Ayurvedic Body Types: Determining The Real ‘YOU’

Ayurveda is an interesting science of life guiding us to learn more about ourselves. It throws light into our unique system and aids us in exploring who we are, what suits us the best and how to live a holistic and comprehensive life?

Ayurveda trusts that the entire Universe inclusive of the human body is made up of 5 predominant elements known as Devanagari, popularly known as ‘Panch Booth, where Panch indicates 5 and Booth stands for the chief elements of the universe namely:

  1. Water called as Jala
  2. Earth called as Prthvi
  3. Air known as Vayu
  4. Sky called as Akasa
  5. Fire known as Agni

According to Ayurveda the human body constitutes of 7 primary elements known as ‘Saptadhatu’ and they are:

  1. Rasa dhatu defines Plasma or Chyle
  2. Rakta dhatu indicates Blood
  3. Mamsa dhatu means Flesh
  4. Medha dhatu stands for Fat
  5. Asthi dhatu means Bone
  6. Majja dhatu stands for Marrow
  7. Sukra dhatu denotes female reproductive tissue or semen

Based upon these elements and its constituents, human body is classified and expressed as the equilibrium of 3 fundamental energies (Dosha) also known as humors or principles of mind and body. Ayurveda uses the 5 primary elements of the Universe to define human body types as a combination of these five elements namely air, water, fire, ether and earth in different proportions within the humors. The Ayurvedic science says that every individual is made up of a unique combination of 3 body and mind principles, creating our explicit physical and mental personality. The 3 major Doshas are:

Vata Dosha: Vata Dosha is a representative of wind and is a combination of air and space (ether) where air dominates. It can be called as the controlling authority of the power vested with our body and it directs the other two doshas. This humor regulates the circulation, function of the nervous system, and the movements of our body along with emotional and bodily development.

Predominant characteristics: When an individual has a chief composition of Vata, he/she will look lean, act faster and stay flexible while being creative, conversational, visionary, artistic and fervent with full of energy. Imbalance of this energy can cause loss of memory, restlessness, anxiety, insomnia, fear, dry skin, bloating and few other digestive disorders like indigestion, intestinal gas and constipation.

Pitta Dosha: Pitta Dosha is a blend of fire and water and it signifies bile. With fire being the superior element, Pitta is responsible for all kinds of corporeal actions concerning heat like digestion, creation of energy with the help of hormones and takes care of metabolism, body temperature and absorption.

Predominant characteristics: A proper balance of Pitta upholds intelligence, confidence, competitiveness, glowing complexion and leadership capabilities with a sizzling temper. Pitta disparity can cause jealously, anger, annoyance, disgust and other bodily problems like ulcer, high blood pressure, skin irritation, heartburn and soreness.

Kapha Dosha: With water as the overriding element, Kapha or phlegm is an arrangement of water and earth responsible for connecting bones, tissues, muscles and tendons. It is wholly in charge for the structure of the body by supplying fluid strength to all parts of the body while maintaining consistency, stability, solidity, skin health and proper lubrication of joints.

Predominant characteristics: Kapha balance aids in exhibiting tranquil, trustworthy, lovable and compassionate personalities, generally with hefty body structure. The unevenness of this type will lead to obesity, congestion, lethargic attitude and slow digestion.

Ayurvedic discipline states that the human body is said to be healthy when it strikes a balance between these 3 energy elements and when there is discrepancy, the body tends to become unwholesome and turns detrimental.

Reference Links:

  1. Ayurveda by Wikipedia
  2. Ayurvedic Body Type: Find Your Dosha by The Dr.OZ Show
  3. Ayurvedic Principles For Mind-Body Balance by Ayurvedic Talk

The Ayurvedic Routine

Health is not a one day activity instead it is a never-ending and continuous mission until your soul departs your body. To stay healthy is to stay on par with the flow of nature without interrupting the natural temperament of your system and Dean Ornish rightly said that ‘Health is not something that you need to get; it’s something you already have if you don’t disturb it’. That is what the ancient remedial science known as Ayurveda suggests mankind to simply tag along the cadence of nature. A daily systematic life that strikes perfect balance with the natural pace of Mother Nature needs no cure or meets no disastrous diseases. Such an inspiring Ayurvedic Routine is popularly termed as ‘Dinacharya’ and seasonal routine is known as Ritucharya.   

