Your Body Type in Ayurveda

My sister and I were talking about the three body types (doshas) in Ayurveda, and I wrote a long response to her, so I thought I’d share it here. She said “I’m not quite sure how to balance the food suggestions. It seems like foods okay for Vata are not ok for Pitta. According to any of the surveys or tests I’ve taken, I’m under 10% Kapha. What does that mean? Is the goal 33:33:33?”

It’s kind of confusing at first. But let’s say you’re 60:30:10 Vata:Pitta:Kapha. Your goal is to stay 60:30:10. You would be considered a Vata-Pitta type, in modern Ayurveda they break it into 10 types not just three. V, P, K, VP, PV, VK, KV, PK, KP, and VPK. But everyone has a little of all three; 100% or 1/3 of each is very rare. So look for food recommendations for Vata-Pitta, not Vata and Pitta. Maya Tiwari’s book has detailed food charts.

Dosha means “thing which goes out of balance”, so they are always getting slightly unbalanced through food and lifestyle, and we bring them back in balance through the same. For example, Vata likes and does well with sweet flavors, they will keep Vata in balance. But if we overdo it, eat too much sweet, we get overly Vata (anxious and worried). If you took a dosha test at that point, you might think you’re 80% Vata, but really you just have a Vata imbalance. (Vata is the element which gets most frequently out of balance btw). Or if you have a job where you’re on the phone all the time, making deadlines, overachieving, that would push your Pitta. So part of it is figuring out what your natural, healthy state is. But even this “permanent” dosha blend can change over time, if you change environments or other major elements of your life.

It’s just a nice, kind of poetic way to see some more lifestyle causes and effects. For example, the parts of the day rotate through the doshas.

6am 10am is Kaphic, it is cold and wet, Pittas are calmed down while Vatas/Kaphas don’t want to get out of bed
10am 2pm is Pittic, it is hot and sunny, best time for work or eating, but Pittas might overheat
2pm 6pm is Vatic, it is clear and light, we can be stimulated or frazzled, good to think and reflect
6pm 10pm is Kaphic, it is dark and cool, good for relaxing and slowing down
10pm 2am is Pittic, if we stay up past 10 we often get a second wind that keeps us up til 2 (why Ayurveda says retire at 10)
2am 6am is Vatic, clear and cold, best time to meditate

So you might notice your energy is different at different times of day.

Fall pushes Vatas out of balance, too (they don’t like the cold and wind cause they are that way already). So have a good autumn!

4 thoughts on “Your Body Type in Ayurveda”

  1. found your site while searching for info on ayurveda. great post, thanks so much for doing that!

    a question, maybe you have some insight. Regarding times of day, do you suppose those time ranges change with the season, sunrise and sunset and changing lenght o day throghout the year?

    thanks again, i like your website

  2. Thanks, Tom!

    I have never seen variation in those times of day, it’s always exactly 10, 2, and 6, but your idea makes a lot of sense. Some cities are on the edge of a time zone, for example. I know that the seasons of the year are also doshic (March-June is Kaphic, July-October is Pittic, November-February is Vatic) so maybe there’s just a layering effect instead of a change.

    But, I know it should all be taken with a grain of salt (as far as these lifestyle guidelines). I’ve heard Ayurveda is “80% correct.” And, since this science was developed in India, I’ve always wondered if it applies equally to Western bodies and climates.

    Thanks for writing!

  3. I have a question, too! I’ve taken a bunch of those dosha quizzes and most often they say that I am primarily vata, though I’m built much more like a pitta, but I think that my thick curly hair and my olive skin (not prone to irritation) makes me more a kapha…so I guess I never really believe those results! Do you have any recommendations for a reliable resource for discovering your dosha combo? And is it common to LOOK like one dosha but not be it?

    Thanks, Scout!

  4. Hey Lia,

    I’ve heard that the only reliable way to determine your actual dosha is to get an assessment from an Ayurvedic doctor. I could recommend Dr. Amrit Raj (www.aarogyadham.net) or Dr. Naina Marballi (www.ayurvedasbeautycare.com) here in town. Up at the Sivanada Ranch there’s Narayani (http://www.sivananda.org/ranch/ayurveda_programs.html), or at various workshops you might find Dr. Vasant Lad (www.ayurveda.com), who’s written several books and is one of the main authorities in the field.

    But, I had a friend-of-a-friend who went to India and said that every Ayurvedic doctor he met gave him a different dosha — which just happened to match the doctor’s dosha.

    I’m not sure if looking like a dosha means it’s yours… I have heard that Kapha is least recognized, since people diet and exercise and then look like Vatas or Pittas. For example, all runway models LOOK like Vatas, although it’s only a natural state for maybe 1/3 of them. Our media is very biased towards Vatas right now. And it’s the most common imbalance. So I would go by your skin, and hair, and disposition, more than your physique. Think of the elements, too — are you more fire, air, water, earth, or space? Or you could be tridoshic.

    Dr. Lad’s books have some additional criteria you might check out, and I’ve heard good reviews of Deepak Chopra’s body type test. Maya Tiwari is an authority, and I’ve also had the books of David Frawley and Robert Svoboda recommended.

    Good luck!

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