Finding your own constitution type is a great way to know more about yourself—what diet, yoga and lifestyle will suit you best! Advice on yoga, healthy diet can be very contradictory and confusing. Ayurveda makes it personal, and finds the optimum lifestyle choices for you!
In ayurveda, everything is based on the 5 elements: space, air, fire, water and earth. Ayurveda recognises that we are all a unique combination of these, and hence need to take care of ourselves in different ways.
When your combination of elements are balanced, you feel healthy and happy. If not, you can be uncomfortable in yourself, and it is from here that all emotional and physical issues arise.
Finding your constitution
Your constitution is a bit like your astrological chart and is defined at birth. The aim is to become the best version of yourself by keeping balanced.
The elements are divided into three Doshas or types.
Vata Dosha = space and air
I call it Air as it is easy to remember, and if you say someone is ‘airy’ it describes vata quite well.
Pitta Dosha = fire and water
I call this Fire, if you say someone is ‘fiery’ this again describes pitta
Kapha Dosha = earth and water
I call this Earth as an earthy person describes kapha
Try this fun quiz to get an idea of your constitution type.
How is your body frame?
a) Thin, Irregular, Prominent bones
b) Medium, Balanced
c) Large, Solid
How is your body weight ?
a) Low, Underweight
b) Medium, Even
c) Heavy, Overweight
How is your skin?
a) Dry, Cold, Rough, Thin, Dark, Cold hands and feet
b) Moist, Warm, Smooth, Oily, Rosy, Freckles, Irritable
c) Soft, Cool, Wet, Thick, Pale
How is your hair?
a) Dry, Thin, Split ends, Dark, Curly, Knotted, Brittle
b) Oily, Straight, Blonde/Red/Grey, Bald
c) Oil, Lustrous, Thick, Wavy, Brown
How would you describe your sleep?
a) Disturbed. You’re a light sleeper and often suffer from insomnia.
b) Good. Restful and you don’t need much sleep.
c) Deep. You’re a heavy sleeper and you sleep for long periods of time.
You’re at a party and someone is flirting outrageously with your partner, how do you react?
a) You feel insecure and anxious but you probably won’t confront your partner.
b) You turn into the green-eyed monster, the vol-au-vents are flying and you end up having a huge argument.
c) You know you have nothing to worry about and you carry on having a great night with your friends.
You’re on holiday, it’s 30 degrees in the shade, which of the following best describes you?
a) You love the heat and you’re famed for being a sun worshipper amongst your friends, especially because you tan really easily.
b) You find the heat unbearable, you feel agitated and all you want to do is stay in the pool. You can burn easily or are prone to prickly heat rashes.
c) You don’t mind the heat but prefer to take it easy and relax all day in the shade. You don’t like it when it’s humid.
Is your appetite…
a) Variable. You like to graze all day and pick at bits as and when you fancy.
b) Regular. You like to eat at particular times but when you’re hungry it’s intense and you can’t focus until you’ve had some food!
c) Steady. You enjoy relaxed meals and take your time over your food.
Is your thirst…
a) Variable and you generally prefer hot drinks.
b) Regular. You’re often thirsty and generally you prefer cool drinks.
c) Low. You rarely get thirsty.
The air element, vata, is quite strong in your constitution. Air types tend to be visionary, imaginative and full of creative energy. But when they are out of balance they can be forgetful, spaced out, anxious and uptight. Typical vata problems are erratic digestion, bloating, anxiety or joint disorders.
Yoga that’s calming and relaxing is great for you especially if you feel stressed. Keep the breath calm and strong, and concentrate in the moment. Good yoga postures for air types are the tree, chair, dog, and inverted postures. Treat yourself to a long relaxation visualise a warm sunny beach.
Resist the temptation to rush around particularly if you are getting spaced out, centre yourself and have a warm snack if you need it. Try to get to bed early for at least 6-7 hours sleep. Stay relaxed before bedtime, avoid arguments late at night save them up for the next day!
Eat regular warm meals that are easy to digest (one pot stews are great) little and often is best, don’t skip breakfast a nice bowl of porridge or warm cereal will keep you going all morning. Air constitution is cold so avoid raw food in cool weather and cold drinks. Sip warm water to keep hydrated.
The fire element pitta is quite strong. Fire types are often confident, passionate leaders, organised and perfectionists but excess pitta can make you snappy or irritable. There may be a tendency to suffer from skin irritations, overheating, heartburn and ulcers.
Practice yoga that’s calming and refreshing after a long day. Stay cool and relaxed during the postures, exhaling through the mouth to remove heat. Allow the mind to be receptive and aware but not critical. Avoid strong postures if you feel agitated. Good yoga postures for fire types are the child, forward bend, head to knee and the tortoise. A 10 minute relaxation can refocus your energy and keep things in perspective.
Eat regular healthy meals, fire constitution is hot so raw food is great in warm weather. Resist the temptation to skip meals to get things done and avoid hot spicy food if you are stressed. If you feel ready to explode at someone, count to 10 even 100 or you may just be hungry. Drink plenty of water drinks to keep hydrated and detoxed.
Try to get to sleep more than 6 hours each day, one hour before midnight is worth two after.
The earth element kapha is strong you may be feeling lethargic or have put on weight after the winter holiday. Earth types tend to be loyal, kind-hearted, calm and full of love, but an excess can make you sluggish, lacking in energy and a little overindulgent. Typical ailments are congestion, excess weight and slow digestion
Warm up well do movements with speed and determination! Keep the body moving and warm. Emphasis stronger yoga if you feel lethargic, like the warrior, locust, bow, cobra or boat. A bit of aerobic movement can be good if you are lacking get up and go.
Eat regular meals but cut down on your favourite stodgy stuff if you are feeling heavy. Spicy food with a bit of ginger and chilli can be good to get you going. Remember to drink some water though the day, warm is best in cool seasons.
Set the alarm a bit earlier and have a quick work out to get going. Avoid “lie in for world peace sleep marathons”.
On my Yoga, Nutrition Detox weekends, there will be a chance to work out your constitution type and an opportunity to work out your own personal health plan. Also the available is the full ayurvedic questionnaire.
A few pictures from the last retreatGreat Ayurvedic Food!