The science of Ayurveda is governed by the sankalpa or intention of personal healing and enlightenment. Ayurveda claims that an imbalance in doshas disrupts the flow of intelligence through the mind-body system leading to disease and disorder. It is possible to restore balance in the doshas to create a healthy and evolving mind-body system.
Ayurveda in Sanskrit means the “wisdom of life” and the science links the rhythms of the universal elements – earth, fire, air, water, and space – to individual constitutions called doshas. The three doshas are vata, pitta and kapha and while people all have some of each, generally a person tends to have an abundance of one or a predominant combination of the two.
Vata types are connected to the air and space, so they are similar to the wind – dry, cool, and capable of fast unpredictable movement and thought. Pittas are aligned with fire, influenced by air, and act with intense determination. Finally, kaphas are a combination of earth and water, move slowly and gracefully, and tend to be both stable and loyal.
According to Deepak Chopra when you personalize your practice for your unique mind-body constitution or dosha, you reap the greatest benefit from the practice.
For Vata types, calming and grounding yoga poses are the most suitable, apart from warrior I and warrior II. With feet rooted in the ground the Warrior postures reduce stress and anxiety and build strength. Fast paced Vinyasa yoga or flow sequences can aggravate vata leading to fatigue, anxiety and overextension. You can make vinyasa more vata pacifying by going slow and with deliberate mindful consciousness, holding each pose for the extended time. Transition between poses should be made with conscious awareness rather than rushing on with the next pose. Poses that compress pelvis are healing in case of Vata because it is prone to constipation. Forward bends, both standing and sitting are helpful. Lower back and thighs being major regions of the Vata dosha, focus should be given to poses that engage these regions. A 15 to 20 minutes corpse pose is helpful to the vata types.
If you have Pitta dosha, you will benefit with a relaxed attitude and from the development of a calm and peaceful state that lets go of your competitive tendency. Do not compare yourself to others in the yoga class and be patient and gentle towards yourself. Pittas should avoid asanas that cause profuse sweating and instead focus on relaxing and cooling poses, since pittas have already excessive heat in them. Inverted poses should not be held for long because they create a lot of heat in the head. It is best to schedule your sessions at dawn or dusk when it is cooler. Poses that help to release excess heat from your body are the best to focus on. The poses that open the chest or compress the solar plexus are helpful. Some of them include bridge, fish, bow, cobra, camel and pigeon poses. Among the standing poses, some poses like half-moon, warrior and tree are good because they open the hip. While doing corpse pose or savasana, it is helpful to focus on the breath to calm your mind.
Of all the doshas, Kapha types have the most strength and stamina, yet they will get lethargic and suffer from overweight when out of balance. Kapha types will benefit from energizing and stimulating yoga practice. Kapha has the natural tendency to feel cold and sluggish, so you need create heat in your body. You will need to move through your flow sequences rapidly to make your body feel light and warm. The poses such as standing poses that invigorate, along with backbends and bhastrika, will suit the kapha types best.
They make us feel energetic, active, warm and light.