Ayurveda strongly states that there is a time for everything with a natural meaning in it. If things are done at the right time, you are striking balance with nature and your body functions perfectly and in close connection with your mind. This natural tempo controls our predominant natural urges like food, sleep and sex, also known as the three pillars of life. Today’s modern living has sickened our lives and has forced us to lead it as blindly as a lost kitten in the middle of the forest. Only when we practice certain vital things on a scheduled time, we can live in harmony without the compulsion of any other external factors misleading our lives. To remember it easily, I have listed the daily Ayurvedic routine as 11 simple points to follow as per the Ayurvedic body types. They are:

  1. Wake up early in the morning before sunrise. For Vata it is just about 6 AM, Pitta it is approximately 5:30 AM and for Kapha it is around 4:30 AM. This aids your senses to rise above and ascend along with the sunrise.
  2. Gargle your mouth and drink a cup of warm water with few drops of fresh lemon juice and one teaspoon of raw honey. This supports your body’s normal bowel movement in the morning and helps the digestive system to function properly. Regular bowel movement will aid in eliminating the toxin from your body and make you feel refreshed without carrying the toxins of the previous day’s food.
  3. Brush your teeth twice daily early in the morning and before going to bed. Scrape and rub your tongue thoroughly in the morning to clear away toxins or the poisonous particles sticking on your tongue from the remaining of the previous day’s food items known as ama in Ayurveda. You can either use a good tongue scraper or a stainless steel spoon to clean your tongue front to back. Clean your nasal passages, ears and eyes regularly.
  4. Go for a brisk walk for about 15 to 20 minutes. This helps in improving your blood circulation and aids you in enjoying the healthy rays of the sun fully filled with Vitamin D and other essential nutrients required to boost the functions of your brain and uplift your skin from within. Vitamin D deficiency might end up in skin cancer, rickets, cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment in elderly people, muscular weakness and much more.
  5. It’s time to caress, pamper and massage your skin with Abhyanga, the Ayurvedic massage therapy with the use of Ayurvedic essential oils all through your body and your head. Leave it at least for 20 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, you can practice the life saving skill nothing but the great sibling of Ayurveda, popularly known as Yoga. This grants you strength, endurance, resistance and the potential to enhance the functionality of your entire system.
  7. It’s time for a revivifying bath with few drops of energizing Ayurvedic essential oils like lavender essential oil, bergamot essential oil, rose essential oil, jasmine oil, sandalwood oil, grapefruit essential oil, cinnamon essential oil, orange essential oil and few other citrus essential oils to give a right start to your day.
  8. Offer prayers to the Almighty and a calm meditation for about 5 minutes will give you all the energy that your mind needs for accomplishing your challenging tasks all through the day. A powerful meditation influences self-realization and mental strength.
  9. Eating right is very important than just filling your stomach. Taste your food, like it and chew it well as it promotes quicker digestion and absorption of essential energy required by your body. Ensure that you take up a rich and nutritious breakfast between 7:00 to 8:00 AM in the morning.
  10. Have your lunch in between 12:00 to 1:00 PM. Let the not-so-easy to digest food items find a place in your lunch rather than during any other meals of the day because there is enormous time to digest and the Agni or the digestive fire is very active during this time. If possible, go for a small walk after lunch to help easy digestion.
  11. Ensure that your dinner is taken before 8:00 PM and you floss and brush your teeth before going to bed to keep away from harmful germs. Go to bed by 10:00 PM at night making certain that you have enough rest after working throughout the entire day and for gifting a dynamic start to the day ahead. Spend 5 minutes before sleeping to recollect all that you’ve done for the day. Think whether you have accomplished all that is required or have something left behind to finish? This will keep you informed about where you are and direct you towards where you want to go. Utter a small prayer and thank the Creator for all He has given you and sleep peacefully with the hope of being in a new day at dawn.

