body just needs a little support to boost its activities and maintain a healthy lifestyle. The rejuvenation process in panchakarma can have you feeling better and more like yourself again in a matter of days. Panchakarma deeply cleanses the system and revives your natural, vibrant health.

Whether the seasons are changing or your body is, or you just want to plan for the future, panchakarma can be a useful tool to regain and maintain your health for years ahead.

Changes in Seasons


Doing a cleanse at the transitions between seasons, especially in spring and fall, can be invaluable. Apart from the seasons of our lives – youth, middle-age, maturity, and so on – the seasons of winter, spring, summer and fall also affect our health.


More specifically, the transitions between these seasons can leave us raw and unprotected. As the body adapts to a new set of environmental conditions, it struggles to reset itself. Panchakarma can be incredibly useful during this seasonal transition because it gives the body extra strength to support itself in preparation for the season(s) ahead.




Many make panchakarma an annual or bi-annual practice in hopes of extending their lifespan and improving their quality of life as they age.


When The Road Looks Bleak


While panchakarma is great for preventive care, pressing health concerns turn many to seek relief through an integrative health approach that includes Ayurveda. At the point where standard practice offers little in the way of solutions, doctors often recommend alternative and complementary treatments, like panchakarma, that support the body’s immune system.


Along with yoga practice, the therapies and lifestyle of Ayurveda support vibrant health from the inside out. When someone is stricken with illness and unable to find relief, panchakarma offers therapy that cannot be obtained from standard medicine.


Expert Recommendation for Detox


Others do panchakarma on the recommendation of an expert, whether it’s the family physician or an Ayurvedic expert who can assess your body type and level of balance.


Panchakarma works to reverse the negative effects of the daily grind (getting rid of toxins that we breathe in, eat, rub on our skins, etc.) and restore your natural state of health. Panchakarma is a natural, holistic, therapeutic treatment series that cleanses your deep tissues, opens your body’s channels, and brings energy into you, providing new vitality, inner-peace, confidence and well being.


Have you ever wondered what it feels like to experience complete health? Ayurveda teaches that health is more than just the absence of illness. It’s the delicate balance between mind, body, and spirit. This ancient healing practice focuses on promoting good health rather than fighting poor health, although ailments can be addressed through personalized Ayurvedic treatments.


Panchakarma is an Ayurvedic process that restores, refreshes and renews. With guidance customized specifically for your body composition, or prakriti, and therapies tailored to your initial assessment, panchakarma gives your entire being a deep, natural and gentle cleanse.


While panchakarma benefits people of all levels of health, it’s especially helpful when experiencing the aches, pains and illnesses that accompany aging. This cleansing program is also great when looking to make a healthy lifestyle change, and for taking a preventative measure toward health.


Interested in learning more about detox? We’ve compiled some of our most asked questions about panchakarma’s detox process into an easy guide, All About Panchakarma.


ayurveda guide download

Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.


Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: Ayurveda , Detox , Panchakarma

Healthy Lifestyle: 4 Ayurvedic Tools To Support Your Health

By Lokesh Rathuri
July 14, 2015

Preventative Care

A preventative approach to maintaining the body assists in maintaining a healthy lifestyle for years to come. Maintenance-wise, our car requires regular tune-ups and yearly maintenance. Why don’t we tune up our bodies?


In addition to regular check-ups with a physician, Ayurveda emphasizes a holistic, self-care approach to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Ayurveda’s emphasis on preventative healing measures are decidedly effective and teach ways for practitioners to deal with issues before they begin.


According to Ayurveda, there are six stages of ill health. They begin with imbalance and gradually increase to disease. Like weeding, Ayurveda emphasizes clearing the flower bed before the weeds take over.


The preventative Ayurvedic approach is built on four pillars: food, lifestyle, rejuvenators & supplements.


When a person is in poor health, they are in need of a different approach that is meant to address imbalances with holistic healing practices and balancing supplements. Skilled practitioners of Ayurveda use pulse assessment to determine which specific supplements, food and lifestyle practices will restore balance.


Balance through Ayurveda improves a person’s health, energy, and youthful vitality.


