According to Ayurveda we all have a constitutional type or dosha. These doshas, or mind-body types, are vata, pitta and kapha. We are all (as is everything in nature) some combination of vata, pitta and kapha. Most people have two doshas which are dominant, but some people have only one or have three which are dominant. Knowing our constitution can help us to determine how to stay in balance or maintain optimal health. We all have needs and remedies which are unique to our type.
When choosing what types of oils to use for massage or skin care it is helpful to know which doshas are dominant for you. The following is a very brief description of each dosha. If you would like more help in deciding which dosha(s) best describe you then visit here.
Vata- A vata person is creative, artistic, talkative and likes new adventures and projects. They like to be on the go and perform activities quickly. They usually grasp information rapidly but can be quick to forget. They tend to be thin, have a variable appetite and have more extreme features. Their skin tends to be thin, cold and dry. Vatas may have difficulty sleeping or staying asleep. When vatas are out of balance they will tend toward worry and anxiety.
Pitta- A person with pitta qualities is fiery and determined. They like to get things done. They like things to be well thought out and exact. Their sleep is usually short and sound. Pittas tend to have excessive or strong appetite and thirst. They have a medium build and warm, soft skin. Pittas tend to be perfectionists. Pittas tend to be leaders and can be aggressive and perceptive. When pittas are out of balance they can be argumentative, jealous and irritable.
Kapha- A person with kapha qualities is slow, steady, calm and dependable. They tend to have a larger frame in which muscles are not too visible. A kapha's skin will tend to be oily, cool and thick. Their appetite is slow and steady and they sleep heavily and may have difficulty waking. Kaphas are slow to memorize but have good retention of information. Kaphas are very loyal, devoted and stable. Kaphas may be slow to start but they will get the job done. When out of balance, kaphas can be complacent and lethargic.
Keep in mind that most people are a combination of these types with one being more dominant. For example, you may be a vata-pitta or a pitta-vata. These combinations are similar except that in the first vata is more dominant and in the second pitta is more dominant. Now, according to what type you are then you might choose the following oils. These oils will tend to balance the dosha for which they are recommended. If you are a combination of doshas then pacify whichever dosha is dominant for you first with the listed oil. You may also want to add a second oil to the formula for the less dominant dosha. We can mix it up, people!
The best oils for vata include warm, heavy oils such as castor, olive, jojoba, almond and sesame. The best oils for pitta include cooling oils with sweet fragrance such as ghee (clarified butter), safflower, sunflower, coconut, pumpkin, and sesame. The best oils for kapha include light oils such as mustard, safflower, corn, sesame, and jojoba. Sesame oil is tri-doshic or balancing for all types.
So the next time you are giving yourself a good massage, belly rub (you know I’m a fan of the belly rub), or simply trying to keep itchy or dry skin at bay - keep in mind that one oil may have a better result for you than another. In Ayurveda, oil and food are medicine to help keep us healthy and in balance. If you know what your dosha is then you are better able to find the “medicines” that have the most powerful effect for you. Isn’t it spectacular when you only have to travel to your kitchen to find them?