Āyurveda is the study of life and longevity, while Jyotiṣa is the study of the stars, of light. When combined, these two ‘sister sciences’, known as Āyurjyotiṣa, offer insights into the interplay between the movement of the heavenly bodies and our mental-emotional-physical body.
There are ‘five wheels of energy’, or cakras, which run along the central channel of the spine, culminating at five different energy centres in the subtle body. These reflect the planets spinning in space, mapped out in our subtle body. There are said to be 72,000 ‘circuits of energy’, or nāḍīs, moving around our subtle body. Of these, there are three that are looked at initially when acknowledging planetary influence: the left, right and central channels along the spine, iḍā, piṅgala and suṣumṇā.
Iḍā, the left channel, is the lunar channel, while piṅgala, the right channel, represents the solar. The central channel represents the balance between the two. These three channels come together at six important points in our subtle field of energy along the spine and are seen to ascend in unison to the crown of the head. They begin at the base of the spine and come together at the point between the eyebrows, commonly referred to as the 'third eye'.
Both sides are regulated by the breath, which is seen to alternate between right and left nostrils every 60 minutes or so and can be seen to be move through the central channel as the breath transitions from one side to the other. The left nostril corresponds to the right side of the brain, while the right nostril corresponds to the left side.
Subtle Bodies All our thoughts, words and actions from the past are stored in our subtle bodies, known as the kośas, or ‘sheaths’. The configuration of planets, and their continual movement, ensures that we are directed to fulfil the results of these thoughts, words, and actions over time. Planets do so by expressing their nature and desires through our subtle body, the causal body, while denser sheaths such as our emotional and pranic (‘life force’) body play out these imprints. These, in turn, influence our physical body, as we are compelled to act, or not, based on our experiences, our saṃskāras.
Āyurveda breaks these sheaths down into 3 bodies: the physical, mental, and causal body, or body, mind, and soul. The mental body must bridge the physical and spiritual dimensions and is no wonder why our minds can get so crazy juggling these two apparent extremes! Previous thoughts, words, and actions, stored in our subtle body, can be seen to produce results at certain times throughout life. In their introductory book on Vedic astrology, Light on Life: An Introduction to the Astrology of India, Hart deFouw and Dr. Robert Svoboda state that, 'As these karmas ripen to fruition, they project into the subtle or astral body ...’
Once the results of these actions have ripened, we are then directed to think a certain way, which is the planet's influence on our mental and emotional body. These compulsions, in turn, influence our energy body and life force, so that our physical body is given or denied the energy to live out the results of these through our actions. This plays out in relation to planetary cycles and transits, in accordance with our individual blueprint in our birth chart.
VĀTA: SATURN, RĀHU (NORTH NODE) & NEW MOON Vāta-types display the characteristics of wind, as this is how air exists in space, i.e. air moves. They are light, dry, and unpredictable in their movement – just like the wind. Physically, they are usually either very tall or very short. They usually have the longest limbs of any type; if the opposite extreme is not expressed, i.e., a very short individual. They are usually very thin and find it difficult gaining weight.
There is something irregular about their bodies and their lifestyles, and this irregularity is seen in everything relating to the unpredictable nature of the wind. This might be expressed as an irregular trunk-to-leg proportion, for example.
Their pulse is likened to a snake – quick and slithering. This gives clues to Rāhu's influence in their birth chart. They are dark in colour, just as Saturn and Rāhu are said to be dark. They brown easily in the sun and have coarse, dry hair and skin. Sage Parāśara describes Saturn as having 'an emaciated and long physique, [is] windy in temperament, [and has] big teeth … lame and coarse, rough hair'. He describes Rāhu as having a 'blue body … is windy in temperament …' He describes the Moon as 'very windy [AND] phlegmatic', as this would depend on whether the Moon is full (Kapha) or new (Vāta).
