The 3 Ayurveda Body Types Explained: Vata Pitta And Kapha

Ayurveda body types suggest that each of us is different and made up of constituent elements in different proportions. Let’s dive deep into what the wisdom of Ayurveda says about different body types.

In this article we are going to explore:

  • What Ayurveda is
  • An overview of the 3 doshas
  • The characteristics of each body type and how to balance them

Ready to learn more about your body with the ancient tools of Ayurveda?

an ancient engraving of a man making ayurvedic medicine

what is Ayurveda?

Do you know which is the oldest surviving medical science in the world?

The answer is Ayurveda

It is believed to be as old as 5000 years with its origin rooted in the well-known ancient Hindi scripture known as the Rigveda.

In Sanskrit, ‘Ayur’ means life and ‘Veda’ means knowledge, so Ayurveda means the complete knowledge of life.

Rather than simply focusing on the treatment of diseases, Ayurveda teaches the ways to live a healthy and prosperous life. This traditional system of medicine has its own philosophy and fundamental principles about treatment.

One of the fundamental principles of Ayurveda is that each person’s body type can be described and explained by an interaction between three forces, or Doshas.

3 Ayurveda Body Types – an overview of the doshas

According to Ayurveda, our physical bodies are made up of three fundamental forces known as ‘Doshas’. These Doshas, or body humors, are present throughout the body and maintain the body in a fully-working state when balanced, and are also responsible for causing disease when imbalanced.

The three fundamental life governing Doshas of the body are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. These fundamental life forces are made up of the five fundamental elements. An overview of each of the Doshas is provided in the table below.

three symbols representing the Ayurveda body types
DoshaFundamental ElementsQualities
Vata (Wind)Air + EtherDry, Light, Cold, Rough, and Subtle
Pitta (Fire)FireHot, Sharp, Oily, and Penetrating
Kapha (Water)Water + EarthCold, Wet, Heavy, Dull, Sticky, and Hard

These Doshas are present in all of us right from conception. Just like mixing the three primary colors in different proportions produces a spectrum of colors, each individual is made up of these three life forces mixed in different proportions.

The proportion of these Doshas is affected by various extrinsic factors such as diet, season, atmosphere, etc. However, the intrinsic proportions of these Doshas remain unchanged throughout our life. This is what makes us different from everyone else!

According to Ayurveda, the ‘Prakriti’ or body type of any person can be determined on the basis of the level of Doshas in their body, which remains unchanged throughout life.

Based on the type of dominant Doshas, there are main three body types. Let’s understand each of the Ayurveda body types in detail!

herbs to make ayurveda medicine with

Vata Body Type explained

Ever wondered why some people are so slim, skinny, and do not become fat even after smashing plenty of pizzas? They might be Vata people.

The literal meaning of Vata is wind. It is considered the most important Dosha in the body and is made up of ether and wind. A person is said to have a Vata type of body if the Vata dosha is dominant in their body.

Such people show the Vata qualities in their body and appearances such as dryness, lightness, coldness, and roughness. Usually, they are slim, lightweight, tall or short, and wheatish to brownish in appearance.

Characteristics of Vata Body Type

You are a Vata person, if you…

  • Overthink a lot
  • Walk very fast
  • Skip meals frequently
  • Struggle with digestion
  • Forget things quickly
a photo of a clouds and sky from a plane window
StrengthsWeaknesses
Quick thinking and actions
High grasping power
Highly creative
Poor long term memory
Prone to anxiety and depression
Impulsive behavior

How to Balance Vata Dosha

The Vata people are prone to diseases caused by the aggravation of the Vata Dosha in the body, such as constipation, bloating, dry skin, arthritis, hypertension, etc.

Therefore, it is vital to follow a Vata-reducing lifestyle and diet having qualities opposite to the Dosha to maintain a healthy balance. Provided below are some useful tips to balance Vata:

  • Physical exercise increases Vata and therefore vigorous physical exercises should be avoided.
  • Moist and creamy or oily food should be regularly consumed to combat the dryness and roughness of the Vata Dosha.
red and white balloons floating up to the sky
  • Vata people should have enough sleep as it calms down the increased Vata. Sleep early and avoid sleeping late at night.
  • Warm and nourishing food should be preferred over cold drinks and light food.
  • Ayurveda recommends regular Abhyanga, i.e. body massage, for the Vata people as it balances the Vata dosha.
  • The digestive fire of Vata people is irregular and therefore, they should eat only after the previous meal is digested.