This might appear as a huge or an impossible list to many but you’ll certainly feel its simplicity and its greater benefits on your healthy and harmonized living once you start practicing it as the celebrated adage ‘Practice makes a man perfect’ appropriately fits in this context and a regular following of these Ayurvedic routine in your life will indeed make you perfect, peaceful and proficient. Start with one and its positive impact will naturally influence you in choosing the whole lot.

Best wishes for your methodical living in the pink.

Thought for the day:

The best six doctors anywhere
And no one can deny it
Are sunshine, water, rest, and air
Exercise and diet.
These six will gladly you attend
If only you are willing
Your mind they’ll ease
Your will they’ll mend
And charge you not a shilling.

-Nursery rhyme, What the River Knows, 1990, quoted by Wayne Fields

Suggested Reading:

  1. Perfect Health: The Complete Mind/Body Guide, Revised and Updated Edition by MD Deepak Chopra
  2. Yoga for your Type: An Ayurvedic Approach to Your Asana Practice by Dr. David Frawley, Sandra Summerfield Kozak
  3. Dhanwantari: A Complete Guide to the Ayurvedic Life by Harish Johari

Reference Links:

  1. Dinacharya by Ayurveda Alchemy
  2. Vitamin D Deficiency by WebMD
  3. Agni(Ayurveda) by Wikipedia

Ayurveda and Aromatherapy: The Untold Anecdote

Most of us might have perceived Ayurveda and Aromatherapy as two different parts of the Complementary and Alternative medicine but I take great privilege in revealing the fact that Aromatherapy is an innate or in-built part of Ayurveda, the 5000 years old ancient healing methodology. Ayurveda is proudly celebrated as the Mother of all healing sciences as it has given birth to numerous traditional healing methodologies like Unani, Homeopathy, Naturopathy, Acupuncture, Herbalism, Siddha, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Traditional European Medicine and much more.

Aromatherapy is not a separate branch of Ayurveda but it is a vital part or an incredible way of treating illness in Ayurveda through the use of ‘aromatics’ and later given a separate name by Rene Maurice Gattefosse, known as the father of aromatherapy. It’s high time to put an end to this endless myth whether Ayurveda and Aromatherapy are the two poles apart? Let’s analyze.

Holistic approach: Ayurveda is a holistic healing approach that considers an individual as an entity and as a ‘Whole person’. This ancient science considers the physical, mental, emotional, environmental and sociological reasons contributing to a particular illness of an individual. While prescribing medications, Ayurveda does not stop with giving herbs or oils as remedies for a disease instead it suggests regular practice of yoga, meditation, taking an Ayurvedic diet, an Ayurvedic routine and certain other lifestyle changes according to an individual’s body type (doshas) and the unique constitution known as Prakriti. On the other hand, Aromatherapy is also a holistic method that considers the connection between mind, body and spirit.

Use of aromatics: Ayurveda makes use of aromatics to prevent and treat various health conditions. This is because it believes that the strengthening of the five human senses promotes healthy living. Inhalation of the aroma of plants and the essential oils extracted from those plants is trusted to enhance the sense of smell and directly contributes to mental health and treats hormonal imbalances.

This is the basic reason behind the use of incense sticks and other aromatic herbs and oils like sandalwood and tulasi in religious rituals and prayers for instilling the spiritual feeling. When it comes to Aromatherapy, this attribute of using aromatics needs no explanation as Aromatherapy makes use of Ayurvedic essential oils and trusts that the aromatic compounds and therapeutic properties present in these oils helps in healing illnesses invariably.

