Ayurveda – Find Your Body Type…

Ayurveda – Find Your Body Type

The more than 5000 year old Healthcare System called Ayurveda provides a very profound knowledge on how to create balance in the body and mind by means of herbal medicine, detoxification and proper diet. Ayurveda, which means science of life explains how each person needs a specific kind of daily influence through exercises and diet in order to stay healthy, vital and free of disease.

Ayurveda divides people into three basic types called Vata, Pitta and Kapha. We all contain a mixture of these three types, but most are dominated by one or two. If you, for example, are dominated by Pitta and thus experience a strong internal heat, you will naturally be attracted to cooling foods and drinks.

Balance is the key to health and it is natural to be in balance. However, it requires that you listen to and respect the body’s signals. When the body is too hot, it needs cooling, when the mouth is too dry, it needs liquid, etc.

To maintain balance you must take your individual constitution and characteristics into account. The influences you get through diet, activity and environment, must maintain balance in the body and the mind.

The 3 body types – Vata, Pitta and Kapha

Each of the five senses are linked to one of the elements – space, air, fire, water and earth. Everything in the outer world such as the body, food and weather can be divided into these 5 elements.

Ayurveda unites space and air and calls it Vata. Fire with a little bit of water becomes Pitta, and water united with earth becomes Kapha. Vata, Pitta and Kapha are called doshas and have different qualities. See the following model.

5 Senses   5 Elements       3 Doshas

Hear  >      Space >

Vata: fast, dry, light, movable, cold

Feel   >      Air       >

See   >       Fire    >              Pitta: warm, focused, sharp

Taste >      Water  >

Kapha: slow, wet, heavy, solid, cold

Smell >      Earth   >

Since vata is composed of space and air, you can figure out what qualities it contains. Vata is light and subtle like space and fast, dry and moveable like air. Kapha has the opposite qualities – wet like water and slow, heavy and solid like earth. Pitta is hot and sharp like fire, and it is the only dosha that contains heat.

Here are some more details about each dosa.


Vata consists of space and air, which are closely associated with hearing and touch. Vata-dominant people thus primarily experience the world through these senses and are particularly sensitive to sound and touch.

Vata is movable, dry and fast like air and light like space. These qualities can be applied to any area of life.

Mind: Wakeful with plenty of thoughts, ideas and a lively imagination. They change their minds quickly and can therefore become indecisive. They are easily inspired and easily worried.

Body: Low body weight at birth, slight build, may have difficulty gaining weight, tends to have dry skin and dry bones and joints. Rapid walk.

Digestion: Infrequent appetite and quick digestion. Constipation may occur because of too much dryness in the intestines.

Sleep: Vata people sleep light and short. They may have difficulty falling asleep and tend to wake up several times during the night.

Memory: Learn quickly and forget quickly.

Season: Vata is dominant in the cold and windy conditions during the seasons of autumn and winter. The leaves of the trees wither away in the windy autumn and the forest dries out. The hard frost of winter increases dryness too.

How to Balance Vata?

The qualities of Vata – moveable, dry, fast, light and cold are balanced by the opposing qualities – stable, wet, slow, heavy and warm.

Movable: Too much of this quality makes people indecisive and unpredictable; they lack structure and determination. Stable environment, fixed mealtimes and enough sleep counteracts the movable quality.

Dry: Too much dryness can produce a lack of enthusiasm, low spirits and reduced vitality. The skin can become too dry and constipation or pain in the joints can be the physical outcome. Vata people need sufficient fluid and fat to prevent drying out.

Fast: Too much of this quality can cause dissatisfaction, disharmony, wrong decisions and bad economy. The body has no time to assimilate the food. Peace and rest balances this quality.

Light: Too much of this quality can result in cold hands and feet, underweight and lack of grounding. A sufficient amount of food balances the light quality.

Cold: Too much of the cold quality can create lack of sympathy, egotism and a weak digestion. All kinds of heat balance Vata, such as hot baths, moderate sunbathing, hot food and drink.


Pitta consists mainly of the element fire and has characteristics such as heat, sharpness and energy. Fire is related to the sense of sight and the experiences of Pitta people are dominated by this sense. Pitta people see details that nobody else sees and they are particularly sensitive to visual impressions.

While Vata and Kapha have opposing qualities, pitta stands somewhere in-between. Fire is, for example, not as heavy and solid as earth and water, or as light and movable as air and space. But pitta has one main characteristic that none of the other doshas have; it is hot and therefore also passionate.

