After the hustle, bustle, and sparkle of the holidays, our thoughts turn toward new goals for the year ahead. Since good health is a foundation for all our undertakings, self-care and better health are often at the top of our list.

To help you on this path, here’s a quick quiz to discover diet and lifestyle tips for your mind-body type. In just a few minutes, you’ll have customized tools to support stress-free health, vitality, and growth of consciousness throughout the coming months.

Dr. Nancy Lonsdorf, expert in integrative medicine and Maharishi AyurVeda

This holistic health wisdom comes from Maharishi AyurVeda® (MAV), which is “Ayurveda-Plus.” It includes traditional, personalized recommendations for optimal daily routine, herbs, and diet plus the growth of consciousness gained by practicing the Transcendental Meditation® (TM®) technique. “Transcending is best amongst the sources of health,” as the sage Charaka, one of the founders of Ayurveda, says in the classical texts.

The most powerful natural health approach I’ve found for my patients in more than 30 years of clinical practice is the twice-daily TM technique, which allows us to release stress directly and stay attuned to the innate needs of our bodies.

The most powerful natural health approach I’ve found for my patients in more than 30 years of clinical practice is the twice-daily TM technique.

The Wisdom of Maharishi AyurVeda—Balancing Nature, Inside and Out

Before you take the quiz to find your mind-body type, let’s take a moment to understand this ancient health system.

“As is the atom, so is the universe,” say the Ayurvedic texts. This system is founded on the principle that nature—both within us and in life as a whole—functions through five natural elements: SpaceAirFireWater, and Earth.

These five elements in turn constitute three Supersystems or Doshas, as they’re called in Sanskrit. The Doshas are aspects of nature’s intelligence that guide the three fundamental Superfunctions required for all life—movement, metabolism, and structure:

1. Vata (VAH-tuh) governs movement (Air and Space). It is subtle, light, cool, dry, quick, variable, and leads the other doshas.

2. Pitta (PIT-tuh) governs metabolism and transformation (Fire and Water). It is the only Dosha with heat and is responsible for digestion, metabolism, and energy production.

3. Kapha (KAH-fuh) governs structure (Earth and Water). It is heavy, dense, and structural, and composes the physical, material substance of the body—muscles, bones, and fluids.


Here’s an easy example of how these fundamental functions interact in natural cycles and our physiology: When the sun is highest in the sky, our digestive fires are also strongest, so Maharishi AyurVeda recommends having the largest meal of the day around noon.

First Step: Learning Your Mind-Body Type

Medical science now recognizes the phenomenon of physiological individuality, which has given rise to personalized medicine based on our unique genetic “fingerprint.” Examples include tailored drug dosages, preventive screenings and cancer treatments, and treatments for hereditary conditions.

Similarly, Maharishi AyurVeda offers personalized lifestyle recommendations for our diet and everyday habits to minimize stress and optimize health for our unique mind-body type.

The three Doshas of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha are present in everyone, but they are expressed to different degrees depending on our genetics and environment. The dominant Dosha in a person is expressed in a distinct pattern of traits called a Prakriti (“nature”), or mind-body type.

For example, are you the kind of person who can eat anything you want and never gain weight? Or do you struggle to curb your appetite and gain weight at the mere thought of a chocolate truffle? Are you easily irritated, or blessed with the patience of a saint?

When it comes to stress, we are all different too. Frequent work-related travel may be exciting and energizing to some, but distressing and frazzling to others.

When people understand how to balance their Doshas, they can dramatically improve their quality of life and even ease some chronic health concerns.

Knowing the unique needs of your mind-body type and matching your lifestyle accordingly are key to keeping stress at bay, slowing down aging, and avoiding or minimizing common issues like stiff joints, insomnia, dryness, fatigue, and minor memory loss. In my clinical experience, when people understand how to balance their Doshas, they can dramatically improve their quality of life and even ease some chronic health concerns.

What’s Your Stress-Free Mind-Body Type? 

Check each description that applies to you, and the quiz will sum your score. Follow the balancing tips for any Supersystem (Dosha) in which you score 3 or above.* If you score 3 or more in two Doshas, as many people do, follow the suggestions for combination types after the quiz.

