How to choose the best yoga for your body type?
Understanding how we might tweak our practice to support our body type can take our yoga to a level where it helps our body, mind, and spirit.
The creation of a day to celebrate yoga was much needed. If you love yoga, I am sure that you will be celebrating it every single day! For me, yoga is a way of life. And so, it has been for over two decades.
The world of ayurveda and yoga come together in several ways, and this synergy has been written about by experts for a long time. One might argue that all yoga is yoga, but curating the right practice based on the body constitution helps to stay in balance. Typically, when we are not in balance, we will seek out the practices that further increase imbalance, while resisting those that help us to regain even keel.
Yoga practices based on body constitutions
Since this article does not dive deep into each body constitution, please do consult a skilled practitioner if you are not sure.
1. Vata dosha is generally characterised by qualities of cold, dry, light, mobile, and sharp. If you are predominantly vata, you must consider the opposite qualities to remain in a state of balance. Think of a practice that is in a warm space, but not necessarily hot which can also trigger imbalance. Yoga sequencing that has a lot of movement, like vinyasa, power yoga and 108 suryanamaskars are not for you. Excess movement imbalances vata and makes the nervous system lacking in stability.
Avoid any yoga movement that is too fast. It is important to keep the practice gentle and calming. Holding poses a little longer, rather than doing too many poses in a session is wonderful! Remember that vata has a quality of air and ether.
To create stability, you must employ the opposite qualities of the earth, focusing on grounding. Poses like warrior, where you bring attention to how you push into the ground feeling the solidness of the floor and having ample time for a guided shavasana are key.
Avoid practices that push your limits and deplete the adrenals. When vata is in a state of imbalance, you might feel restlessness and a sense of not wanting to remain still. Remind yourself that this is not because that is your personality, but more like attracting when truly you need the opposite to bring balance.
2. Pitta dosha is all about the qualities of hot, oily, mobile, and flowing. If you are predominantly pitta, always avoid hot yoga practices, and any practice something that is goal oriented. It is easy to become competitive, fixated with goals, or one of display. Encourage the opposite qualities of acceptance each day, calmness, compassion to self, and subtlety. Avoid excess time in breath retention. Maintain your practice in a space which is cool. You do not need to sweat through your practice. You need not compete with anyone or even with yourself on another day. Every day is unique.
Avoid practices like 108 suryanamaskars as they increase internal heat and trigger inflammation. Inversions like shoulder stands are wonderful, where they create internal movement of energy without increasing core body temperature. Spinal twists gently squeeze out stagnant blood in the spine and nervous system, encouraging fresh blood circulation. All forward bends are cooling and holding one for a longer time is helpful. Remind yourself that moving forward is about letting go, which beautifully expresses what the pitta body needs from yoga.
When pitta is in a state of imbalance, you might push yourself to conquer a pose, practice yoga so that you can showcase your pose to the outside world or feel that a calm practice is a useless one. Remind yourself that it is the imbalance that it is driving this energy, and that is neither what you need, nor who you are at the core.
3. Kapha dosha qualities are cold, stagnant, wet, dull, and cloudy.
If you are predominantly kapha, you must consider the opposite qualities in your yoga practice, which are warmth and movement.
While your kapha tendency will be one of lethargy and not wanting to move, you really need some movement. Pushing yourself can be beneficial, unlike vata and pitta. The space you practice should be warm, although never hot. Vinyasa, suryanamaskars, and flow yoga is great!
Avoid resting for too long in between poses. Instead of holding few poses for a long time, keep your practice as one that encourages movement. An example of this would be to move in and out of a forward bend several times versus staying in the forward bend for a long time. Let only your final shavasana be the space of relaxation and restoration. Even a practice of 54 or 108 suryanamaskars can be beneficial, especially at a time when you feel lethargic.
When kapha is in a state of imbalance, you will find different excuses to avoid practicing yoga, be comfortable with just a few poses, and not enjoy any strong movement like suryanamaskars.
Always remind yourself that opposite brings balance. Try a day of strong movement in your yoga practice and notice how your energy feels vibrant and how your mind feels calmer.
Practice to support your body constitution!
The main takeaway is that we might all enjoy a yoga practice based upon our present state of imbalance, but that might not be what helps us, suits us, or keeps us in the best state. Understanding how we might tweak our practice to support our body type can take our yoga to a level where it helps our body, mind and spirit!
Edited by Megha Reddy
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)