I went in for an Ayurvedic consultation. Ayurveda is an ancient Indian system of healing and balancing the mind and body, so that we might live an optimally healthy life. To break it way, way down, Ayurveda characterizes people as being made up of three general elements, or doshas: Vata (the air element: breath, flightiness, spontaneity), Pitta (the fire element: digestive fire, passion, anger), and Kapha (the water element: blood, mucus, lethargy). Everyone is made up of components of all three doshas, though generally, we tend to have an imbalance. Most people lean towards one dosha, their prominent dosha. Very rare is the person who is a perfect Vata/ Pitta/ Kapha split.
A very fiery person who loses their temper often may be said to be a Pitta. A flimsy, whimsical person may have a Vata imbalance. And a slow, dull person would probably be characterized as Kapha. Finding out what your prominent dosha is can be helpful in determining what sort of lifestyle you should lead. Once you know how you tend to lean, you can learn what foods are best for you, what times of the day you are most alert and productive, and even what type of partner you should choose.
When you have an Ayurvedic consultation, they ask you all sorts of questions. Do you wake up early or late? Do you prefer sweet or salty food? Is your sexual drive low, normal, or high? They tap your knees and look into your eyes. They push back your fingernails and press your belly. They take busy, scrupulous notes. Then they tell you what you are.
“You are a Pitta,” said the doctor. “That means you cannot eat potatoes, or wear red.”
“I can’t wear red?” I said. “Why?”
The doctor scratched his big belly and rolled his eyes. He wasn’t big on patient-pleasing. He had already called me a liar for answering two “similar” questions differently (they weren’t similar, and the answers depended on the time of the month!), and he seemed to find me tiresome and dull, to say the least. “It’s all about psychic energy,” he said, wiggling his eyebrows at me like I was a dumb kid. “Pittas have too much fire. You must wear blues and greens and browns to counter your imbalance.”
I started pushing his buttons. “Well, I’m wearing red today, and I feel great,” I said. “I took a long walk and got along well with my friends. I had a good yoga practice and my creativity is flowing.” I almost said, “The only person I don’t get along with is YOU!” Then I thought, “Oh, wait, maybe that’s my Pitta rising to the surface!” He laughed and scratched his belly. “Maybe today you get along with your friends, but if you keep wearing red, you will most certainly have problems!” he declared.
After that, we seemed to get on a bit better. I began laughing at him when he said something I found ridiculous, and he seemed to enjoy poking fun at me, but in a less serious and malicious way. At the end of the consultation, I stood up to go. I had picked up my umbrella and was on my way out the door when he said, “Madame, wait! I forgot to tell you! Never marry a Vata! Only Vatas can marry Vatas. If you marry a Vata, you will be very, very unhappy.” He nodded his head sagely and continued. “Better that you marry a Pitta or a Kapha. Everyone gets along with a Kapha. Kaphas can marry Kaphas, Pittas can marry Kaphas, Vattas can marry Kaphas.” He scratched his chin and considered this. “Yes,” he said solemnly, after consulting his notes for a moment. “I think you should marry a Kapha! Kapha man would be very good for you!” Then he gave me a hearty nod that seemed to be a dismissal, and wheeled around in his chair, his dark eyes and heavy jowls disappearing from sight.