In Ayurvedic medicine there are three doshas, or energies, that run the human body and mind efficiently. Each dosha correlates with physical, physiological and psychological elements. A person’s bodily dosha and mental dosha may be different, and it changes throughout our lifetime.
Ideally, all three doshas are balanced and active. However, as life works, one dosha often dominates the other two, or two are more prominent than the third.
Here we will explore a couple yoga poses to re-center and balance the doshas.
Vata, the space and air element, is also known as the “wind” which “moves things through.” Any sort of elimination and movement in the body – urination, excretion, gas, and hiccups are controlled by Vata.
People with more Vata in their systems have dry, rough skin, cold fingers and toes. Vata energy comes in bursts – people with more Vata energy are enthusiastic, creative, on the go, they crave movement and experiences. They are quite flexible by nature and prone to anxiety and insomnia. The colon, lower abs, pelvis, thighs, bones, joints, ears, skin, brain, ankles, and nerve tissues are all controlled by the Vata.
To calm down the aloof and bouncing Vata mind, we will explore forward folds and grounding postures.
Firstly, if your mind is on a raceway please flow through a couple vigorous sun salutations to burn off some thoughts before practicing these asanas.
- Tree pose AKA Vrksasana – Since you are balancing on one foot in tree pose, it is hard to think of anything other than centering yourself and your breath. Tree pose strengthens your ankles and feet and allows one to stand tall.
- Forward fold AKA Uttanasana – This soothing asana calms the brain, reduces stress and stimulates digestion. Hinging forward stretches the hamstrings, calves, and hips.
- Garland pose AKA Malasana – This is the squat that people around the world do to release waste from their bodies! If you suffer from constipation and gas – think dryness and airiness in your system – try this. Malasana also stretches the groin, strengthens and stretches the spine, and tones the abdomen.
- Bow pose AKA Dhanurasana -While holding your ankles in prone position, bow pose massages your tummy, stimulates your organs, and cures constipation.
- Any other forward folds with your forehead resting on a block, blanket or bolster will help relax the Vata energy and recenter you!
You know your friend with that fiery personality? Red hair, who gets heartburn after you share a margarita and she sometimes snaps at you on accident? She probably has more Pitta energy.
Pitta provides the body with heat and energy. Pitta energy is mainly located in small intestine, stomach, liver, spleen, pancreas, blood, eyes and sweat. Throughout yoga poses for abundant Pitta energy we aim to move fire from the tummy throughout the rest of the body.
People with a dominant Pitta dosha tend to be jealous, short-tempered, and competitive. If you fall into this category please remember that yoga is not a competition and try not to work at your highest capacity during these poses. Slow down and avoid heated classes. Enjoy yourself, have fun and don’t be so serious!
- Pigeon pose AKA Kapotasana – Sleeping pigeon cools down the body, releasing tension in the hips. Feel free to prop the hip with a bent knee on a blanket or bolster so your body can completely let go. Use your breath to release deeper.
- Camel pose AKA Ustrasana – The chest-opener exposes the heart chakra while soothing the abdominal region and stretching the front of the thighs and the hips.
- Bridge pose AKA Setu Bandha – A cooling pose but also an inversion that expands the heart is wonderful for Pittas. Please avoid other inversions that rush blood to the head.
The final two elements, earth and water, are controlled by the Kapha energy. Your bestie who is thoughtful, caring, patient, loves naps, and puts others before herself probably has a dominant Kapha energy. People with more Kapha in their systems tend to have oily hair and skin, lubricated joints and may store more fat on their bodies.
An imbalanced Kapha energy may look like depression, mental inertia, obesity, greed, stubbornness, and the inability to accept change. Kapha governs the chest, throat, lungs, ligaments, tendons, and lymph system. Yoga poses aimed at the Kapha energy increase energy flow, boost the metabolic system and open the side-body.
Please flow through a few vigorous sun salutations to increase blood flow and heat throughout the body before these poses:
- Gate pose AKA Parighasana – This is a beneficial pose to prepare for deeper side-body openers. It stimulates the abdominal organs, improves circulation, builds core strength and stretches from the fingertips all the way to the toes.
- Extended puppy pose AKA Uttana Shishosana – An invigorating shoulder and spine opener improves flexibility, while strengthening the arms, hips and upper back. Hold this for a minute to fortify the entire body.
- Extended side angle AKA Utthita Parsvakonasana – Arousing the abdominal organs while increasing stamina and stretching the groin, spine, waist and chest, this pose not only feels delicious, but wakes up your whole body.
- Fish pose AKA Matsyasana – This pose stretches the intercostal muscles, throat, and chest, while expanding the upper back. It flexes the spine and energizes the body.
There are many different yoga poses that both stimulate and calm down the nervous system, stretch and strengthen your muscles and bones, and flex your spine in different ways. Remember to focus on your breathing throughout practice – use your breath as a tool to stay present and avoid competition. Overall, find what feels the best, tune into your body, be gentle and have fun!