Yesterday I attended a workshop, that has changed my perspective in yoga and the yoga classes that I prefer. This class has brought me new awareness, and made me both acknowledge and embrace my differences. A pretty profound change for two hours of yoga. The workshop: was an ayurveda awareness workshop guided by Ann Green.
Although I’ve always known that ayurveda and yoga were linked. This class finally connected the two together, specifying not only what the three doshas : vata, kapha and pitta were but also discussing why certain postures feel right for some people and just wrong for others.
According to Ayurveda, we are born with a certain dosha, this is our prakrti . Being aware of your natural dosha helps to foster the deep connection between the two ancient practices of yoga and Ayurveda. This quiz from Deepak Chopra is an excellent introduction to discover your dosha,
Vata is connected to the air element. When in balance vata doshas are energizing, creative, and overall inspiring. However, out of balance, they can be seen as flighty, disconnected and may feel out of focus. Vata doshas tend to get out of balance in cooler, damper weather, so winter is a typical time for those with vata tendencies to feel out of balance.
To bring vata back into balance, grounding postures seem to be most effective. Poses such as forward bends, hero poses, and balancing postures seem to also help ground vata.
Other recommendations to help bring vata back in balance are:
- Lots of warming foods
- Ensure time for rest, in bed by 10 pm (vata doshas are naturally light sleepers)
- Maintaining a daily routine (again this helps with grounding)
- Avoid over-stimulating practices as this can increase the amount of vata in your system
Kapha is connected to both the earth and water elements. Green laughingly provided the analogy of mud to help understand what happens when Kapha gets out of balance. Kapha doshas are naturally easy going individuals. However, when imbalanced, they have a tendency to become lethargic. Kapha personalities do not like change.
To bring Kapha back into balance energizing asanas tend to be most effective. Heated, fast paced asanas are ideal to balance and reawaken Kapha doshas.
In Green’s workshop she incorporated a mini practice suited for each dosha: the kapha practice was probably the most notably different. This portion of the workshop was intense and extremely fast paced, holding poses for what felt like milli- seconds. This intensity is ideal to help balance kapha as the purpose is to energize them.
Other things to help balance Kapha:
- Avoid taking naps during the day, start your routine early ideally before 6 am
- Stay warm
- Avoid clutter, clear your space
- Stimulating, daily exercise: preferably aerobic in nature
Pitta is the last dosha in Ayurveda, connected to the Fire element. Pitta’s personalities are our leaders; they are naturally competitive, focused and energizing. Pitta’s are naturally drawn to intense, energizing practices: however to balance pitta seek out a more balanced practice incorporating both restorative and meditation into your routine. Naturally competitive, Green emphasized how pitta practitioners need to incorporate some slower, more relaxing asanas in their life. The pitta personality will naturally be drawn to heated yoga, but for this dosha, this practice should be a bit more balanced.
Other things to help balance Pitta:
- Favour cooler, calmer colors: blue, green
- Laugh a lot, try attending laughter yoga classes and other options to laugh daily
- Do not skip meals
- Interject calming activities such as nature walks and meditation.
Ann Green, our guide through the workshop was both a passionate and kind mentor talking us through both the asanas and helping foster those connections.
So here’s what I discovered. Being naturally vata, I need a lot of grounding postures, relaxing poses and forward bends. Particularly in times where my body was out of sync. Poses like hero (which I’ve always adored) and balancing poses are excellent postures for vata as they help ground us.
One of the more fascinating discussions was about Sun Salutations and the amount of repetitions and heated yoga. Green emphasized that for Vata doshas, several sun salutations are not recommended as they can be too stimulating (airy). This type of practice is more well suited for a Kapha dosha, who needs that energizing practice.
Overall, Green emphasized that the intent of the workshop was to listen and monitor your body. Notice how you feel in the poses, if there are certain asanas where you feel out of sync it may be that the movement may not be what your dosha is needing at this moment.