     The four keys to a healthy lifestyle:


Whether you are a vata, pitta or kapha person, the most important element for maintaining balance is following the diet that suits your constitution. A healthy person who knows his natural constitution will be able to follow a diet best suited for maintaining balance. A person in poor health can learn what sort of dietary changes will help restore balance. 


What we eat goes to our stomach, which is like the root of our system. Like a tree, which derives its nutrients and energy from its root system, humans derive their nutrients and energy from what is put into the stomach. From our stomach, our entire body is nourished. As the old saying goes, “You are what you eat.” Finding the right diet, based on our constitution, is the first and most important step in attaining a healthy lifestyle.

Idli is such a nutritious meal because it is actually a complete protein and the fermenting process involved in preparation stimulates digestion.


Finding a recommended lifestyle routine is vital to maintaining balance and correcting disparity. After food, lifestyle comes as the most important way to stay in balance. A healthy lifestyle includes:
     • A routine of health
     • Waking and sleeping at regular times
     • Going out for regular exercise, according to your constitution
     • Self-massage with suitable oils
     • Centering yourself with a few minutes of stillness and meditation
     • Light yoga

Chyawanprash is one such rejuvenator used in Ayurveda, especially during the colder seasons.


Rejuvenators, rasayana, are a variety of ancient supplements that promote the rejuvenation of the body and the maintenance of a young, vital, dynamic and energetic self. Rejuvenators work to make the body feel young and refreshed. Rejuvenators are not simply food, they are powerful solutions to problems that ail many of us — solutions to whatever upsets balance and health. Concerning the many factors that upset balance and health, there are equally as many rejuvenators to combat these problems.



There are many traditional Ayurvedic herbal supplements that are used in a variety of ways. They include spices in our food and herbs that promote detoxification of the body. Choosing the right herbal supplements is a matter of understanding both one’s constitution and one’s imbalance. Whether in need of detoxification or wanting to combat stress, lethargy, or poor digestion, Ayurveda has numerous herbal supplements to help promote longevity and maintain a healthy lifestyle. 


Now you’re set knowing the four key tools of Ayurveda. These tools can be used with a knowledge of your nature to make choices that lead to greater balance and health. 


Find out more about how Ayurveda can help maintain a healthy lifestyle through simple, natural methods with Ayurveda 101: Vibrant Health with the Science of Life.

ayurveda guide download


Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.


Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: Ayurveda , health , healthy lifestyle

From Vata Imbalance to Vata In Balance

By Lokesh Rathuri
February 9, 2015


In our last post, we looked at signs of vata imbalance. Now, I’d like to introduce some practical tips for how to keep vata in balance when it gets out of whack.



1. Some Tips to Warm Up

How to balance vata? Stay warm and stay calm. When you are relaxed, you also feel happy and well. It helps to have a warm, cozy place to be, a warm bed, and a hot water bath. Ayurveda also recommends applying oil and massaging the body as the best way to balance vata. You can have a traditional Ayurvedic body massage, called Abhyanga, or you can do a self-massage. Following that, various steam and heat treatments help to balance vata. You can use electric warming pads, hot stones, or a steam chamber. In ancient times, they would heat a large stone, and a person would lie down on the stone, which would take away the excess vata. So different types of steam and heat treatments are recommended according to the various types of vata imbalance.


2. Nourish Yourself

Food is the major factor that influences vata. Cold food, frozen food, large beans, dried food and foods with bitter, astringent, and pungent flavors aggravate vata. However, sweet, sour, and salty flavors along with sweet dishes, oily foods and rich food help to balance vata. Foods with a heating effect balance vata, while foods with a cooling effect disturb vata. So it’s good to know how foods will affect your constitution.

On the balancing level, take food according to your constitution and what element is out of balance. Let’s say you are a pitta person with a vata imbalance, then it is good to follow a vata diet. However, there are certain foods that balance pitta but aggravate vata. So it’s important to understand food and its effects.


3. Find Stability through Meditation


Along with massage, which is the best method to balance vata, accompanied by steam and heat treatments, meditation helps calm vata. With these life-supporting habits, more or less, vata gets balanced, and small aches and pains disappear. These positive actions more or less balance vata.


