Ayurveda is an ancient Indian medicine which views and treats the body according to the elemental characteristics that it presents. There are three main body types (or Doshas): Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
Vata dosha presents as body type that is slim, delicate with a small belly. People who are primarily vata don't have defined muscles but are more frail and pale. The elements that rule vata are ether and air. The vata constitution has the following characteristics: Cold, Light, Dry, Rough , Subtle, Mobile, Clear. Vata governs breathing, heart, movement of muscles, sensory perception, nerve conduction, communication, flexibility, joy and consciousness.
Too much vata can cause anxiety, fear, constriction (physical and emotional), constipation, poor circulation, dry skin, being underweight, insomnia, shakiness / twitching.
Pitta dosha presents as a body which is medium shape, muscular, and very proportional. People who are primarily pitta may tend to get hot easily and have acne or excess sweating. The elements that rule pitta are fire and water. The pitta constitution has the following characteristics: Hot, light, sharp, liquid, oily, spreading. Pitta governs digestion, transformation, appetite / digestion, absorption, intelligence, courage, clear communication, and ambition.
Too much pitta can show as anger, impatience, jealousy, inflammation, burning, loose stools, rashes, migraines, bleeding and skin disorders, insatiable appetite, and overactive metabolism.
Kapha dosha presents as a body type with a larger build and has a tendency to retain water. People who are primarily kapha tend to move slower, resist change, and lack motivation. The elements that rule kapha are water and earth. The kapha constitution has the following characteristics: Slow, heavy, oily, cool, smooth, dense, cloudy, grounded. Kapha governs growth, nourishment, stability, fat regulation, and compassion.
Too much kapha can cause greediness, attachment, resistance to change, a sluggish metabolism, hardening of the arteries, cholesterol,and tumors / masses.
Most people will find themselves to be a combination of two of the doshas. All though they do exist, there are few people who are one pure dosha or a perfect combination of all three. Figuring out a person's dosha is important in order to gain insight into what is needed to find balance especially when it comes to chronic and autoimmune disease. Balance is attained by eating food that is in contrast to the tendencies (i.e. if a person shows a lot of heat from pitta, eating cool foods to lower the body's heat), or using herbs, essential oils, and life habits / actions in order to control excess elements.
Many times people on their healing journeys are given a 'one size fits all' protocol and this is why it works for some and fails in others. Each person is unique with their unique elements and unique nutrition needs. Understanding your own unique needs will ultimately help you find balance. Balance is important because when the body is in harmony, it is able to do its' job and thrive!