Exploring The Concept of Prakriti and Vikriti (Your Ayurvedic Body Constitution)

Prakriti and Vikriti are among the core concepts of Ayurveda to understand an individual’s inherent constitutional body type and current state of health, in order to promote balance and wellness through personalized approaches to diet, lifestyle, and treatment.

In layman’s terms, Prakruti is the nature that we possess by birth and Vikriti is our current health condition.

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    Both Prakriti and Vikriti are dependent on the concept of three doshas – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha – that make up the constitution of the body. Each individual is made up of a combination of one, two, or more doshas.

    In this article, we have explained the concepts of Prakriti and Vikriti in detail.

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    Understanding Prakriti

    The word Prakruti is made up of the prefix ‘Pra’ which means “origin”; ‘Kri’ means “to do” and ‘Ti’ means “to intensify”. Thus, Prakriti is defined as the entity, which manifests at the time of origin. 

    Prakruti stands for the original body constitution or the inherent combination of doshas a person develops at the time of conception.

    Prakruti is the nature that you are born with and is unique to you. Every person’s constitution is predetermined at birth and is influenced by a variety of traits, including appearance, personality, habits, and dietary preferences. It determines a person’s physical and mental features and does not alter throughout their entire life. 

    According to Ayurveda, this occurs because every person’s birth determines their Prakriti through the panch mahabhutas (air, fire, water, ether, and earth), doshas (vata, pitta, kapha), and trigunas (sattva, rajas, and tamas).

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    Doshaja Prakriti

    At the time of conception, the predominance of any one or two or all three doshas determines an individual’s Prakriti. This is called Doshaja Prakruti

    The doshaja prakriti is further divided into eka doshaja prakruti, dwandvaja doshaja prakruti and sama doshaja Prakriti.

    Eka Doshaja Prakruti – As the name indicates, people who have one (eka) dosha body constitution are said to have eka doshaja prakruti. These types are quite rare. The Vata body type is considered bad or heena, pitta is moderate or madhyama and kapha is the best or uttama

    Dwandvaja Doshaja Prakruti – This is the most common type of prakruti where an individual possesses a combination of two doshas. Three variations of Dwandvaja Doshaja Prakruti are; 

    • Vata/Pitta (or pitta/vata) – Vata primary and Pitta secondary (or Pitta primary and Vata secondary).
    • Pitta/Kapha (or kapha/pitta) – Pitta primary and Kapha secondary (or Kapha primary and Pitta secondary).
    • Kapha/Vata (or vata/kapha) – Kapha primary and Vata secondary (or Vata primary and Kapha secondary).

    Sama Doshaja Prakruti – Counted amongst the rarest prakruti types, a person with sama doshaja prakruti is said to have a balanced combination of all 3 doshas. It is the highest (sreshta) body constitution type and is difficult to achieve due to an unhealthy lifestyle and diet.

    Manasika Prakriti

    Manasika Prakriti refers to the psychological or mental constitution of an individual and is considered to be a combination of the three Gunas (Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas). Thus Manasika Prakruti of an individual could be satvik, rajasik, or tamasik.

    Understanding Manasika Prakriti can help in choosing the right approach to promoting mental and emotional health, such as through yoga, meditation, or specific dietary and lifestyle practices.

    Knowing the doshaja prakriti can help an Ayurvedic practitioner diagnose a person’s personality, temperament, characteristics, and health and accordingly start treatment. 

    Let us now look at the factors that affect the Prakriti.

    What factors determine the Prakriti of an individual?

    The formation of Prakriti is linked to different elements, such as previous karmas, the physical and mental health of the mother and father at the time of conception, the mother’s diet and exercise routine, social milieu, the practice of wholesomeness by the mother (during pregnancy) and child in the postnatal period, and several others.

    Owing to the above, the following are the primary factors that determine the Prakriti of an individual:

    • Sukra-Shonit Prakruti (conditions of sperm and ovum)
    • Kala-garbhasaya Prakruti (time of the season of conception and conditions of the uterus)
    • Matu-ahar Prakruti (diet and lifestyle habits of mother)
    • Pancha Mahabhuta Vikara Prakriti (association of the 5 basic elements)

    Other factors that also influence the Prakriti are:

    • Jatiprasakta (Race/caste/ Occupation)
    • Kulaprasakta (family/ancestry)
    • Desha-anupatini (geo-climatic factors)
    • Kala-anupatini (time scale)
    • Vaya-anupatini (age) – determines the dominance of dosha
    • Pratyatmaniyata (individuality)

    How to identify an individual’s Prakriti?

