Both yoga and Ayurveda have their roots in ancient Indian traditions, so how are they connected to each other? This article will explore how the two practices are intertwined, and how to use yoga to support your dosha and bring it back into balance when needed.
By Stacy Mosel, LMSW
It’s clear that on their own, yoga and Ayurveda can be powerful ways to find well-being and emotional balance in our often hectic daily lives. Even a short yoga practice is a great way to maintain flexibility, improve fitness and promote relaxation and peace of mind, and listening to what your body needs through the framework of Ayurveda can help inform how to shift your habits to live a healthier life.
But can combining these practices take your well-being to the next level? In short, yes.
Keep reading to discover why they complement each other, and how to center your yoga practice around your unique dosha.
The Link Between Yoga and Ayurveda
Yoga and Ayurveda are ancient Indian practices that have existed for thousands of years, and Ayurveda is known as “the sister science of yoga.” According to Kripalu School of Yoga faculty member Jurian Hughes, yoga literally means “union” in Sanskrit, while Ayurveda means “wisdom of life.” Ayurveda is a dynamic, personal practice that is impacted by a wide range of factors that are unique to you, such as the way you are affected by change of seasons, your energy levels, your sleep needs and your personality and temperament, all of which join together to form your dosha.
Both yoga and Ayurveda are designed to help you achieve optimal health and well-being. Practicing Ayurvedic yoga means being in tune with your needs, so that doesn’t mean you should always force yourself through a sweaty Vinyasa class when you’re dead tired, or sink into a Yin practice even when you feel like you need an energy boost. The idea behind Ayurvedic yoga is that you adapt your practice to best suit your dosha, or Ayurvedic body type, as a way to experience improved wellness and address any doshic imbalances (if necessary).
Ayurvedic Yoga For Your Dosha
In order to know how to use yoga to support your dosha, you’ll first need to discover what your dosha is. There are three doshas, and while most people tend to be dominant in one, some are dominant in two or have a relatively even balance of all three. Here’s a quick breakdown of the three doshas and the practices and asanas (or poses) that are best suited for the needs of each type.
Associated with the fire element, pitta tends to have a medium build, a sharp intellect, good digestion, a lot of energy, and usually sleeps soundly. However, when out of balance, pitta can be argumentative, quick to blame others, and suffer from digestive difficulties and skin irritations.
Pittas tend to benefit from a yoga practice that cools and relaxes the body as a way of releasing excessive heat and energy, but they also sometimes need a challenge. Consider alternating a calming practice like Yin or restorative yoga with more challenging flow practices designed to stretch and strengthen your body. Include asanas like Bow pose, Boat pose and Moon Salutations, which tend to be more fluid and grounding than Sun Salutations.
Vata is associated with the air and ether elements. Vatas often have a thin build, dry skin and hair, sensitive digestion (although they usually feel that they can eat whatever they want and not gain weight), and a cheerful and joyous disposition when in balance. Out of balance, they can feel easily overstimulated, suffer from sleep disturbances, and experience an inability to manage stress and tension.
For vata types in general, and especially when out of balance, a relaxing and restorative practice is usually beneficial, as vatas often push themselves too hard and tend to overstretch and overdo it. Think of Hatha or Yin yoga, and include poses where you can release and let go, such as Forward Bend, Child’s Pose and Reclined Hero’s pose. Avoid over stimulating practices like Sun Salutations or asanas that require a lot of effort, like Shoulder Stand or Plow pose.
Kapha is mainly associated with the earth and water elements. They tend to have large frames and can gain weight easily, but they also have a lot of strength and stamina. When out of balance, they can be sluggish and suffer from procrastination, lethargy and congestion. For these reasons, it’s best to focus on stimulating and energetic practices like Vinyasa or Hot yoga and poses that encourage energy and vitality, such as Sun Salutations, Chair pose, the Warrior poses, and vigorous breathwork such as Kapalabhati Pranayama.
Combining yoga and Ayurveda is just one way to promote wellness and your body’s innate healing potential.
In addition to choosing a yoga practice that is best suited to your dosha, you can also amplify that practice by leveraging products packed with Ayurvedic herbs before or after your yoga sessions.
The Root of It All Ayurvedic tinctures, which feature powerful Ayurvedic herbs and spices amplified by CBD, can support you on your daily quest for mind-body balance. Whether it’s our RECOVER tincture for soothing and comforting your body after a workout (like a challenging Vinyasa or Hot yoga class); STOP tincture to help promote restful sleep; SLOW tincture to encourage relaxation and peace (which you can also use to enhance your meditation routine) or one of our other products, we’re sure you’ll love the way our targeted tinctures can help you feel more balanced, grounded, rejuvenated and revitalized.
Stacy Mosel, LMSW is a health and wellness writer, as well as a licensed social worker, yoga enthusiast, certified Reiki practitioner and musician. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Music from the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1999 and a Master of Social Work from New York University in 2002.