Ayurvedic Weight Loss: The Best Herbs for your Dosha


| June/July 2003



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Your weight-loss program doesn’t have to be a grim regimen of cutting calories and exercising an hour a day to lose a pound a week. Instead, try embracing Ayurveda, the ancient Indian healing system for the mind, body and spirit. Ayurveda, or “the science of life,” offers a holistic program to achieve perfect health and ideal weight by balancing all elements of your life.

Ayurveda, a 5,000-year-old healing system, views excess weight, or obesity, as a body out of balance. The goal of Ayurvedic medicine is to achieve perfect health and balance of the mind, body and spirit through proper nutrition, exercise and meditation. Restoring Ayurvedic balance is the means to losing excess weight. The first step is to correct any digestive problems. Then Ayurveda guides you to the appropriate selection of food, drink and herbs to improve metabolic efficiency.

Ayurveda is based on the theory of the three doshas or mind-body types, which have their own set of physical, mental and emotional characteristics. The three doshas are vata (air), pitta (fire) and kapha (earth). All people and things possess elements of each dosha, but one or more of the doshas may be predominant in your body and behavior. For example, you may be a vata-pitta, a pitta-kapha or a vata-kapha. Your unique combination of doshas is your constitution type, or prakruti, which establishes your physical, mental and emotional makeup. One way to achieve balance and ideal weight through Ayurveda is to identify your dosha, then make appropriate adjustments in diet, yoga practice and lifestyle.

What’s Your Dosha?

To determine which dosha is most dominant in your body, make a check mark over the individual characteristics (listed below) that describe you. The category with the most check marks will indicate your dosha. If you have almost the same number of check marks in two or more categories, your body type is a mixture of two or three doshas. This list of characteristics will give only a rough indication of your dosha. Accurately determining your dosha body type is best conducted by an Ayurvedic physician.

Body Type: Vata

• Physical characteristics: Thin, light-boned, angular build; slow to gain weight; dry skin and hair; eats and sleeps erratically; chilly hands and feet; low ratio of muscle to fat; fat accumulates below the navel (prone to potbelly on a lean frame).
• Mental characteristics: Quick mind; restlessness; creates and learns quickly; forgets easily; enthusiastic; imaginative; vivacious.
• Emotional characteristics: Prone to anxiety, worry, mood swings and nervous disorders.
• Diet: Benefits from grounding foods, such as grains and oils.

Body Type: Pitta

• Physical characteristics: Medium-sized, athletic build, well-proportioned; blond, red or prematurely gray hair; fair or freckled complexion; warm, ruddy, perspiring skin; good stamina; voracious appetite and tendency to overeat; tends to be warm or hot; sleeps well; eats meals quickly; likely to develop ulcers; gains and loses weight easily; apple shape when overweight.
• Mental characteristics: Confident, passionate, articulate, courageous, intelligent, ambitious.
• Emotional characteristics: Demanding, irritable, impatient, short tempered.
• Diet: Benefits from cooling foods, such as salads and sweet fruits.





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