Know Your Body Type (Body constitution or Prakriti)
Why should I know my body type? In order to stay healthy, according to Ayurveda, each person’s unique combination of Doshas (Prakriti) needs to remain balanced. Any imbalance (Vikruti) is a precursor to disease. So, to maintain good health, you must first know your body constitution or Prakriti.
What is Prakriti or body constitution? Ayurveda or ‘Science of Life,’ or ‘Eternal Healing,’ is the ancient art of living in harmony with nature. According to Ayurveda, the five elements (space, air, fire, water and earth) combine to form three physical principles or life forces of the body. These three basic energies are the primary life forces or biological forces, called Doshas. These three Doshas are called Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Each person is born with a unique combination of all three Doshas, in such a way that the most predominant Dosha displays its characteristics which influence that person’s physical structure, body functions and behavior. Some times two out of three can be equally prominent (or almost equally prominent) making that person with a dual constitution. Rarely, a person may be perfectly balanced (or Sama Prakriti) in all Three Doshas. Doshas help regulate physical functions within our body, besides providing us with our individual physical and psychological characteristics. If a person develops imbalance of Dosha and not balanced in his/her Prakriti, that person is likely to develop a disease.
In general, every one of us fall into one of the following categories of Doshas or body constitution:
YOUR PHYSICAL OR BODY CONSTITUTION
1. Vata 2. Pitta 3. Kapha
4. Vata-Pitta 5. Vata-Kapha 6. Pitta-Kapha
7. Vat-Pitta-Kapha ( Sama-Prakriti)
YOUR MIND OR PSYCHOLOGICAL CONSTITUTION
The mind, body and soul are the three levels of human existence. The three Doshas represent our physical constitution type. Similarly, there are three Gunas or mental qualities that reflect our psychic or mental makeup. These three Gunas are:
Sattva (Creative influence, memory, grateful, learned, courageous, tolerant, skillful),
Rajas (Anger, Lack of self control, Passion, Ambition, Spontaneity) and
Tamas (Inertia, dullness, corruption).
Your constitution is a distinct combination of elements that makes you who you are. This combination or prakriti is what determines your body type and your personality. In ayurveda, the mainstay of preserving health is to maintain the equilibrium in your body and mind. When there is a shift in this equilibrium and the natural ratio of dosha and mahaguna is disrupted, the body becomes vulnerable to illness.
The three dosha are the essential components of our bodies, and they each have a different function. Although each person has all three dosha, one dosha is dominant, which gives light to the person’s physical and cognitive characteristics. Below is a chart with the three dosha, their functions and their accompanying characteristics:
|Function||Governs all movements of the body, propulsion of food in the intestine, muscle movement of the extremities, heart beats, breathing movements, reproductive functions, excretory functions.||Responsible for metabolic and digestive processes, regulation of heat, transforming processes, actions of hormones, enzymes and neurotransmitters||Controls structure, cohesion, growth, healing and tissue repair in the body|
|Physical Characteristics||Slim, lean body frame, less muscle mass
small eyes, blackish or greyish complexion,
Dry, coarse skin
Dry, curly/kinky hair
Intolerant of cold talkative and speaks quickly
Light, interrupted sleep
Weak, hoarse voice
Frequent sex drive
|Average height; moderate build, Reddish color of skin,
Thin, soft hair that is light in color,
Intolerant of heat
|Large, well composed heavy body frame, big beautiful eyes Soft smooth skin,
Thick, dark and wavy hair Large teeth
Intolerant of cold/damp
|Cognitive Characteristics||Quick, restless and erratic minds Learns things quickly, poor long-term memory Worrisome, overly sensitive, anxious
Creative, friendly, caring
|Sharp, methodical, well-organized minds Intelligent
Stubborn, jealous, short tempered, happy, joyful
|Calm, tranquil, steady minds
Slow to learn
Good long-term memory
Lethargic, possessive, unmotivated
Caring, forgiving, affectionate
The mahaguna are the dosha psychological correlates. Just as there are three dosha that make up the body, there are three mahaguna that make up the mind: Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. A person’s psychological characteristics are determined by the relative dominance of one mahaguna. Below is a chart that summarizes the psychological characteristics of the three mahaguna
|Characteristics||Characterized by lightness, consciousness, pleasure, clarity, tranquillity, peace and purity.
Sattva is a combination of Rajas and Tamas, which represent two extremes.
|Characterized by motion and stimulation. Rajas represents desires, wishes, ambitions and fickle-mindedness, dynamism, outward creativity, heat, rage and radiance.||Characterized by heaviness and resistance. It represents qualities that are opposite of rajas: regulation, timidity, sadness, delusion, false knowledge, laziness, apathy and darkness.|
Exploring the combination of dosha and mahaguna that is unique to your own prakriti can help you to be in tune with your body and make healthier decisions. With your prakriti in mind, you can choose to make diet and lifestyle decisions that are conducive to your body type, and keep your body in a healthy state.