Note: The information provided herein is of general nature, and should not be construed as professional medical advice.

  What is my Body Type?  

By: Dr.Mary Jo Cravatta

According to Ayurveda, the first requirement for healing oneself and others is a clear understanding of the three doshas. The concept of Vata-Pitta-Kapha is unique to Ayurveda and it holds the potential for revolutionizing th healing systems of the West. However, the concept of the three principles and the Sanskrit words, Vata-Pitta-Kapha, are very difficult to translate into Western terms.

Tridosha Concept: Inside the body, there are three doshas which govern the phyico-chemical and physiological activities. These three doshas are Vata (from ether and air), Pitta (from fire and an aspect of water), and Kapha (from water and earth).

Individual constitution is acquired at birth and remains constant through life. Through Ayurdic books, teachers, and courses, one is able to determine one's individual constitution and thereby knowing which direction to take for self-diagnosis purposes.

A balance among the tridosha is necessary for health. For example, the air principle kindles the bodily fire, but water is necessary to control fire, otherwise the bodily fire would burn the tissues. Vata moves Kapha and Pitta, since Kapha and Pitta are immobile. Together, the tridosha governs all metabolic activities; anabolism (Kapha), catabolism (Vata), and metabolism (Pitta). When Vata is out of balance, the metabolism will be disturbed, resulting in excess catabolism, which is the breakdown or deterioration process in the body. When anabolism is greater than catabolism, there is an increased rate of growth and repair of the organs and tissues. Excess Pitta disturbs metabolism, excess Kapha increases the rate of anabolism and excess Vata creates emaciation (catabolism).

In childhood, anabolism and the Kapha elements are predominant, since this is the time of greatest physical growth. In adulthood, metabolism and the element of Pitta are most apparent, because at this stage the body is matured and stable. In old age, catabolism and Vata are most evident, as the body begins to deteriorate.

Let's discuss each in more detail:

Vata is a principle of movement. That which moves is called Vata. Therefore, Vata may be translated as the bodily air principle. However, the element of Air in the external atmosphere is not the same as the air in the body. Bodily air, or Vata, may be characterized as the subtle energy that governs biological movement. This biological principle of movement engenders all subtle changes in the metabolism. Vata is formed from the two elements Ether and Air.

Vata governs breathing, blinking of the eyelids, movements in the muscles and tissues, pulsation's in the heart; all expansion and contraction, the movements of cytoplasm and the cell membranes and the movement of the single impulses in nerve cells. Vata also governs such feelings and emotions as freshness, nervousness, fear, anxiety, pain tremors, and spasms. The large intestine, pelvic cavity, bones, skin, ears, and thighs are the seats of Vata. If the body develops an excess of Vata, it will accumulate in these areas.

Detailed Analysis of Vata Constitution

Pitta is translated as fire, although the term does not literally mean "fire". The fire of a candle or the fire in a fireplace may be seen; however, the bodily heat-energy, the Pitta-doshas, which manifests as metabolism is not visible in this way. Pitta governs digestion, absorbtion, assimilation, nutrition, metabolism, body temperature, skin colouration, the luster of the eyes; and also intelligence and understanding. Psychologically, Pitta arouses anger, hate and jealousy. The small intestine, stomach, sweat glands, blood, fat, eyes and skin are the seats of Pitta. Pitta is formed from the two elements; Fire and Water.

Detailed Analysis of Pitta Constitution

The translation of Kapha is biological water, and its bodily principle is from the two elements, Earth and Water. Kapha cements the elements in the body, providing the material for physical structure. This dosha maintains body resistance. Water is the main constituent of Kapha, and this bodily water is responsible physiologically for biological strength and natural tissue resistance in the body. Kapha lubricates the joints; provides moisture to the skin; helps to heal wounds; fills the spaces in the body; gives biological strenth, vigor and stability; supports memory retention; gives energy to the heart and lungs and maintains immunity. Kapha is present in the chest, throat, head, sinuses, nose, mouth, stomach, joints, cytoplasm, plasma and liquid secretions of the body such as mucus. Psychologically, Kapha is responsible for emotions of attachment, greed and long-standing envy; it is also expressed in tendencies toward calmness, forgiveness and love. The chest is the seat of Kapha.

Detailed Analysis of Kapha Constitution