Ayurveda says there are four aspects: hitaaya and ahitayu, sukhayu and dukhayu. Or in English, what is good for the body and what is not, what makes us happy and what makes us sad. Like driving a car, once you know the rules of the road, you can get around safely. Ayurveda uses knowledge about these four aspects to help you more expertly (and enjoyably!) navigate your life.
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. You may have heard of vata, pitta, and kapha described as dhatus, substances, doshas, prakriti, or our natural constitution.
Why are they important? 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 which type or types we favor.
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, and often 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.
Pitta people are 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 kappa constitution are generally cool, calm, cheerful, stocky (if not overweight). If assigned a task, they never complete the task on 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 very white sclera (whites), 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, but they also have a sharing streak that moves them to service for society.
Our constitution is what it is; we were born that way. But when we eat the proper food and follow the lifestyle that suits our constitution, then we better our chances to stay sustainably fit, healthy, and happy.
Ayurveda says that there are two approaches to wellness. The preventative approach is for a healthy person, which guides you how to live in a healthy and happy way. The remedial approach is for someone who has fallen sick. So the guidelines are different for a healthy person than for a sick person.
For a healthy person, there are three pillars of wellness: food, lifestyle, and supplements. It is recommended to eat food according to your constitution. Whether you are vata, pitta, kapha or a combination, there is a recommended lifestyle routine that supports wellness and that is modified according to your constitution and the cycle of seasons. Using some supplements which rejuvenate the system, such as triphala, ashwagandha, chawan prash, kushmanda rasayana, and haritakti. There are so many rejuvenators and according to your constitution you can choose the supplements that support longevity and restore the vitality.
When one is sick, different guidelines are given for food, lifestyle practices, and herbs, according to the imbalance in the system. According to Ayurveda, bringing our system back into balance by addressing the root cause of disease is the key to good health.
Ayurveda uses pulse assessment, Nadi Pariksha, a uniquely insightful assessment method to identify our constitution and determine any imbalances. Pulse assessment is done with three fingers, the index, middle and ring fingers. The index finger indicates any Vata imbalance, the middle Pitta imbalance and the ring finger Kapha imbalance. Through this method, in just a few moments, we gain precious insight into which elemental balance — space, air, water, fire or earth — has become disturbed in the body, whether due to seasonal changes or the process of aging. Pulse diagnosis also helps to determine our body constitution, or prakriti.
A skilled practitioner can expand on this reading and understanding of our constitution to recommend supplements, food, lifestyle practices, and treatments to restore balance. Pulse assessment also forewarns serious imbalances that may result in disease in the future. For this reason pulse diagnosis is a significant tool for preventative health.
Ayurveda supports health without disturbing the natural intelligence of the body, which is one reason people around the world are now turning to the ancient science of Ayurveda to help them regain and maintain optimal health.
To read more about Ayurveda, we invite you to read our blog on lifestyle and wellness!
At Shankara Spa, we provide a number of Ayurveda retreats to help people come closer to the experience of an Ayurvedic lifestyle. With us, an Ayurveda retreat is not just theoretical – we dive deep into the experience of Ayurveda through hands-on methods, Ayurveda treatments and personal consultations. Learn what works for your body and emerge feeling lighter, well-rested and ready to take on the world.