Take this quiz to find out your Ayurvedic body type
According to Ayurveda you have a unique elemental blend from birth. This palette of ether, air, fire, water and earth paints the unique picture of your mind/body. Your predominant elements (dosha) influence everything about you, including your preferences, weight, height, digestion, dreams, diseases and mind. Over time, new colours may cover the canvas, but your underlying constitution remains the embedded pattern. As Ayurvedic expert Dr Robert Svoboda says, “Your constitution is determined at conception and remains constant throughout life.”
Decoding your dosha gives you the password to managing your health hardware, the key to unlocking your strengths, vulnerabilities and potential. Knowing yourself opens the gate to self-mastery. As Lao Tzu said, “He who knows others is wise; he who knows himself is enlightened.”
“Your body type is as influential as your DNA,” says Ayurvedic doctor, Rama Prasad. “Understanding it is the first step to health and longevity.” So what’s your body type? Are you most like a deer, tiger or koala? This gives a clue to your constitution. A deer has more the qualities of airy vata, a tiger is more fiery pitta and koalas are calm kapha. If you were a car, would you be a sports car (air), race car (fire) or a truck (earth)? One isn’t superior to another but, depending on your design, you require special care. That’s why Dr Prasad calls your body-type tips “the user’s manual we should’ve been born with”.
Discover your dosha
Honestly analysing yourself allows you to uncover your constitution. Hints from your hair to your height signify which elements are dominant.
Answer these quick questions according to your lifetime tendency, to obtain an accurate Ayurvedic body-type assessment. If more than one quality applies, choose the one that is most enduring.
a) I’m slim and don’t gain weight easily
b) I’m naturally muscular
c) I have a large, padded build
a) My hair is thin and frizzy
b) My hair is oily with easy loss
c) My hair is thick
a) I’m tall with long limbs
b) I’m medium height with muscular legs
c) I’m shortish with curves
a) My eyes are small
b) My eyes are penetrating
c) My eyes are big and calm
a) My teeth are irregular
b) My teeth are medium with soft gums
c) My teeth are big and white
a) My skin tends to be dry
b) My skin is pinkish, warm and sweaty
c) My skin is cool and oily
a) My nails are dry and thin
b) My nails are soft and reddish
c) My nails are thick and smooth
a) I have thin lips
b) I have red lips
c) I have thick lips
a) My chin is angular
b) My chin is tapered
c) My chin is big and rounded
a) I have a thin, long face
b) I have a triangular or heart-shaped face
c) I have a round face
a) My neck is long and slim
b) My neck is medium-sized
c) My neck is thick
a) I have a small chest
b) I have a medium chest
c) I have a large chest
a) My joints crack easily
b) My joints are strong
c) My joints are large
a) I have an irregular appetite
b) I have a strong appetite
c) I have a steady yet moderate appetite
a) I tend to get constipation and gas
b) I tend to get acidity and diarrhoea
c) I tend to get sleepy after eating
a) I learn things quickly and forget them quickly
b) I learn things quickly and remember them
c) I learn things slowly and remember them
a) I’m a fast and profuse talker
b) I like purposeful conversations
c) I enjoy listening and talk slowly
a) I am prone to worry
b) I have a quick temper
c) I can get depressed
a) I like doing creative, expressive things
b) I’m ambitious and entrepreneurial
c) I like to build things and serve others
a) I feel the cold easily
b) I prefer winter to summer
c) I dislike humidity
a) I’m a sensitive sleeper
b) I can sleep for short periods
c) I have deep, sound sleep
a) My dreams are often of travel or flying
b) My dreams are exciting or violent
c) My dreams are romantic and relaxing
a) I spend money spontaneously
b) I spend money on planned purchases
c) I save money and spend it thoughtfully
a) I space out easily
b) I’m intense and precise
c) I get sentimental easily
a) I like change, trying new things
b) I like to convince or win in anything
c) I like to support without judgement
Add up your scores of a, b and c. The highest number is your primary dosha and the next highest is your secondary dosha. If you are:
- Mostly a. You are a vata constitution, air and ether
- Mostly b. You are a pitta constitution, fire and water
- Mostly c. You are a kapha constitution, earth and water
- Equal a, b or c. You are a dual constitution
What’s your type?
