Fundamental principles about your Ayurvedic Constitution
Ayurveda believes that every individual has a unique constitution comprising of their physical traits, mental and emotional tendencies. Ayurveda uses the term ‘Prakriti’ to allude to your natural Ayurvedic constitution based on a holistic understanding of your mind, body and spirit. You will see the word Prakriti used interchangeably with ‘Ayurvedic constitution’ through the rest of our discussion.
How is Prakriti determined?
The fascinating part about Prakriti is that it is determined naturally at the time of conception and never changes throughout one’s life. Not set at birth, but at conception. Several factors like diet and lifestyle of the mother, age of the parents, environmental factors etc may have a bearing on your Prakriti.
You may be surprised to learn that our natural Prakriti is disease free. Ayurveda says that our body in its natural state is healthy and disease free. Each of us is uniquely created in perfect balance with nature. This inspires me to believe that no matter how lost I may be today, I can return to my innate state of health and well being.
If Prakriti is disease free, why do we get diseases?
Our Prakriti is disease free and it never changes. However, we may get deviated from our natural Prakriti due to a variety of factors in our day to day life. Leading an unsupportive lifestyle, consuming an unsuitable diet, exposure to emotional trauma and stress can create imbalances in our body.
Despite present imbalances or diseases, we can get inch our way back to a state of balance by following Ayurveda’s individualized set of recommendations for lifestyle, diet, emotional and mental balance. This is an empowering thought that gives me much clarity and optimism for the future.
What does your Prakriti say about you?
While there is undoubtedly no one quite like you out there, it is remarkable how accurate Ayurveda can be in predicting who you are—based simply on the broad strokes of your constitution.
Several aspects of your appearance, personality and habits can be attributed to your natural constitution.
Based on your Prakriti, Ayurveda can say a lot about you. For example,
- Physical characteristics about your skeletal frame, skin, hair, eyes, nails etc
- Mental strengths like intuition, imagination, logical thinking, intellect or resilience
- Emotional tendencies like compassion, love, fear, anxiety, anger, jealousy etc
- Foods that you may be able to digest easily or poorly
- Energy levels, stamina and sleep tendencies
- Susceptibility to certain imbalances on diseases
Awareness of one’s constitution is an advantage
Being aware of your constitution gives you a deeper understanding of your natural strengths and vulnerabilities.
Let’s take a simple example to demonstrate this through cars. Some cars are designed for going at high speeds (e.g, Ford Mustang), some designed for safety (e.g, Volvo) while others provide great reliability (e.g, Toyota Camry). You may take your Camry to a race track regularly or take your Ford Mustang on family road trips regularly; but it may not lead to the desired outcomes. The excessive speeding and sharp turns may cause your Camry to develop braking issues and you may need to take it to a mechanic if you intend to keep driving the same car. Driving your Ford Mustang on long road trips may give you terrible mileage and leave a hole in your pocket!
Similarly, we as individuals are designed with certain innate strengths and vulnerabilities. Our innate strengths can help us do certain tasks easily and naturally. We can always learn and change over time to expand the number of tasks we are able to perform however Ayurveda helps us better understand our natural tendencies. For example, say Sam is naturally gifted at intuition, Jane at organization and Rina at endurance. Sam might be great at creative or ambiguous tasks while Rina might be great at running marathons. If you switch their tasks, their natural strengths may now become hindrances leading to fatigue for Sam or stress for Rina.
Practicing a supportive lifestyle and diet along with balanced emotional and mental outlook based on your constitution can you in 2 ways.
- One, continue to keep you in a state of balance and health. If you are healthy and want to continue to be healthy, Ayurveda can bring awareness to maintaining your state of health.
- Two, if you are imbalanced, as many of us are, bring you back to a state of health. Ayurveda can be a rich resource of individualized lifestyle and diet recommendations that can bring you back to a state of balance closer to your natural Prakriti. You can read about my personal journey with health imbalances here.
Now that we know these fundamental principles about Prakriti, we can move to the next step of defining Prakriti.
The Prakriti of a person is expressed as a relative proportion of their three Doshas. More on this in the next post where we will dive deeper into the Vata, Pitta and Kapha – collectively known as the 3 doshas in Ayurveda. See you there!