I would like to introduce my friend and a highly experienced Ayurvedic doctor – Dr. Vaishali Dharashive Patil to you. She is very knowledgeable and has happily volunteered to contribute to my blog and share some great tips with the readers. She is also interested in educating people about their health. I had been interested in the impact of diet on our health from the Ayurvedic perspective for quite some time, however, I could not find the right resource to share with you. I realized, it would be best to have an expert talk about the principles of Ayurveda and its role and influence on our diet and general well-being. I would like to thank her for her contribution. If you wish to learn more about specific aspects of Ayurveda or if you have any questions, please leave a comment.
PRAKRUTI – YOUR BODY TYPE by Dr. Vaishali Dharashive Patil
Ayurveda means “the science of life” (ayu means life and veda means science). It is an ancient, natural and holistic healing system of India which originated as part of ‘Vedic science. Because of its wide and profound background from Vedic culture, Ayurveda speaks more about dietetics, herbal medicines, body work, psychology, spirituality and surgery.
It is a comprehensive traditional health care system of India with several unique aspects. These unique aspects of Ayurveda are designed to see, how body, mind and spirit interactions can be forecasted, balanced and also improved, to allow us to live elegantly, harmoniously and energetically.
To understand the beauty of Ayurveda the knowledge of prakruti (the personal constitution) is a must because it believes that every individual is “a unique creation” of nature. Prakruti is fixed at the time of conception and refers to the innermost nature of an individual.
To better understand prakruti one must first understand how Ayurveda views body by considering Tridoshas– the governing life forces Vata, pitta and kapha. They are basically considered as the inborn intelligence of the body: they are unseen forces that coordinate all the functions of the body, thus shaping how we look, how our metabolic processes function, how we respond to different ambiances, even how we think and feel. Vata, pitta and kapha are present in every cell, tissue and organ. In every person they differ in permutation and combinations. Some people are unidoshic- they naturally exhibit the characteristic of one of the doshas so strongly that we can say that dosha rules them constitutionally. Some people are bi-doshic that is one dosha is predominant and other dosha remains influential throughout their lives. Another group of people are tridoshic they influence people in two ways- in a positive way and in a negative way. In negative tridoshic all three doshas are likely to go out of balance where as in a positive way all the three doshas are well balanced that no single dosha can show up its predominance. Most of us, however, are bi-doshic in constitution. Hence every individual has a unique combination of these three doshas. So to understand individuality is the foundation of healing according to Ayurveda.
- Vata is responsible for all movements of the body, mind and senses and process of elimination.
- Pitta responsible for heat, metabolism and energy production and digestive functions of the body.
- Kapha is responsible for physical stability, proper body structures and fluid balance.
Therefore it is very important that doshas work together in harmony for the body to work to its maximum potential. Likewise the imbalance of the doshas in Ayurvedic perspective is the underlying cause of all physical, mental, and spiritual tribulations. Hence discovering your prakruti by considering doshas is the beginning of understanding of your uniqueness that helps you to plan exclusive diet, lifestyle and treatment modalities best suited for your personal body type.
The vata, pitta and kapha are combinations of energy, the five elements or (panchamahabhutas) that include Earth (the solid state of matter), water (the fluid state of matter), Fire (energy to transform matter from one state to another), and Air (the gaseous state of matter) and Ether (the space in which matter can exist).
Vata is a combination of air and ether this vata is the most important of the tridoshas responsible for all movements of the body, mind, and senses and the process of elimination.
Pitta is a combination of fire and water. Pitta governs digestion, heat, visual perception, hunger, thirst, lustre, complexion, understanding, intelligence, courage and softness of the body. Pitta governs all aspects and levels of light and warmth in the body and mind.
Kapha is a combination of earth and water. It is responsible for physical stability, proper body structure, and emotional support in life and governs such positive emotional traits as love, compassion, modesty patience and forgiveness and fluid balance too.
Characteristics of Doshas.
Each of doshas has characteristics that manifest in the body and mind as particular qualities.
- Vata is dry, light, cold, rough, subtle and agitated.
- Pitta is a little oily, sharp, hot, light, unpleasant in odor mobile and liquid.
- Kapha is wet, cold, heavy, dull, sticky, and soft and firm.
Each of the doshas thus share one major quality and is opposite in two others. It is by their attributes that we recognize them.
They manifest in the climate, living conditions, emotional atmosphere, and the foods we eat. An excess or deficiency of these qualities indicates an excess or deficiency of the dosha. This in turn, brings about various pathological changes in the body.
For example, we say that whenever there is a lot of dryness in the body, vata is high. This may be dry skin, dry hair, cracked lips, etc when this vata is extremely high in the body it causes emaciation, debility, liking for warmth, tremors or internal distension and constipation, as well as insomnia sensory disorientation, incoherent speech, dizziness, confusion and depression.
When there is excess heat, pitta energy is high. In excess pitta causes yellow color of stool, urine, eyes and skin, as well as hunger, thirst, burning sensation and difficulty sleeping. High pitta causes fever with inflammation and infections.
When there is excessive heaviness, extra kapha energy is present and this kapha causes depression of the digestive fire, leading to symptoms like nausea, lethargy, heaviness of body, chills, and looseness of the limbs, cough and excessive sleeping. High kapha results in excess weight, cellulite, water retention, swelling or puffiness.
Sites of Doshas
Each dosha has its particular site in the body.
- Vata is located in the colon, thighs, hips, ears, bones and skin.
- Pitta is located in the small intestine, stomach, sweat, sebaceous glands, blood, lymph and eyes.
- Kapha is located in the chest, throat, head, pancreas, sides, stomach, lymph, fat, nose and tongue.
The doshas accumulate at these sites, giving rise to the disease process and treating them at these sites by their relevant methods can heal the disease process at its root cause.
Details about each constitution and how food can help alleviate its effects will be addressed in the coming weeks. Visit us again!
Article contributed by: Dr Vaishali Dharashive is an accomplished Ayurvedic doctor. She holds a Masters Degree in Ayurveda, from a renowned Ayurvedic Indian university. She has more than 15 yrs of experience in the field of Ayurveda. She strongly believes that many unique concepts of Ayurveda can optimize our health by balancing the body mind and soul and therefore she feels that there is a need to explore the essence of this holistic science to educate the world to participate in Ayurvedic healing and create a disease free planet. Currently, she is working for a spiritual organization “Institute for Studies in Vedic Sciences” Shivpuri, India. Shivpuri is a Yajnyanagar- place of origin of Pancha Sadhan Marga and Agnihotra.