Ayurveda is an ancient Indian tradition that focuses on your body constitution as a way of finding balance. Through ayurveda, you can find balance in your digestion, which ultimately leads to balanced skin, hair, nails, and of course, a balanced mind. Within the ayurvedic system, there are three constitutions, which are called doshas—Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. You are likely to be dominant in one (sometimes two) doshas, but everyone is made up of all three. Knowing your dosha can help you understand what food to eat for your body, how to move your body, and what topical products are best for your type.
Vata is the air element and vata people are generally thin with delicate bone structures and low body fat. Vatas find it hard to gain weight. Vatas are balanced when they think sharp and quick, when they feel creative, and when they talk fast. Vatas are imbalanced when they experience gas, bloating, difficulty focusing, dry skin, hair and nails, coldness and chills, nervousness, sleeplessness, constant worrying, and cavities. For vatas it is important to avoid low-fat diets and reduce eating raw and cold foods. Vatas should eat heavier foods, high quality oils, and warm food. Creamy soup, fish, eggs, sweet potatoes, weightlifting, pilates, and yoga are all beneficial to vatas.
Vata skin needs a lot of nurturing and protection because it is more delicate. Use gentle cleansers and avoid over-drying or over-exfoliating. Rice or nut powders mixed with rose water or milk can provide great alternatives to chemical-based exfoliants. The essential oils geranium and frankincense are particularly good for vatas because they battle dryness and fine lines. Citrus oils like neroli and orange can help the skin absorb vitamin C.
Pitta is made of the fire and water elements. Pittas have a medium body frame and are well proportioned. They are prone toward muscularity and easily overheated. Pittas are balanced when they are productive, organized, moving quickly, energized, enthusiastic, and sharp. They are imbalanced when they are easily agitated under stress, irritable, overly competitive, overheated, acquire rashes, have burning eyes, diarrhea, and an increased appetite, and perspire. Pittas should reduce excessive spices and red meat. Sweet and bitter foods, cooling and astringent foods, and sweet spices like cardamom and fennel are good for pittas, as well as plenty of protein. Beneficial things for pittas include peppermint tea, lime, chicken, fish, dark leafy greens, sweet vegetables, and calming exercise like yoga and pilates. Oh, and gentle relationships are especially good for pittas.
Pitta skin is very sensitive and prone to redness, aggravation, and sun-sensitivity. Aloe vera gel is the perfect treatment for pitta types. Apply aloe vera gel to your skin twice a week for much-needed cooling. Sandalwood and rose essential oils are beneficial to pitta types, balancing the skin and battling redness.
The kapha elements are earth and water. Kaphas have larger builds, and they are strong and powerful. Kaphas are in balance when they are reliable, calm, keeping the peace, even tempered, loving, and affectionate. Kaphas are out of balance when they hold onto emotions, lack enthusiasm, feel dull and sluggish, and feel congested. Kaphas should reduce high-fat foods, heavy and fatty protein, dairy, gluten, red meat, and starchy vegetables. Kaphas should increase drying and heating foods, heating and pungent spices, lighter grains and proteins, and vegetables. Beans, quinoa, spinach, salads, cayenne, ginger, self-acceptance, affirmations, and cardio exercise are all beneficial for kapha types.
Kapha skin tends to show enlarged pores, blackheads, and water retention in times of imbalance. Gentle cleansing and exfoliation is essential for kaphas. Scrub the face with a mixture of sea salt and honey and follow with herbal steam therapy using mint leaves. This will help keep the pores clear and maintain optimal oil balance.
Kate Wilke is a 200-RYT yoga instructor, meditation teacher, and Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. She teaches and works with clients in Nashville, TN. She believes in self-care in the form of colorful, healthy cooking, daily walks with her dog, and a glass of red wine. Follow her on Instagram — @meditatekate