Author: Erin Regis, CH
Body type, what is it? How can it help us learn how to take better care of our bodies? Moisture and temperature are the main considerations when determining a person’s body type. Is the individual always cold, or the opposite? Are they quiet and timid, or maybe gregarious with a big, booming voice? These considerations- along with many others, are taken into account when determining the body type of a person. Many traditional systems of medicine use body type as the basis for treatment in an individual.
Ayurveda names an individual’s body type or constitution as one’s Prakriti. Their unique mixture of 3 doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Greek medicine referred to different body types as the four humors: Blood (hot/moist), Phlegm (cold/moist), Yellow bile (hot/dry), and Black Bile (cold/dry). Unani-Tibb had body types broken down to a combination of elements, earth, air, fire, and water. Earth is cold and dry, Air is hot and moist, Fire is hot and dry, and Water is cold and moist. Sasang Constitutional Medicine classifies the constitutional makeup of an individual into one of the four constitutional types, namely Taeyang, Soyang, Taeeum, and Soeum. Traditional Chinese medicine also uses a constitutional model. While TCM still considers heat, moisture, or opposing qualities in its practices, TCM addresses the presenting condition rather than body type of the individual. Vitalism draws from all these traditional systems and more. This is done by supporting the natural balance of the person, while removing obstacles to health.
“It is more important to know what sort of a person has a disease, than to know what sort of disease a person has.” – Hippocrates
A person has a set body type that they were born with. Additionally, their environment, upbringing, food they eat, lifestyle, and spiritual practice all play a role in a person’s constitution and quality of life. Approaching each of these aspects from a perspective of balancing one’s constitutional tendencies allows for healthful expression in the individual. Doing things that are out of balance with one’s constitution can lead to disease. In practicing balance, one is to remove any obstacles for health, while also providing nutrients that support vitality of the individual.
This may be something as easily attainable as drinking more water, gentle exercise, and a gratitude practice. Further refining an individual’s choices with regards to balancing their constitution will be of good service to their vitality. Some people constitutionally benefit from eating salads, while others experience digestive problems from uncooked vegetables. Some people can seemingly eat whatever they like and struggle to keep weight on, while others can seemingly just look at a slice of bread and it’s on their hips. Some people are sensitive to light and sound while others seek out loud and bright experiences. Gentle movement is best suited for certain body types while others find benefit from strength, endurance, or burst exercises. There are many ways one’s constitution plays a role in their life experience.
The beauty in all of this is that each body type is beautiful and has a unique expression of vitality. A person’s body type is the jumping board for supporting the individual’s health. Understanding a person’s constitution is therefore the first step in maintaining a balanced, vibrant, healthy human. Knowing one’s body type allows an individual to make healthful choices specific to what will most support them in a vital experience.
Join Erin Regis on March 8th from 6-8 p.m. MT for a class on Body Type Support through Vitalism.