Kapha, pitta and vata: the three constitutions in Ayurveda
Earth and water, heavy, cold, oily, solid, slow, stable, soft, cloudy, smooth and gross.
Kapha people have the best physical build. They have the strongest bones, a life-long soft baby skin, normally they have big blue eyes, good endurance, a strong immune system and good fertility.
They are people who are stable by nature, also in their emotions and their way of thinking. They like responsibility, structure, care and enjoying life. From their eating habits you can deduce that kapha people have the slowest digestion. They are not big eaters, they can easily skip a meal. They especially love sweets. When they are momentarily out of balance, they tend to eat too many sweets.
Fire and a little bit of water, light, hot, oily, liquid, sharp, mobile, soft, clear, smooth and subtle.
Physically, Pitta people have a rather average build; they are not fat but they do have good muscle. Their skin tends to be reddish and freckled and they usually have green eyes. They are strong people when they focus their energy and make the right choices. They are people who like leadership and developing projects. They are very passionate in their feelings and thoughts. They are warm-hearted and like creating things, growth and development, beauty and luxury.
Ether and air, light, cold, dry, solid, fast, mobile, hard, clear, rough and subtle.
Physically, Vata people are delicately built, have little muscle and little body hair. They have small, lively eyes, usually grey or brown. By nature, they are not strong, they do not have much endurance and they are not that fertile. They are people who like variety; their emotions, way of thinking and choices are changeable. They are very open and curious, they love innovation, communication and travel.
Their eating habits reveal that Vata people do not have a big appetite or a strong digestive system. By nature, they do not eat large quantities; they rather tend to eat small portions all day long. When they are out of balance, they soon start neglecting their diet. Many people are a combination of 2 doshas, for instance pitta-kapha, vata-pitta, etc.
Now that you know a little more about the three different constitutions, you can look in more depth at what Ayurveda defines as health. Ayurveda makes a distinction between your birth constitution and the way in which you behave with respect to the outside world. The birth constitution expresses what you are in essence. It is perfection, it is your true nature. Besides this pure state of depth, we also have a surface state. This is not what we got at birth; it is our worldly nature, our body, our way of thinking, feeling, our consciousness. The whole idea behind Ayurveda is that your surface state corresponds with your original nature. Your existence can and should be an expression of your universal quality. And that is the essence of being healthy according to Ayurveda: a person is in optimum health when their surface constitution corresponds to their birth constitution. This does not only mean that they are healthy, but also that they are happy and free to become what they are. That they can move the way they are and achieve what they want. If you cannot express that universality through your human personality, you are ill.
Thus, in order to live healthily it is important to know what your original dosha is, or what your birth constitution is. Because only then can you adapt your lifestyle and eating habits to who you really are. For instance, if you are a Vata type and you suddenly feel extremely thirsty and hungry, you know that something is not right. This way, certain symptoms can tell you that one of the doshas is present excessively in your lifestyle. The basic principle is that equal qualities reinforce each other and opposite qualities weaken each other. For instance, if you have too little heat, it is important to add heat by eating heating food. In order to eat well from an Ayurvedic point of view, it is important that you also learn about the qualities of food.
Ayurveda distinguishes seven aspects:
Qualities, tastes, energy, taste after digestion, shamanic power, symptomatic effect, purity.
Source: The Ayurveda cookbook from Lies Ameeuw
Ayurveda Kookboek (Ayurveda cookbook) and Ayurveda vanuit het hart (Ayurveda from the heart) by Lies Ameeuw. Available online at www.lies-ameeuw.be