    A questionnaire is used for Prakriti analysis, and it asks you several questions about your habits, appearance, and physiological processes like digestion and excretion as well as your moods and nature.

    It is a clinical examination that combines the three examination techniques of scrutiny (darshan), palpation (sparshan), and questioning (prashna). There are three different facets to it: structure of the body (rachanaanusari), physiological (kriyaanusari), and psychological (manoanusari).

    And variations of all these traits together make up the Prakriti.

    To identify your prakruti, you should always seek out an experienced Ayurvedic practitioner. Your body type can be appropriately determined by an experienced Ayurvedic physician using the responses to the questions asked during the Prakriti analysis test.

    Moreover, there are multiple questionnaires, quizzes, or tests that are available online which you can use but with caution. 

    Importance of Prakruti in Ayurvedic treatment

    The bodily constitution, or Deha Prakriti, is discussed in today’s usage of the word Prakriti. Deha Prakriti is the outcome of the various dosha ratios that each person is born with.

    When it comes to sustaining health, comprehending disease, and treating it, the Ayurvedic notion of Prakriti is crucial. Ayurveda believes that by understanding your Prakriti, you may pinpoint the factors that control your health and happiness and, as a result, lead a life that is healthy, happy, and fulfilling.

    Understanding your Prakriti might help you maintain your health by adhering to the right food and routine.

    On the other hand, you begin to comprehend what can drive your daily life out of equilibrium and result in disease or illness.

    You might not be mindful of how to maintain balance to ward off illness or how to perceive and ultimately correct your imbalance in order to regain health and wholeness if you don’t recognize who you fundamentally are.

    Additionally, the knowledge of your Prakriti can also help you in the following ways:

    • Adjusting your lifestyle to prevent or overcome imbalances of your doshas
    • Applying preventive health measures to maintain equilibrium
    • Preparing your diet as per your dosha to help improve nutrient intake, digestion, absorption, and elimination
    • Make sure you are eating the right meal in the right quantity and at the right time
    • Personalizing your sleep patterns
    • Select the right exercise routine to stay fit and healthy

    Understanding Vikriti

    An individual’s level of comparable health or imbalance is referred to as vikriti in Ayurveda. The Sanskrit word vikriti, which translates as “after creation” is a person’s biological makeup that can be affected by their environment starting from the time of conception.

    In Ayurveda, the vikriti assessment is performed to identify how factors of the outside world have affected a person’s physical, mental, or emotional health. The best way to think of vikriti is as if any doshic inclinations are manifesting right now.

    Human embryos are exposed to and impacted by their environment after fertilization. The embryo develops most effectively in a stable environment. If the atmosphere is kept ideal after birth, the child grows healthy.

    The three doshas can, however, grow out of tune and cause a deviation from Prakriti in an environment and lifestyle that are less than ideal.

    This unbalanced condition might fluctuate from day to day, season to season, or even during several phases of life. It is not a constant. And thus Prakriti leads to vikriti.

    What factors determine the Vikriti of an individual?

    To make decisions to restore our equilibrium, it is helpful to understand the characteristics of each of the doshas. This allows us to recognize what has gotten out of balance or what has accumulated.

    Vikriti or doshic imbalances can occur due to several factors such as climatic conditions, dietary habits, lifestyle, sleep patterns, frequency of exercise, stress, and many external factors.

    The aggregation of a particular dosha can be felt during numerous seasonal changes. We frequently acquire traits of the prevailing dosha throughout the year because of how closely tied our physiology is to the world around us. As the seasons change, this accumulation is most noticeable.

    For example, your prakriti is Pitta which comes with good digestion and a stable mind. However due to a seasonal change, your digestive system may flare and you may experience mental fog, a sign of Vata vitiation. In such cases, even though your Prakriti has not changed, the dominance of the vata dosha is determining the imbalances caused in your body.

    Importance of Vikriti in Ayurvedic treatment

    Understanding a person’s Vikriti and then figuring out what components of that person’s environment have led to the disruptions is one of the key objectives of Ayurvedic treatment. The term “environment” here refers to both the person’s lifestyle and the inputs they get through their five senses.

    To identify the root symptoms of a disease, vikriti assessment is the first step in all Ayurvedic treatments.