Wind depletes and removes things, so Vāta types usually find it easier to detach themselves, going for marathon runs, hiking for hours and generally keeping themselves on the move. Saturn and Rāhu both represent this quality of movement and change. Vāta types need to build strength, confidence, and consistency, just as the vitality of a powerful Sun is the antidote to the weakness of Saturn, while the traditional approach of Jupiter gives stability to the erratic, ingenuity of Rāhu.
When Vāta types are balanced they are adaptable, creative, and enthusiastic. When out of balance, they can be fearful. They tend to talk fast and take things in just as fast, but the problem is they do not retain it over a longer period. They are always onto the next thing, before assimilating the lessons deeply. This the influence of Rāhu. They usually have good short-term memories, if they are not experiencing imbalances, which can impede memory.
There may even dissociate from their lives, especially if something frightens them. When balanced they can be light and airy, but this can all too easily become cold and detached. Wind can do both; it can keep us on the move, away from the past - as quickly as possible. Wind dries things up and shows avoidance. This can lead to even more things to be frightened about, as the more we put something off, the more anxiety we feel around it.
Sometimes, air can get blocked which can result in thoughts and feelings becoming stuck, as in a 'mind loop' during feelings of depression or anxiety. The extreme expressions of imbalanced air can get very extreme indeed. Most of the time, anxiety feels like excitement to an air type and they are walking that fine line between the two most of the time.
Wind types need to feel safe to explore themselves in an astrology setting. They need a more spiritual grounding if they have lost their footing in the 'real world'. They need to slow down, even if they come in a hyper state. The goal for a Vāta type is to gradually slow down and retain the information and insights.
Rāhu is the head of the serpent in Vedic myth, where all our senses are, where we wish to gobble up as much as possible, but Rāhu doesn't have a body to digest and assimilate the experience, leaving air types feeling as if the information passes through them without being digested, or fully integrated. Saturn may show up as detachment or being uncomfortable with staying with more unpleasant and difficult feelings, using whatever means to achieve a more upbeat feeling. This may even mean resorting to drugs and substance abuse or using usually healthy practices such as exercise and meditation to avoid real issues. Perhaps they simply entertain thoughts which fit a better, more pleasant narrative, which could be a fantasy. The result being the same: they may not integrate an experience fully.
PITTA: SUN, MARS & THE SOUTH NODE (KETU) Pitta types are the bilious types, as bile is how their dominant element of fire, and a secondary water element, exist in the body. This shows a hot constitution. When there is too much heat in the body, there is frustration and anger. This gives clues into the difference in nature between the benefits of a little Sun, in comparison to too much heat, and the toxic and inflammatory influence of Mars and Ketu. Pitta types can experience both, of course: they can have a real zest for life or become frustrated by pushing themselves too hard.
Pitta types burn easily in the sun and, when out of balance, they suffer from burning sensations in general. This may lead to fevers, infections, and inflammations. Anger is present when there are indications of an excess. They have light-coloured eyes that are sensitive to the sun and light-coloured, thin hair that turns grey or falls out early in life.
Their pulse is likened to a frog – bounding and forceful. This is an expression of the power and majesty of the Sun and the courage of Mars. Physically, they are medium in stature and have medium-size features. They have good muscle mass and are naturally geared towards competition. Their skin colour is light and has freckles and moles.
Parāśara describes Mars as having 'blood-red eyes, bilious and has a thin waist and thin physique', and the Sun as having 'honey coloured eyes, a square body, bilious, manly, [with] limited hair', while he describes Ketu in the same way he describes Rahu. Most modern astrologers agree that Ketu is likened to Mars, but more intense. Their intensity can be cooled by being by the sea, for example, as the Moon is the antidote to Mars.
When Pitta types are balanced, they are passionate and have a zest for life. They are clear about what they need and determined to make changes for the better. When out of balance, they can get irritable, controlling, and angry.
Pitta types are fire dominant, reflected in their horoscope as a strong and prominently placed Sun, Mars, and Ketu. They may seek astrological advice with the aim of grabbing as much information as possible, to be able to manage the consultation and their lives more. While they are adept at managing energy, their tendency to control is possible; to turn everything into something which needs to be tackled to the ground and overcome.
