In India, ayurveda is incorporated into the medical system, and if you consult with an ayurvedic doctor anywhere in the world, they'll probably recommend herbs, dietary changes, and other doable remedies. Ayurveda, on the other hand, operates holistically; it is a route to optimal health and a fantastic tool for self-understanding. You can use this understanding paradigm in all of your endeavors. In this post, I'll present an angle on the relationship between Ayurveda and yoga—specifically, how using Ayurveda as a lens might help you practice yoga with greater awareness. (Even if yoga isn't really your thing, you still might learn something!)
Several Ayurveda publications recommend particular yoga poses to balance vata, pitta, and kapha. Although these books were authored by specialists and certain yoga practices have worth, my goal in this article is to take a broader perspective. I give a technique for practicing yoga with an awareness of ayurveda by partially lifting the curtain.
Woman in a yoga position
Yoga and Ayurveda: Recognizing Your Personality
Nothing is right for everyone, but everything is right for someone, according to an intriguing precept of Ayurveda. This adage may sound extreme, but it emphasizes the extremely customized approach of Ayurveda. You may choose wisely and maintain balance by being aware of your constitution, patterns, and tendencies.
For example, if you tend to run warm, you should focus on foods, herbs, and lifestyle choices that have a general cooling effect. On the other side, if your constitution is inherently cool, you should concentrate more emphasis on foods, herbs, and activities that promote warmth.
There is a lot to be said about foods and herbs that balance the three doshas—volumes and volumes of texts, in fact. But let's discuss yoga because that's what this article is all about—adjusting your yoga practice to better suit your personality and tendencies.
Before we get started, I should clarify that this post is intended for people who have some prior exposure to yoga. I include the poses' names in both English and Sanskrit. The book Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar is an excellent resource if you are not familiar with the asana nomenclature. Also, you can now find a quick snapshot of these stances online. Working with a seasoned yoga teacher is usually recommended. However, even if you reside in a remote place, numerous devoted and knowledgeable yoga instructors now provide online lessons and workshops.
A female in the stretch position
For Vata Dosha, Ayurveda and Yoga: Calm and Ground
Air and ether make up the vata dosha, which is by nature light, cool, subtle, dry, and movable. Individuals with a mostly vata constitution may be quick-thinking, flexible, and enjoy to move. All of these qualities are amazing. Yet for vata types, all that wind and motion can become problematic if it isn't counterbalanced with stable, grounded habits. The continual motion may appeal to Vata personalities. Practices that promote stability, serenity, and regularity are therefore beneficial for them. Consider sandbags and other bodyweight exercises, forward bends, standing poses, restorative poses, and generally slowing down.
This is not to mean that vata types should never practice more briskly or perform energizing positions like backbends. Nonetheless, these airy creatures with a tendency to move quickly do tend to seek for continual stimulation. As a result, it's crucial to incorporate stillness techniques and chances for inner peace in order to counterbalance the vata dosha's continual movement.
Practices that link vata types to the earth element are also beneficial. For this, standing stances in particular are beneficial. The Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana), Downward Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), and Tree Pose (Vrksasana), which are considered warrior postures, are excellent examples. Standing poses counteract the lightness of vata dosha by grounding and fortifying the body.
Also, vata types benefit from some hard work since it helps them sense and fully tune into their bodies—something they may find challenging (vata types can tend to live in their heads and get absorbed by thoughts and ideas). These light-hearted people need to watch out that they don't exhaust themselves fully. They frequently overdo things and become agitated.
The colon, which is governed by the vata dosha, is a crucial consideration when considering yoga for vata dosha. Excess vata dosha is a frequent imbalance that results in bloating and constipation. Asanas and other practices that soothe and tone the lower abdomen are therefore beneficial. Posture variations like the Reclined Hero Pose (Supta Virasana) are particularly effective at balancing the apana vayu (downward flow of energy that rules elimination). Furthermore, twists and the reclining bound angle pose (Supta Baddha Konasana) are beneficial provided that there is no severe constipation or diarrhea.
