Perfect health starts with your constitution
28th maj 2014
We all want to be healthy so that we have the best chance to enjoy and fulfil our potential in life. But staying in excellent health can be somewhat elusive: we suffer from colds or sickness as seasons change; we become stressed or anxious as life takes its toll. The holy grail of having perfect health, therefore, is not always possible to grasp. Understanding your Ayurvedic constitution, although it may appear like an alien concept at first, can help you on the path to optimising your health.
Ayurveda shows us that everything in life has an inherent constitution; be it a person, an animal, a food, a disease, or even a place. Your Ayurvedic constitution, which is known as your prakriti (or nature) in Ayurveda, makes up your attributes, tendencies and personality traits.
But it also, crucially, gives you profound insights into how you should live, what you should eat, and how to get the most out of your life.
The three doshas of Ayurvedic constitution
Although we are all beautifully unique and there are as many constitutions as there are people, Ayurveda divides us into three main constitutional ‘types’, known as doshas: they are, wind or vata, fire or pitta, water or kapha.
These doshas are qualities that influence all of the body’s functions, from biological processes to thoughts and feelings. We all contain all three doshas, but it is our particular combination of them that makes us who we are.
For instance, some people are pure pitta, others are vata-pitta or vata-kapha – the dominant quality comes first; there are also people who are a perfect balance of all three, vata-pitta-kapha; although this is rare.
Whilst our inherent doshas are present from birth, they are not inert: they can change according to the food we eat, how happy we are feeling, how late we go to bed, and even if the weather is hot or cold.
Doshas, out of balance
When circumstances cause a particular dosha to accumulate in excess, or become aggravated, spilling over our personal threshold, it causes a temporary imbalance which, if left unchecked, can cause health problems.
For example, a ‘hot’ pitta type of person, eating hot food, in a hot country becomes too pitta, and may find that they suffer with red, hot and itchy skin rashes.
And so it goes, in Ayurvedic practise, that if the dominant dosha or quality of your Ayurvedic constitution can be added to by qualities that are similar to it, equally, your dominant dosha can be reduced when you’re exposed to experiences, foods and environments that are opposite to it.
Put more simply, Ayurvedic teaching believes that ‘like increases like’ and ‘opposites balance opposites’. And it is this modest principle that is central to understanding how Ayurvedic living works, but also to understanding how you can manage your constitution and allow your health to flourish.
But first, you need to discover what dosha(s) make up your Ayurvedic constitution - our dosha quiz should help.