Within a week, I predict you will start to feel new stress-reducing effects, assisted by your TM practice. You may even feel a decrease in chronic symptoms as you adopt a lifestyle and diet best suited to your personal mind-body system. For more diet and lifestyle tips for your mind-body type, visit my website.


Are You an Airy or Vata Type?

3 Total — 3 or more means you're Vata

Show Hide TIPS for Vata Type

7 Tips for Balancing Vata, the Airy Type

TIP 1 How to balance your tendency to worry, which can accelerate aging: Practice yoga, deep breathing, and be regular in your practice of Transcendental Meditation® to reduce your stress level.

TIP 2 How to balance the dryness within your body, which can contribute to stiffness, memory issues, and poor elimination: Include healthy, organic fats in your daily diet (for vata balance, favor olive oil, sesame oil, and ghee, if your cholesterol is not too high), and favor warm, cooked foods rather than cold or raw foods.

TIP 3 How to soothe your dry skin, which can contribute to early wrinkling and a dull complexion: Give yourself an oil massage each day before your bath or shower. For more detailed instructions, see this page.

TIP 4 Routine: Keep a regular routine of sleeping and eating—this is very important for your type.

TIP 5 Spices: Favor fennel, cumin, ajwan, and fresh ginger root.

TIP 6 Work and Communication: Do one thing at a time, in a settled, quiet environment. Take an extra moment to organize your thoughts before you talk.

TIP 7 Travel: When traveling, give yourself an oil massage and take a warm bath before bed to balance the effects of travel. Favor hot drinks. Sleep in a silk “sleeping bag.” (Silk is particularly soft and soothing to always-active vata, and is purported to protect your mind and nervous system from outside disturbance.)


Are You a Fiery or Pitta Type?

3 Total — 3 or more means you're Pitta

Show Hide TIPS for Pitta Type

7 Tips for Balancing Pitta, the Fiery Type

TIP 1 How to balance a tendency towards frustration, resentment, and anger, which can contribute to early aging of the skin and body: Exercise every day, preferably in a natural setting. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

TIP 2 How to nurture your skin, if it easily becomes inflamed, irritated, sunburned, or freckled: Protect yourself carefully from the sun and drink plenty of pure spring water daily.

TIP 3 How to balance inflammation and an acidic system, which can promote early aging: Every day, eat 6–8 servings of fresh organic vegetables and sweet juicy fruits. Strictly avoid smoking, alcohol, vinegar, sour condiments, excess caffeine, and hot, spicy, acidic, sugary, or fermented foods.

TIP 4 Routine: Eat your meals on time, especially lunch.

TIP 5 Spices and Foods: Favor fennel, coriander, cilantro, parsley, rosewater, coconut water, pears, zucchini, and cucumber.

TIP 6 Work and Communication: Make sure you have eaten a meal or snack before engaging in important or contentious conversations.

TIP 7 Lifestyle: Take time outdoors in nature and with family and friends to avoid overworking and reduce stress.


Are You an Earthy or Kapha Type?

3 Total — 3 or more means you're Kapha

Show Hide TIPS for Kapha Type

7 Tips for Balancing Kapha, the Earthy Type

TIP 1 How to balance a tendency to gain weight, which may lead to obesity and early aging: Exercise every day, no matter what, with a friend or a personal trainer. Give up sugar entirely.

TIP 2 How to reduce a tendency to puffiness in your face and eyes: Eat your heaviest meal at noontime, and a lighter, vegetarian evening meal, without cheese or yogurt, by 7:00 p.m. Drink boiled hot water frequently during the day.

TIP 3 How to balance a predisposition to feeling blue or to hanging on to the past, which may accelerate aging: Get involved with helping others, and don’t spend much time alone. Learn to “let go” and move on.

TIP 4 Routine: Be sure to get up early, ideally by 6:00 a.m., for more energy and lightness during the day.

TIP 5 Spices: Favor stimulating spices such as ginger, black pepper, mustard seed, coriander, cumin, turmeric, and fresh Italian herbs.

TIP 6 Foods: Eat a lower carbohydrate diet, strictly avoiding the “whites”—white flour, rice, potatoes, and sugar.

