The Ayurveda/hunter-gatherer connection

To begin with, I am not an expert in Ayurveda. However, a couple of people in online fora have pointed out the similarities between my three personality types based on our ancestral mode of subsistence (hunter-gatherer, farmer and herder) and the three body dohsas. I established a connection between these types and Sheldon’s body types in my post. Three Tribes — Three Body Types , arguing that the lightweight ectomorph body type was best evolutionarily adapted for hunting, the heavy and strong endomorph type for farming and the athletic mesomorph type for nomadic pastoralists. The very same types exist in Ayurvedic doshas:

However, the doshas are not merely about body types but a holistic view of types that combines body, personality and mind. In fact, if we consider these three types from an evolutionary point of view, it is the only approach that makes sense. An adapted hardware also requires and adapted software to operate it. A investigated the three types from a neurological (brain) perspective and came to the following correspondences:

As with body types, it is not too hard to establish a connection between the brain types and ancestral mode of subsistence. As can be seen from the table, the brain types have got a lot to do with food intake and subsistence. hunter-gatherers (vata) needed to be more alert and had highly sensitive brains that can easily be overstimulated (noise, touch, etc.) in our modern world. Irregular appetite, frequent snacking and drinking as well as bursts of activity also go hand in hand with a foraging lifestyle. Kapha (farmer) types on the other hand preferred routine and usually had access to regular meals. The tendency to gain weight (put on energy reserves) was probably due to irregular harvests. Pastoralists (pitta) probably had the highest expenditure of energy and therefore the highest metabolism rate and appetite.

I have argued before that hunter-gatherer types have the highest risk of phobias and anxiety disorders due to a hyperactive amygdala. This study seems to confirm my conclusion. The fight and flight response is easily triggered and probably highly correlates with the personality trait “neuroticism”. Herder (pitta) types are somewhat less neurotic and farmer types (kapha) are the least neurotic.

This is not the only personality trait of vata types that links them to my hunter-gatherer types. Vatas are also considered highly creative, free-spirited and open-minded.

IN BALANCE Vata personalities are energetic, vivacious, joyful, friendly, open-minded, free in spirit, embrace change and learn easily, are clear and alert, sleep long and lightly, have balanced digestion, good circulation and even body temperature.

OUT OF BALANCE Vata personalities can be tired or fatigued, forgetful or spaced-out, anxious and frazzled with a lack of focus, have difficulty falling asleep, suffer occasional constipation and poor circulation.

People are generally a mix of different dosha types, which is to be expected from intermarriage over the past 10.000 years. When I took the Ayurveda dosha test, I came out about 75% vata/hunter-gatherer. One point where I significantly differ from the Indian vata type is my skin type. Vatas are considered to be dark-skinned, whereas my skin type corresponds perfectly to the pitta dosha (light, freckles, etc.). Also, I have noticed that a lot of other hunter-gatherer types have this skin type, as well as the red hair mentioned in the table.

The difference is most likely due to migratory patterns. While in India the original hunter-gatherers were darker than the farmers and herders immigrating from the north, in Europe farmers who immigrated from the south were darker than northern hunter-gatherers and herders (Yamnaya/Indoeuropeans).

Expansion of early farmers from the Fertile Crescent

I have blogged about many of the vata/hunter-gatherer characteristics like high-stress reactivity and creativity.

Originally published at on September 20, 2020.