Have you ever wondered why certain yoga poses leave you feeling rejuvenated, calm, centered, and balanced while others feel more agitating, sore, or awkward? Maybe you have a friend who thrives from a hot, powerful yoga class, while you enjoy the slower, gentle stretching. Learn why in this article about Yoga & Ayurveda: Discovering the best yoga practices for each Dosha.
Ayurveda and Yoga
Ayurveda and Yoga are sister practices and are intended to be practiced together!
Both have a unique place and function, but overlap on various levels in the intertwined study of life. While Ayurveda is the study of the functions of the body, yoga traditionally studies the mind and spirit.
In the West, we’re often exposed to yoga as a mode of exercise or physical postures.
But yoga is more than just a form of physical exercise. It is a disciplined practice that touches upon the health and well-being of the entire body, mind and spirit. The familiar bending and stretching exercises (or asanas) are just one of many interrelated practices that connect and align all aspects of the practitioner into a state of complete balance.
Utilizing Ayurveda and yoga, hand-in-hand, offers an even greater balance in your overall health and vitality.
When determining which yoga practice is right for you, the most important factor is determining your Dosha and where your current imbalances lie. This allows you to feel the best in your body, supporting and regaining your balance, ultimately bringing you into even greater alignment…heightening the enjoyment of life!
Vatas often have surges of energy they need to release. They are mentally quick, enjoy movement, and are naturally creative. This is why slow, steady, grounding postures, as well as deep, slow breathing helps cultivate stillness, grounding, and structure.
For those who might be experiencing Vata imbalance, may feel flighty, irregular, cold, and dry. A yoga practice that is stabilizing with warming, warming, gentle flow sequences can be a wonderful way to add balance to your mentally quick and energetic life.
Asanas (Poses) Beneficial for Vatas
- Poses that compress the pelvis and flex the hips (Child’s pose, Forward Fold)
- Standing poses that encourage stability, grounding, and strength (Warrior I, Warrior II)
- Balancing poses (Tree pose, Dancer pose)
- Spinal twists
- Backbends on the belly (Bow Pose)
- Inversions held for short amounts of time (Legs up the wall, Headstand)
- Restorative and meditative poses (Yin yoga, Slow-controlled breathing)
Pittas benefit from yogic practices that maintain their strong digestive fire and warm personality, yet temper their tendency toward inflammatory conditions. Pittas are naturally passionate, enthusiastic, and display courage; yet, anger, competitiveness, and inflammation common signs of a Pitta imbalance.
Pittas benefit from practicing cooling, relaxing postures that release heat and tension.
It is important for Pittas to observe the breath, allowing it to move freely. Instead of moving quickly from pose to pose pittas benefit from a longer pause between poses.
It is also wise for Pittas to be mindful of creating too much heat. It is best to practice yoga during cooler times of the day and avoid hot yoga classes.
Asanas (Poses) Beneficial for Pittas
- Heart openers that apply pressure to naval region and solar plexus (Cobra bose, Bow Pose)
- Pose that move slowly with fluidity (a slow, mindful Sun Salutation A)
- Gentle hip-openers (Reclined Butterfly Pose, Camel Pose)
- Relaxing and resting poses (Forward Fold, Child’s Pose)
Kaphas tend to be consistent, devoted, stable, and strong. They are naturally grounded and their true medicine is to move their bodies. When imbalanced, Kaphas tend to feel sluggish, heavy, dull, cold, and lethargic, which is why they benefit from yoga practices that are more stimulating, warming, dynamic, and free-flowing. With these practices, yoga helps Kaphas uplift their energy, improve their mood, alleviate depression, and improve digestion.
It is best for Kaphas to practice yoga first thing in the morning so they can raise their energy and set the vibe for the day. The following poses, plus vigorous breathing exercises, can help foster the enthusiasm, heat, and focus Kaphas need to thrive.
Asanas (Poses) Beneficial for Kaphas
- Heart-openers (Camel pose, Cobra pose, Up-Dog)
- Dynamic movement (Sun Salutations with strong vinyasa – i.e. jumping back, Warrior I,II, III)
- Backbends (Plow pose, Bridge Pose)
- Inversions (Headstand, Shoulder Stand, Handstand)
Aromas & Yoga
Combining aromatherapy with yoga can powerfully enhance the yoga journey. Like yoga, the practice of aromatherapy strives to support the well-being of body, mind and spirit. Add the calming aromas of the herbs found in YouVeda’s My Essential Oils to add additional benefit to any yoga practice.
Now more than ever, it is of great importance to cultivate whatever practices keep us healthy, mentally and physically. Whether that is through exercise, self-awareness, community involvement or meditative practices, we can benefit greatly and be of benefit to others by centering and caring for ourselves.
Yoga, practiced in harmony with each person’s unique nature, is part of the Ayurvedic path toward balancing the Doshas. Discovering the best practices for each dosha will allow you to incorporate Ayurveda & Yoga.
Through this path each of us can fully reach our potential!
Author: Carolyn Crew (YouVeda Wellness Contributor)