Managing a Vata-Pitta Constitution
Being a vata-pitta 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-pitta, follow a vata-pacifying regimen during the fall and winter seasons, during the change of seasons and especially when the weather is cold and windy. Follow a pitta-pacifying regimen during the spring and summer and especially when the weather is warm. Read more about vata and pitta below.
“Tatra ruksho laghu sheetah, khara sukshmaschalo nilah”
The qualities of Vata are dry, light, cool, rough, subtle and mobile.
This 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 Like
A 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.
Tastes That Increase and Decrease Vata
Along 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 Medicine
As 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.
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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 Medicine
A 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 Constitution
Using 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 Medicine
The ideal environment for a vata individual is warm and wet, like Hawaii. Sweet scents, 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 Types
Visit the vata-pacifying yoga section on our website for information on how to customize your yoga practice to help balance vata.
Famous Vata Examples
Christy Turlington. Lanky. Moves around a lot. Very tall. Angular face.
Mick Jagger. Jumps around. Creative. Lanky. Disproportionate features.
“Pittam sasneha tikshnoshnam laghu visram, saram dravam”
Pitta is oily, sharp, hot, light, fleshy-smelling, spreading and liquid.
This Sanskrit line lists the main qualities of pitta and provides a key to understanding what it means to have a predominantly pitta prakriti.
The main qualities of pitta are oily, sharp, hot, light, fleshy smelling, spreading, and liquid. So, having a pitta-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 oily quality allows for softness of skin but, in excess, can manifest as oily skin, acne or perhaps the quality of being a “snake oil salesman”; manipulating situations to your advantage.
- The sharp quality may manifest as a sharp, bright intellect or, in excess, as a sharp tongue.
- “Hotness” can manifest as a warm, rosy complexion, warm body temperature, strong metabolism and appetite or, in excess, as ulcers, heartburn, or a hot temper.
- The light quality may lead you to have a slender body or to get light-headed if you miss a meal.
- The “fleshy-smelling” quality may manifest as a strong body odor.
- The spreading quality may manifest as a tendency to spread your name or influence or opinion around the local or global neighborhood. This quality can also manifest as a spreading rash.
- The liquid quality may manifest as excess sweating; when it's combined with the hot quality it can present as excess stomach acid.
Decreasing or Balancing Pitta
Like Increases Like
A basic tenet of Ayurveda is “like increases like.” Therefore, increasing the inherent qualities of pitta will increase pitta in your body, mind, and spirit.
For example, because pitta is inherently hot—hot weather, hot foods, the hot seasons and times of day, and even hot emotions can increase pitta. Likewise humid environments will increase the liquid quality and thereby increase pitta.
Tastes That Increase and Decrease Pitta
Along with the main qualities of pitta, it is also helpful to know those tastes that increase pitta and those that decrease pitta.
Sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes will decrease pitta by providing the opposite qualities to those of pitta. An example of naturally sweet taste is wheat; of bitter and astringent (which are often coupled): many leafy greens and 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 the best. For example, if your dominant dosha is pitta, you may be intellectually bright, due to the hot and sharp qualities of pitta. However, this very quality that is inherent in pitta may eventually aggravate it and create mental or physical “burn out.”
Medicines are substances, which decrease the excess dosha by providing the opposite qualities to it. For example, if excess mental wrestling has resulted in “burn out,” a comfortable, soft couch and a cool mind can be medicines. If it has increased due to excess heat, coolness can be the medicine. Too much moisture? Use dryness.
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, drinks, environments, colors, smells, and lifestyles.
Qualities opposite to pitta are those that are dry, soft, cool, heavy, sweet smelling, and contained. It is therefore best for pitta individuals to seek out physical and emotional environments, routines, and foods that possess these opposite qualities.
Opposites in Diet as Medicine
A pitta individual does well to have fresh, cooling foods. They have difficulty skipping meals because they tend to have strong appetites. Because they also have strong digestive systems, they tend to tolerate raw foods better than the other doshas but they must be careful to avoid hot foods, alcohol, caffeine, irritability, high aggression, and anger because these will create too much pitta and weaken the digestive system.
Because the sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes decrease pitta, these tastes should be predominant in your diet. Note that this is not necessarily a green light to eat refined sugary foods and drinks. The naturally sweet taste that is found in many grains, squashes, natural sweeteners and fruits is most appropriate and can help balance pitta.
Herbal Support for a Pitta Constitution
Using herbs to manage your constitution compliments the changes you make in your diet and lifestyle. Brahmi, bhringaraj and guduchi are three of the primary herbs used to remove excess pitta from the body and maintain balance. All of these herbs can be found in our Healthy Pitta herbal tablets.
Opposites in Climate and Lifestyle as Medicine
The ideal environment for a pitta individual is cool and dry. Cold weather sports like skiing and ice-skating or early morning exercise is best. Sweet scents, melodic music, and sweet emotions are also good “medicines” for pitta. A daily, 10–20 minute, gentle self-massage with warm sunflower oil will cool the heat of pitta and support you to surrender and “go with the flow” rather than using your will to force the flow.
It is easy for the pitta individual to feel that, if he just works long and hard enough, he can control everything. It is this quality, on a global scale, that allows human beings to think nothing of controlling or manipulating nature to bend to our idea of what is best. This works well if it is a balanced approach, enabling us to predict nasty weather and thereby prepare for it or to diagnose certain illnesses and thereby enable us to treat them better. An extreme example of this outlook, is manipulating genetic material without regard to problematic future ramifications. An incredibly extreme example of this outlook gone out of control would be that of a dictator attempting genocide in an attempt to align global reality with his personal view of how things should be.
On a more personal scale, this tendency may lead us to strive for control and personal domination in our relationships or career, or we may allow our rampant personal ambition to drive us into eventual mental or physical “burnout.”
One of the best medicines for pitta is surrender. If you can develop a gentle faith in—or relationship with—a divine power or natural force that you believe can do a fine job of orchestrating personal and universal life, then you can give your will a rest and take off some pressure. For this reason, it is beneficial for a pitta individual to enjoy regular meditation. (And really enjoy it; not just do it as if it is another task they need to master).
Yoga for Pitta Types
Visit the pitta-pacifying yoga section on our website for information on how to customize your yoga practice to help balance pitta.
Famous Pitta Examples
Madonna: Sharp businesswoman. World-famous. Ambitious. Moderate build.
Bill Gates. Sharply intelligent. His fame has spread everywhere, even beyond his own professional sphere. Ambitious. Balding.
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 take the Ayurvedic Profile™ quiz.
The above information was written by Dr. Claudia Welch 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.
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.