While often referred to as “body types” when you read about them online, the more appropriate term may be “constitution types.” The five elements of Ayurveda – ether (space), air, earth, fire, and water – make up everything in the universe. This includes the human body, and so it naturally follows that one’s body may different in constitution from that of others. There are three body types, and we’ll discuss them all herein. Understanding your dosha can help define the foods you should eat, the best type of exercise or activities to engage in, and elements of your lifestyle that can nurture your health.
Those with the vata body/constitution type had air and ether predominantly present during their birth, and their body type corresponds to this.
- Characteristics: dry, cold, light, clear
- Qualities: creativity, generosity, enthusiasm, vitality
- Governing quality: pain, anxiety, anticipation
- Physical features: physically small or thin, dry hair, small eyes, rough or brittle nails
- Appetite: variable appetite and modern metabolism and like sweet, sour, and salty tastes
- Perspiration: do not sweat heavily
- Sleep: tend to sleep lightly and can be disturbed easily
- Temperament and memory: quick to understand, but easily forget, little willpower, nervous, low confidence
- Exercise: moderate
Pittas experience primarily fire and water among the elements at birth. Pitta governs metabolism, formation of tissue, and disposal of waste products. Pitta is essential for the digestive and endocrine system of the body.
- Characteristics: hot, light, fluid, clear
- Qualities: ambitious, good concentration, confident, courageous, intelligent
- Governing quality: digestion, metabolism, comprehension, intelligence
- Physical features: medium frame with strong build, moderate prominence of veins, thin red or brownish hair, sharp eyes, soft nails and sharp nose
- Appetite: strong metabolism and strong appetite with good digestion, enjoy sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes
- Perspiration: sweat heavily
- Sleep: sleep for a medium duration, generally uninterrupted
- Temperament and memory: intelligent, good comprehension, quick to anger and get attached easily
- Exercise: moderate
Kaphas’ prominent energies are water and earth. Kapha is essential for increasing cellular mass, preventing tissue breakdown or destruction, and maintaining the strength and immune system of the body.
- Characteristics: cold, wet, heavy, cloudy, static
- Qualities: caring, compassionate, tender, faithful, grounded
- Governing quality: liquid secretions of the body, centered around the chest
- Physical features: developed bodies and sometimes overweight, broad chest, hair is soft, dark and wavy
- Appetite: regular appetite with slow digestions
- Perspiration: moderate
- Sleep: sound, prolonged periods of sleep
- Temperament and memory: sometimes slow to comprehend, but good memory
- Exercise: rigorous and regular exercise
Most of Us are More than One Type
While we’ve spoken of body types as though everyone is just one, the reality is that people often have combinations of these types. In that sense, the “body type” discussion is more a matter of making generalizations. A combination of two Dosha is called Dwandwaja. Tridoshaja is a combination of three Doshas. Ekadoshaja, which is more rare, is the term for those exhibiting a single Dosha type.
With a combination of all these additional types, there are a more complex array of types that are best determined by an Ayurvedic wellness specialist. Such a specialist can also help you determine the best foods and activities for your body type.