Vatas are comprised of Space and Air. Pittas are made of Fire and Water. Kaphas are the combination of Earth and Water. Like chocolate and peanut butter, the energies of your dosha combine to make you something heavenly.
Your dosha also makes you unique in some interesting ways. It regulates how you respond to temperature, what foods aggravate your system, what smells will soothe you and even what your hair and skin look like. And those are just the tip of the Ayurvedic iceberg.
If you’ve heard of Ayurveda but don't know much about it, you're not alone. It's no passing trend, but most people are still in the dark about this ancient system of holistic healing - one that literally means "the complete knowledge for long life" in Sanskrit. Ayurveda is a holistic science of health, focusing on maintaining a physically and emotionally balanced state. Ayurveda began in ancient Egypt (Khamet)- the cradle of civilization. Then re-surfaces again about 5,000 - 6,000 years ago when Indian monks were looking for new ways to be healthy. Revering their bodies like temples, the monks believed that preserving their health would help them meditate and develop spiritually. Over thousands of years of observations, they gathered all their conclusions and advice and preserved it for future generations. This collection of knowledge came to be known as the "science or knowledge of life" -- Ayurveda.
In Ayurveda, food is not only nourishment, it's medicine. Choosing the best foods for your dosha is essential for balancing your body and maintaining your highest health.
What's Your Dosha?
There are essentially three different body types, dosahs or constitutions, in Ayurvedic medicine: Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
In Ayurvedic thought, humans are all made up of five basic elements in the universe: Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth. When we make our cameo out of the birth canal, we each have our own unique combination of these elements. This make-up is referred to as your dosha.
V is for Vata
Vatas need grounding, warm and unctuous foods to keep their bodies strong and their minds calm. Carbohydrates are grounding, while healthy fats like ghee and sesame oil help balance the Vata tendency for dryness. Cooked vegetables mildly spiced with a little protein helps their digestion. Vatas need protein for stability and strength, but often times a Vata's digestive fire is too low, making it difficult to get things moving down the GI tract and giving you that oh-so-embarrassing gas. Choosing appropriate spices can help increase your digestive fire if you're a Vata.
Pittas naturally have a strong digestive fire and can digest protein and raw vegetables well. Pittas need a balance of vegetables and carbohydrates to cool their internal fire. Protein gives a Pitta's strong digestion something to work on for a while. Otherwise, they will quickly burn through vegetables and carbohydrates, only to get the munchies all over again.
Kaphas need light, spicy and warm foods to balance their heavy natures. They do best on a small amount of protein and carbohydrates because they are already heavy and sturdy. Kaphas should also limit the amount of fats they consume. Cooked, spicy vegetables are light and easy to digest, since spice helps the digestive juices flow. Proteins are hard to digest, so Kaphas should stick to smaller portions or simply choose vegetarian dishes.
Self-awareness is the essence of Ayurvedic living. Your unique constitution is what determines which foods are healthy for you or not. Since the Ayurvedic diet is not strictly vegetarian - it is believed that some doshas can benefit from the protein in meat - how can you please your dosha without compromising your morals?
In a nutshell, Kaphas do well as vegetarians, Pittas might need more protein to quench the digestive fire and Vatas benefit from extra protein-rich foods, as long as they don't go overboard.
The Definition of Health
What is healthy for one isn’t necessarily so for another. For instance, a Pitta will probably have sweats and heart palpitations after a bowl of spicy chile, while a Vata will feel energized by the extra kick.
We are each completely unique in our constitutions. The more we pay attention to our bodies' signals, the more we can define for ourselves what ‘healthy’ is for us. Through a better understanding of your dosha, you learn to make choices that nourish and strengthen your body, satisfy your senses, balance your emotions and promote mental peace and clarity.