Yoga Asanas by Doshas & Season


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kapha                yoga                pitta

                                      

                                         vata

Yoga and Doshas

Yoga has received more than its fair share of attention worldwide – and rightly so! It is a great gift to us from the Vedas. Yoga is a spiritual science that helps to balance the mind by using the breath and body as tools, with the ultimate goal of self-realization. However, yoga is not just a series of poses and breathing techniques to be practiced mechanically. The subtle effects of the asanas and pranayama on the physiology and psychology need to be understood well before blindly following them, preventing potential harm to the body.

For example, Sun Salutations are extremely beneficial to the body and mind, if practiced with good form, with the right intensity, attitude and speed, and at the appropriate time of the day. They are extremely heating to the body, so practicing too many of these during the hot summer season or warmer times of the day, may be counter-productive, leading to aggravated pitta related issues. Due to the quick transitions between the poses, these salutations if done quickly, can be rajasic or stimulating to the body and mind. This can be great for some, but when done by a person who is already having trouble settling down or calming down the body and mind, may cause further aggravation, rather than relaxation. Evidently, yoga when combined with the principles of Ayurveda, and loads of common sense provides a more well-balanced and holistic experience.

For a quick recap on doshas and gunas, please take a look at our introduction page: http://theayurvediclife.com/home

We have already seen a blog post of how Ayurveda and Yoga are sister sciences that have so much in common. In this post, we will look at what yoga asanas and breathing techniques are best for each dosha type and/or season.

 

Vata and Fall

To counter vata‘s mobile, light and airy nature, the poses to balance vata should be grounding, calming, strengthening and balancing. Since fall is vata season, yoga performed in fall should also be of the kind that balances vata dosha.

Vinyasa or flow styles may not work well. The focus should be on holding the poses more, with slow and conscious transitions. If the yoga practice is intense, quick moving, and stimulating, it may result in the person with vata constitution or imbalance feeling more spaced out, tired, restless, nervous and fearful. Our aim is to make the person feel grounded, energized, calm and confident through an appropriate yoga practice.

 

Favorable Asanas for Vata:

  • Vrikshasana or Tree pose
  • Shalabhasana or Locust pose
  • Balasana or Child’s pose
  • Ardha Matsyendrasana or Fish pose
  • Halasana or Plow pose
  • Sethubandhasana or Bridge pose
  • Vajrasana or Thunderbolt pose
  • Savasana or Corpse pose
  • Paadangushtasana or Big Toe pose
  • Sucirandhrasana or Eye of the Needle pose

 

Favorable Pranayama for Vata:

  • Nadi Shodhana or Alternate Nostril Breathing
  • Kapala Bhaati or Shining the Crown Breathing
  • Ujjayi or Ocean/Victorious Breathing

 

 

Pitta and Summer:

To counter pitta‘s hot, fiery and restless nature, poses to balance pitta should be cooling, calming and relaxing. Since summer is pitta season, yoga performed in summer should also be of the kind that balances pitta dosha.

Avoid back bends and inversions, since they are stimulating and heating to the system. An intention of surrender and forgiveness should be cultivated and adopted while practicing asanas. Practice during the cool times of the day, like dawn or dusk. Poses that compress the solar plexus and open the chest to release body heat are good for balancing aggravated pitta. If the yoga practice is too intense, heating and stimulating, the person with pitta constitution or imbalance may end up feeling aggressive, hot, angry, restless and over charged after the practice. Our goal is to get the pitta person to cool down, relax and adopt an easy going frame of mind.

Favorable Asanas for Pitta:

  • Chandra Namaskar or Moon Salutations (Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutations, if practiced should only be done very slowly)
  • Seated Forward Bends (like Janu Shirshasana or Chest to Knee pose, Paschimottanasana or Seated Forward Bend pose, Baddha Konasana or Butterfly pose)
  • Standing poses (like Vrikshasana or Tree pose, Prasarita Padottanasana or Wide Legged Forward Bend pose, Virabhadrasana or Warrior pose)
  • Spinal Twists (like Ardha Matsyendrasana or Lord of the Fishes pose, Trikonasana or Triangle pose, Supta Matsyendrasana or Lying Down Twist pose)

Favorable Pranayama for Pitta:

  • Sheetali or Cooling Breath
  • Nadi Shodhana or Alternate Nostril Breathing

 

 

Kapha and Spring:

To counter kapha‘s cold, heavy and lethargic qualities, the yoga practice to balance kapha should be warming, lightening, energizing and stimulating. Since spring is kapha season, yoga performed in spring should also be of the kind that balances kapha dosha.

Vinyasa and flow styles are great as are poses that are intense (within physical capabilities of the practitioner) and cause sweating and provide a cardiovascular workout. If the yoga practice is too relaxing, slow, grounding and cooling, then it might leave the person with kapha constitution or imbalance feeling lethargic, dull and heavy. We want the practice to invigorate, stimulate and warm the kapha practitioner.

Favorable Asanas for Kapha:

  • Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutations
  • Inversions (like Halasana or Plow pose, Sarvangasana or Shoulder Stand pose)
  • Back bends (like Ushtrasana or Camel Pose, Supta Virasana or Reclining Hero pose)
  • Adho Mukha Swanasana or Downward Dog pose
  • Urdhva Mukha Swanasana or Upward Facing Dog pose
  • Padmasana or Lotus pose
  • Naukasana or Boat pose
  • Dhanurasana or Bow pose
  • Simhasana or Lion pose

Favorable Pranayama for Kapha:

  • Bhastrika or Bellows breath
  • Kapala Bhaati or Shining the Crown Breathing
  • Ujjayi or Ocean/Victorious Breathing

 

Disclaimer:

If you are already familiar and comfortable with practicing yoga, we hope these tips will help to tailor your yoga practice favorably. However, please consult a yoga teacher and/or attend a class to familiarize yourself with the poses and breathing techniques, if you are starting off or are unsure of how to practice yoga safely.


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