Ayurvedic and Yoga
Ayurveda is an ancient Indian system of health care, based on harmonising the four elements, earth, air fire and water, in the human body. It is a sister science to Yoga.
Why link Yoga and Ayurveda?
We see the complicated poses on the cover of yoga magazines and think we could never do that! However yoga is not a version of gymnastics, it encompasses practices aimed to heal body, mind and spirit, has a wide range of methods and includes training in meditation, breathing and lifestyle choices. Knowledge of Ayurveda can help you to choose the right yoga practice for you.
Body types in Ayurveda:
Each of us is a unique combination of body, mind and spirit. Ayurveda helps us to identify our physical and mental characteristics and to find the best way to live a healthy life.
We all have different body types and metabolic rates. In Ayurveda, as in Western medicine, there are 3 basic body types. Western medicine calls them exomorphic, mesomorphic and endomorphic bodies. The Ayurvedic doshas (conditions) of vata, pitta and kapha are similar in definition. Each of us express a combination of doshas, so we react our environment in very different ways.
For example a vata person with a cold virus may have a headache, dry cough and itchy eyes. A pitta person may feel too hot, and have a sore, red throat and nose. A kapha person may have a wet cough, and very runny nose.
Treated with different yoga practices, foods and herbs they will feel better than with the one-size-fits-all cold and flu medicine from the chemist.
Examples of Dosha characteristics
Vata. The body is slender, active, feels the cold and likes soft, sweet foods. Has a fast metabolic rate. Too much vata can cause dry skin, anxiety, food and drug sensitivity.
Yoga for Vata should be rhythmic and flowing, enjoying Vata flexibility, but with focus and consciousness of the breath. Relaxation is important, but meditation can be active, involving walking or chanting.
Pitta. Medium build, athletic body, feels heat and likes raw and cooling foods. Has a medium metabolic rate. Too much pitta can cause overheating and aggressive moods.
Yoga for Pitta can be strong and challenging, but should but not be too heating. Poses held for a length of time (yin yoga) suit pitta, with cooling breathing (pranayama) and still seated meditation.
Kapha. Has a strong, powerful build, likes cold weather and heating foods, has a slow metabolic rate. Too much kapha can cause weight gain, fluid retention and depressive moods.
Yoga for Kapha can be both strong and vigorous, combining heating sequences with strong, long held poses. Meditation can be active, using movement and visualisation and pranayama can be heating and mucus clearing.