What if…my vata’s still flying wild?

Let’s say a part of the body is in pain. Massage, meditation, and heat treatments will help, as will warming food with sweet, sour, and salty. But when there are too many problems, such as continuously hurting joints, it requires further insight into which part is being affected.

The physical makeup is divided into seven substances: blood, muscular tissue, fat tissue, bones, bone marrow, lymph, and the reproductive fluids. Once we know which part is out of balance, then it is easy to balance the affected area. For example, is it affecting the nerves, the joints or the bones? Taken for some time, specific herbs help balance vata. One such herb that pacifies vata is turmeric, which also has anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.


Use of Panchakarma


And when vata has grown too far out of balance, when it is beyond the control of modifications in food, lifestyle, massage, and herbal supplements, then we can use panchakarma. Panchakarma, which is an elimination therapy, removes the vitiated vata using various herbal decoctions and oil preparations in combination with specialized treatments to treat the root of vata imbalance. Before disease comes, we are able to correct it.


I invite you to continue your journey by checking out more articles in the blog or visiting with a consultant. We are currently offering free introductory consultations over the phone with one of our Ayurveda Health Counselors.


If you’d like to learn more about how Ayurveda can better help you preserve your health and increase your quality of life, I invite you to check out our ebook, Ayurveda 101: Find Vibrant Health with the Science of Life.


ayurveda guide download

Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.


Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: Ayurveda , dosha , prakruti , vata

Recognize the Signs of Vata Imbalance

By Lokesh Rathuri
February 9, 2015



In the last post we looked briefly at the three main constitutional types in Ayurveda. Here, I’ll go into more depth about vata, the mover and shaker of the three constitutions.

This information will be especially useful for readers who:

  1. have a vata constitution
  2. have a hectic lifestyle
  3. have a vata imbalance OR
  4. live in a climate that is struck hard by vata weather conditions, in cold, dry climates, or as generally felt in late summer and fall.

Principally associated with the air and space elements, Vata is the main force which controls everything in the body.



In Sanskrit, it is said:

“Just as a cloud cannot move without the help of the wind,

pitta and kapha cannot move without the aid of vata.”

When vata is balanced, everything is fine. When vata is out of balance, this can lead to problems in the body, including pitta and kapha imbalances also.

Vata controls all movements in the body, including but not limited to energy circulation, blood circulation, hormones, joint movement, muscular movement, neuro-muscular coordination and also the flux of thought and emotion. So what are the things that aggravate vata? Only by knowing these can we know how to balance vata. They are:

  • Too much talking
  • Too much traveling
  • Less sleep
  • Not sleeping at the proper times, such as working all night and sleeping during the day also creates imbalance in the system. So proper sleep is also important
  • Too much swimming or other water games
  • Exposure to cold or windy climates
  • Working under pressure creates stress in the system, aggravating vata
  • Worries, emotional imbalance and stress. There are so many emotions that may affect our system.



From an Ayurvedic perspective, in morning time kapha is the dominant principle. Noon is pitta time and evening is vata time. So in Ayurveda, generally leafy greens and salads are not recommended in the evening, though they may be very good earlier in the day. Eating large quantities at night may aggravate vata in the body. Other foods that may disturb vata are cold items, frozen foods and large beans that produce more gas in the system.



When vata is out of balance, it first affects the joints, which can cause joint problems. Actually, most any pain in the body is associated with an imbalance of vata imbalance, such as circulatory disturbance, hypertension, insomnia, cracking joints, contractions or cramps in the body. Vata imbalance may result in a preference for warmer places and an intolerance to cold. A person’s appearance will also change, such that the skin becomes drier and the nails become more brittle. Emotionally, a person will become agitated and restless. His sleep patterns may get disturbed, and there will be less focus in the mind.


What to do to balance vata? We’ll continue in the next post with a description of just that – simple actions you can take to stay focused, balanced and steady. If you’d like to find out more about your constitution or current state of balance, you can schedule an assessment. You can visit us in Boone, meet me during the Ayurveda for Vibrant Health Tour or even schedule a complementary phone consultation with one of our Ayurvedic Lifestyle Counselors.


ayurveda consultation

Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.


Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: Ayurveda , dosha , prakruti , vata

Ayurveda for Natural Weight Loss, Part 2

By Lokesh Rathuri
February 9, 2015

Natural Weight Loss Tips with Ayurveda

In our last article, we looked at key causes of weight gain and what body types persistently grapple with weight issues. Now, I’d like to share a few Ayurvedic tips for natural weight loss. Read on for more.



For weight loss, it’s important to first balance the body’s vata, the dynamic element that dominates the body’s nervous system and coordinates all the movements of the body. If you compare, the two elements vata (light) and kapha (heavy) have opposite characteristics, apart from the cooling properties common to both. So normally, when vata goes out of balance, say if you have joint pain, gas, restlessness, the body naturally tries to balance vata imbalance by adding on kapha (heaviness) in the system — in other words, the body gains weight. And when we put on weight, a natural tendency is to do more exercise, which can increase vata. This can create a hidden cycle where the vata keeps rising, the body keeps adding fat and you don’t lose weight. So it’s important to first attend to balancing vata in the system.



Self-massage with oils is one of the main ways to balance vata and reduce fat. So for those who want to lose weight, I highly recommend to briefly massage your body everyday with sesame oil. Five to ten minutes, applying oil all over should be sufficient. To complement this, steam therapy, such as sweating in a sauna or in a traditional Ayurveda steam chamber (if you are on a residential program) is also very helpful to make sure vata is not aggravated.


ayurvedic massage or self-massage can help you get ready for natural weight loss with ayurveda



For weight management, in your diet avoid or minimize foods that are:

  • oily
  • greasy
  • fatty
  • sour
  • salty
  • sweet (including carbohydrates)
  • dairy (Except for buttermilk; see more below)

Eating these foods may increase the body’s tendency towards heaviness.


Okay, enough with what to avoid…now what to eat?

Generally, emphasize pungent, bitter and astringent tastes in your diet. This reduces heaviness in the body.

Have a light breakfast of fruits. Then, drink hot water throughout the day, which helps to lower weight. As an energizer two to three times daily, you can drink lukewarm water with one spoon of aged honey and a few drops of lemon juice for taste. This will give you lots of energy, so that you may not even feel like eating much. Then eat when you really feel hunger.




About the lemon-honey water: the water should not be too hot, as overheated honey can be mildly toxic and difficult to digest. The honey should not be fresh honey, which for weight reduction is not useful, but rather be aged for at least one year. This aging process adds the weight-reducing benefit. Fresh honey, on the contrary, leads to weight gain. The best way to find out the age of honey is to ask your local honey producers or check the expiration date. Generally, an expiration date within the year indicates that the honey is already two years old.

Have a light lunch that includes some significant  protein. Lunch can be followed by one to two cups of buttermilk. For dinner, have a lighter meal, which can be just soup. With this plan, you do not lose energy. Rather you feel more dynamic, lighter and more energetic, while at the same time losing weight.


The Ayurveda Home Cleanse

Beyond eliminating toxins from the body, the 5 day Ayurveda Home Cleanse Diet also helps you to lose weight. It involves just five days of eating a special preparation of a soup called kichadi, which is made of mung beans, rice and select spices. As much as you are hungry, you can eat this for five days for lunch and dinner. For breakfast you can have fruits.  In just five days, many people have lost four to six pounds. But this diet should be kept for only five days. If prolonged, it does not give such benefits.  But you can repeat this after a month.





You will need exercise also because you need more oxygen to burn the fat in the body. In this respect, pranayama (regulating the flow of breath and energy through working with the breath) is instrumental in natural weight loss, especially a technique called kapal bhati. My favorite is Sudarshan Kriya which combines pranayama with advanced breath-work and is taught in the Art of Living course.


Herbal Supplements

Combined with several of the strategies above, several herbal supplements can give added benefits (or losses;). Like regularly taking triphala at night. Also, Amrut is an herb that reduces toxicity in the body, balances vata, pitta, and kapha, and opens up the circulation in the body. Another useful herb for weight loss is Shilajit. There are many such herbs, such as guggulu and others.These herbs are most useful when taken for one to two month and have maximum effective when used for three months, especially when used alongside with the Ayurveda home cleanse, when repeated monthly. This helps the body to lose weight, then stabilize; to lose weight, then stabilize.

