Ayurveda Body Types
Ayurveda body types is a curious topic nowadays.
Ayurveda is quite popular these days as a form of alternative medicine. Ayurveda has also become strongly associated with yoga and other holistic lifestyle approaches. Ayurveda is actually a medical practice dating back several millennia and has its origins in India. The teachings of this medical practice come from Vedas, an ancient set of scriptures that describe Ayurveda as a healing practice.
History of Ayurveda
The practice of Ayurveda is believed to be about 5000 years old. While the knowledge and practices in Vedic wisdom and other aspects of Indian culture were suppressed during British colonialism, they are now becoming more known and widespread around the world as natural healing practices.
The word Ayurveda has Sanskrit origins and translates to ‘life knowledge’ or ‘science of life’. It is a holistic practice that has its roots in the Vedic period of India. Ayurveda also has developed along with teachings from Buddhism and Jainism and in contemporary practice is connected strongly with yoga, particularly tantric forms of yoga such as Kundalini yoga, as the teachings are compatible and build on one another.
What is Ayurveda
The practice of Ayurveda is about balance and posits that healing is achieved by balancing the elements within the body. Food is primarily used as medicine, and herbs can also be added. Ayurveda also considers the overall environment, can use colours, activities, and meditation practices to balance the elements, all with the goal of healing the ailments caused by imbalances of the elements.
Ayurveda is a study of the basic elements of fire, earth, wind, water and ether, which combine in each body as a body type we refer to as the ‘dosha’. In Ayurveda, we have our basic constitution or dosha, which is the original combination of elements as they are configured in the body, mind and spirit at birth. Then throughout life the elements can shift and change. When one element is out of balance, it can cause a variety of ailments in the body, which are resolved through food, herbs, supplements and other forms of ayurvedic treatments in order to restore balance and allow the body to heal itself.
In this sense, Ayurveda is a non-invasive healing modality that restores balance within the body and lets the body do the healing work rather than intervening on the body to fix the symptoms and ignoring the root cause, as can often happen in other healing modalities.
Analyzing Ayurveda body types
The first step in ayurvedic diagnosis is to analyse the Ayurveda body types or a dosha analysis. By knowing Ayurveda body types or constitution, it is possible to address the imbalances through diet and lifestyle in order to keep the body balanced and healthy.
There are three doshas that combine the elements of Ayurveda, and they are vata, pitta and kapha. Pitta is the fire element, kapha is earth and water, and vata is air and ether. While all humans and animals contain all of these elements within them, the doshas refer to the dominant combination of elements. One can have dominant pitta, kapha or vata, or more commonly, two dominants, such as pitta-kapha, pitta-vata, or kapha-vata. Some individuals, more rarely, are also tridoshic, which means they have equal parts of all the elements.
Individual body type
While it is useful to know the individual body type in order to be able to heal the body and keep it in balance, it is also important to understand that Ayurveda body types are also affected by what we eat and the activities we do. Doshas even shift through seasonal cycles and time of day. Therefore, regardless of your base constitution, Ayurveda body type or dosha, imbalances can also show up in any of the constituent doshas.
There are many online quizzes and tools to help individuals determine their Ayurveda body types, based on quality and texture of skin and hair, complexion, body shape and frame, eye colour, facial features, temperament, stress reactions, and bodily functions. Ayurvedic practitioners who offer consultations can, however, go more in depth in the analysis and will typically verify the pulse, the tongue, and eyes and assess other aspects of the lifestyle and bodily functions, and may even go into some of the aspects of mental and emotional responses in order to make their assessment. So, it is is possible to make a self-assessment of one’s body type, assessment by an ayurvedic practitioner may be a complete analysis.
Once you are aware of your basic constitution, this will not change. The practice of Ayurveda will generally recommend a specific diet and set of lifestyle recommendations that work best for this body type or dosha, to keep your body healthy and happy and to prevent ailments.
In cases of imbalances of the elements, this is what might change throughout seasons, life cycles and even time of day. This is where the basic dosha’s lifestyle recommendations and diets can be adjusted in order to please the body and heal the imbalances. Ailments can be treated with herbs, by modifying diet or taking ayurvedic supplements, or increasing foods that will appease the dosha that is out of balance.
Treating Dosha imbalance
There are also ayurvedic treatments that work with the senses and that can support healing imbalances, such as Shirodhara treatment which is hair oil treatment, ayurvedic massage, eye treatments and many others that will support the body’s natural healing by appeasing the dosha or element that is out of balance and restoring the body to its basic constitution, so that you can return to the regular diet.
Many ayurvedic practitioners will also recommend supplementing the regular diet with herbs that appease the basic constitution in order to prevent imbalances. There are many plants, herbs, roots and other foods that can be used to appease the body and keep its imbalance.
Since different seasons, life cycles and times of day can have an impact on how the doshas respond and keep their balance, it is also generally recommended in Ayurveda to re-assess regularly and adjust the diet to the season to keep the doshas in balance, as seasonal changes, lifestyle changes and even times of day can affect the elements in the body.
While this is just an overview, these concepts are central to the practice of Ayurveda. It is important however before trying things at home, to consult with a professional ayurvedic practitioner and educate yourself before trying herbs and treatments. There is a wealth of information available online to find out more about Ayurveda, determine your body type and find out how to care for your dosha appropriately, but a practitioner can offer the proper guidance to deal with imbalances, especially in the case of complex or chronic ailments that are more difficult to treat on your own. Self-care is important, but can lead to aggravating complex conditions if not addressed properly.