Every coin has two sides, each side showing a different aspect. Think about our health for a moment. So far, we look at health as treating a disease, but those pills don’t solve all the problems. Millions of people still have allergies and thousands of kids are getting asthma. From young to old, everybody is under stress. Cancer, Diabetes are on the rise and heart disease is still a number one killer. Ayurveda, a 5000-year-old “New Age” science has answers to many of our health problems. Instead of looking at health as absence of disease, Ayurveda looks at it as a balance of Body-Mind-Spirit. In life, nothing is alike. Look at Mother Nature. Look at the trees, the flowers, the colors, the fragrance, the birds and the bees. There is variety in everything. No two people are alike either. We have unique looks and personalities, likes and dislikes. We react differently to similar diets, weather patterns or situations in life. Some people can lose weight easily, while for others, it is a challenge. Some people are always worried about everything while others are calm and content. If this is a fact, then why do we measure our health by the “standard” ruler? Why is there a standard treatment and standard diet? Why is there a “standard code” for everything? If we forget the “standard” and start to recognize and respect the difference, we will find answers to many of our health problems.
Ayurveda, the Wisdom of life, believes in difference and even has a different view about looking at a human being. Instead of a physical structure, it views it as a flow of three natural energies called “Doshas”: “Vata”, “Pitta” and “Kapha”. Vata initiates movements and actions, thoughts and emotions. Pitta controls metabolism, body temperature, thinking and reasoning. Kapha is responsible for structure, fluid balance, calmness and nurturing.
Ayurveda teaches that each person has all the three Doshas but in different proportion. That unique proportion is called “Body Constitution”. There are 7 different types of body constitution. Knowing our own constitution enables us to understand our unique “Dosha Balance” or our “Blue Print”. It is very important because balance is health and imbalance is disease. If we want to prevent disease, we have to preserve the balance. To achieve this, Ayurveda emphasizes diet, lifestyle, physical exercise and mental exercise (meditation and relaxation).
How do we know our Body Constitution? It is written all over on the body, so, we have to learn our Body’s language to read it. To know your Body Constitution, go through the following questionnaire and mark the right choices.
Circle the choices, which describe you over all your life (not who you want to be)
V) I am a slender person (size 0 – 6); I hardly gain weight
P) I am medium built (size 8-12)
K) I am well built (size 14-+); I tend to gain weight no matter what I do
V) My skin is dry and thin and itches often
P) My skin looks flushed; I have lots of moles and freckles on my body
K) My skin is smooth and soft. It looks pale sometimes
V) My face is oval
P) My face is triangular (I have a pointed chin)
K) My face is round
V) I am a very active person, always on the go
P) I always think before I do anything
K) I am steady and graceful. I don’t like to rush
V) I walk fast, talk fast and I drive in the fast lane
P) My actions are very thoughtful, and precise, Like to drive in the middle lane
K) I am slow, I like to take my time, I drive in a slow lane
V) I do not sleep soundly; I toss and turn, and sometimes get up early in the morning
P) I am a light sleeper, If something wakes me up, I can easily go back to sleep
K) I am a heavy sleeper; I sleep like a log
V) Varies, sometimes I feel hungry, some times not, often I feel anxious if I don’t eat
P) I always feel hungry; if I don’t eat, I get irritable and angry
K) I don’t feel very hungry; I can go without food easily for a day
8. Bowel movement
V) I tend to constipate, may skip a day or two
P) I have regular bowel movements, some times they are loose, tend to get diarrhea
K) I have no problem; I wake up to go to the bathroom
V) I am a born worrier, I often feel anxious and nervous
P) If things don’t happen my way, I feel very irritable and angry
K) I am a happy person, calm and content
10. Weather preference
V) I love warm and humid weather
P) I enjoy cool weather, I hate warm climate
K) I like warm but dry weather
V) I hardly sweat
P) I perspire even after taking shower
K) I sweat only if I work very hard
V) I remember quickly, but forget quickly too
P) I remember what I want to remember, and never forget
K) I am a little slow to remember, but once I do, I never forget. I remember details
V) I tend to do things on the spur of the moment
P) I am a list maker, unless I plan, I don’t do anything
K) I don’t like to plan; it is easy to follow others
V) I like to do things in spurts. I get tired very easily
P) I have medium stamina
K) I can work long hours. I have a good stamina
V) My Mind becomes restless often, it starts racing
P) I get impatient easily
K) It takes a lot to make me mad. I feel very calm
V)“Can I change my mind”?
P)“Do it my way or the highway”!
K)“Don’t worry, be happy”!
V) I like action
P) I like to win
K) I like to have fun
18. Health problems
V) My symptoms are mainly pain, constipation, anxiety, depression etc.
P) I often get skin infections, fevers, heartburn, etc
K) I tend to get allergies, congestion, weight gain, digestive problems
V) I like art, (drawing, painting), love to dance, travel
P) I like sports, politics
K) I am a nature person; I like gardening, reading, and knitting
Count all Vs, Ps and Ks. That is your Body Constitution. If you fit in “V” category more, then you may have more Vata predominance. If you circled more “P” choices, you may have strong Pitta, dominating your personality and if “K” choices seem more appropriate, Kapha may be responsible for your looks and likes.
Physically, Vata people are slim and slender, very energetic, intuitive, and imaginative. They walk fast, talk fast and drive in the fast lanes and tend to “change their mind” often. Pitta people are generally medium built and height, with sharp eyes, sharp nose and sharp tongue. They are very organized in their work, speech, and life. They like sports or politics because “winning is everything” to them. Their slogan is “my way or the highway”. Kapha people are mostly stout or well built, with rounded features and sweet, easy going personality. Their frustration is difficulty in loosing weight. Their slogan is “Don’t worry, be happy”.
Knowing Body Constitution helps to make right food choices. After all, “we are what we eat!” Vata people do better if they eat warm and moist foods like oatmeal or grits for breakfast and pasta with sauce or stir-fried vegetables and rice for lunch, and warm soups and rice for dinner.
By knowing Body Constitution we can prevent many diseases. Spring is Kapha season, so is allergy season. To prevent our sneezing and sniffling, coughing and sinus problems, we can go on a Kapha balancing diet such as adding hot pungent spices like ginger, garlic, cloves and chilies.
In short, knowing your Body Constitution is like finding a secret key. You start getting a better understanding about your body, about your mind, and how to achieve inner balance with diet and lifestyle. So, follow Ayurveda. Thousands of people are riding on the Ayurvedic wave of “Health and Happiness”. Come on, get on and ride with them.
(Dr. Jay Apte has a degree in Ayurvedic and conventional medicine and has 25+ years of clinical experience. She has established Ayurvedic clinic in Foster City, CA, and has helped thousands of people achieve Health through Ayurveda. Dr. Apte is the director of Kerala Ayurveda Academy which offers Ayurvedic schools in many cities in US. For more information about the clinic and school, please call (650) 341 – 8400 or E-mail [email protected] ayurvedainstitute.com)