Imagine bringing your lips to your shoulders, upper arms, wrists or the backs of your hands and planting a grateful kiss on your skin. Thanking yourself for being just the way you are, as you are right now. Breathing deeply in through your nose and letting your breath out in a sigh through your mouth. Thanking your body for everything it managed yesterday and everything it is going to manage during the day ahead. Thank you, body!
What body type am I?
A more accurate question might be what constitution do I have? Understanding and accepting your constitution can be both freeing and empowering. Years ago, whilst studying, I noticed the similarities between the physical body descriptions of the Ayurvedic body constitutions or doshas of vata, pitta and kapha and the western body types of ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph. Let us look in a little more detail at these doshas and physical body types:
A vata physical frame, like an ectomorph, is described as thin and slender, conjuring up an image of a ballerina or a long-distance runner. Ayurvedic doshas however go on to describe other physical traits and qualities of vata constitutions such as having an irregular appetite and digestion, and when out of balance, can suffer from constipation. When balanced, a vata type is described as creative, enthusiastic, energetic and inspiring, but when out of balance, can suffer from anxiety and burn out.
A pitta physical frame, like a mesomorph, tends toward an athletic build with good muscle definition and tends to have a balanced build. In Ayurveda, they are described as having intense appetites and can become irritable when hungry. Pitta types have excellent energy levels and when balanced can be positive people to be around. When out of balance however, they can suffer from acid indigestion and be irritable and overly competitive.
A kapha physical frame, like an endomorph, tends toward a curvaceous build. In Ayurveda they are described as having a slow metabolism with regular but sluggish bowel movements. Kapha body types also tend to need more sleep at night than vata or pitta types. In balance, they are described as loving compassionate people, whilst when out of balance, they can tend toward comfort eating.
Have you recognised yourself, a friend or family member in the brief descriptions above?
A few years ago, a close family member was describing the kindness of one of their colleagues in bringing them a snack to a meeting. I knew immediately that the kind colleague was simply pacifying the irritability my close family member exhibits when they are hungry! They have a pitta constitution and accompanying “hangryness” when it has been too long between meals.
We are all unique individuals made up of a combination of these types to infinite and varying amounts. It is very rare for an individual to be, for example, a pure ectomorph or vata, but usually has one dominant quality. In Ayurveda, the constitution you are born with is your prakriti (the original or natural form or condition) whilst during your life, any imbalance is referred to as your vikriti (distortion, pertaining to an individual's state of relative health or imbalance).
Learning more about your own constitution and embracing the gifts that your body possesses can be very liberating, especially when on a weight-management journey, when we tend towards unrealistic comparisons of photoshopped images of a minuscule percentage of supermodels.....
So, when you are feeling less than enamoured with your body, plant grateful kisses on yourself, close your eyes and say thank you and repeat this exercise daily.