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Next Steps for Vata-Kapha types
1) Subscribe to our special email list for Vata-Kapha types
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2) Managing a Vata-Kapha Constitution
Being a vata-kapha type means that two doshas are predominant in your constitution. It is usually best to manage a dual dosha Prakriti according to the season. In general, as a vata-kapha follow a vata-pacifying regimen during the summer and fall seasons, during the change of seasons and especially when the weather is cool and dry. Follow a kapha-pacifying regimen during the winter and spring and especially when the weather is cool and damp. Read more about vata and kapha below.
Tatra ruksho laghu sheetah, khara sukshma chalo nilah The qualities of Vata are dry, light, cool, rough, subtle and mobile -Ashtanga Hrdayam 1:11
The Qualities of VataThis Sanskrit line lists the main qualities of Vata and provides a key to understanding what it means to have a predominantly Vata Prakriti. The main qualities of Vata are dry, light, cool, rough, subtle and mobile. So, having a Vata-predominant Prakriti means that these qualities express themselves generously throughout your mental, emotional and physical make up. If you look back over the Prakriti test, you can get a feel for how these qualities manifest themselves. A Vata predominant individual's strengths and weaknesses both reflect these qualities.
- In excess, the dry and rough qualities may manifest themselves as dry or brittle skin, lips, hair, nails or bones (e.g. osteoporosis), as constipation, or as feeling "dry" emotionally.
- The "light" quality may manifest itself as giving you a lanky physique but excess lightness may manifest as being underweight, having muscle wasting, light bones, insomnia or feeling "spacey" or insecure.
- The cold quality of Vata may lead you to feel cold more easily than others around you, have cold hands and feet and crave warmth.
- The subtle quality may express itself as being introverted, creative and having an active fantasy life.
- The mobile quality may lead to a healthy ability to "multi-task" or, in excess, to scattered attention, a fidgety tendency, tremors, and nervousness. It may manifest as extremes; as in being very tall or very short or being drastically different weights at different times in your life.
Decreasing or Balancing Vata
Like Increases LikeA basic tenet of Ayurveda is "like increases like." Therefore, increasing the inherent qualities of Vata will increase Vata in your body, mind and spirit.
For example, because vata is inherently cool - cool weather, cool foods, the cool seasons and times of day, and even cool emotions can increase Vata. Likewise, dry seasons, foods, environments or emotions will increase the dry quality and thereby increase Vata.
Example: You are a Vata individual. One of the qualities of Vata is dryness. You live in a dry climate, like a desert, and you regularly snack on dry crackers. This added dryness adds to the dry quality of Vata, which you already have plenty of. This usually increases Vata and can lead to dry conditions like constipation or dry skin. This is an extreme example to illustrate the point.
Tastes That Increase and Decrease VataAlong with the main qualities of Vata, it is also helpful to know those tastes that increase and decrease Vata.
Pungent, bitter and astringent tastes increase Vata by increasing its drying and cooling qualities. An example of the pungent taste is chili peppers. Bitter and astringent tastes are common in most leafy greens and many herbs.
The sweet, sour and salty tastes decrease Vata by bringing moisture, bulk and warmth to the body, which are opposite qualities to those of Vata. An example of a naturally sweet taste is wheat; of sour: pickles; of salty: seaweed.
Opposites as MedicineAs said above, each of us has a unique proportion of the three doshas in our Prakritis. Ayurveda teaches us that if a dosha increases beyond its original, natural proportion for us, it fosters an environment where disease can flourish.
It is common for our predominant dosha (Vata, Pitta or Kapha) to increase more quickly than other doshas because we tend to perpetuate what we know best. For example, if your dominant dosha is Vata, you will naturally incline towards a life filled with activity, due to the mobile quality of Vata. However, if you are too active, you are likely to eventually aggravate Vata and thereby exhaust the nervous system.
If a dosha increases in our bodies, Ayurveda suggests that we will want to decrease it in order to regain a healthy balance in our constitution.
Medicines are substances that decrease the excess dosha by providing the opposite qualities to it. For example, if Vata has increased due to excess activity, a quiet, calm environment can be a medicine. If it has increased due to excess dryness, wetness can be the medicine. Too much cold? Use heat.
One of the wonderfully practical aspects of Ayurveda is that anything can be used as a medicine because everything that exists has a quality. This includes but is not limited to: herbs, foods, colors, drinks, environments, smells and lifestyles.
Qualities opposite to Vata are moist, grounding, warming, smooth, oily and stabilizing. It is therefore best for Vata individuals to seek out physical and emotional environments, routines, and foods that possess these opposite qualities.
