What’s my (Ayurvedic Body-Mind) Type?
Ayurveda teaches that each of us is born with a unique body-mind type that stays with us throughout our entire life. This “prakruti” type describes the ratio of the doshas (vata, pitta, kapha – the bio-energetic qualities) that make up our “nature-born constitution.” Prakruti describes not only our physical body type, but also our mental and emotional tendencies and some of our typical energy levels and work habits.
As we all experience, life is an ever-changing tapestry that we weave, combining our nature-born tendencies with the experiences that we create and encounter in life. Ayurveda suggests that our life experiences interact with our prakruti to create the never-ending ebb and flow we experience each day. To sustain a positive level of health throughout a long and fruitful life, Ayurveda suggests that we learn to maintain the balance of the doshas in the same ratio with which we are born.
How do we know what tendencies we’re born with? How do we learn how to maintain that balance? That’s what Ayurveda teaches us. Understanding ourselves, and then using the tools of diet, lifestyle habits, herbs, yoga and more, we gather the elements of a healthy life style and put them to practice day-to-day in our home and at work.
It’s important to remember that each of us (and every cell, in fact) is a combination of the three doshas, which always work together. Kapha dosha is the structural factor, creating the form of our tissues, and also governing their lubrication that allows for movement. A person of Kapha nature has a sturdy physical structure, tends to be slow, remembers well, doesn’t care for exercise, tends to accumulate, is fertile and compassionate.
Pitta dosha governs transformation (digestion and metabolism) of food, emotions and information, and is the creator of heat. A person of Pitta nature has a moderate build, tends to have strong will-power, likes to learn, often needs to feel “right,” is a good organizer and manager, and exhibits strong hunger and thirst.
Vata dosha governs the process of movement (physical and mental) and oxygenation. A person of Vata nature has a lean body-structure, loves movement and change, is creative, energetic, talkative, and loves to initiate action.
Below is a short quiz that will help you become acquainted with your prakruti type. For each item in the left-hand column, check one (or at most 2) of the group of qualities listed for each dosha that most closely describes yourself. Choose the qualities that match your usual tendencies, rather than how you happen to be feeling today. Total up all the check marks in each column, and you will have a sense of the ratio of the three doshas that comprise your prakruti! If one dosha predominates, that is your predominant nature. If two doshas are nearly equal, then you are dual dosha predominant.
|Kapha Dosha||Pitta Dosha||Vata Dosha|
|Body Type||Sturdy, solid, muscular, can tend to put on weight||Moderate, soft, stable weight, slight belly||Slim, wiry, moves a lot, very tall or short|
|Appetite||Low, steady, eats less||Strong hunger||Irregular, scanty|
|Digestion||Slow, can be sluggish, forms mucus||Fast, digests well, can tend to hyperacidity||Variable, can eat a lot at times, forms gas|
|Elimination||Regular but slow, tends to constipation||With ease, 1-2x per day, tends to soft stool||Irregular, tends to dry constipation|
|Sleep||Deep, likes to sleep long||Moderate, sound sleep||Erratic, often short|
|Energy level||Slow and steady, strong endurance||Moderate, passionate, often tries to do too much||Changeable, short bursts of energy, hyperactive|
|Work habits||Likes regularity, slow and complete, may procrastinate, good long term memory||Likes to organize, manage; ambitious, fast comprehension, likes learning||Creative, likes change, lots of ideas, good short term memory|
|Emotional Nature||Compassionate, level||Passionate, strong will||Spirited, changeable|
|Challenges||Depression, attachment||Anger, jealousy||Anxiety, fear|
This is only one quiz among many. If you are interested in exploring this topic future, check out the more detailed tests at the Chopra Center or at Banyan Botanicals. Or simply google “Ayurveda test” and you’ll find dozens of them!
Next month we’ll consider dietary guidelines for your particular “prakruti.” In the meantime, if you have specific questions, feel free to send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pratibha Queen is a yoga instructor and Ayurvedic practitioner, who attends Salt Spring Center of Yoga retreats on a regular basis. Feel free to email with any questions that arise as you engage in health practices to support your yoga practice: email@example.com.