What’s your ayurvedic constitution?
More and more, people come up to me on the street and ask, “What is my constitution?” Other times they ask, “What is my dosha?”
They mean the same thing. According to ayurveda, the traditinonal medicine from India, a person’s constitution is the balance of the three doshas (biological forces that govern the body) inherent within an individual.
A person’s constitution determines what he or she is naturally attracted to and what causes him or her to become out of balance and sick. Depending on a person’s constitution, he or she may thrive as a vegetarian or need meat; they may thrive on spicy foods or get burning indigestion.
The constitution determines how we relate to the environment. The wise individual with this knowledge creates an environment that is supportive of optimum health.
There are three basic constitutional types. However, everyone is a unique mix of them. For each type, a different diet is recommended as well as different forms of aroma, color, sound, yoga and massage therapies. The three types are called vata, pitta and kapha.
Vata: People of vata nature have a predominance of the qualities cold, light, dry and mobile. They are usually the first to complain when a room is too cold. They often have lower body weight, which is reflected in their long, narrow bones. Many models have a vata type of body, with long legs, long necks and long, tapered fingers.
Vata people often experience dry skin, dry eyes and a dry colon, which causes a tendency toward constipation and gas. Their mobile nature is seen in their fast speech patterns and chatty nature. It can also be seen in their tendency to become scattered and more easily overwhelmed. People of vata nature often have a fragile, nervous disposition. Their challenges often revolve around staying focused.
Pitta: People of pitta nature are most often hot. They are likely to be the first people to want to put on the air conditioner and to kick off the covers on a warm night. Heat often builds up in the intestines and leads to softer and looser stools or diarrhea.
Pitta people usually have moderate body builds and good muscular development. They often have a clear-but-sharp way of communicating. Their focused and direct language and actions may irritate other people, but they can be counted on to get the job done. They often have a passionate and intense disposition. Their challenge revolves around a lack of patience for those who are not as focused and directed as they are.
Kapha: People of kapha nature are most often heavy, cool, slow and moist. They have a stocky body build, with shorter and thicker bones. Often their neck appears to be sitting close to their shoulders, and their fingers are short and thick.
What really identifies a kapha person is their slower, easy-going nature. These people speak and move slowly and are not likely to get upset. They often have a sweet and gentle disposition. Their challenge revolves around getting motivated.
Each constitutional type has its unique gifts. Vata people have the capacity for divine enthusiasm and inspiration. Pitta people have the capacity for clarity of mind that allows them to become great leaders and teachers of humanity. Kapha people can be a deep well of love, gentle kindness and nurturance.
Ayurveda is a science that understands and respects each person as a unique individual. Based on a person’s constitution and the nature of their imbalances, a clinical ayurvedic specialist establishes a lifestyle program to meet each person’s needs. People are like plants – give them the right environment and nutrients and they will thrive, not simply survive.
Health is our natural state, the end result of living in harmony. Disease is the natural end result of living out of harmony. Ayurveda is the path of re establishing harmony so that health can re-emerge.
While people with all kinds of conditions seek and benefit from ayurvedic health care, it must always be remembered that nature heals, and not the practitioner. It is the clinical ayurvedic specialist’s job to simply support nature as it works from within the patient.
Dr. Marc Halpern is founder and director of the California College of Ayurveda and Ayurveda Healthcare Center in Grass Valley, where students are trained to become clinical ayurvedic specialists. Call him at 274-9100, or visit http://www.ayurvedacollege.com.
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