If your yoga class does not feel right when you practice (minus the flexible bends you see that is downright difficult for many), then it might not be a good match for your dosha.
If the words “Vata, Pitta and Kapha” mean absolutely nothing to you, we completely understand where you’re coming from. At the very beginning of anyone’s yoga journey, these Ayurvedic terms can be like picking up a new language. But take note, these terms which describe archetypal body characteristics offering us insights into our own personality, psychology, physical characteristics, and imbalances – have direct links to your yoga practice.
Understanding your Dosha can help you to decide what to incorporate into your yoga practice and lifestyle routine that works in harmony with your body.
But first, what is a Dosha?
The Doshas are the functional elements in the body, your body type. You have all 5 elements within your physical structure but in order for each element to function it combines with other elements:
= Digestion (fire) requires fluid (water)
= Bones (earth) are made up of cells (space)
= Breath (air) relies on the circulation of blood and fluid (water) through the heart and lungs
All the elements combine to lesser and greater degrees to perform the physiological functions of the body. They are interdependent and none exist in isolation.
According to Ayurveda, each individual has a unique combination of elements in their physical system. You might have more fire, more air and space, or more water and earth. The amount depends on what you have inherited from your parents and ancestors. Your constitution is formed at the moment of conception and is influenced by the physical, emotional and mental condition of your parents at that time.
Elements are grouped together according to their similarities and the combination of functional elements are called Doshas:
Air and Space both subtle, light, immeasurable and intangible.
Fire with a small amount of water share qualities of liquefying, transforming and spreading.
Water and Earth being both heavy, slow, cold, grounding and soft.
Discover your Dosha
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Diving deeper into the Doshas.
Your individual constitution is made up of all three doshas in varying degrees. Usually, two doshas predominate with a lesser amount of the third. Understanding your tendencies, likes and dislikes and your physical structure will help you determine your dosha and what kind of yoga practice will suit you.
Your daily mental/emotional state will also come into play in determining the right practice for your type.
Light frame, tall or short, dry, rough skin, tends towards constipation, bones crack an pop, cold hands and feet.
Creative, artistic, visionary, quick to forget, can get spaced out, ungrounded.
Lighthearted, friendly, enthusiastic, free, changeable mood, anxious, nervous
Dynamic, airy, creative, movement. Consider Yoga Flow classes.
Medium frame, muscular, red skin, freckles and moles, tend towards rashes and diarrhea, physical heart issues, can suffer from exhaustion and burnout.
Organised, direct, clear, focused, strong leadership, routine, can get hyper focuses and rigid.
Charismatic, magnetic, dynamic, inspired, determined, angry, frustrated, controlling.
Focuses, internal heat, centred, direct, precise. Practice Yoga Align classes.
Large frame, flexible joints, soft skin, thick hair, lustrous eyes, tendency to gain weight, increase in phlegm, asthma, colds, poor circulation, slow digestion, physically strong.
Slow, steady, take time to integrate new knowledge, good memory, present.
Relaxed, patient, forgiving, loving, east going, a great friend, tend towards depression, hard to let go.
Grounding, still, slow, earthy. Practice Yoga Calm classes.
The importance of knowing your Dosha to practice yoga
As each of us are unique, so are the mix of elements in our bodies. Each dosha benefits from a specific movement practice to arrive at ultimate balance.
It is very rare to have equal amounts of Vata, Pitta and Kapha. It’s the unique combination of these three doshas that makes your physiology unique. That’s why your tastes,
likes, dislikes, exercise requirements, strengths and weaknesses are also unique.
Ayurveda has two criteria for determining what exercise regimes, specific lifestyle practices and food are right for your type.
- Constitution (your unique imprint at birth) is determined through a questionnaire, pulse diagnosis by an ayurvedic physician and observation.
- Current condition is ascertained through a questionnaire, pulse diagnosis and observation. Your current condition is influenced by environment, immediate stress, and even specific life choices.
When you are at your optimum and feel great, it shouldn’t matter what the current condition is. It’s when you are imbalanced that it’s useful to know what your tendencies are. The first step in coming back to balance is recognizing when you are out of balance.
This is where yoga comes in. Yoga is a holistic system of movement, breath and mindfulness that supports you in turning inwards to stop, reflect and be.
Ayurveda as the sister science to yoga, alongside your yoga practice will give you the practical tools to bring you back to your unique state of balance.
The goal is to bring the current condition back to your inherent constitution. When you are your unique self in body, emotions and mind you will naturally feel energetic and focused.
When there is an imbalance in the Dosha, adding the opposide elements support it in coming back to balance.
If there is too much Vata (air and space) you would bring in more water and earth. Choose activities, foods and exercise regimes that are grounding, stabilizing, rhythmic, nurturing and calming like Yoga Calm.
If there is too much Pitta (fire and a small amount of water) you would bring in Water and Earth. Choose activities, foods and exercise regimes that are cooling, soothing, dispersing, devotional, relaxing and joyous. Yoga Calm is the perfect way to balance too much Pitta.
If there is too much Kapha (water and earth) you would bring in Fire, Air and Space) Choose activities, foods and exercise regimes that are stimulating, varied, heating, and releasing. Yoga Align and Yoga Flow make great practices to disperse the Kapha imbalance.
Depending on your dosha type as well as your current state of being, you can use yoga as a tool to bring you back to your original state of being.
Ready to try our yoga classes, or one of the many other classes we have on offer here at Virgin Active? Book your free tour today.