Mind: Strong-willed, focused, energetic, sharp and perfectionist.

Body: Medium body weight at birth and medium build. Sweats easily and tends to have reddish skin or acne. Purposeful walk.

Digestion: Good appetite and excessive hunger.

Sleep: Medium length. Pitta people may feel they are wasting their time when they sleep and they often strain to sleep less.

Memory: Remembers details.

Season: Pitta is dominant in the summer.

How to Balance Pitta?

Pitta is hot, sharp and focused and is mainly balanced by cold. If pitta is too strong, you might become dissatisfied, irritable, angry, inflexible and greedy.

In the body, high Pitta can cause red and irritated skin, acne, allergies, ulcers and high blood pressure. Anything cooling is good for the hot Pitta.

A ride on skis or a swim is cooling, just like the sight of the ocean. It is important for the purposeful pitta to meditate or by other means relax, in order to keep the internal heat in balance.

The bitter taste has a cooling effect, too. Therefore, pitta people benefit from eating vegetables like spinach, broccoli, lettuce, kale and other kinds of cabbage. Coconut and ghee (see page 35) are also very cooling.


Kapha consists of water and earth, which are closely linked to taste and smell. Kapha people therefore mainly experience the world through these senses and are particularly sensitive to taste and smell.

Kapha is solid, wet, slow and heavy, just like the elements, water and earth. These qualities can be applied to any area of life.

Mind: Stable and calm. Think and decide slowly. Take firm decisions and rarely change their minds. Loving and forgiving.

Body: High body weight and strong, solid build. Gain weight easily. Soft, smooth and slightly pale skin. Slow and steady walk.

Digestion: Slow and heavy digestion. Benefit from fasting.

Sleep: Heavy and long.

Memory: Learn slowly and remember well.

Season: Kapha dominates in the spring, when the trees become luxuriant, fertile and moist.

How to Balance Kapha?

Kapha is solid, wet, slow, heavy and cold, and is balanced by the opposite qualities – movable, dry, fast, light and warm.

Fixed: When kapha peolple become too fixed, they become inflexible and stubborn. The body becomes stiff and holds on to the impurities instead of letting them go.

Kapha people need movement and exercise to avoid stagnation. A mixture of dynamic activity and flexing exercises is ideal. Dynamic yoga is for instance very good.

Moist: Too much moisture makes the mind very emotional and it seeks safety. The body can suffer from excessive fluid, colds and asthma. Kapha people can balance the moist quality by eating less fatty and oily foods and avoiding damp and moisture.

Slow: Too much slowness can create boredom and a slow digestion. Activity and action is good, since it speeds up the slow Kapha.

Find Your Body Type

You probably already have an idea as to what your body type might be. You can test yourself here and get an idea of your own type, and thus figure out what food, exercise and daily routines would suit you.

Tick the statements below that best describe you and total the amount under each category.

1. If you have many ticks under a single category, and far fewer in the other two, you’re the type with the most ticks. Your body type is then either Vata, or Pitta, or Kapha.

2. If there are, on the other hand, two categories with almost the same number of ticks and fewer in the third category, you are a mixture of the two types with the most ticks, i.e. Vata/Pitta or Vata/Kapha or Pitta/Kapha.

3. If there are almost an equal number of ticks in all the three categories, your body type is Vata/Pitta/Kapha.

Get a friend to help you with the answers. This test is meant as a means to listen to your body and does not replace a visit to your own doctor or possibly an Ayurvedic doctor.


