You may have heard of different body types in yoga. The yoga body types do not refer to your body shape, but to the characteristics, you were born with. So do you know which body type you are?
Yoga body types are based in the ancient Indian science of Ayurveda. The yoga body types, known as doshas, are classified in three: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Depending on the characteristics that are more predominant in your constitution, you can be one dosha or a combination of two or three.
Learning your yoga body type constitution will help you to understand better what your body needs and avoid food, activities or people that won’t contribute to your well being. By recognising your yoga body type, you can identify if there is an imbalance in your body and address it.
What are the yoga body types?
The yoga body types are based on Ayurveda principles. Ayurveda works with the five elements that constitute the body: earth, water, fire, air, and ether. These five elements are present in the body in different quantities.
People vary according to the way these five elements are present in their body. Based on this principle Ayurveda differentiate between three body types: Vata, Kapha and Pitta.
These three body type constitutions are determined by your genes and by your mum’s prenatal diet. The body type constitutions are known as doshas or body humour.
It’s essential to know your yoga body type and how to keep it in balance. You can have a predominant body type or a combination of two or the three of them. Depending on your body type, you should eat some things and not others; as well as practising some kind of yoga over others. The whole idea is to keep your physical body balance and full of vitality.
The Ayurvedic principles can help you recognise your habits and assess if they are serving your body type or aggravating it instead. The aim is to bring balance to your body by combining yoga with your body type.
Yoga body types or doshas
Yoga body types and doshas are basically the same. The yoga body types or doshas are based on Ayurveda, “the science of life”. Ayurveda is a science to teach you how to live a long life has been around in India for over 5000 years.
Ayurveda aims to bring harmony to your mind, body and spirit by balancing your three doshas so that your well being is at its best.
By looking into your body type or dosha, you can know of the imbalances that your habits are having on your body and mind.
To know your body type, you can go to an ayurvedic practitioner. He or she will check your tongue, pulse and do a full assessment of your emotional and physical being, your eating habits, the environment you live in and create a personal profile to have a more accurate picture of your dosha.
To get an idea of which body type you are, have a look at the characteristics of each body type and check how they apply to you.
The body is made of five elements earth, water, fire, air and ether. These five elements are present in everything alive or inert. The five elements affect the way the energy interacts and depending on their combination; they determine the functioning of the three doshas.
The three yoga body types or doshas are:
Vata dosha has a predominant element of air and ether. Its qualities are cold, dry and irregular. Vata rules the body movement.
Pitta dosha has a predominant element of fire and water. Its qualities are hot, oily and irritable. Pitta rules the digestion.
Kapha dosha has a predominant element of earth and water. Its qualities are cold, wet and stable. Kapha provides grounding to the body.
A person can have one or two predominant doshas. Imbalances are present when you have some habits or live in an environment that aggravates your dosha body type.
Vata body type
Vata dosha has the predominant element of air and ether. Vata is responsible for the movement in the body and mind.
Here are the characteristics of the Vata body constitution:
- Thin build
- Dry skin
- Brittle nails
- Thin hair
- Slightly sunken eyes
- Poor circulation
- Talkative personality
- Emotionally restless
- Prefer warm and hot weather
- When balanced, Vata is creative, peaceful and intuitive
Here are the symptoms you can experience when Vata is out balance:
- Joint pain
- Excessive weight loss
- Fear and restlessness
- Acute stress
- Neck stiffness
- Facial paralysis
- Loose teeth
Keep your Vata body type balanced by doing the following:
Practice yoga or other regular exercise at least two times a week. The perfect yoga for the Vata body type is slow and relaxing practice with controlled movements and breathing. The Vata body type needs to concentrate on poses for core stability and in the exercise of joints of the lower body. For example, try standing poses, forward bends and savasana, which are very good for the Vata body type.
- Vata body type works best by keeping routines for eating, working and sleeping. For example, going to bed before 10 pm and getting up at 6 am.
- Eat sweet, sour and salty food.
- Drink warm beverages and eat hot soups.
- Use plenty of oil and spices for cooking, including black pepper, ginger, cumin and cinnamon in your daily diet.
- Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and chocolate.
Pitta body type
Pitta dosha has the predominant element of fire and water. Pitta is responsible for the digestion and assimilation of nutrients.