Opposites in Diet as MedicineA Vata individual does well to have warming, freshly cooked, nourishing, mushy foods, like soups, stews and one-pot-meals. Because of the inherent "light" quality in Vata, you may think that heavy foods would nicely balance that quality but actually too much heavy food-or just too much food at a sitting--is too heavy for the lightness of the Vata digestive system.
Because the sweet, sour and salty tastes decrease Vata, these tastes should be predominant in your diet.
When selecting sweet foods, note that naturally sweet foods like many grains, squashes, and most fruits are appropriate, but processed foods high in refined sugars are not at all balancing for Vata. Refined sugars merely offer a quick burst of energy, followed by a "crash," a pattern that is already a hallmark feature of Vata, and one that the Vata individual does well to avoid.
Herbal Support for a Vata ConstitutionUsing herbs to manage your constitution compliments the changes you make in your diet and lifestyle. Ashwagandha, Shatavari and Vidari Kanda are three of the primary herbs used to remove excess vata from the body and maintain balance. All of these herbs can be found in our Healthy Vata herbal tablets.
Opposites in Climate and Lifestyle as MedicineThe ideal environment for a Vata individual is warm and wet, like Hawaii. Sweet or grounding scents, like the essential oils of rose, jatamansi or mitti; sweet music and sweet emotions are also good "medicines" for Vata. A daily, 10-20 minute, gentle self-massage with warm sesame oil can positively change the life of a Vata-type.
The mobile quality of Vata can drive Vata-types to do "1000" things at one time. This can lead to exhaustion of the nervous system, which in turn causes emotional and physical restlessness and eventual "dis-ease." While a routine can feel contrary to your nature, it can be extremely beneficial for you to incorporate into your life. For example, rising and going to bed at about the same time every day, giving regular time to meditation, gentle yoga or other strengthening exercise that is easy on the joints. Also try having regular meals, chewing them thoroughly and taking a breath before moving on to your next activity.
In general, it is best to move through life as if you were a master. Ask yourself, "If a master were faced with this situation, how would she act?" Then enjoy playing that part.
Yoga for Vata TypesVisit the Vata Pacifying Yoga section on our website for information on how to customize your yoga practice to help balance vata.
Famous Vata ExamplesChristy Turlington. Lanky. Moves around a lot. Very tall. Angular face.
Mick Jagger. Jumps around. Creative. Lanky. Disproportionate features.
Snigdhah shita gururmandah slakshno mritsnah sthirah kaphah
Kapha is unctuous, cool, heavy, slow, smooth, soft and static
-Ashtanga Hrdayam 1:12
The Qualities of Kapha
This Sanskrit line lists the main qualities of Kapha and provides a key to understanding what it means to have a predominantly Kapha Prakriti.
The main qualities of Kapha are unctuous, cool, heavy, slow, smooth, soft and stable. It is also dense, cloudy and viscous. So, having a Kapha-predominant Prakriti means that these qualities express themselves generously throughout your mental, emotional and physical make up. You may find them reflected in your strengths and weaknesses.
- The unctuous quality can allow for smooth joint function but, if pronounced, can lead to excess mucous.
- The cool quality may manifest as cool skin and a laid-back, cool temperament.
- Heaviness may manifest as a large, sturdy, grounded physical and emotional constitution and, in excess, as being overweight or experiencing a subjective feeling of heaviness in the mind.
- Slowness may manifest as a slow gait or a slow, steady pace that you can maintain. In excess, you may get stuck in a pattern that may not be the best for you.
- Softness can manifest as a soft heart that is easily empathic. Another manifestation of this quality is having soft skin.
- Stability can be an asset that friends, family and colleagues probably recognize and perhaps lean on, but in excess could become stubbornness or sluggishness. You could become so stable that you are disinclined toward any physical activity.
- Density can manifest as good stamina and strong, well-formed muscles and bones. This enables the Kapha constitution to withstand vigorous exercise. This quality is also responsible for dense, luxurious hair.
Decreasing or Balancing Kapha
Like Increases Like
A basic tenet of Ayurveda is "like increases like." Therefore, increasing the inherent qualities of Kapha will increase Kapha in your body, mind and spirit.
For example, because Kapha is inherently cool, heavy and wet - cold weather, heavy foods or wet seasons tend to increase Kapha. Knowing this can help identify which lifestyle choices, foods or environments will bring balance to your constitution.
Example: You are a Kapha individual. Kapha is heavy, dense, wet, cold and static. If you eat a large bowl of ice cream (heavy, dense wet and cold,) at night (cold) in winter in Vermont (cold, wet), you can be sure that Kapha will increase in your system. The next morning you may find yourself with a cold, having gained a pound or two (the increase of heavy and dense) and less likely to move than ever (static).