It can happen that people go on a diet and lose weight very fast. But when they come back and resume their normal diet, they may gain double what they had lost. That’s where this gradual program of natural weight loss, repeating a gentle Ayurveda home cleanse monthly is very useful, especially when done along with daily self-massage, exercise and supplements. This balanced, holistic program helps with natural weight loss and with maintaining our losses.

To review, the weight loss routine draws from all three areas of Ayurveda’s holistic approach to wellness:

  1. Diet
  2. Lifestyle
  3. & Herbal supplements.

So having fresh fruits for breakfast, a nice, hearty lunch and soup for dinner, along with lots of water and lemon-honey-water, you will lose weight, but you will not feel weak. This coupled with the cleanse, the herbs, some exercise appropriate for your type and some breath-work will all combined help you to lose weight and manage your weight. We’ll investigate in our next post how some these techniques can also be used to rejuvenate, regardless of your weight management goals.


Also, check out our ebook about Ayurveda Tips for Natural Weight Loss for more insight into natural weight loss and feeling lighter every day.


ayurveda guide download

Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.


Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: Ayurveda , cleanse , Obesity , weight-loss

Ayurveda for Natural Weight Loss, Part 1

By Lokesh Rathuri
February 6, 2015

Many people want to lose weight, but often we start an exercise routine (which in itself is great!) without fully considering the factors that cause obesity. In this first installment we’ll look beyond standard explanations to analyze from an Ayurvedic understanding what causes weight gain and obesity. In turn, this will help us understand the process of natural weight loss with Ayurveda.


There are many factors that can cause obesity. Of these we will look at five factors.

Accumulation of Toxins & Other Factors

One factor is the accumulation of toxins in the body, and this accumulation of toxins prevents you from being able to lose weight. You may not put on much weight, but neither do you lose weight.


What are the signs of toxins in the body? One sign is that the body feels puffy, especially when you wake up in the morning. Other indications are when the body feels dull, lethargic and there is low energy.


sometimes we feel tired and then look for natural weight loss!


It is so important to get rid of these toxins.


For that, it’s great to follow a 5 day Ayurveda Gentle Cleanse Diet. This plan helps you to detox AND to lose weight. It involves just five days of eating a special preparation of a soup called kichadi, which is made of a superfood called mung bean along with rice and select spices.



There are also procedures you can add to your daily routine to help regularly cleanse the system. As just one example, it is a good practice to drink one cup of hot water at night.


Some key instances when people gain weight are

  1. when there is an accumulation of toxins in the body
  2. when there are metabolic imbalances
  3. when there is a kapha (heavy) imbalance, which relates to the heavy, solid and watery elements of our constitution
  4. when the digestive strength is weak
  5. when our lifestyle is overly sedentary

As an example of number four, many people drink a lot of water with their food, which can both dull the digestive strength and disturb kapha. So not drinking for thirty minutes before eating or till one hour after finishing a meal will help the digestive system process nutrients more effectively and reduce kapha imbalance.


Examining the Connection between our Type and our Weight

Another interesting observation is that obesity is related to our natural constitution.

Obesity is more common among people whose natural constitution is predominated by kapha or a mix of pitta and kapha. You are far less likely to find a person with a vata (light) or pitta (strong) constitution suffering a kapha imbalance and being overweight.  However, kapha and pitta-kapha types both have a tendency to gain weight easily and lose it with difficulty. So obesity is very much connected to our natural constitution as well as to imbalances in our lifestyle.

This is why Ayurveda recommends so strongly to stick to the diet plan that best supports your natural constitution as a foundation for good health. For kapha types especially, it is important to avoid oily, greasy and fatty foods. So you must come to know what constitution you are and what imbalance exactly you are experiencing. You can learn more about this during an Ayurvedic consultation or when you participate in a cleansing program like a week-long panchakarma detox. We will explore more Ayurveda weight loss tips in the next installment in the series on Ayurveda and weight loss.