To ensure your results ring true, read the following body-type traits. Remember that a temporary imbalance is not your body type. As Rama Prasad emphasises, “Many misunderstand that disease indicates constitution, but it’s your persistent expression from birth.”
Vata: air & ether
You’re the slim, spritely ectomorph type that others envy because of your effortlessly svelte figure. Like Cate Blanchett in Benjamin Button, vata is a vivacious character — enthusiastic, energetic, creative, imaginative, inspirational! Marathon running, gymnastics and yoga are your forte. Vatas are restless like the wind, inviting change and uplifting others with their fresh and fun spirits. Your energy is infectious and you instigate exciting escapades. Vata types can be dreamers, more satisfied with fantasy than reality. You’re quick-witted with a sharp intellect that attracts and entertains others, like vatas Woody Allen and Carol Burnett. Your spontaneous side can lead others on a merry dance full of fun and emotion. Though your energy and idealism may suffer storms, your sails are soon filled with wind again for an exciting life voyage. Other vata examples are Audrey Hepburn, David Bowie and horses.
Pitta: fire & water
You’re a muscular mesomorph type, the steamy sprinters of athletics. Your heat and passion fire you up with strong digestion and ambition. At your best, you’re confident and capable, like typical pitta Richard Branson — fun, competitive, decisive and driven, with great people skills. At your worst, you can burn out and burn those around you with your blazing intensity. You thrive on challenges but get frustrated if you can’t meet your own high expectations. Watch your hot temper and impatience as they can get you into trouble. When needed you can summon the courage of pitta personalities Xena or Braveheart. This sees you trailblazing where others fear to tread. You’re passionate, exciting lovers, but watch your inclination to control others. Other pitta examples are Madonna, Donald Trump and tigers.
Kapha: earth & water
Curvy kaphas are endormorphs — solid men and hourglass women. You’re calmer and quieter than the other types. Oprah Winfrey is a classic kapha: sympathetic, sentimental, sweet, slow and heavy-set. You’re the foundation of society, strong and supportive with a soft centre. However, you can become martyrs, neglecting yourself for others. Your reserves give you great stamina as long as you don’t get stuck in bad habits of overeating and under-exercising. You gain weight more easily than others and are slower to lose it. Like the turtle, you build personal and professional success slowly and steadily. You make affectionate, loyal lovers with a tendency to co-dependency. Kapha examples are Kim Kardashian, Elvis Presley and bears.
Ayurvedic text Sushruta Samhita says, “One whose doshas are in balance, whose appetite is good, whose body, mind and senses are blissful, is called a healthy person.” Make your body your friend by treating it with respect. Different types thrive in different habitats, but you can adapt with simple measures. As Deepak Chopra says, “Balance is flexibility in the face of change; perfect balance is perfect flexibility in the face of constant change.”
For example, vatas should dress warmly in winter and pittas should shelter from strong sun. Celebrate your constitutional strengths and prevent potential illness by following the recommended regime for you.
Though you love stimulation and multitasking, this can drain your energy and fray your nerves. Moderation, nurturing and routine keep you balanced. You don’t have the reserves to skip sleep and meals: this depletes your body and unsettles your mind. Replenish with regular rest, eating and exercise. Try meditation, massage and silence to ground and soothe your overactive nervous system. Anything that calms and centres you nurtures your nature. Consider a creative pursuit such as art or dance to channel your often unfocused energy.
Simplify and prioritise what enhances your life. Let go of stresses such as difficult people and minimise stimulants such as caffeine and cigarettes. Soothe your senses with nature walks, calming music and quiet contemplation. Your dry, cold and light body benefits from the grounding of warm, cooked food, ginger tea, earthy colours, sesame-oil self-massage and essential oils such as cinnamon for warmth and rose for serenity. Your mantra is BREATHE.