Tastes That Increase and Decrease Kapha
Along with the main qualities of Kapha, it is also helpful to know those tastes that increase or decrease Kapha.
Sweet, sour and salty tastes increase Kapha by increasing bulk and moisture in the body and mind, and by perpetuating the qualities of Kapha. An example of the naturally sweet taste is wheat; of sour: a pickle; of salty: salt.
The pungent, bitter and astringent tastes traditionally decrease Kapha by drying the body and providing the opposite qualities to those of Kapha. An example of the pungent taste is chili pepper; of bitter and astringent (which are often coupled): many leafy greens and many herbs.
Opposites as Medicine
Each of us has a unique proportion of the three doshas in our Prakritis. Ayurveda teaches us that if a dosha increases beyond its original, natural proportion for us, it fosters an environment where disease can flourish.
It is common for our predominant dosha (Vata, Pitta or Kapha) to increase more quickly than other doshas because we tend to perpetuate what we know best. For example, if your dominant dosha is Kapha, due to the slow quality of Kapha you may be naturally inclined toward calming activities. In excess, this quality may lead to stagnation.
If a dosha increases in our bodies, Ayurveda suggests that we will want to decrease it in order to restore a healthy balance to our constitution.
Medicines are substances that decrease the excess dosha by providing the opposite qualities to it. For example, if Kapha has increased due to excess stagnation in your life, activity can be a medicine. If it has increased due to excess coolness, you can use heat as a medicine. Too much heaviness? Use lightness.
One of the practical aspects of Ayurveda is that anything can be used as a medicine because everything that exists has a quality. This includes but is not limited to: herbs, foods, drinks, environments, colors, smells and lifestyles.
Qualities opposite to Kapha are predominantly warm, dry, light and active. It is therefore best for Kapha individuals to seek out physical and emotional environments, routines, and foods that possess these opposite qualities.
Opposites in Diet as Medicine
A Kapha individual does well to have a moderate amount of warming, light, freshly cooked foods to maintain balance.
Because pungent, bitter and astringent tastes decrease Kapha, these tastes should be predominant in your diet.
Herbal Support for a Kapha Constitution
A Kapha individual does well to have a moderate amount of warming, light, freshly cooked foods to maintain balance.
Using herbs to manage your constitution compliments the changes you make in your diet and lifestyle. Bibhitaki, Chitrak and Punarnava are three of the primary herbs used to remove excess kapha from the body and maintain balance. All of these herbs can be found in our Healthy Kapha herbal tablets.
Opposites in Climate and Lifestyle as Medicine
Although Kapha may be able to tolerate a wide variety of temperatures, the ideal environment is a warm and dry one. Active sports like jogging, hiking, biking or competitive sports, especially in the morning, are best. Aromatic, invigorating or heating scents, like essential oils of hina or myrrh and light and lively music are also good "medicines" for Kapha. A vigorous, daily, 10-20 minute self-massage with warm sesame oil will help keep Kapha from becoming stagnant.
One of the best medicines for Kapha is activity. It is well worth the effort for the Kapha individual to find that golden key to what motivates them. For example, if you have a difficult time motivating yourself to exercise regularly, you could enter yourself in a local bike race. This may give you just that extra push and you may be surprised by how much you enjoy yourself.
Yoga for Kapha Types
Visit the Kapha Pacifying Yoga section on our website for information on how to customize your yoga practice to help balance kapha.
Famous Kapha Examples
Oprah Winfrey: Large, luminescent eyes and frame. Compassionate. Generous.
Luciano Pavarotti: Deep, resonant voice. Large frame.
Knowing our Prakriti is useful because it increases awareness of our natural strengths and challenges. This is a positive first step towards understanding health.
The second step is to understand if and how we have strayed from our natural, healthy constitution. In Ayurveda, we determine this by comparing our Prakriti (natural constitution) with our Vikriti, our current condition.
The next step is to determine your current condition (Vikriti).
The above information was written by Dr. Claudia Welch and Melody Mischke for the exclusive use of Banyan Botanicals. The information is protected by copyright and may not be reprinted without the written permission of Dr. Claudia Welch and Banyan Botanicals. More about Dr. Claudia Welch
The above Prakriti test and results are intended as a convenient tool to provide practical information on your Ayurvedic constitutional type. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. In addition, it should be noted that while this information should be considered highly useful it is not meant to replace the skilled constitutional analysis of a professionally trained Ayurvedic Physician.