In college, my life was so busy that I ended up forgetting about taking good care of my body—more specifically, how I ate. I was stressed, I was poor, I’d never taken care of myself by myself before, and I was busy trying to make it in the social circles around me. This, in my mind, left little to no room for food. There was no time! So, despite continually losing weight and strength and feeling fatigued constantly, I told myself that I was too busy. That it wasn’t a big deal.
But it was. I was constantly getting sick, I was anemic, and I could never seem to get enough sleep. I was massively imbalanced. And the more stressed I got, the less I ate. After college ended I was marginally better, but four years of training my mind to say no to food was hard to overcome. Several months ago, I bought a book on Ayurveda. And it changed my life.
Ayurveda, an ancient Indian medicine system, teaches us how to take care of our bodies. Ayurveda makes it clear that we should never neglect our health, no matter what is going on around us. And this ancient science gives us very specific tools to do so, in accordance with our own unique bodily constitutions. There are three types: vata, pitta, and kapha. Here’s the rundown of what those words mean, in short form:
Vata: this constitution deals with space and air. Vata types are usually thin and bony, with rough, dry, papery skin and prominent joints. These types tend to be spacey in the mind, don’t have a normal routine, and are naturally creative and spontaneous. They remember things they’ve just learned quickly, but their long-term memory is dicey. Vata types have trouble gaining weight. They are also artistic and tend to be great at communicating.
Pitta: this constitution deals with fire and water. Pitta types are average height and weight, and don’t have trouble gaining or losing weight, depending on what they need. They have great digestion unless imbalanced; if they are, they tend to have the most trouble in their gut. These types are quick to anger and very competitive, tend to have fair skin, and are intelligent. Pitta types are natural leaders.
Kapha: this constitution deals with water and earth. Kapha types tend to be overweight and don’t lose it easily. They are strong and steady, don’t make decisions lightly, and have thick, oily skin. These types tend to be very kind and compassionate, are understanding, and need a regular daily routine to feel comfortable. They don’t learn quickly, but once they have something in their head they’re hard-pressed to lose it.
Once you know your bodily constitution, you know what kind of diet you should be eating to keep you balanced. Each type needs different things to keep them grounded and content. If I had known all this in college, my body would have thanked me! Vata types (which is me) need more oil and fat in their diet than the other types. As well, they should cook their vegetables and eat far less raw (or dried). Pitta types should eat cooling foods, because their bodies tend to be so hot, and should avoid spicy. Kapha types should eat the lightest, with lots of raw fruits and vegetables and little to no meat.
Remember that these guidelines are incredibly basic—there is so much more where this is coming from! By following what to eat for Vata types, I have seen a huge change in the way my body feels; I have more energy, I am stronger, and my mood (and my weight!) has stabilized. My body is thanking me.
If you want more detailed information, I invite you to read the book Eat Taste Heal by Thomas Yarema, Daniel Rhoda, and Johnny Brannigan. Not only does this book give you a detailed description of your bodily type and diet, it also gives you a cookbook to use to your advantage! And if you want to speak in person, you can always talk to us at Yoga Innovations. Finding the right balance of food in your body makes all the difference in your health. Make sure you treat your body—and your mind—right!