Ayurveda and yoga are both branches of the vedic teachings, that encompass all life and energy in the universe. As each person has an individual ayurvedic make-up which can be used to tailor diet, this constitution can also be used to address yoga practice. For each dosha, there are different ways to approach asana practice that will optimize the effectiveness but also reduce and balance the dominant dosha.
For Vata types
Vata is associated with air and space, and being cool, light and mobile. Because of this, the best approach to asana for vata types is to focus on remaining grounded, warm and focused. Asanas with strong connections to the ground while keeping the gaze on the horizon or slightly downwards are more beneficial than balancing asana with the gaze thrown to the sky. A slow but steady approach, imagining all movement to be met with resistance will keep the practice focused on strengthening and stamina rather than draining and muscle exhaustion.
For Pitta types
Pitta is associated with fire and water, building up heat, intensity and movement. To pacify the Pitta dosha, an asana practice that incorporates the opposites is preferable. Pitta types should focus on a cooling, relaxed and compassionate practice – moving slowly through poses, concentrating on the exhalations but remaining light-hearted and relaxed throughout. Opening poses and twists help to extend the body, but do not push too hard!
For Kapha types
The Kapha type is water and earth, comprising density, coolness and apathy. The asana practice should therefore involve movement, feelings of lightness and warmth. The Kapha practice should build heat while moving continuously and incorporating feelings of lengthening upwards. Holding poses for an extra breath, such as balancing poses, will create more focus and awareness to the breath. For Kapha types, it is all about challenging yourself – do not give up.