Ayurveda—India’s ancient wisdom science of longevity—categorises us as unique individuals, each stepping into life with our own physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual blueprint.
This blueprint, or prakriti in Sanskrit, arises from Ayurveda’s universal life-creating elements: earth, water, fire, air, and space. These elements combine to form specific bio-energies called doshas, existing within us as well as in the world at large.
Earth and water create the heavy Kapha dosha, from fire and water emerges fiery Pitta, and from air and space we get light and excitable Vata.
It is our unique ratio of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha that gives us recognisable characteristics, traits, and quirks. For example, earthy Kapha people have bigger bones and tend toward calm solidity. Athletic Pitta people exhibit competitiveness and passion. While Vata people tend toward thinner frames, as well as a quick, creative, scattered mind.
Our work in life, according to Ayurveda, is to understand our doshic blueprint so that we can choose activities, food, and a lifestyle that balance, rather than amplify, our doshas.
Understanding our doshas is also key to getting the most benefits from our yoga practice. If you’ve ever been to a yoga class and emerged feeling a little out of it—you may have felt irritable and overheated; or perhaps too scattered and spacey, or too mellow and melancholy—it is possible that your yoga practice is not supporting your doshas.
Here is a short guide to poses that will help to balance your doshas for maximum health and happiness.
What Pitta wants:
Pitta people are attracted to intense and goal-oriented physical yoga practices such as Ashtanga, power yoga, and Bikram or hot yoga.
Watch out for:
Excess heat and drive, which may cause burn out.
What Pitta needs:
Pitta’s athleticism is great for releasing excess energy, but they must balance their goal-oriented focus with some more chill.
Our prescription is to practise yoga poses with a calmer, more relaxed and fun attitude.
Choose flow or vinyasa yoga classes in normal temperatures and outside in nature. Stay away from heated yoga. Pittas need to enjoy the journey, not just the destination. In Blissology Yoga, we say, “the grin on your chin is more important than your chin on your shin.”
Key poses for Pitta:
• Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend).
This calming pose helps develop inward focus and surrender with the downward gaze and rootedness of the pose.
• Ardha Matsyendrasana (Half Spinal Twist Pose)
This deep twist moves excess heat away from the belly, releasing too much anger, frustration, or willfulness.
• Kapotasana (Pigeon Pose)
This pose specifically targets the “tight-ass-ness” that tends to come from Pitta people holding their hips tightly due to the high discipline and Type A mindset. It is probably the most challenging yet soothing medicine to calm the fire of too much Pitta.
• Supported shoulder and chest stretch
This pose soothes the Pitta fire as it is grounding and removes the effects of stress in the body, especially in the chest and shoulder area.
What Vata wants:
Vata loves variety and those with high Vata love trying various styles of yoga classes. They are attracted in particular to fast, flowing movements as well as practices such as Kundalini, which offer spiritual highs.
Watch out for:
Practices that can impair Vata’s often hypermobile joints and a sense of ungroundedness after taking in too many classes that get your Kundalini rising too quickly.
What Vata needs:
Consistency in practice. Committing to your yoga mat at the same time daily is essential to offer Vata the routine it needs to calm down. Vata people run cold, so practising in a slightly warm room is wonderful. Our prescription is to practise strong, grounding, and balancing poses using a calm, deep breath, focused eye gaze, and long holds to help soothe and nourish Vata. This will also help to regulate the irregularity that Vata types often experience with digestion and elimination.
• Virabhadrasana II (Warrior 2)
This dynamic standing pose requires grounding through the feet and a focused gaze (drishti) over the middle finger.
• Vriksasana (Tree Pose) The focus required in balancing poses is ideal for Vata’s need to pay attention to the present moment. This balance will extend into our lives and curb our scattered focus.
• Handstand (with option of One Leg Downward Dog).
Handstands are excellent for Vata because, almost more than any other pose in yoga, they require total focus. The mind cannot be scattered or the pose will not happen. If the mind is too full of anxiety or fear, simply practice the intermediary pose—one-legged downward dog.
• Balasana (Child’s Pose)
The stillness and deep connection with the earth beneath, makes this pose incredible medicine for all imbalances Vata dosha can cause to our minds and bodies.
What Kapha wants:
If you look around at the folks in your restorative yoga class, chances are many of them will be Kapha. Kapha folks love mellow, relaxed yoga classes, with more comfort and less intensity.
Watch out for:
Physical and mental slowness, rigidity, and a love of too much ease.
What Kapha needs:
Of the three types, Kapha can sustain a stronger physical yoga practice. They need to push themselves out of their comfort zone, try new offerings and up the intensity of their practice. In other words, they need a little more fire and creativity in life on and off the yoga mat.
• Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog)
This pose is great for Kapha because it builds heat and energy flow, and overcomes inertia.
• Ustrasana (Camel Pose)
Energising and enlivening, this pose adds much-needed fire to the heavy earth element of Kapha.
• Anjaneyasana (high lunge variation)
This dynamic pose is great for Kapha imbalances because it combines the enlivening energetics of a backbend with the fire of standing poses.
• Vasisthasana (Side Plank Variation) This pose creates muscle tone and will help to improve mental drive and discipline.
*For full article including images of asanas (postures), please visit the below website.