The Hindi word ‘Prakriti’ literally translates into ‘nature’. In the context of Ayurveda, the ancient Indian science of medicine, it has a more holistic definition. In Ayurveda, a person’s ‘prakriti’ refers to his or her unique combination of physical properties and psychological nature. Knowing your prakriti can help you to understand the physical ailments that you may suffer from regularly, plan a balanced diet based on the nutrients that your body type requires, and also help you understand what you can do to achieve mental balance and freedom from fear, anxiety and stress.

A person’s prakriti is affected by his or her ‘Dosha’. Based on the theory that we are created from the basic elements of earth, water, fire, air and ether, Ayurveda defines our bodies into different ‘Doshas’. There are three types of ‘Dosha’: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. All of us fall into one of these three categories or sometimes a combination of two doshas. A minority of people have all three properties.

Vata literally means ‘wind’. Hence, Vata personalities are governed by air and space. These people are all about movement, of body and of thoughts. People whose bodies twitch nervously or are restless, and whose minds are forever flitting from one thought to another tend to belong to this particular dosha. They are never too far away from a bout of anxiety. Flatulence, dry skin and being underweight are common body ailments, although you may envy them for their thin and lean body structure. Famous Vata personalities include Audrey Hepburn and Michael Jackson.

Pitta body types are predominantly of the fire element. Pitta refers to the acid secretion in the stomach which helps digest food. Hence, this energy is involved in the transformation of food into energy and is signified by a combination of heat and water. Pitta personalities often have a very strong sense of smell and have a sharp intellect. However, they often suffer from ulcers and migraines. Do not be surprised if a workaholic leader you know often suffers from high blood pressure; these are classic Pitta ailments and can be cured by ‘cooling off’, i.e. taking a break from work, reducing workstress and avoiding self-criticism as well as criticism of others. The enigmatic US President, John F. Kennedy was a famous Pitta personality.

Kapha is a combination of earth and water elements. These personalities are therefore often balanced, stable and calm people. More often than not, they need a lot of motivation to get work going. Physical ailments include being overweight and suffering from diabetes. People with a predominant Kapha dosha need to keep a regular check on their cholesterol levels as well. The most famous contemporary Kapha personality has to be the talk-show queen Oprah Winfrey.

Identifying which dosha (or doshas) you are, is the first step towards using Ayurveda to help you achieve a better balance in both your body and mind.

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