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Yoga & Ayurveda

I recently taught an Ayurveda and Yoga workshop with my friend Sheila Johnson, a Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist and Ayurvedic Health Educator. I wanted to post a document that I created about how to apply the knowledge of your body type and dosha to your yoga practice. Check out this link: http://www.whatsyourdosha.com/ if you want to take a quick quiz to give you a basic idea of what your dosha might be in order to be able to apply the knowledge offered in this article. For a more in-depth understanding of your body, lifestyle, nutrition choices, and dosha, I recommend a session with Sheila, contact her at shashikala108@gmail.com. If you would like to schedule an individual Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy session with me, please email me at jen@innerlightwellness.net or call 937.319.4291. I hope you find the following information helpful for your individual yoga practice.

Yoga for Balancing Doshas
Each Dosha tends to seek its own energy rather than moving toward balance so the challenge of all the doshas is to work against their natural tendencies through yoga practice. Vatas tend toward Vata energy and love active and fast movements that produce vata. Pittas want to exert themselves pushing toward their goal. Kaphas would rather not exert themselves at all.

Tri-doshic (balances all doshas)
Ujjayi breath, warm ups, twists, balancing poses (tree, half moon, standing splits), boat pose, downward dog, handstand, shoulder stand, legs up the wall, plow, bridge, locust, spinal balance, triangle, pyramid pose/parsvottanasana, savasana ( shorter for kaphas) Adjust holds and exertion according to different doshas.

Vata – air and ether (space)- season: fall
Vata types are less grounded and tend toward scatteredness, therefore poses that are grounding, stabilizing, and strengthening will reduce excess vata.
Asana: standing poses (warrior 1,2,3), plank, reverse plank, side angle, chair, most inversions (headstand, shoulderstand), locust, all forward bends
Degree of challenge or exertion: Vatas need the challenge of remaining still and holding the pose consciously aware of the body in the position.
Breath during practice: Use breath for control and focus, slow, steady, long, smooth, conscious, ujjayi breathing
Hold time: typically longer hold times are calming and balancing for vata, backbends can be aggravating for vata and should not be held too long
Pranayama: Alternate nostril breathing, particularly right nostril breathing in the morning and left nostril breathing in the evening or 1:2 or 1:1:1.5:1 (longer exhale) breathing ratios
Meditation: Focus on connection to the earth, roots growing to center of the earth, meditation on red color at root chakra or base of spine

Pitta -fire and water -season: summer
Pitta types like to strive, but intense focus and drive in yoga can increase or aggravate Pitta. Postures and sequencing that diffuse intense focus and reduce over efforting will keep Pittas in balance. Easy closing postures, gentle backbending with breath awareness, and all forward bending and twisting postures are effective in reducing excess Pitta.
Asana: begin with slow and easy sun salutations, locust, low/high cobra, spinal balance, bow, all forward folds and twists, other postures in moderation, without overexertion, savasana for 20-30 minutes.
Degree of Challenge or Exertion: Pittas must not over exert and benefit from the challenge of being gentle with themselves
Breath during practice: slow, even, smooth breath, Ujjayi breathing helps pitas know when to back off
Hold times: shorter holds without exertion will help sooth Pitta
Meditation: Cool, calm lake of the mind, light of the full moon reflecting on the lake and shining through third eye
Pranayama: Alternate Nostril Breathing or in left nostril (lunar channel) and out the right nostril (solar channel) or 1:2 or 1:1:1.5:1 (longer exhale) breath ratio (decreases heat)

Kapha – water and earth – season: spring
Most Kaphas are challenged by getting started. They need vigorous activity that stimulates and exerts the body. Inversions, standing poses, heat producing postures, and all backbending reduce Kapha energy. Avoid too many forward bends and keep them dynamic.
Asanas : Standing poses (chair, warrior 1,2,3, side angle, crescent lunge), plank, reverse plank, headstand, shoulderstand, locust, bow, upward bow/wheel, seated postures, forward bends with work on straight spine, shorter savasana 5-10 minutes
Degree of Challenge and Exertion: Kaphas needs to be challenged by activity and need to continue to practice and stay in a pose long past the time when they want to stop
Breath: strong ujjayi to build heat
Hold time: Kaphas benefit from remaining in poses to the point of work, holding them beyond what feels comfortable
Pranayama: Breath of Fire to build heat and energy, alternate nostril breathing in through the right (solar) nostril and out through the left (lunar) nostril increases heat and reduces kapha
Meditation: visualize light of sun in the heart, mind, and/or belly, visualize light and prana filling the body with each inhale, energizing and enlivening the body, mind, and spirit

Reference: Yoga for Your Type by Dr. David Fawley