This has its pitfalls, if they are not allowing certain things to be as they are, certain things which cannot be changed, no matter how much they attempt to change it. They may create a lot of stress attempting to do so, and fail to accept things; thus, failing to integrate the experience fully.
While I'm all for someone improving their life and make these suggestions myself, if this is not backed with some sense of acceptance of what is in the first place, it can feel as if they are bucking a current, making life harder for themselves than is necessary.
When Pitta types are in balance, they are the most perceptive of types, as if the fire that burns in their belly to be able to digest a great deal, burns in their mind's eye, fuelling a powerful sense of insight and illumination.
'Sun types' are usually more balanced and perceptive, if the Sun is equally balance in their birth chart, whereas 'Mars types' or 'Ketu types' can express a more imbalanced version of fire, creating blocks to true perception. Mars or Ketu can show a need to control things more so, and a knee-jerk reaction to hearing something they are not willing to accept, thus impeding their progress ironically; the progress they so wish for.
Ketu, the Moon's south node and eclipse is a shadow aspect after all and can either accentuate these blocks in perception or create intense burning desire for liberation; often both.
Pitta types may not wish to be pushed into areas they are not comfortable dealing with unless they themselves bring it there. It may be best to allow them to feel they are in control and let them take it there, so they feel they are doing something productive. They may benefit from being more open and allowing, cooling down their intense drive and push, opening themselves and their lives up to new possibilities that can be of benefit to them. Pitta's intensity can be cooled by Saturn and the Moon; Saturn offering a detached and acceptance, and the Moon offering more of an understanding of the ebb and flow of life; both antidotes to the heat of the Sun and the drive and ambition of Mars.
KAPHA: JUPITER, VENUS & FULL MOON Kapha types have a dominance of the water element in their nature and, as the body is mostly made up of water, we see this being expressed in a large body type. Having this dense element in their constitution shows attachment issues arise; just as water gathers in earth.
Whereas Vāta types have no problem letting go and moving on, Kapha types like to hold on. This may be to food, people or situations that are no longer appropriate. They have a slow metabolism. Emotionally, they are sentimental and like to reminisce. Physically, they are usually short and stocky or tall and sturdy. They have the biggest frames and features of any of the three types and have thick, oily skin and hair, and usually big blue or brown eyes. Regardless of cultural considerations, Kapha types are the most beautiful types.
Their pulse is likened to a swan – slow and graceful. Parāśara describes Jupiter as 'large bodied, [with] honey coloured eyes and hair, and phlegmatic...', while he describes Venus as 'charming in physique, [with] beautiful eyes ... phlegmatic, [with] curly hair'. He describes the Moon as 'very windy and phlegmatic, [with] a round body.
When Kapha types are balanced they are strong and stable, with huge reserves of energy which fuel a powerful immune system. When out of balance, they tend towards stagnancy.
Kapha types are dominant in the water element and are the most easy-going of individuals, with a sense of fluidity and calm that is so often expressed in a warm, inviting, and nurturing individual. This is the influence of Venus, Jupiter, Mercury, and full Moon, which brings a sense of comfort; that is, unless this comfort becomes all-consuming and suffocating. This may be reflected in an inability to let go or move on.
This has obvious challenges if something is removed from their lives which leaves them with a sense of yearning and loss. This can make them feel numb and retreat into their shell for protection. When they are balanced, they are loving and devoted, calm, and serene, but when out of balance they can be attached and needy, unable to move on when the time comes.
They are like ice which needs to be thawed, slowly. If they are more imbalanced and not able to move on, mentally or emotionally, they may require more encouragement, some fire, and some movement, i.e. air. A more consistent probing over a longer period can make a bigger impact than skirting from one issue to another. Yes, there may be many issues to deal with, but they may become overwhelmed if they feel they need to deal with them all at once.