Yoga position in a twist
Yoga and Ayurveda for Pitta Dosha: Be Calm
Pitta dosha produces heat in contrast to vata dosha, which is cool or even chilly. Pitta personalities frequently have a warm disposition. In addition to having a higher body temperature, these fiery personalities are frequently highly competitive and driven. When out of balance, they are vulnerable to hot emotions like indignation, hatred, and condemnation.
Yoga techniques that focus on the cooling energy of the moon are balanced for pitta dosha. Remember, this does not imply that people with pitta types should absolutely shun exertion and hard work. In fact, pitta-types can benefit from a regular dosage of sweaty exercise for reducing their mental stress. It's crucial for them to avoid getting sucked into rivalry or comparison, though. Also, it will be beneficial to learn to tune into the signals that the body is delivering rather than ignoring them. Pitta-types occasionally need to learn to take their time and listen to themselves before their bodies start screaming at them.
Poses that involve bending forward tend to calm the body and psyche. In fact, supported forward bends, such as Stretch of the West Side of the Body (Paschimottanasana), where the forehead rests on a chair or bolster (see image here), are recommended for illnesses including high blood pressure and chronic tension and can be highly effective in relieving headaches.
Pitta-types benefit greatly from inversions that have a cooling, lunar energy, such as Supported All Limbs Pose (Salamba Sarvangasana) and Creation of a Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana). These poses are crucial for all yoga practitioners because they have a profoundly positive impact on the endocrine system and prime the body and mind for breathing exercises. Pitta-types, in particular, will gain from not avoiding these nourishing positions that aid in calming the mind and turning the attention inside.
In general, avoid warming your body and mind if you have a predominance of pitta dosha in your constitution (or if it is pitta season). Observe your competitive advantage as well. We can achieve amazing things via competition and desire, but be careful not to let that internal fire trump your deeper understanding and feeling of wellbeing.
Reverse bow position
Move It Out: Ayurveda and Yoga for Kapha Dosha
Pitta types should be careful not to overdo things, whereas kapha types can often push themselves further because of their strong endurance. The kapha dosha is slow, smooth, cool, and heavy in character since it is made of the earth and water elements. The kapha personality type enjoys routines and creature comforts and tends to build up their energy gradually in the morning and throughout the day. When a kapha type establishes a habit, they have a strong likelihood of sticking with it. Hence, if a kapha type establishes a solid daily yoga practice, they are likely to persist with it over time.
Yet, kapha personalities need to be on the lookout for laziness and sluggishness, or inertia's more grounded manifestation. One thing is to avoid going overboard; another is to avoid getting too comfortable. In yoga, the word "tapas" refers to discipline or a burning zeal. The fire aspect of the practice enables the practitioner to change physically and psychologically and burn away impurities. Those with strong kapha constitutions may require assistance developing and sustaining tapas. The comfort zone is an illusion, as one of my professors once said. Reality is when you step outside of your comfort zone.
What does this mean for doing asanas? Start moving and start perspiring! Due to their high levels of endurance, kapha personalities can endure a demanding physical practice. Standing positions exercise the body's endurance while building strength and heat. Backbends and back extensions, such as Upward Facing Bow Pose (Urdhva Dhanurasana), Camel Position (Ustrasana), and Bow Pose (Dhanurasana), are excellent for kapha types because they provide an energizing, expansive effect. Backbends primarily include the fire element, and performing them develops strength, willpower, and an extended consciousness.
Diversity and spontaneity help the kapha dosha balance. As I previously stated, kapha types adore their routines—to their benefit and disadvantage! For all doshas, it's a good idea to practice yoga every day at the same location and time. Yet it's important for kapha types in particular to watch out for ruts. Make sure they are practicing novel and difficult positions, varying their practice sequence, and not repeating the same poses every day. A instructor that will push kapha types to step beyond of their comfort zone can be someone they should look for (in a healthful way and with awareness, of course).
Ayurveda and yoga are broad and complex disciplines, to sum up. Even if you spent your entire life studying these two topics, you wouldn't even begin to scratch the surface of what both traditions have to offer. If you are familiar with both, it could be time to start experimenting with how Ayurveda and yoga interact. These two disciplines have a great deal of synergistic potential, and the more you learn about them both, the more you may see the inherent wisdom and harmony in these age-old traditions.