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Transforming Fear to Joy

Yoga Asana for Your Ayurvedic Body Type — Vata, Pitta, Kapha

In the study of yoga, Ayurveda is known as the healing wisdom and was discovered during higher states of meditative consciousness.

Just as there are no two people exactly alike, there are no two identical mind-body types (doshas).  Your dosha is like your fingerprint.  We each hold elements of all three doshas — vata, pitta, kapha.  However, often two doshas express themselves stronger within each of us.

We are born in a perfect state of balance, but as life unfolds, we may find ourselves out of balance.  Knowing your dosha type allows you to assess what and where the imbalance is and how to regain calm abiding and clear seeing.  To return to balance is to live with meaning, health and happiness in the dosha combination that is your birthright.

The Vata dosha body type is always on the go.  Movement and change predominate for this energetic, creative mind and lean body.  An imbalanced vata dosha expresses in the body as weight loss, constipation, arthritis, restlessness and digestive challenges.

VATAAIRETHER
Strength(heart chakra)(throat chakra)
MOTIONCOLD
DRY
IRREGULAR
NUMBNESS
DEPLETED/CONFUSION
TREMORS
* grounding practices; if too windy/airy, you need brawn/muscularity

The Pitta dosha is our digestive fire responsible for body temperature, metabolism and physical suppleness.  Too much pitta results in excess hunger and thirst and minimal sleep along with other fiery symptoms.

PITTAFIRE
Flexibility(solar plexus chakra)
TRANSFORMATIONINTENSE
HOT
IRRITABLE
ERUPTIONS
FEVERS/BURNING PAINS
ACID INDIGESTION
*calming practices; if over-achieving, you need flexibility

The Kapha dosha governs the structure (cells, muscles, bones, fat, sinew) of the body.  Kapha’s are slow, steady and solid with naturally calm and loving constitutions.  In excess, kapha manifests in weight gain, fluid retention, allergies and depression.

 KAPHAWATER +          EARTH
Stamina(sacral chakra)(root chakra)
STABILITYWET
HEAVY
COLD
CONGESTION
LACK OF MOTIVATION
INDIFFERENCE
*movement practices; if too sluggish, you need endurance (ashtanga/vinyasa)

Our dosha constitution is intimately connected to the five elements of air, ether, fire, water and earth as you saw above.  In turn, how we practice yoga can over or under stimulate our doshas as well as our chakras.

If your interest is peaked, and you are now speculating on your dosha type, here is a free three-minute test to help you make your determination.  Once you have taken the test, read the intentions and considerations below for each type.  Keep in mind the suggestions for your type as you choose which of the three asana sequences to practice.  You may wish to try the other two asana practices at other times when you are expressing more of their qualities.

ASANA PRACTICE FOR YOUR TYPE

INTENT of a Vata practice:  soothing, grounding & self-supporting

  • Use the muscles in fatiguing (repetitions) and grounding (holding) ways
  • Work hard but not fast; no jumping in vinyasas for joint protection
    • All standing poses; heel into wall
      • Sitting, inversions, forward bends, twists
      • Slow, safe movement in backbends
      • A long Savasana to give muscles time to recover
    • EXCESS vata creates fidgeting and fear

INTENT of a Pitta practice:  calming, centring & relaxing

  • Work at 75% effort, which is a mental challenge
  • Relax, surrender, give up
    • All standing poses except VI, VII, VIII (heating qualities)
    • Sitting, forward bends, twists
    • Relaxing inversions (Viparita Karani, Salamba Sarvangasana, Sirsasana for 3 minutes or less as very heating)
    • Caution with backbends (very heating)
  • EXCESS pitta creates heat then tightness and irritation

INTENT of a Kapha practice:  stimulating, strengthening & moving

  • Warm up properly
  • Keep the practitioner moving
    • All standing poses
    • Sitting, backbends, twists, inversions (caution if body is heavy)
    • Avoid forward bends or follow them with a vinyasa to stay warm and uncongested
    • Short Savasana (5 minutes, maximum 10)
  • EXCESS Kapha creates inertia, difficulty beginning, and attachment

ASANA SEQUENCES:                                                                                         

VATA                                    PITTA                                  KAPHA

(large intestines)              (small intestines)              (stomach)

Standing Poses                 S. Baddha Konasana         Surya Namaskar 10m

A. M. Vrksasana                A. M. Svanasana                A. M. Vrksasana

Pincha Mayurasana         Uttanasana                          Pincha Mayurasana

Sirsasana                          Sirsasana                             Sirsasana
(OR variation of Sirsasana)

Sarvangasana                  Sarvangasana                     Sarvangasana
(OR variation of Sarvangasana)

Dhanurasana                    Contraction Backbends    Dhanurasana
(OR Backbend thru chair)

Urdhva Dhanurasana      Urdhva Dhanurasana        Urdhva Dhanurasana

Vasisthasana                    Supta Virasana                   Balasana

Purvottanasana               Parsva Sukhasana             Vasisthasana

Siddhasana                      Siddhasana                         Siddhasana
(Ujjayi Pranayama)         (Nadi Shodhana)                 (Nadi Shodhana) 10m

Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana              Parsva Upavistha
Konasana

Triangmukaipada           Janu Sirsasana                    Parivrtta Janu Sirsasana
Paschimottanasana

Paschimottanasana       Paschimottanasana           Urdhva Mukha
Paschimottanasana

Bharadvajasana I           Ardha                                   Bharadvajasana I
Matsyandrasana

Jathara Parivartanasana (for all 3 doshas)
(bent knees; top leg extends; if at ease, straighten both legs)

Savasana                         Viparita Karani                   Salamba Setu Bandha
(longer hold &                 Savasana                           Savasana
keep warm)

Bolstering or balancing your ayurvedic dosha strengthens your immune system, which is the gift that each of us can give during this coronavirus pandemic. Be positive and be well. Namaste.

Author: Helen Maupin

Author: Helen Maupin

Helen is passionate about transforming fear into love — from her, for her, for all. She expresses her commitment to transformation through writing poetry, self-awareness and yoga books, co-designing organizations into adaptive enterprises and deepening her daily meditation and yoga practices.

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