Ayurveda is the ancient Indian science and wellbeing and is often seen as the sister discipline of Yoga (Ayurvedic practitioners often see Yoga as the exercise arm of their own therapy!). Ayurveda has much to say about wellness, disease and how these affect the different constitutional or dosha types. Ayurveda offers lifestyle advice, dietary advice, herbal prescriptions, surgery (very few modern practitioners offer this now!!!) and of course Yoga
It could even be argued that Yoga therapy began as an arm of Ayurveda.
Ayurvedic physicians often prescribe the practices of Yoga to both maintain health or treat illness or disability. An Ayurvedic physician will often prescribe Yoga both for the illness AND the constitutional type of the patient – so let’s have a quick look at the general principles of Yoga as Ayurvedic therapy.
If you don’t know what your constitutional type is why not take our quick dosha quiz? Without knowing a person’s dosha it is said to be almost impossible to use Yoga as a healing tool.
Yoga for the Doshas
In Ayurveda there are three basic constitutions (we all have a mixture, but one or two doshas tend to predominate) – these being vata (wind), pitta (fire) and kapha (earth). All the doshas benefit from a good balanced Yoga practice, however when we feel our mental and physical balance is being lost the following tips may be of help in fine tuning our practice.
Yoga for Vata
Vata is the dosha that is most easily disturbed mentally and physically, but also tends to recover well from imbalance. A typical vata person tends to be long and slender – just the type of student who is often seen in a Yoga studio. This constitution often suffers from mental disorders and problems with the joints.
All postures relating to the pelvis, asanas which involve pressure to the abdomen and balancing postures are recommended. Vata Yoga practitioners should feel grounded all the time and should avoid extremes of temperature when practicing.
Classic posture for vata = trikonasana
Yoga for Pitta
Pittas love intensity and fire and are often drawn to an intense heating practice or one done is a hot environment.
However as pitta is situated at the navel, Yoga practice should look at keeping their digestive in good health and the navel area calm. Spinal twists, inversions, meditation postures and meditation all ease pitta. Benefit may also be obtained by resting between postures or even practicing with the eyes closed.
Classic posture for pitta = Matsyandrasana
Yoga for Kapha
The innate sluggishness of this constitution mean that the more energising postures and practices are brilliant to balance kaphas – such as backbends, sun salutations, inversions and the forceful pranayama of kaphalabhati and bhastrika. Practicing in a heated room may be very advantageous to kaphas.
Classic posture for kapha = Matsyasana