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This amazing guest post was written by Nishita Shah, Ayurveda and yoga expert and healthy food fanatic. You can check out her website here or follow her on Instagram.

Ayurveda, a science that dates back more than 5,000 years, is a healing system rooted in the ancient Vedic culture of India. Ayurveda literally means the science of life, and is known as the science of longevity. Ayurveda utilizes many tools including yoga, diet, lifestyle, herbs, meditation and so much more to help reach your optimal and perfect state of health.

Each individual is unique; no two people are created the same. Ayurveda uses this concept and takes it to a whole new level. Each person has a unique state of health. Ayurveda creates an entire routine with various aspects to help individuals create their own individualized path to a state of health and well-being.

The 5 Elements That Determine Who You Are

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How’s this done? In Ayurveda, we use a simple understanding of the 5 elements–ether, air, fire, water, and earth–to see how they play together and create harmony in just about everything. We can see the elements in play in a rock or the ocean, all the way to the human body. We are a unique interplay of the 5 elements that came together to create the person we see every day in front of the mirror.

The 5 elements come together to create 3 doshas, or energy principles, that govern who we are physically, mentally, and psychologically.

Ether + Air= Vata

Fire + Water= Pitta

Water + Earth= Kapha

Each one of us has some combination of the 3 doshas. How they manifest will vary depending on how much of each dosha we have. Most of us however, will have at least one, sometimes 2 doshas predominant in us. Based on what doshas are manifesting how, Ayurveda will look at different methods to bring you back to your baseline state of health.

How To Determine Your Unique Body Type

Various techniques are used to determine your constitution. One way is to take a quiz to determine what your prakruti, or constitution is. Here’s one quiz from Banyan Botanicals that can help you. Another way to determine your prakruti is to see an Ayurvedic Practitioner. They can determine your constitution for you based on your overall physical body, as well as listening and feeling your pulse.

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If you want to get insights starting right now, you can review the traits in the chart below and tally up the qualities that represent you. You want to make sure that when you look at the descriptions, pick what is natural to you—e.g. is your hair naturally curly, or are you using a curling iron so much that it has adapted. Are you naturally 130 lbs, or have you lost or gained drastically. Please keep in mind that the following chart is not a definitive way to see which doshas are predominant in you. It is best to see an Ayurvedic Practitioner who can help you come to the right conclusion.

 

VATA PITTA KAPHA
HAIR Kinky/Curly & Thin Straight Thick & Wavy
BODY FRAME Lanky, Bony, Very tall or Very Short Medium frame, athletic build Strong, Big Bones, Very muscular
SKIN Dry, Rough, Cracked Oily, Prone to acne Marble-like, Smooth
STOOL Dry, Prone to Constipation More liquid, Prone to Diarrhea Well-Formed Stools, in the shape of a banana
MIND Very creative, but hard to focus Very organized, task-oriented Goes with the flow
EMOTIONS Worry, Fear, Anxiety, Humorous Anger, Jealousy, Type-A, Organized Loving, Compassionate, Lazy


Once you have determined what your main doshas at play are, take a look at the following to see how you can balance out what is happening.

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Vata:

  • Focus on unctuous and oily qualities to balance out the rough and dry.
  • Avoid raw, cold, and uncooked foods. Warm and cooked is the way to go.
  • Dress yourself in layers. Vata likes warmth and grounded-ness to balance the cold, dry qualities
  • Stick to a schedule! A daily routine is great for vata to keep them grounded.

Pitta:

  • Go towards cooling qualities of food such as limes, coconuts, and water.
  • Avoid very oily foods.
  • Dress yourself in light, cool colors to balance the heat of the fire element.
  • Feel free to deviate from your schedule a little. This will help balance out the sharp and critical qualities of pitta.

Kapha:

  • Light and warm is the name of the game for kapha to balance the heaviness of the earth element.
  • Dress in warm colors to bring heat to the otherwise cool and clammy nature of kapha.
  • It’s okay to be a little stern with yourself. Kapha folks take a while to get going, so push yourself more than usual.

Seeing an Ayurvedic Practitioner is a great way to learn more about your constitution and what doshas are in balance, and which ones are not. .

All of this is done to help you get back to your personal baseline state of health. So whether you are experiencing specific signs and symptoms that are uncomfortable, have been diagnosed with a certain pathology, or are just seeking to live a healthier life, Ayurveda can support you on your path to well-being.

 

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Nishita Shah
Holistic Living
Founder at Nourish the Fire. Nishita is passionate about holistic living, and integrating all that the universe gives into her life. She loves everything and anything regarding food—literally. You can generally find her in the kitchen testing out some new and wacky dessert recipe or figuring out ways to incorporate various herbs into the foods she makes. Outside the kitchen, she loves spending her time in nature or on her mat doing her daily sun salutations. Nishita is an Ayurvedic Studies Program levels 1 and 2 graduate from the Ayurvedic Institute, where she studied Ayurveda and Yoga under the world-renowned Vasant Lad, BAM&S, MASc.
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