Abhyanga or the Ayurvedic massage therapy: Ayurvedic massage therapy involves the use of remedial oils like sesame oil, coconut oil, almond oil, olive oil and few other vegetable oils along with effective essential oils. It is a vital part of Panchakarma or the detoxification therapy, where the toxic substances of the body are removed and it inhibits the growth of harmful bodies through systematic massage.

Marguerite Maury, pioneer of Aromatherapy and the celebrated French Aromatherapist, in the traditional British Aromatherapy has talked on the benefits of using essential oils on dermal application through effective    massage techniques, where the concept of massaging itself is indigenous to Ayurveda.

Ayurvedic essential oils: Ayurveda is the oldest of the existing medicinal practices in the world and has a recorded use of herbal plants for more than 5000 years ago. Essential oils are nothing but the highly concentrated liquids extracted from plants and are often known as the essence of the herbal plants. Aromatherapy makes use of these essential oils to reiterate the fact that we are a part of nature and it is safe and secure to treat our illnesses in a natural manner. Dr. Light Miller in her famous book ‘Ayurveda and Aromatherapy: The Earth Essential Guide to Ancient Wisdom’ talks about the importance of doshas and the perfect essential oils for each dosha.

For Vata Dosha: Lemon, Eucalyptus, Cinnamon, Basil, Ginger, Angelica, Cajeput, Anise and Rosewood.

For Pitta Dosha: Sandalwood, Lime, Peppermint, Chamomile, Yarrow and Coriander.

For Kapha Dosha: Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Niaouli, Sage, Basil, Savory, Clove and Hyssop.

Vata, Pitta and Kapha is not Greek or Latin in the world of Aromatherapy but it just indicates the predominance existing in an individual’s constitution and these essential oils are said to treat the dosha imbalances with their healing properties.

Limbic System: According to Ayurveda, the sense of smell is connected with the limbic system. This helps in recollecting the memories of a place or a person associated with an aroma. Limbic system is a vital part of the brain that stimulates the function of the nervous system, determines the body temperature and blood sugar level, enables the process of respiration, and controls sexual feelings, sleep and awake responses and much more.

The underlying principle behind limbic system and Ayurveda is that the inhalation of aromatic essential oils with healing properties fosters the essential oil molecule to pass through the nasal passage and reaches the limbic system ultimately as nerve impulses following which, the hypothalamus passes the message to other parts of the body to rejoice, relax, control hunger, hormonal imbalances, thirst and many other feelings. Even Aromatherapy indicates the same mechanism of aroma through the limbic system in healing illnesses.

Hope this information is more than enough to prove that the concept of Aromatherapy has been a part and parcel of Ayurvedic healing methodology since ages till it was given birth under a new name ‘Aromatherapy’ by its father Rene Maurice Gattefosse. Nothing to wrestle or protest but I end this post with the pride of finding something unique and exceptional in all the healing sciences that is nothing but ‘Human beings are special naturally’.

Thought for the day:

‘Healing,’ Papa would tell me, ‘is not a science, but the intuitive art of wooing nature.’
-W. H. Auden

Suggested Reading:

  1. Ayurveda & Aromatherapy: The Earth Essential Guide to Ancient Wisdom and Modern Healing By Dr. Light Miller, Dr. Bryan Miller
  2. Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit: Restoring Emotional and Mental Balance with Essential Oils By Gabriel Mojay
  3. The Aromatherapy Companion: Medicinal Uses/Ayurvedic Healing/Body-Care Blends/Perfumes & Scents/Emotional Health & Well-Being (Herbal Body) By Victoria H. Edwards

Reference Links:

  1. Aromatherapy from Ayurveda’s Perspective by Yayoi Stavish
  2. Ayurveda and Aromatherapy by AllHealthyFamily News
  3. The Limbic System by Suzanne Bovenizer CMT, CST