While they benefit from the intuition of Jupiter and the comfort of Venus, the problems can begin when all movement and insights are blocked due to overindulgence and greed. All they need is to get moving, but more so, to start moving in the first place. This is their biggest challenge. This may mean staring slowly, delving deeper into one topic over a longer period, with less information in a reading, staying with a point until it sticks. Once they have it, they really have it. Kapha types require more motivation and adaptability; just as the heat of Mars and astringency of Saturn can decrease the heavy effects of Venus and the full Moon's indulgences, while Rahu's changeability and innovation can stir Jupiter out of complacency. Read about the 3 states of Kapha >
Mixed/Dual Types You may not fall into just one of these categories. We are all a mix of all these three and, although some people score high in just one of the humours, many are high in two. While you may see yourself as one of the above types, you are more likely to be a mix of at least two. This is the most common type, i.e. a dual type, although some people or an equal mix of all three.
VĀTA + PITTA Both Vāta and Pitta have lightness in common, with less Kapha in their constitution. Wind and fire coming together can be explosive, so this type must work at keeping wind under control to keep the fire burning in balance: Vāta is the governing humour as everything moves on the movement of wind.
Wind can manifest as anxiety when there is an excess and fire can manifest as anger when the fire is fanned by wind. This may show up as either wanting to control things or avoiding them completely out of fear. Fear and anger alternate, depending on circumstances.
There is an 'all-or-nothing' approach and a need for stability, as there is less of the comfort of water. This may mean finding comfort in other people or in substances. For this reason, this type can sink into a dependency on drugs and alcohol to find this comfort to block out the harshness of life. Exercise can be something you become addicted to. Vāta's need for excitement, and Pitta's need for achievement, make this type a force to be reckoned with. However, such highs cannot be sustained indefinitely. This can show up as extremes, which, if possible, should be avoided.
PITTA + KAPHA A mix of Pitta and Kapha can show up as more controlling behaviour, as a blend of a Pitta types wish to control and a Kapha types nature to accumulate. If they are threatened by loss, they may hold on even tighter. They may need to develop more adaptability towards change. This may mean approaching them with alternative points of view and perspectives, to help them see a situation they are getting bogged down in in a new light.
This type has the steadiness of water and the drive of fire to keep you motivated. When these two energies are present, you can achieve much in life and with apparent ease.
They have the most robust constitution and can be a force to be reckoned with. Unlike Vāta-Pitta types who have all the energy and possibilities - but who may need to ground it in something lasting - this type can consistently apply themselves. They sometimes need the encouragement to get going, however, especially if Kapha is more dominant and out of balance. If Pitta is more dominant, this is usually not a problem. As Vāta is lacking, they must learn to cultivate adaptability. Learning to change with the seasons, with age, and with life circumstances, are important lessons for them. Learning to let go and detach from a desired outcome is another important lesson in balance.
VĀTA + KAPHA A mix of Vāta and Kapha may show up as someone being dominated by others, or by life circumstances, as fire is lacking and may show up as a lack of willingness to engage with action that can help themselves through challenges. This may mean approaching them with more encouragement to make the changes they need to make, and to reinforce these ideas through motivational language.
Wind is light and dry, and water is heavy and moist, so both lack heat, although the experience of cold is very different. This lack of heat can manifest as a lack of passion and drive in life. This type can be very laid back, but may allow other, more fiery individuals to dominate. They may need to find the strength and passion within. Physically, predominant Vāta and Kapha types are opposite in many ways. Vāta types are thin and light, whereas Kapha types are stocky and heavy. The size and frame of your type would depend on which humour is dominant. They could have a heavy body or a tall and thin body. Pitta can be cultivated to build up heat and strength, especially if they lack a personal sense of power.
References deFouw, Hart and Svoboda, Robert. Light on Life: An Introduction to the Astrology of India. New Delhi, India: Penguin Books India, 2006, p. 33. Sharma, G. S. Brihat Parasara Hora Shastra. Vol. 1. (tr.) New Delhi, India: Sagar Publications, 1994, pp. 28-29.