“Chillax” would be the best catchphrase for pitta. When out of balance, you’re a firecracker sparked by a burning body and explosive emotions. Ayurvedic doctor Claudia Welch explains pitta’s heat can manifest as a “rosy complexion, warm temperature, strong metabolism and appetite or, in excess, as ulcers, heartburn or a hot temper.” Seething heat can cause rashness and skin rashes. Cool down before reacting as your sharp tongue can cut others. Practise pausing, breathing, smiling and seeing the good in a person or situation. Delegate with trust, resigning as general manager of the universe to curb your controlling urge.
As a driven type-A personality you’ll burn out or have a heart attack if you don’t relax regularly. Your raging digestive fire needs feeding before you get “hangry” and consumes those around you! Find an outlet for your exceptional energy through charity, swimming, sport or martial arts. Avoid spicy food, hot weather, alcohol, smoking and volatile people. Unwind with mellow music and sweet smells such as jasmine and vetivert. Wear cooling white and pastels. Aloe vera juice plus turmeric cool and cleanse you. Your mantra is SMILE.
“Just do it” is the cure for you. Counter your tendency to laziness and overindulgence with disciplined diet and exercise. Challenge yourself with new pursuits before you stagnate in your comfort zone. Getting stuck can lead to depression, obesity, mucus and co-dependency. Keep flowing forward by committing to daily exercise, goal-setting and clearing clutter. You often need external motivation, so joining a class or having an exercise buddy is ideal for you.
Attend to your needs first, then look after others; kaphas tend to use others’ demands as an excuse to neglect their needs. Your cold constitution leads to poor circulation, so stimulate this with body brushing, saunas and warming spices such as garlic and pepper. Wear bright colours and invigorating oils, including lemongrass and orange. Your mantra is MOVE.
Vatas have irregular appetites, fasting, picking or feasting according to their whims. This can cause gas, constipation and malabsorption. Regular meals that are cooked, warm and liquid balance vata. Adding ghee and warming spices such as hing, cloves and cumin reduces bloat. Warm milk with cardamom, nutmeg and ginger grounds you for deep sleep. Avoid light and airy foods such as crackers, crisps, puffed grains and popcorn. Meadowsweet, fennel and peppermint tea settle your digestion.
Your strong digestion may lead to overeating in a hurry. Remember to chew and savour each mouthful. Reduce spicy, pungent and oily foods as they fuel inflammation or heartburn. Avoid acidic oranges, honey, tomatoes, vinegar, red meat, sugar and excessive grains. Stay cool with coconut water, salads, green vegetables, beans and pure water. Try Himalayan or Celtic salt as it’s less heating. Substitute stimulating caffeine and energy drinks with dandelion coffee. To subdue your fire, add mint, coriander, parsley, rosewater and dill to dishes.
Focus on low-calorie, high-nutrient foods that don’t drag you down. Find alternative ways to feed emotional needs other than eating. Light and energising foods are your friend. Think stirfries, salads, seeds, legumes, honey, fresh fruit and vegetable juices. Cleanse with spices such as pepper, green chilli, ginger, garlic, cinnamon and fenugreek. Avoid heavy, fatty, sugary foods, such as carbs, red meat, carbonated drinks, dairy, sweets, chocolate and deep-fried foods. Have a very light, early dinner of soup, juice or honeyed chai. Eat only when hungry and fast regularly.
- Ayurvedic doctor Rama Prasad lectures and consults throughout Australia. W: drramaprasad.com
Naturopath and Ayurvedic consultant Caroline Robertson has enjoyed consulting, teaching and writing about health and human potential for over 20 years. Based in far north Queensland, Australia, she welcomes enquiries regarding consultations, health retreats and guided meditations. W: carolinerobertson.com.au