__  I sleep lightly and often wake up in the middle of the night

__ I had a low weight at birth

__ I tend to have dry skin

__ My eyes are lively

__ My appetite is irregular. Sometimes strong, sometimes weak

__ My bowel movements are irregular

__ My mood often changes

__  I am easy to excite

__ Coincidences often characterize my life

__ My walk is light and fast

__ I do not like frosty weather

__ I am easy getting along with new ideas

__ I spend money impulsively

__ I learn quickly

__ I tend to worry

__ I am indecisive and often have difficulty choosing

__ I am quick, imaginative and alert

__ Total Vata


__ I need approx. 7 hours of sleep

__ I had an average weight at birth

__ I am of medium build

__ My appetite is good

__ I do not like to skip meals

__ My stools are often soft and loose

__ I am focused

__ I am a bit af a perfectionist

__ I have leadership qualities

__ I am effective

__ I take quick and easy decisions

__ I have a tendency to become irritable

__ I spend money on useful and reasonable things

__ I am often busy

__ I walk purposefully

__ I do not like hot, humid weather

__ I sweat easily

__ Total Pitta


__ I need at least 8 hours of sleep

__ I had a high weight at birth

__ I sleep heavily

__ My body is solid

__ I have slightly pale skin

__ My stools tends to be somewhat sluggish and heavy

__ I often feel heavy when I have eaten

__ I am loving and forgiving

__ I am calm and stable

__ I think thoroughly before I make a decision

__ I tend to get melancholic

__ I learn slowly

__ I hold on to my money

__ I have a good memory

__ My life is stable and regular

__ My walk is calm and slow

__ I do not like humid, cold weather

__ Total Kapha

Advice for Vata

Eat at the same times every day

Eat sufficient food and reduce salads

Get enough rest and relaxation

Keep warm

Prefer warm food and drink

Avoid too many changes, travels, etc.

Drink plenty of water

Avoid draught and cold air

Have a short massage each morning with hot sesame oil

Prefer the Flavours: Sweet, sour and salt and reduce Cold, dry and light food.

Advice for Pitta

Reduce hot spices like chilli, pepper, ginger and garlic.

Get enough rest

Reduce exposure to the sun and sauna

Prefer sweet and bitter flavours. For example sweet fruits and green leaf vegetables

Walk near water or consider exercises like swimming, boating or skiing

Drink sufficient water

Prefer cooling food and drink

Reduce the Flavours sour, salt and spicy

Advice for Kapha

Exercise vigorously for at least a quarter of an hour each day

Prefer light and spicy food

Sleep and rest moderately

Eat a light dinner

Reduce sweets, fats and milk products

Prefer warm food and drink

Periodically, have a day of fasting

Prefer the flavours – spicy, astringent and bitter and reduce sweet, sour and salt

Advice for Vata/Pitta

Get enough rest

Go for walks close to water

Eat mild and moderately sweet food

Drink sufficient water

Reduce hot spices

Autumn and Winter: Do a short sesame oil massage every morning followed by a warm bath. It counteracts insomnia, worry and stress. If you cannot tolerate sesame oil, try using coconut oil.

Summer: In this season you can follow the pieces of advice for pitta.

Spring: In this season you can follow the pieces of advice more loosely. Nature will spontaneously pull you towards balance.

Advice for Vata/Kapha

Eat cooked food

Keep warm and use a sauna if you like

Go for walks in the sun

Eat at the same times each day

Exercise vigorously for at least a quarter of an hour every day

Eat a light dinner so that the food is digested before bedtime

Autumn and Winter: In these seasons, you can partially follow the advice for vata.

Spring: In this season you can partially follow the advice for kapha.

Summer: During this season you can be more relaxed with the dietary advice.

Advice for Pitta/Kapha

Exercise vigorously for at least a quarter of an hour every day

Make sure that your dinner is digested before bedtime

Prefer bitter foods such as cabbage, broccoli and spinach

Prefer astringent food such as lentils, beans, apples and pears

Reduce fats, sour milk, cheese, sour cream and salt

Reduce heavy food such as pasty bread, potatoes, pork and beef

Summer: In this season you can follow the advice for Pitta

Spring: In this season you can follow the advice for Kapha

Autumn and Winter: In these seasons you can be more relaxed with the dietary advice.

Advice for Vata/Pitta/Kapha

Eat at the same times every day

Get enough sleep and rest

Give yourself a short massage each morning with warm sesame oil

Seasons: Follow the pieces of advice for Vata in the autumn and winter, Kapha in the spring and Pitta in the summer.

This article is based on Nicolay Marcus Zederlinn’s vegetarian, Ayurvedic cookbook “Unity Cooking”. You can buy the book at this link


Nicolay Marcus Zederlinn is a Danish author, who has worked with food and health from an Ayurvedic perspective in the last 25 years. Nicolay has his own ayurvedic education and he has also written the books: ”Cooking and bliss” and ”Health through Listening”. Nicolay was the founder and owner of the Ayurvedic restaurant Flow in Copenhagen, Denmark.


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Nicolay Marcus Zederlinn

Nicolay Marcus Zederlinn is a Danish author, who has worked with food and health from an Ayurvedic perspective in the…

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