Ayurveda is a comprehensive health and wellness system, which means that it focuses on all aspects of wellbeing – physical, mental, and spiritual. Physical activity and exercise are important components in the Ayurvedic lifestyle, helping eliminate heaviness and stiffness of the body and mind through the elimination of ama or toxins. With their shared history and tradition, Yoga is the natural counterpart to Ayurveda.
Adapting your yoga practice and incorporating it into an Ayurvedic lifestyle brings about greater balance and harmony. This puts you in charge of your physical and mental health, helping raise energy levels and increasing your sense of self awareness. While most of us focus on the increased flexibility and physical prowess that is gained from yoga practice, it also promotes deep relaxation and strong focus that helps in every aspect of life.
Personalize Your Yoga Routine
Ayurveda recognizes the uniqueness of the individual, which is why it recommends personalized yoga routines that match your particular dosha makeup. If you haven’t already identified your dosha type, it would be a good idea to visit our Know Your Dosha page. Identifying your prakriti or doshic makeup allows you to take steps to balance your dosha levels with lifestyle recommendations that include yoga. The specific asanas or poses and the method of practice is customized because of its influence on dosha levels.
Individuals with vata or kapha dominance need to practice yoga asanas that have a heating influence to counter the cooling nature of their dominant dosha. However, while vata types would need to go with a slower paced low intensity practice, holding forward bends and both sitting and standing poses for a longer duration, kapha types would need a more disciplined and high intensity routine that also includes headstands and handstands. Pitta aggravation on the other hand is countered with yoga asanas that have a cooling and calming influence. Pitta type individuals are therefore advised to follow a more casual routine with a strong focus on breathing and relaxation. They need to include more asanas with bends and twists to pacify pitta levels.
Choosing Your Yoga Type
While there are various schools or disciplines of yoga, such as Hatha Yoga, Vinyasa Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Power Yoga, and Bikram Yoga, not all are equally aligned with the concepts of traditional Ayurveda. Some disciplines like Power Yoga and Bikram Yoga present practitioners with a modern twist focused more on athleticism and weight loss. On the other hand, yoga disciplines like Hatha Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, and Vinyasa Yoga preserve traditional elements. When choosing the appropriate yoga class, you need to also determine which style of yoga is best suited to your dosha type. For example, vata types require flowing and slow movements in their routine, making a Vinayasa Yoga class perfect. On the other hand, a Kundalini or Restorative Yoga class that focuses on breathing and meditation exercises as well would be perfect. However, all types of yoga will yield benefits, so long as you practice in a manner that aligns with your dosha-specific yoga recommendations.
- Cavanagh, Danny, and Carol Willis. Essential Ayurveda: A Practical Guide to Healthy Living. Ayurveda UK, 2004.
- Tiwari, Maya. Love Your Body Type The Ayurveda Way. 1st ed., Mother Om Media, 2012.
The information on this page has been contributed by Nishtha Bijlani, RYT (500 Hrs, Yoga Alliance) and is intended for the sole use of Allayurveda. Information contained within this article may not be reproduced without the explicit permission of Allayurveda.