According to Ayurveda, three vital body energies (doshas) govern the functions of the body, which again reflect the Five Elements: Kapha (Water + Earth), Pitta (Fire + Water), and Vata (Air + Ether). We are each made up of a unique combination of these Doshas, which define our body-mind constitution, or prakriti. Our prakriti is the unique proportion of doshas at the time of conception which stays with us throughout our life. Under this perspective, it is important to understand and appreciate our own prakriti, as in order to achieve health we must strive to maintain this personalized balanced state. Similarly, in order to heal any disease or ailment we must address any imbalanced state. When we experience anything other than our own prakriti, we are in a state of dis-ease.
In general, there are seven different body-mind types. Three types where one dosha is predominate: (Vata, Pitta, or Kapha); three types where two doshas are predominate (Vata-Pitta, Pitta-Kapha, or Kapha-Vata); and one type where all three doshas are almost the same proportion (Vata-Pitta-Kapha).
To find out your own dosha, try taking this self-exam available here.
Kapha (Water + Earth)
Kapha is reflected by the moon in nature. Kapha is comprised of primarily Earth, as well as Water. Kaphaʼs function in the body is to lubricate the joints and air passages, and to nourish and protect the bodyʼs organs, cells, and systems. The qualities of Kapha include moist, cold, heavy, dull, soft, sticky, and static. Kapha people are loving, nurturing, and caring. They tend to be well built, full-bodied, and have solid joints. They can have great endurance, but tend to gain weight and retain water easily. Thus, to be in balance a person with a Kapha body-mind type should limit sweet and heavy foods, and eat lighter foods with pungent, astringent, and bitter tastes.
Pitta (Fire + Water)
Pitta shines as the sun in nature. Pitta is made up of primarily Fire, as well as Water. Pittaʼs function in the body is to digest and convert substances into a useable form. The qualities of Pitta include hot, sharp, mobile, light, oily, liquid, and acidic. Pitta people tend to have a medium build with strong muscles. They are sharp in personality, as they have intelligent and witty minds, yet tend to be short-tempered to others that are not so quick. Due to the Fire element, Pittas tend to over-heat and become irritable and angry. To be in balance, a person with a Pitta body-mind type should strive to eat foods that are cooling in nature, limit pungent foods and eat more of foods with bitter, astringent and sweet tastes.
Vata (Air + Ether)
Vata shows up as the wind in nature. Vata consists primarily of Air, as well as Ether. Vata provides the energy for all movement and action in the body, including circulating nutrients and wastes throughout the body. The qualities of Vata include light, dry, cold, rough, mobile, subtle, and clear. Vata people are generally slim with prominent bone structure. They tend to be very intuitive, imaginative and creative. Vata types often suffer from dryness, including constipation, dry and itchy skin, and tend to be afflicted by anxiety and nervousness. Thus, to be in balance, a person with a Vata body-mind type should strive to incorporate foods with the counter-qualities of heavy, moist, and warm. This includes the tastes of sweet, sour, and salty. Ultimately, Vatas need to incorporate more oils and cooked foods in their diet.