TIP 7 Lifestyle and Communication: While you enjoy giving solace to others who need your comforting presence, be sure to stay physically active and spend time with friends who energize and uplift you, not only those who draw on your nurturing instincts.


What If You’re More Than One Type?

Most people are a “combination type” of two Doshas, so you may find you have characteristics of more than one type. Here’s how to customize the tips for combination types.

The key is to follow dietary guidelines based on your physical and digestive traits, and lifestyle recommendations based on symptoms or traits for your mind and emotions. The reason for this is that food most directly interacts with our digestion and metabolism, while our activity influences our mental and emotional states.

For example, if you take the quiz and find that your mental and emotional style is more Pitta and your digestive patterns are more Vata, follow the lifestyle habits for a Pitta mind-body type and the diet for a Vata type.*

Pete’s Story—Balancing Excess Fire

Pete, a municipal fireman, was 28 years old when he came to my Washington, D.C. office for a Maharishi AyurVeda evaluation. Trim and athletic, with reddish-blonde hair and a ruddy complexion, he quickly got to the point: He was suffering from heartburn and skin rashes, and his girlfriend complained about his irritability and short fuse.

Pete didn’t want to lose his job, or his girlfriend, yet he was finding it hard to control his temper. He hoped that Ayurveda could help him naturally, and quickly, without medications.

It took only a few moments to diagnose Pete’s condition from an Ayurvedic perspective: He had a classic imbalance in the “fiery” metabolic Dosha, Pitta. His lean build, reddish complexion, quick mind, and direct speech all spoke to the predominance of the hot, energetic Pitta Dosha in his mind-body type. He was predisposed to symptoms such as heartburn, skin rashes, and a temper. Successive treatment would “cool” down his Pitta Dosha and balance out his excess fire.

I recommended he drink soothing, anti-inflammatory aloe vera juice several times a day, eat wholesome meals at regular intervals, and enjoy sweet and watery fruits and vegetables.

I explained to Pete that his chosen field of fire-fighting—both high-stress and high-heat—inherently aggravated his predominant Dosha, which was also fiery. As long as he had that job, he would need to emphasize cooling foods and lifestyle habits.

For treatment, I recommended he drink soothing, anti-inflammatory aloe vera juice several times a day, eat wholesome meals at regular intervals, and enjoy sweet and watery fruits and vegetables.

I also recommended he take a vpk® herbal supplement called Stress-Free Emotions from Maharishi AyurVeda Products International (MAPI), which I have found very effective for patients in cooling down anger and irritability.

Within six weeks, Pete reported a big improvement in his symptoms. Within three months his fiery symptoms were nearly absent. His relationships both on the job and with his girlfriend were going well.

Wishing You a Healthy, Happy New Year

With these mind-body tips, you can choose the optimal diet and lifestyle to maximize your energy, creativity, and focus, and keep you healthy and feeling your best throughout your lifetime.

And remember to meditate regularly! Dissolve stress at its source with the TM technique, tweak your lifestyle with tips for your type, and watch as you spontaneously make better choices, look younger, and, best of all, feel younger too.

With these mind-body tips, you can choose the optimal diet and lifestyle to maximize your energy, creativity, and focus, and keep you healthy and feeling your best throughout your lifetime.


* If you have a health condition or take medication, please consult your physician before adopting any new exercise or dietary recommendations. Although unlikely, if any discomfort occurs, stop the above recommendations.

Best-selling author Nancy Lonsdorf, M.D., has been an Ayurvedic practitioner for more than 30 years and is recognized as one of the nation’s most prominent Ayurvedic doctors. She teaches Maharishi AyurVeda® in affiliation with the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine and the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Center for Integrative Medicine. A frequent speaker on national media, she continues her private practice in integrative medicine and Ayurveda, including Wellness Consultations in person or by phone. For more information on Dr. Lonsdorf’s practice, visit To schedule an Ayurvedic Wellness Consultation by phone or teleconference, please contact Dr. Lonsdorf’s office at 641-469-3174 or

Copyright 2019, Nancy K. Lonsdorf, M.D., All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without written permission of the author.