Sunday, March 19, 2006

Vatas, Pittas, Kaphas & weight

[ I was going to title this post, "More on being a Fata (Fatty Vata)", but as I started writing realized that an explanation of the doshas would be good! ]

A friend of mine recently commented that she, too, couldn't believe she's a Vata because her physique is not that of a typical Vata, and she was glad to see there was some explanation for it (referring to my previous post on weight & ayurveda). To recap, typical body characteristics of each dosha are: Vata types tend to be wiry and thin, Pitta types tend to be muscular and strong, and Kapha types tend to be large and hefty. As I mentioned in my previous post, the term Kapha simply represents water and earth, so to be a Kapha-type means your predominant mind and body functions are most influenced by Kapha (water and earth).

But we are all composed of all the elements of each dosha: air, space (Vata), fire (Pitta), water and earth (Kapha). So I can be a Vata with my Kapha out of balance, making me a fat vata instead of the typical skinny vata. In the same way, you can be a Pitta with your Kapha out of balance, making you heavy instead of the typical toned, athletic Pitta.

It is entirely possible that one's Kapha has been out of balance for a lifetime, despite being a Vata. This is because Kapha, being water, is also the body of emotions. Love and security are defining characteristics of Kapha -- lacking those, one would turn to other sources of love and security, such as food, to build more Kapha in the body and feel that sense of warmth and groundedness.

Alternately, I think the "happy pounds" one gets in the security of a loving relationship can follow the same pattern. Love is Kapha, and Kapha begets Kapha. As you give and receive love, your body and soul want to stay in that happy place and add to it by passively building more Kapha, reinforcing those Kapha traits of stability, inertia and contentedness by spending more time lounging around and ingulging in rich and pleasing foods and delicacies.

So that's the story of Kapha. We all have Kapha within us integrally, and whether it's our dominant dosha or not, it can get out of balance -- either because the season is winter or early spring (like now), or we lack love and security, or have a lot of sweet heavy love. Or perhaps because our culture and society reinforces a sense of isolation that we attempt to correct, or the food and advertising industries encourage us to consume Kapha-elevating foods like wheat, sugar, fats, meats and dairy... there are any number of possible reasons, but happily there are some things we can do to balance this. And quite possibly, as we eat the right Kapha-lowering foods, we may delve into ourselves and discover what causes our personal imbalances with our own body and spirit.

My next post will be about Kapha-decreasing foods... : )


jz-tokyo said...

This was incredibly helpful! I have long been wondering how I could have a Vata nervous system and build yet a Kapha emotional makeup.
Thank you so much -- this points me in a new direction!

Frannie said...

I'm thrilled, jz! It sounds like you and I have similar struggles, but it's all there for a reason. I think our bodies (internally, externally) exhibit our issues to help us see them and make us face them. : )

Aparna said...

This is excellent explanation. I was wondering how I could be a fat Vata! Thanks!

Nichole@FiveKoshaYogaTherapy said...

I came across your site while looking for a millet recipe, but I have found much more. I am so thrilled by what I've found here that I have shared a link to your site at where I am a moderator.
I love your sweet and conversational style in discussing Ayurveda. I have plenty of fatta clients (occasionally myself included) and I love having this new word to use for it. With gratitude for your good work. Jai Ma!

Claudia Davila (Fran) said...

Nicole and Aparna, thank you very much for your comments. I'm so happy to have been able to shed some light on -- or add lightness to -- the topic for you! I look forward to checking out, and I appreciate the link, Nicole!
: )

JoeyB said...

Wow thank you Nicole I'm very impressed with all of your recipes. I've been doing yoga for a long time and and this is the first I've heard of kapha. John.

subodh said...

My physique is thin but I suffer from excess kapha disorders like cough and cold.I also have vata disorders like gas.So What dies should i take which will balance both elements.

Claudia Davila (Fran) said...

Hello Subodh!

What Vata and Kapha have in common is coldness, so you might feel better adding some heat to your life and diet, such as spices to your food, drinking ginger in your tea, and generally consuming foods with Pitta characteristics (moist and warm/hot). Since you are thin you can also afford to have "heavy" foods which will help the gas and constitution, foods like ghee or butter, honey (raw and natural only), and fruits and vegetables that are cooked with spices until very soft.

I hope this helps!

Subodh said...

Thanks Claudia,

Will eating fruits in my case aggravate Kapha.

Claudia Davila (Fran) said...

You're welcome :-) Kaphas do well eating crisp dry fruits like apples and pears, but these would aggravate Vata (gas, cold), so the best would be to eat these fruits cooked with cinnamon, ginger, etc. You can also add dry fruits like prunes and apricots to the stew. Perhaps stay away from juicy tropical fruits for a while (ie. bananas, mangoes, etc).

Shirl said...

Thank God for this blog! My friend who is studying to be an ayurvedic healer has classified me as a Kapha because I'm overweight. But when I follow the strict Kapha diet that she prescribed, I become very stressed and almost manic. I thought I was crazy to think I could be Pitta-Vata and overweight, but now I realize that it's not just in my head. Thank you for doing this. I feel a great relief and I have something to show my friend.

Adam Clarke said...

A perfect answer to a frustrated and uneasy state of mind, the Pitta-Dosha Ayurvedic Tea has a soothing and calming effect on the body and mind.