    One way to identify the underlying reasons for illness or disease is to correlate the ratio of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha in a person at any given moment with their physiological composition. One can compare it to the person’s inherent prakriti and look at operational indications like digestion, elimination, or sleeping patterns.

    Once understood, the goal is to transform the setting. 

    Identifying a person’s Prakriti is important for understanding their fundamental tendencies, but understanding their Vikriti is important for creating a treatment strategy.

    Difference between Prakriti and Vikriti

    Now that we have understood some basic concepts of Prakriti and Vikriti, we can summarize the difference between the two below:

    • Our intrinsic constitution is known as Prakriti, and the imbalance that develops when we don’t live in accordance with that structure is known as Vikriti.
    • Prakriti refers to the mind-body kind or constitution. Vikriti translates to the present situation.
    • In the Ayurvedic perspective, one’s Prakriti is typically viewed from the perspective of dosha predominance in the body constitution. On the other hand, the vikriti is looked into the imbalances or vitiations occurring in the doshas constitution within the Prakriti.
    • Understanding our Prakriti helps us grasp what our fundamental nature is. Learning our Vikriti provides us with the ability to take charge of our health path. 
    • To determine prakriti, factors such as conditions of sperm and ovum, time of the season of conception and conditions of the uterus, diet, and lifestyle habits of the mother, and association of the 5 basic elements are seen. Whereas, the factors looked into when determining vikriti are – the root cause of the disorder, vitiating variables, vitiated factors, constitution, location, time, strength, and symptoms.

    How do imbalances in Prakriti and Vikriti manifest?

    Doshas play an important role when it comes to imbalances in the body and mind. Even though most of us are a dual doshas constitution (bi-doshic body type), the Prakriti depends on the dominant dosha.

    So, when your dominant doshas are vitiated it can lead to a ton of physical and mental illnesses, diseases, or ailments. Moreover, the imbalance can also be caused when the second dosha overpowers your dominant dosha. 

    For example, you have been identified as having a Vata-Pitta body type with vata as the dominant dosha. This means that you have a Vata Prakriti. When your Vata is imbalanced, you will experience restlessness, fatigue, poor circulation, bloating, joint pain, etc. There may also be a chance that the pitta dosha has become imbalanced and you might experience symptoms like indigestion, acidity, acne, skin rashes, anger, irregular sleep, etc.

    However, you should also understand that we may or may not be able to link our imbalances to our biological structure. There are also chances that you might have a vata-pitta prakriti with both doshas dominant when compared to the kapha prakriti.

    In such cases, if a person shows signs of sudden weight gain, it may suggest that they may be experiencing kapha vitiation.

    The manifestation of imbalances in Prakriti and Vikriti also depends on the current lifestyle, seasonal changes, and the environment you are living in.

    Simply put, the imbalances in the prakrit and vikruti are manifested in the form of physical and mental problems as a result of vitiated doshas.

    • If your vata is imbalanced, it may lead to severe problems with circulation, damaged tissues, crackling joints, improper digestion, constipation, excessive weight loss, mental chaos, or insomnia.
    • In case of pitta imbalance, ulcers, excessive sweating, sunburn, acidity, hair fall, vertigo, egoism, an increase of negative emotions, etc may be experienced.
    • People with a kapha imbalance will notice lethargy, weight gain, loss of appetite, oily skin and hair, depression, lack of motivation, stubbornness, etc as symptoms.

    Another point to remember is that if your vata gets vitiated, there is a high possibility that the other doshas might get affected as well. This is because Vata is responsible for circulation within the body and between the organs. So if the circulation is blocked, the organs will not be able to work at the optimum level.

    Conclusion

    To sum up, Prakriti is the combination of doshas that you are born with and is affected by several factors including the conditions of sperm and ovum during the time of conception, the health of the mother’s uterus, and the time and season of conception.

    Vikriti on the other hand is your current state of being, which is dynamic. It changes according to the environment of the individual and is generally referred to as the imbalanced state of the doshas.

    An ayurvedic practitioner diagnoses your health condition based on your Prakriti and vikriti through a list of questions. This will determine the doshas that need to be worked upon to restore the balance.

    Reading the above characteristics of Prakriti and vikriti, it can be understood that the goal of Ayurveda is to acquire the knowledge necessary to notice when a Vikriti imbalance comes in to prevent illness or disease. It is also helpful in developing practices and rituals that will keep our Prakriti balanced.

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