Want to learn more about weight management with Ayurveda? We’ve created a special guide of weight-loss tips from the tradition of Ayurveda that goes more into the topic and gives some solid, detailed advice for anyone who wants to feel and look lighter.


ayurveda guide download

Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.


Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

Know Yourself by Knowing Your Ayurvedic Body Type

By Lokesh Rathuri
February 6, 2015



Your Ayurvedic body type, or constitution, is at the heart of Ayurveda’s approach to well-being. Knowing your constitution allows you to maximize your quality of life, health and happiness by following the recommendations for food and lifestyle for each constitution.

An Ayurvedic pulse diagnosis with an expert is the best way to recognize one’s constitution.

I’ve spoken about the general characteristics of each body type to help familiarize readers with general tendencies. So read on to acquaint yourself with the main constitutions and the self-discovery that is the joy of Ayurveda.

THE GOOD LIFE (for your type):

Ayurveda means the science of longevity; it is the science of how to live a long, healthy life. “Ayu” is the life span we spend with the body. The spirit is immortal — it can be with the body or without it, but the union of body, mind and spirit — how long that combination stays, that time span is called ayu. How to live that time happily and in good health is the knowledge of Ayurveda. So how do we live this way?

In this respect, Ayurveda says there are four aspects:

  • What is good for the body
  • What is unhealthy
  • What makes us happy
  • What makes us sad

It is like driving a car in that once you know the rules of the road, you can drive safely. And it is the same with life also, once you know these four aspects.

For that we need to know the body and mind. The body is made of five elements, space, air, fire water and earth. Physiologically, these elements function as three bio-dynamic forces, called vata, pitta and kapha.  These are called variously dhatus, substances, dosha, or prakriti, our natural constitution. What is the importance of knowing you Ayurvedic body type?

While every individual is born with five elements, the constitutional makeup and the relative proportions of each element are a little different, and our lifestyle also differs based on your type.



Those who are born with more of the space and air element have a vata constitution. Generally, a vata person will be very thin, more talkative, restless; they  typically have a lower body weight, dry skin, brittle nails, thin hair, and small, slightly sunken eyes.  While walking, their joints may make sounds. In terms of climate, they tend to prefer warm or hot weather, while they may have trouble tolerating the cold. They have a hard time gaining weight, so they tend to be thin with a low weight.





Next are pitta people, those who are born with hotter constitutions, containing more of the fire element. A pitta person is generally active, good looking, a perfectionist, dynamic, intelligent and also short tempered. They may have leadership qualities, a moderate build, a smart personality, a sharp nose, and their eyes will also be sharp, sometimes offset with a  slight pinkish tint. Due to the unfortunate ease with which a pitta person gets imbalanced, hair loss and early greying are common. They are generally slightly warm to the touch with rosy lips and pink nails with a slight curve.



Kapha indicates a preponderance of the water and earth element. People with this kapha constitution are generally cool, calm, lazy,  cheerful, stocky (if not overweight). If assigned a task, they never complete the task in time. Actually, Ayurveda says that because a kapha person is the least bothered, happiest type of person on the whole planet, the best constitution is kapha. They’re cheerful all the time! Other qualities include a thick build, thick, dark hair, big eyes with white around,  and prominent, shiny, white teeth. The skin may also be thick, moist, and a little cool to the touch. As a personality type, while they tend to accumulate stuff, they also have a sharing streak that moves them to service for society.


These are the three main Ayurvedic body types, though mixes also appear — pitta-kapha, pitta-vata, vata-kapha and saamya, one whose constitution contains all of the five elements in equal ratios.


Constitution is what we are born with. When we eat the proper food and follow the lifestyle that suits our Ayurvedic body type,  we have better chances of staying fit, healthy and happy for a long time.


We’ll continue in following posts with more detail on each constitution and some tips for each type to keep your body in balance. To talk with an Ayurvedic practitioner about your body type, you can select a free consultation via telephone at the link below.


ayurveda consultation

Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.


Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: Ayurveda , constitution , dosha , kapha , lifestyle , pitta , prakriti , vata

Learn more about our 2018 retreats and offerings!


Stay in touch