Who am I ?
According to Ayurveda (the science of life), every living thing has a unique elemental constitution - known in Prakriti. Translating from Sanskrit as "nature" your Prakriti (which is similar to your genes) is an energetic blueprint for your being. Much like DNA, your Prakriti, affects the the way you look, feel and think and your daily habits, including eating and sleeping. It also shapes what interests and preferences you have in life, such foods and diet, your career choice and any hobbies. Prakriti also determines what types of diseases you are likely to develop throughout your life, giving a little insight into your potential future.
By knowing your constitution you can unlock great knowledge about who you truly are and how to restore and maintain health and well-being.
THE Ayurvedic CONCEPT OF Self
But what exactly is Prakriti?
Your prakriti is made up of a unique balance of 3 bio-energies known as the tridosha. The tridosha (or 3 doshas), vata, pitta and kapha, are functional biological elements which permeate body, giving shape, form and function. Each of the three dosha also govern specific organs, systems and physiological processes. Each of the 3 bio-energies are made up of 2 of the 5 primordial elements which are earth, water, fire, air and space.
Vata is formed of a combination of air and space, pitta is created from the combination of fire and water and kapha is made up of a combination of earth and water. Every living thing has all 3 dosha (and all 5 elements), as all necessary to support life; however, these building blocks are present in specific and unique quantities dependant on the individual. The prakriti is created from that of the parents and their balance of dosha at the time of your conception.
So, this specific balance of all 3 bio-energies, which is unique to you, makes up your prakriti. Some people may have more vata, some more pitta and others more kapha. Others more have more of a predominance of two specific bio-energies at the same same time and less of the third - such as a Vata-Kapha type (which is my prakriti). Finally, some lucky people may have a relatively even amount of each. As each dosha is made up of a different combination of elements, each has its own unique set of universal qualities (such as hot/cold, light/heavy etc). It is the unique balance of these qualities in a person, which are observable in your mind and body (from your dosha) that give rise your individual nature. These are the qualities that make you YOU.
What do the Prakriti Types look like?
Vata qualities and function: Like wind and space, VATA is light, cold, dry, rough, irregular, mobile and subtle. In the body and mind, vata controls all conscious physical and mental activity such as walking, talking and thinking. Vata also controls all unconscious activity such as breathing, heart rate, movement of food through the digestive system, bowel motions and energy levels.
Vata Types: Because of its nature, those with predominantly Vata prakriti tend to be slimmer, smaller or very tall and light on their feet; features are uneven and irregular; skin and hair are darker and tend to be dry. Eyes tend to be smaller and more dull and dark. Due to the quick nature of air, Vata types walk, talk, think and move faster.
Daily habits and activity patterns such as work, sleeping and eating are sporadic and irregular. Socially, Vata types are very outgoing, making new friends easily even if they are nervous at first. Being highly energetic and creative people, Vata dominant individuals enjoy the arts and social events as they love the excitement of meeting new people and engaging in new experiences, always seeking an outlet for their inspiration. This keeps them very busy, which they enjoy, as they get bored and frustrated when the fun stops.
Health wise - digestion, appetite and bowel habits of the vata type tend to be irregular resulting in erratic eating habits and snacking. This can often leave them them feeling constipated, bloated, weak and a little strung out. Vata types are also extremely prone to overworking themselves which can cause anxiety, nervousness, insomnia, loss of appetite, confusion, and erratic behaviour.
Me, myself and Vikruti
In addition to your prakriti, Ayurveda describes a second (less well known but arguably more important) constitution known as VIKRUTI. This is the balance of dosha which you acquire through your lifestyle including diet, exercise, activities and experiences (and essentially overlaps your prakriti). To put this in context, the prakriti is your basic blue print, the way you were born and 'have generally always been' or your 'true nature'. Your vikruti is 'the way you are now', it is the imbalance you have developed over time, or your 'acquired nature'. This can present itself as either mildly, or extremely, different to the way you always were.
For example, if you have always been thin, highly energetic and enthusiastic but have recently put on a lot of weight and are feeling heavy and lethargic this would suggest that your prakriti is vata dominant and vikruti is kapha dominant. On the other hand, if you have always been confident, strong willed and focused with a good appetite but have recently become weak, low in confidence with irregular, gassy digestion and constipation this would suggest your prakriti is pitta dominant and but vikruti is vata dominant. These are just some basic examples, it can get much more complex than this!
So, with this in mind, the fundamental goal of Ayurveda is to restore your constitution back to the blue print, return your mind and body back to your original balance of dosha/prakriti, thus restoring your unique state of health and well-being.
Once upon a time, if you wanted to find out your constitution you would visit a Vaidya (Ayurvedic doctor) who would have the skills and knowledge to calculate this using ancient techniques of pulse and tongue reading and mind-body analysis.
This is still true today (if you are looking to get a precise result); however you can find many online surveys and questionnaires which will give an approximate result which you can begin to work with.
If using online surveys, we advise you be selective about which you use, or do several and get an average result otherwise you may be starting off on the wrong foot!
Factors which are suggestive of your prakriti are your body shape, height, pulse, tongue, eyes, bowel habits, digestion, sleep, eating habits etc.
Remember when using prakriti/dosha questionnaires to answer questions based on the WAY YOU HAVE ALWAYS BEEN rather than THE WAY YOU ARE NOW or do it twice so you get a prakriti and vikriti result for you to compare.
If you have changed a lot and/or you have developed on-going health problems, it is strongly advised that you work with
Ayurvedic practitioner who can advise the correct use of Ayurvedic principles to manage or relieve symptoms.
How do I work out my Prakruti and Vikruti?
Calculate my Dosha