“I could sit here all day long – literally never move from this spot- and be perfectly happy about it,” I told Judi, my body pinning down her cerulean-blue plastic, kitchen- counter chair.
Judi gave a Mona Lisa smile of concurrence.
Judi and I are KAPHAS. In the ancient philosophy and teaching of Ayurvedic medicine, born and bred in India more than 5000 years ago, human beings are comprised of three main doshas, or constitutions. These are KAPHA, PITTA and VATA.
Very, very briefly (for the study of Ayurveda is complex and esoteric), those with a KAPHA constitution can be strong and loyal, have excellent stamina and exhibit a high degree of patience. The hallmark of a KAPHA is that we are slow to get going, but once we do…..boy, you better look out! We have two settings: OFF and ALWAYS READY TO BE OFF. For a KAPHA, coffee is a supplement, an essential element to our even remotely thinking about getting going. Judi is perhaps the luckiest KAPHA on the planet: her husband, Duane, brings her her coffee in bed every morning! How I envy you, Judi!
I, on the other hand, have to make my own, which I do every day, immediately upon rising. French Press – the best. The only thing is I have to wait for it. Like three minutes. I might have to rethink this, even though I’ve been performing this ritual for 12 years. That’s the other thing about the KAPHA. We are slow to change. Out of balance, we can tend to hold on to situations, relationships and habits longer, perhaps, than we should.
A PITTA, on the other hand, moves fast. These are the people who are constantly going, in body, mind or both. They can be fiery, with a powerful intellect. These are your typical Type-A personalities. Coffee to a PITTA is an irritant and they should avoid it; you should avoid them if they’ve had too much of it.
Finally, VATA, sweet Vata. We don’t encounter many true Vatas in life. They are the people who are (lamentably) referred to as “airheads” (I never liked that term). They stand for movement and change (like cloud formations) and can be energetic and creative. The Vata is a dreamer and can often appear to be wistfully romanticizing about some thing or another. They are often the artists amongst us. I’d bet money on the actress Anne Hathaway being a Vata.
Most of us are a combination of the doshas. Judi and I have KAPHA bodies, with PITTA minds, for example.
Kaphas are prone to carrying extra weight and, of having a hell of a time managing it. However, as a consolation prize, we age very, very well. Our skin remains plumped up, fresh and dewy-looking. That’s because our natural ability to sit contentedly for long periods of time causes our fluids not to move around too much. It’s like natural botox or restylane injections, to both of which I am vehemently opposed. Exercise will do the same thing, just so you know. Kaphas love intense exercise, believe it or not. At least Judi and I do. Once we get moving, that is.
Pittas, on the other hand, tend to end up looking ragged, from all of their superfluous to and fro running around. They’re the ones that end up with faces that look like the desiccated bed of the Rio Grande in high-August and with necks that eventually expose their poultry ancestry. They’re oftentimes quite skinny and bony-looking.
I recall seeing an interview several years back, with Dyan Cannon, Sally Kellerman, and Brenda Vaccaro, who were on tour promoting their new movie, “Boynton Beach Club”. There they sat, side-by-side-by-side, on the interviewees’ couch. Brenda Vaccaro was nestled in the middle, bookended on both ends by the osseous presence of Cannon and Kellerman. Plastic-surgery-afficionado, Dyan Cannon – obviously a PITTA -was relaying, in all of her mutant-Hollywood-hold-on-to-youth-at-any-cost philosophy (tempered with just a modicum of nastiness), how, when something “goes wrong” (as in, when you age naturally), you “should” just “fix it”; her definition, of course, involves a trip to a cosmetic surgeon, then giving him carte blanche to wield a scalpel in the interest of preserving “youth” at all costs. Cannon’s lifelong quest to remain “ageless” has left her looking unnatural and, frankly, kind of mean-looking.
Sally Kellerman, a fellow PITTA, listened intently as Cannon issued her edict, nodding her head in agreement. Her face, too, was pulled as tight as a drumskin, and she looked as emaciated…er…as youthful as could be.
The most beautiful and truly youthful woman on the couch was Brenda Vaccaro -Hollywood mainstay and KAPHA-at-large; she just sat there, in obedient service to her dosha, saying nothing. She didn’t have to: she let the two wizened pittas use up all their energy. I’ll bet Brenda’s still sitting on that couch.