Ayurveda is a science that orientated from India thousands of years ago to help bring the body back into balance in order to heal itself from ailments. Ayurveda is a Vedic science. Its primarily teaches the development of full human physical, mental, and spiritual potential.
Yoga and Ayurveda are two “sisters”. Ayurveda means the science of life or practically speaking how to live a happy and healthy life. Yoga provides the mental, physical and spiritual balance in order to achieve this.
Each individual has a particular dominant Dosha or energy governing a lot the body and mind does. The doshas can be influenced through yoga. This can be used therapeutically.
Types of Energies in Ayurveda
In Ayurveda it is believed that every form of nature consists of a particular energy or a more dominant energy also known as Dosha. There are three Dosha’s in Ayurveda; Vatta, Pitta and Kapha. The doshas are dynamic energies that constantly change in response to our actions, thoughts, emotions, the foods we eat, the seasons, and any other sensory inputs that feed our mind and body. The three doshas are made from 5 elements.
The 5 Elements in Ayurveda are:
- Earth, the principle of inertia
- Water, the principle of cohesion
- Fire, the principle of radiance or heat
- Air, the principle of vibration
- Ether, the principle of the pervasiveness
These elements go to make the 3 energies
- Vata- has predominantly the cooling and dry elements of air and ether. This would be responsible if someone is feeling cold or dry.
- Pitta- has predominantly the body temperature increases the element of fire and water to a lesser extent.
- Kapha-has predominantly the stable elements of earth and water. These are neither cold or heat provoking
Effects of Vata, Pitta and Kapha
- Kapha types have strong frames. The influence of the earth and water elements makes them innately stable, compassionate, and loyal. They appreciate doing things in a methodical, step-by-step manner, and prefer a regular routine in their personal and professional lives. When imbalanced they can become unmotivated, stubborn, and complacent even when change is necessary. Their metabolism tends to be slow and their appetite for both food and stimulation is less intense than vata or pitta types. They benefit from exposing themselves to new environments, people, and occasionally fasting.
- Vata types tend to be thin and lanky. They are very mentally and physically active and enjoy creative endeavours, meeting new people, and travelling to new places. When they are balanced, vatas are flexible, have lively imaginations, and are original thinkers. When imbalanced they can get anxious, ungrounded, and can seem “flaky” about fulfilling commitments, sticking to a routine, and completing projects. They tend to run cold and dry and enjoy warm, humid weather. It’s common for vata types to experience cold hands and feet, constipation, dry skin, and cracking joints. The influence of the air element in their constitution causes their energy, mood, and appetite to fluctuate dramatically. For this reason, vata types often do not eat and sleep regularly, swinging from eating heavy foods to ground and sedate themselves, or ingesting stimulants like coffee and sugar to sustain intense physical or mental activity. Insomnia and low immunity are common problems for the sensitive vata person.
- Pitta types are dominated by the fire element, which makes them innately strong, intense, and can be irritable relatively quickly. They tend to have a medium build and endurance. They redden in the sun, during exercise, massage, and when blushing relatively more easily. They are strong-willed. They approach work and play with the same intensity and competitiveness. They are natural leaders and quick learners whose ability to easily comprehend and master new skills and concepts can make them judgmental or impatient toward people they feel are slower or less focused than themselves. They have strong digestion and intense appetites, both for food and challenges. If they miss a meal they are likely to become grumpy and may take a “bite” out of somebody instead. It is common for them to suffer from health conditions such as inflammation, rashes, acne, and loose stools. For balance, pittas need to manage their “fiery” tendencies.
Yoga Asanas for
- Pitta- if you are hot after running, for example, the body re-normalizes the heat pitta energy in the body by some physical and breathing exercises. Lengthening your exhalation and feeling the breath back into the body. By cooling the body pitta breathing and exercises could help in calming the nervous system, increase the cooling air to heated parts of the body e.g in heart disease or menopause.
- Vata- exercises warm up the body, by focusing on increasing the length of inhalation. Calms the nervous system, warms the body, dry skin, constipation.
- Kapha- when the body is not too hot not too cold. Focuses on pausing for a moment between each exhalation and inhalation. Calms the nervous system, slows the mind, cultivates awareness and increases lung capacity.
If you are enjoying great health and vitality both mentally and physically it may well be that your Vikruti, your current dominant dosha is serving you well.
If you are of say a Pitta dominant person then the above Pitta rebalancing asanas and breathing should be good for you. This does not mean you do not do other yoga asanas and breathing exercises- just where more emphasis should be made.
There are other various way of rebalancing or keeping balanced doshas – diet, herbs, personal and hygiene products, environment and mental are some ways.
When someone is unwell then every health condition has a certain prescription taking these into account the various ways described.