Yoga and Ayurveda are two closely related sciences, both rooted in the Indian Vedas. Ayurveda teaches us to keep our body and mind healthy , yoga strives for self-realization and requires a healthy body and mind. The two sciences have developed in parallel, constantly influenced and complementary. With its unique understanding of the individual human constitution, Ayurveda offers everyone the opportunity to come to terms with themselves. Yoga as a therapy was once prescribed as part of ayurvedic medicine and both sciences are like two pieces of a puzzle that only together give a complete picture.
The most important link between yoga and Ayurveda is prana (the life force), which forms the central element in the two concepts. In yoga, physical exercises (asanas) and breathing exercises (pranayama) are used to allow prana to flow unhindered. In Ayurveda, Prana is increased through the nutrition and ingestion of herbs, as well as the flow of prana in the body through massage optimized. Both yoga and Ayurveda provide us with methods for purification on the energy level (Pranamaya Kosha), but also on the physical level (Annamaya Kosha) of our body.
If we look at our body ayurvedically, there are two “parts”: on the one hand, structural parts, for example, types of tissue such as muscle, fat or nerve tissue; the second part are energies, the three so-called doshas Vata, Pitta and Kapha . They regulate all functions in the human body – if they get out of balance, the body structures are affected.
What does this have to do with my yoga practice?
Lots. Because the key message of Ayurveda is:
You are the most unique being this planet has ever seen
This should not only be reflected in your diet , but also in your yoga practice.
Yoga for the Vata dosha
The principle of Vatais movement, which, among other things breath, gastrointestinal tract, excretion and on the mental-spiritual level causes a rapid perception and mental agility. The Vata types among us or those who have “too much” of Vata are often prone to constipation, flatulence, weakness, arthritis, nerve disorders, restlessness, or low back pain and sciatic nerve. Since the Vata Dosha is responsible for all movement in the body and often leads to restlessness and a lack of grounding in the mind, a balancing yoga practice should be calm, slow, steady, grounding and stabilizing. Especially in the pelvis and large intestine, Vata accumulates, therefore, particularly suitable asana for Vata are those that relieve tension in the area of the hips, lumbar vertebrae and sacrum and dampen movement. Even forward bends eliminate Vata, because they have a calming effect on the nervous system. Gentle twists with focus on the breath free Vata accumulations in the nervous system and reduce stiffness that often occurs in these lean types in the joints. Therefore, a good warm-up program is also mandatory for Vata types.
Yoga für das Pitta-Dosha
The Pitta Dosha is responsible for transformation processes, for example, for the intake of food in the digestive tract. Psychic-level Pitta functions are keen intellect, ambition, and assertiveness. Since this guy already has a lot of heat anyway, it is important not to increase the heat even further, as he is otherwise prone to fever, inflammation, acidity of the stomach, liver disease, profuse sweating and rashes. The buzzwords that should be in the foreground of Asana practice are: cooling, relaxing, devotional, forgiving, gentle and effluent. Seated lashes cleanse the liver, balance the digestive system, cool forward and reverse, and soothe and calm. But the fun at the practice must not be neglected.
Pitta people should feel cool, satisfied and calm after the practice , without tensions in the abdomen. The mind should be clear and relaxed, the emotions calmed.
Yoga for the Kapha Dosha
The Kapha dosha stands for stability and structure in man, preserves the natural smoothness of mucous membranes and joints, on the mental level, these people are particularly patient and compassionate. Kapha types are prone to colds, flu, clogged sinuses, bronchitis, and due to their slow metabolism, they are more prone to lethargy, obesity, diabetes or water retention. To counteract this, the asanas should be stimulating, moving, warming, relieving, dynamizing with the focus of letting go. Standing positions that are combined with movement or stretching or sun salutations are therefore particularly good for Kapha types, while long-sitting positions tend to promote sluggishness and fatigue in the body.
Yoga with the flow
That does not mean that you will never be able to attend an open yoga class again because it is not specifically designed for your dosha. There are moments in everyday life or phases in life when a dosha is increasingly occurring in the body, and this does not always have to be the dosha that dominates our constitution. So even a Kapha person can have too much Vata after a stressful day – in those moments where we feel nervous, turned on or over-sensitive, Vata should always be balanced and thus also our nervous tissue calmed down. Pitta is in excess when you feel cocky, aggressive, or overly ambitious. Then it is important to disperse this energy by choosing an asana practice that is both cooling and relaxing and creates a feeling of space. In any case, you should avoid turning your practice into a hard workout right now. Instead, bring yourself back into balance with meditation and smooth flowing movements, even if the first impulse tends to be heated exercises. In contrast, in the moments when we put things and goals in front of us, attachment or lethargy feels like choosing asanas that are practiced with speed, heat, and effort to reduce kapha. In this case, sweating is the desired goal to affect the fat and lymph tissue. In contrast, in the moments when we put things and goals in front of us, attachment or lethargy feels like choosing asanas that are practiced with speed, heat, and effort to reduce kapha. In this case, sweating is the desired goal to affect the fat and lymph tissue. In contrast, in the moments when we put things and goals in front of us, attachment or lethargy feels like choosing asanas that are practiced with speed, heat, and effort to reduce Kapha. In this case, sweating is the desired goal to affect the fat and lymph tissue.
But not only our mood has an influence on our yoga practice, our environment also plays an important role – because depending on the season, individual doshas are reinforced. Especially in autumn / winter, the Vata Dosha is inherently dominant, we often notice this in our body on a dry skin, we feel stressed or increasingly have the need for withdrawal. The summer brings with its heat also increased Pitta in the body. The time of the Kapha Doshas is in winter and spring, colds and mucous congestion stagnate in the body, the blood circulation is almost hibernation-like at its minimum. In any case, the asanas help to make up for it.
Make it your own practice!
Only you can design your practice for your very own individual time on the mat. For how quickly, fluently or meditatively you carry out the sun salutation, you alone decide. Whether you run an asana with ambition, boredom or hectic pace, is entirely up to you. The most important thing in every asana is your inner attitude. What is the difference in your practice? I’m happy if you share your experience on the mat in the comments!