Here are the characteristics of the Pitta body constitution:
- Medium build
- Oily skin
- Sharp eyes and nose
- Good body heat regulation
- Warm body temperature
- Good digestion
- Leadership qualities
- Short temper
- When balanced, pitta is energetic and enthusiastic
Here are the symptoms that are experienced when Pitta is out of balance:
- A desire for cold drinks, as too much hot weather, can unbalance pitta
- Yellow skin colour
- Reduce sleep
- Excessive thirst and hunger
- Bitter taste in the mouth
- Bad breath
- Hot flashes
- Peptic ulcers
- Acid reflux
- Inflammation of the stomach
- Skin disorders
- Redness of the skin
- Low blood sugar
Keep your Pitta body type balanced by doing the following:
Practice yoga that is cooling to balance the fire of pitta. Pitta works well with poses that involve stretching, holds and breathing. The postures that are best for Pitta are gentle backbends, twists and forward bends. Limit the inversion poses you do, such as headstands and arm stands as they produce heat. If you have a moderate to advance practice, challenging asanas can help your pitta body type. Rest and relax with savasana. Practice meditation to keep your emotions balanced.
- Pitta body type will benefit from having a routine for eating, working and sleeping.
- Drink plenty of warm water or room temperature water.
- Be surrounded by positive people.
- Spend time outdoors
Kapha body type
Kapha dosha has predominant earth and water elements. Kapha is responsible for lubricating joints, immunity and promoting growth.
Here are the characteristics of the Kapha body constitution:
- Strong build
- Large eyes
- Dark hair
- Prominent white teeth
- Moist skin
- Cool body temperature
- Good circulation
- Easy to gain weight
- People pleaser
When balanced, Kapha is loving, kind and peaceful.
Here are the symptoms that you can experience when Kapha is out of balance:
- Eating disorders
- Respiratory disorders like flu, sinusitis, bronchitis
- Too sensitive
- Lack of appetite
- Joint disorders
Keep your Kapha body type balanced by doing the following:
Practice yoga that builds your strength and stamina like Ashtanga yoga and Vinyasa yoga. If you prefer to do another exercise, try a very active one. To bring balance to Kapha, you need a robust, dynamic and sweaty yoga to produce heat and stamina that will speed up your metabolism.
The Kapha yoga body type needs to focus on poses that produce heat such as inversions and backbends. Wind down with calming postures, long breathing and meditation.
- Kapha needs self-discipline and a little push of encouragement to keep up.
- Kapha needs to eat astringent, spicy and bitter foods.
- Dry and warm food helps keep it balanced.
Hopefully, by now, you have a better understanding of how to recognise the yoga body types or doshas. By identifying, which is your body type, you can get a better idea of the things you can do or not do to bring your dosha back in balance.
No dosha is best that the other, you are born with a particular body type constitution, and you need to learn to work with it. By giving yourself what you need, your body and mind will work better, and you will feel happier.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the three Ayurvedic body types?
The three Ayurvedic body types are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
What is my body type Vata, Pitta or Kapha?
To know which body type you are, you need to check the characteristics that best describe Vata, pitta or Kapha constitutions.
What is the Pitta body type?
The pitta body type is characterised by having a medium build, oily skin, having an energetic and enthusiastic approach to life. Pitta tends to be intelligent, perfectionist and having leadership qualities.
What is a Vata body type?
The Vata body type is characterised by having a thin constitution, dry skin, brittle nails, light hair, sunken eyes and poor circulation. Vata tends to have a creative, peaceful and intuitive approach to life. Vata tends to be talkative and emotionally restless.
Which yoga is best for Vata dosha?
Practice yoga that is calming, slow and relaxing with controlled movements and breathing. Yin yoga and Kundalini yoga can be a good option.
What are the symptoms of Vata?
The symptoms when Vata is out of balance are fatigue, insomnia, headaches, fear, restlessness, stress, joint pain, constipation, excessive weight loss, sciatica, cramps, arthritis, earache. Not all the symptoms may present, but as the imbalance increases and becomes chronic, the symptoms will keep on developing.
What foods should Vata avoid?
Avoid caffeine, alcohol and chocolate, so you don’t aggravate your Vata body type.
What is the Kapha body type?
The Kapha body type is characterised by having a muscular and stocky build, large eyes, dark hair, prominent teeth, moist skin. Kapha tends to have a loving, kind and peaceful approach to life. Kapha tends to be patient, compassionate, lazy, calm and cheerful.
What should Kapha avoid?
The foods you should avoid not to aggravate your Kapha body type, are sugary, cold foods and drinks and inactivity.
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