We are all different in many ways. Not only our bodies but also our minds are unique. Ayurveda is one of the ancient healthcare wisdom that honors this uniqueness. Ayurveda has a novel and logical concept of prakrati. It signifies that each person has a different mind and body. Therefore, Ayurveda recommends a personalized diet, lifestyle, and medicines.
Normally, people believe that prakrati means the body type. However, Prakrati has two aspects – mind and body.
ManasPrakrati(The Mind Type)
There are three types of primary mind types –
- Satvic – balance /clarity/wisdom
- Rajasic – hyperactivity
- Tamasic – dullness/inertia
Effects of Mind on Digestion
Our food preferences differ according to our mind type. Therefore, mind type is a crucial factor in the case of digestion, sometimes even more important than the body type.
A person with a Satvic (balanced) mind chooses food wisely. She will refrain from junk food consumption and consciously choose healthy food options. No wonder, a Satvic person has excellent digestion and stays healthy without much effort.
Besides, when you consume food with a peaceful mind, the food becomes an elixir. Mindful eating is a great health habit found in Satvic people. The mind type has a stronger influence over the body type. Consequently, a Satvic person has a strong possibility of having good digestion regardless of whether she has a vata, pitta, or kapha body type.
Rajasic people are hyperactive. They may be prone to stress, anxiety, and restlessness. These people are highly susceptible to stress-related eating disorders like compulsive eating, binge eating, anorexia bulimia, etc.
According to multiple scientific studies, stress, anxiety, anger, and other negative emotions turn off the digestive system, reduce the secretion of digestive juices and cause digestive disorders.
The digestion of a hyperactive person may be random and vulnerable to digestive disorders.
- If the hyperactive person has a vata body type, she may suffer from bloating or constipation.
- If she is a pitta dominant person, she may suffer from acidity and inflammatory disorders.
- If she has a kapha dominant body type, she may suffer from indigestion, anorexia, heaviness after meals, etc.
A person with a Tamasic mind is dull or ignorant or lazy. She is ignorant of health concepts, more interested in immediate relief from hunger. A lazy beggar who rummages the trash bins to find something to eat instead of trying to work and earn is an ideal example of a Tamasic person.
Therefore, a Tamasic person eats whatever he can get his hands on. She may prefer rotting, acidic, foul-smelling food, alcohol, etc. There is no wonder such a person should have terrible digestion and bad health.
There are three types of mind – balanced, hyperactive, and dull. These minds have unique preferences for food. A person with a balanced mind naturally makes healthy food choices and maintains great digestion. Stress affects the digestion of a hyperactive person. And laziness and ignorance shape the digestive problems of a dull person.
SharirPrakratior The Body Type
The basis of body type – Dosha
Ayurveda defines three metabolic patterns or biophysical energies – vata, pitta and kapha. These metabolic patterns have contrasting properties. For example, vata dosha is cool, whereas pitta is hot. Kapha is heavy and stable, but vata light and mobile.
And that is why these doshas can balance each other. Master Charak aptly says that the three doshas are like the three legs of a tripod. They exist in different directions, but together they balance the tripod. Even if one of them is missing, the tripod of metabolism will fall.
The body types have different metabolic patterns due to the dominance of different doshas. Therefore, ayurveda classifies the koshthagni (digestive fire) into four types,
- Samya (Balanced) – Samagni,
- Vata Dominant – Vishamagni,
- PittaDominant – Tikshnagni,
- KaphaDominant- Mandagni
The word “Samya” refers to complete balance. All doshas are in a dynamic equilibrium in Samyaprakrati or body type. A person with Samya body type naturally has balanced digestion. However, it is a very rare body type.
However, we all can achieve samagni or the balanced digestive fire with active effort. If a person eats and lives by her mind and body type, her agni or digestion will stay balanced.
The word visham refers to an imbalanced state. Normally, good digestion has a regular biorhythm. A person with good digestion will feel hungry at regular intervals. Her digestion and absorption happen without complications like bloating, burping, etc.
Vishamagni has a random biorhythm. Some days, a person with Vishamagni may have great appetite and digestion; other days she may suffer from a lack of appetite or other digestive disorders. We can compare Vishamagni to a small bonfire burning in a windy terrain. The random winds may support or blow out the fire.
Vata dosha is made of the air element. Naturally, randomness is a quality specific to air vata dosha. Any person can develop a Vishamagni. However, vata dominant people are most susceptible to it.
“Tikshna” means sharp. Tikshanagni has very sharp digestive juices. A person with Tikshanagni has an excellent appetite and strong digestion. Tikshanagni is like a strong bonfire inside an oven, abundantly fed with dry and light wooden twigs.
Sharpness is a natural property of pitta dosha. Any person may develop tikshanagi temporarily. However, pitta people normally have such a digestive fire. Tikshanagi is a great asset as good digestion can absorb a large amount of nutrition.
However, normally a person with Tikshanagni has an overall high rate of metabolism. Therefore, she can use up the food energy rapidly and again feel hungry.
In case, you do not quench this sharp digestive fire with an adequate amount of food, it can burn the normal tissues of the body. A person with Tikshanagni may suffer from severe hunger pangs. She may suffer from headaches or dizziness, acidity, etc. if she misses a meal. People with tikshanagi are also highly susceptible to peptic ulcers, IBS, and autoimmune and inflammatory disorders.
Manda means slow. This type of digestive fire is sluggish, with a prolonged digestion process.
Slowness, Coolness, heaviness, and unctuous are inherent properties of the kapha dosha. And they are not very encouraging for the fire element. Therefore, Mandagni is a natural phenomenon with kapha dominant people. However, any person with a kapha imbalance may develop temporary Mandagni or sluggish digestion.
Kapha dominant people with Mandagni have a regular digestive biorhythm. However, they may not have a great appetite or digestion. Mandagni is like a fire burning on a wet and slimy surface, with large moist wooden logs.
A person with Mandagni may not be able to eat a lot of food at one time. She should take small helpings of food to preserve the digestive fire and ensure proper digestion. Herbal digestives or warm herbs like cumin, black pepper, black cardamom, ginger, garlic, etc. are ideal to stimulate the Mandagni.
The body type is another aspect of prakrati. There are three types of body – vata, pitta, and kapha. Each body type has a distinct digestive system.
Vata dominant people have random/irregular digestion. Pitta dominant people have excellent & strong digestive power, whereas kapha dominated digestion is sluggish and prolonged.
There are two aspects of prakrati– the mind type and the body type. Both these aspects design the digestive power of an individual.
The mind type is the defining factor, more important than the body type. There are three mind types – Satvic (balanced/wisdom/clarity), Rajasic (hyperactive), and Tamasic (dull/ignorant). Satvic people make wise dietary choices and stay healthy naturally. Hyperactive or dull people normally make unhealthy food choices and hence may have imbalanced digestion.
The second aspect of prakrati is the body type. There are three primary body types – vata, pitta, and kapha dominant. And each body type has its distinct digestive pattern, depending on the dominating dosha.
Vata has a random/irregular digestive capacity.
Pitta digestion is the most powerful. It can burn down the body tissues, if not quenched with adequate food.
Kapha digestion is slow and sluggish and needs stimulating herbs to speed up the digestion process.
Each body type has its pros and cons. Regardless of our body type, a balanced mind can help us make wise food choices and maintain healthy digestion.