Ayurveda or "science of life" is an ancient Indian system of medicine founded on the immutable laws of nature. Ayurveda views each patient as a unique, complex individual. Unlike other medical modalities which focus on the treatment of symptoms of an illness, Ayurveda concentrates on the source of the patient’s disease, supporting the body’s innate wisdom to restore optimal health.
The basis of Ayurvedic philosophy is the belief that the intelligence of the natural world is within each of us. The five basic elements of the universe – ether, air, fire, water and earth – combine in the body into three characteristic humors (doshas): Vata (ether and air), Pitta (fire and water) and Kapha (water and earth). Ayurvedic medicine stimulates our inner intelligence, and activates our own unlimited healing potential in order to achieve optimal balance of the three doshas.
People of vata constitution are generally physically slender and small-framed. Their chests are flat with their veins and muscle tendons visible. The complexion is brown; the skin is cool, rough, dry and cracked. Vata people generally are either taller or shorter than average, with thin frames that reveal prominent joints and bone-ends because of small muscle development. The hair is curly, the eyelashes are thin, and the eyes matte. The eyes may be sunken, small, dry, and active. The nails are rough and brittle. The shape of the nose is bent and in some cases turned-up.
Physiologically, the appetite and digestion are variable. Vata people love sweet tastes, sour tastes, salty tastes, and hot drinks. The production of urine is scanty and the feces are dry, hard, and small in quantity. They have a tendency to perspire less than other constitutional types. Their sleep may be disturbed and they will sleep less than the other types. Their hands and feet are often cold.
Psychologically, they are characterized by short memories but quick mental understanding. They will understand something immediately, but will soon forget it. They sometimes lack willpower, tend toward mental instability, and are sensitive to tolerance, confidence, or boldness. Their reasoning power may be construed as weak and Vata people are nervous, fearful at times, and afflicted by much anxiety. Vata people tend to earn money quickly and also to spend it quickly.
Pitta- is a force created by the dynamic interplay of water and fire. These forces represent transformation.
Pitta governs digestion, absorption, assimilation, nutrition, metabolism, body temperature, and skin coloration, the luster of the eyes, intelligence, and understanding. Psychologically, pitta arouses anger, hate, and jealousy. The small intestine, stomach, sweat glands, blood, fat, eyes, and skin are the seats of Pitta.
These people are of medium height, are slender, and their body frame may be delicate. Their chests are not as flat as those of vata people, and they show a medium prominence of veins and muscle tendons. The bones are not as prominent as in the vata individual. Muscle development is moderate.
The pitta complexion may be coppery, yellowish, reddish or fair. The skin is soft, warm, and less wrinkled than vata skin. The hair is thin, silky, red, or brownish, and there is a tendency toward premature graying of hair and hair loss. The eyes may be gray, green, or cooper brown, and sharp: the eyeballs will be of medium prominence. The nails are soft. The shape of the nose is sharp and the tip tends to be reddish.
Physiologically, these people have a strong metabolism, good digestion and resulting strong appetites. The person of pitta constitution usually takes large quantities of food and liquid. Pitta types have a natural craving for sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes and enjoy cold drinks. Their sleep is of medium duration but uninterrupted. They produce a large volume of urine and the feces are yellowish, liquid, soft, and plentiful. There is a tendency toward excessive perspiring. The body temperature may run slightly high, and their hands and feet will tend to be warm. Pitta people do not tolerate sunlight, heat, or hard work well.
Psychologically, pitta people have good powers of comprehension; they are very intelligent and sharp and tend to be good orators. They have emotional tendencies toward hate, anger, and jealousy. They are ambitious people who generally like to be leaders. Pitta people appreciate material prosperity and they tend to be moderately well-off financially. They enjoy exhibiting their wealth and luxurious possession.
Kapha is the conceptual equilibrium of water and earth. Kapha is both structure and lubrication. One can visualize the Kapha force as the stirring force that keeps the water and the earth from separating. This dosha maintains body resistance. Water is the main constituent of kapha, and this bodily water is responsible physiologically for biological strength and natural tissue resistance in the body. Kapha lubricates the joints; provides moisture to the skin; helps to heal wounds; fills the spaces in the body; gives biological strength, vigor, and stability; supports memory retention; gives energy to the heart and lungs, and maintains immunity.
Kapha is present in the chest, throat, head, sinuses, nose, mouth, stomach, joints, cytoplasm, plasma, and in the liquid secretions of the body, such as mucus. Psychologically, kapha is responsible for the emotions of attachment, greed, and long-standing envy. It is also expressed in tendencies toward calmness, forgiveness, and love. The chest is the seat of kapha.
People of kapha constitution have well-developed bodies. There is, however, a strong tendency for these individuals to carry excess weight. Their chests are expanded and broad. The veins and tendons of kapha people are not obvious because of their thick skin and their muscle development is good. The bones are not prominent.
Their complexions are fair and bright. The skin is soft, lustrous, and oily, and it is also cold and pale. The hair is thick, dark, soft, and wavy. The eyes are dense and black or blue: the white of the eye is generally very white, large, and attractive.
Physiologically, kapha people have regular appetites. Due to slow digestion, they tend to consume less food. They crave pungent, bitter and astringent foods. Stools are soft and may be pale in color, evacuation is slow. Their perspiration is moderate. Sleep is sound and prolonged. There is a strong vital capacity evidenced by good stamina, and kapha people are generally healthy, happy and peaceful.
Psychologically, they tend to be tolerant, calm, forgiving, and loving: however, they also exhibit traits of greed, attachment, envy, and possessiveness. Their comprehension is slow but definite: once they understand something, that knowledge is retained. Kapha people tend to be wealthy. They earn money and are good at holding on to it.
Other body types are a combination and permutation of the doshas present in them. Life is considered a sacred path in Ayurveda; a ceaseless interaction between the internal Tridosha, environment and the external environment, or the sum of cosmic forces. To counterbalance external change, an individual may create a balance in the internal forces by altering his or her diet, lifestyle, and behavior.