Pitta Body Type explained

The literal meaning of Pitta Dosha is fire. The Pitta body type people have the Pitta Dosha dominant in their bodies right from their birth. The fierce nature of the Pitta Dosha can be seen in the physical appearance as well as in the mindset.

People having Pitta body types are fiery in nature and are easily agitated. The hot, light, penetrating, and sharp nature of the Pitta Dosha can be experienced through their nature and physical appearance. This type of person has a medium physical build, may have red hair, a muscular body, excellent digestion, and shining skin.

fire spinning in a wheel against a black backdrop

Characteristics of Pitta Body Type

You are a Pitta person, if you…

  • Often feel hot
  • Are short-tempered
  • Prefer cool & sweet food
  • Show courage and strength
  • Hate hot winds & sunlight
StrengthsWeaknesses
High intellectual power
Enthusiastic beings
Highly self-confident
Low tolerance of power
Bossy behavior
Jealousy and hatred

How to Balance Pitta Dosha

Pitta people usually suffer from the early greying of hairs, acidity, body heat, skin rashes, and ulcers. Ayurveda recommends a Pitta-pacifying lifestyle and diet for the Pitta body type to maintain a healthy balance of the Doshas.

the sun looking hot in the sky

Listed below are a few tips to balance Pitta:

  • Pungent, hot, and sour food should be strongly avoided as they aggravate the Pitta Dosha in the body.
  • A sweet, cold, and liquid diet should be regularly consumed to balance the Pitta.
  • Exposure to heat sources and sunlight should be avoided.
  • Pitta people should drink enough water and stay hydrated to overcome the fierce effect of the Dosha on the body.
  • Body massage with cooling oils such as coconut oil and neem oil can help reduce the effect of fire in the body.

Kapha Body Type explained

The Kapha people have the Kapha Dosha dominant in their bodies. The Kapha Dosha is made up of earth and water elements and therefore shows qualities such as cold, heaviness, steadiness, softness, and stability.

People having Kapha type of body are characterized by strong and heavy physical appearance, soft skin, and thick hair. The qualities of the Kapha Dosha are manifested in their physical appearance as well as mental build such as laziness, calmness, and sluggishness.

water shimmering at sunset
StrengthsWeaknesses
Highly stable personality
Excellent long-term memory
Good decision-makers
Sluggish & lethargic nature
Poor immunity
Greedy and ignorant

Characteristics of Kapha Body Type

You are a Kapha person, if you…

  • Often feel lazy
  • Walk at a slow pace
  • Prefer hot & pungent foods
  • Sleep a lot

How to Balance Kapha Dosha

Kapha people usually suffer from the diseases resulting from the aggravation of the Kapha dosha including asthma, diabetes, obesity, etc. Therefore, it is vital to follow a Kapha-reducing lifestyle and diet to balance the Doshas.

a woman relaxing in the bath

Provided below are some of the useful tips to balance Kapha:

  • A sedentary lifestyle increases Kapha and therefore, regular physical exercises should be performed to reduce the Kapha.
  • Daytime sleep should be strongly avoided as it aggravates Kapha.
  • Dry, warm, and pungent food should be preferred over heavy, cold, and oily food.
  • Dairy products, fat, and meat should be avoided as they aggravate Kapha.
  • Hot water baths and sunbathing can help break down the Kapha in the body.

other Ayurveda body types

Vata, Pitta, and Kapha are the three main Ayurveda body types and they are determined on the basis of the dominance of Dosha in the body.

But what if two Doshas are dominant or all three Doshas are in equilibrium? What will the Ayurvedic body type be in such cases?

Ashtanga Hridayam, an ancient Ayurvedic scripture, has also mentioned other body types other than the main ones discussed here.

The dual body types such as Vata-Pitta, Pitta-Kapha, and Kapha-Vata, show mixed qualities of the dominant Doshas.

A person is said to have a Tridosha body type if all the Doshas are in equilibrium and shows the qualities of all the Doshas, although this is rare.

Conclusion

The truth is that most of us do not completely know ourselves. Ayurveda sheds light on three different life forces – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, which are present in all of us in different proportions. Understanding the Ayurveda body types unlocks the key to a healthy and self-conscious lifestyle to maintain a healthy balance of the life forces in our body.

Read on about Ayurveda here:

Maria Andrews

Maria Andrews

Maria Andrews is a 200h Registered Yoga Teacher, long distance runner, and adventure lover. She finds joy in learning, experiencing, and connecting.

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