Ayurvedic Physical Activity – A Matter of Balance
By Denise O’Dunn
Ayurveda is the Science of Life. In Ayurveda your physical, mental and emotional well being is described within the context of the three dynamic forces of nature or Doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha. The fundamental Ayurvedic principals of like increases like and opposites create balance dictate that you choose the type, intensity and duration of the physical exercise you do, according to your individual Doshic makeup and the current Doshic influences in your life.
Individuals who are primarily ether and air dominate are Vata. Are you very tall or short? Do you have a thin build? Vatas generally have long, narrow or small features and their slight structure and quick metabolisms make it easy to maintain their weight. Because of Vata’s quick and lively nature, you may be drawn to fast-paced activities that require quick, short bursts of speed and agility like racquet ball. However, due to Vata’s lower endurance, it’s important to pace yourself to avoid exhaustion or injury. The Vata mind is always moving, so your natural desire for change will prompt you to start an exercise program, but your dislike for routine can prevent you from staying with it. To balance your Vata nature, choose physical activities that include slow, rhythmic movements that are grounding and centering.
Vata Balancing Activities
Hatha Yoga – Classical Style
Tai Chi or Chi Gong
Individuals who are primarily fire and water dominant are Pitta. A Pitta person is usually of medium height and bone structure, with well developed muscles, symmetrical build and balanced medium size features. Your efficient metabolism allows you to gain or lose weight with reasonable effort. Your intense, fiery nature drives you to individual competition requiring endurance, strength and speed like a triathlon, but your competitive and demanding character needs to be tempered to keep you from overheating — so it is important that you enjoy yourself when it comes to the physical activities you choose. To balance your Pitta temperament select exercises that keep you cool and composed.
Pitta Balancing Activities
Hatha Yoga – Avoid Hot Yoga
Skiing (water or snow)
Mountain Biking or Hiking
Walking or Jogging (early morning or cool shady areas or indoors)
Tennis (cool times of day)
Dominate Kaphas (primarily earth and water elements), are most likely to be taller or shorter than average with large bones, a solid build and broad or full features. Kapha’s stable structure and slow metabolism makes it easy to gain weight and difficult to lose excess weight. Your easy-going nature may lead you to a sedentary lifestyle, but it’s your steady energy, high endurance and ability to remain calm under pressure that give you the capacity to participate in strenuous activities that require staying power like Soccer. You may need to be motivated to begin a fitness regimen, but once you start, your love for routine will keep you going. Your relaxed manner makes you want to take it easy, but to balance your slow constitution, you need exercise that is stimulating and vigorous.
Kapha Balancing Activities
Hatha Yoga – Hot Yoga or Power Yoga
Walking or Jogging (long distance)
When planning an Ayurvedic fitness program, consider the current Doshic influences in your life, including; your life cycle (age), the season of the year and even the time of day. Honoring these natural rhythms will guide you on your path to personal balance and physical fitness.
Disclaimer: This article was written for educational purposes only and is based on the tradition of Ayurveda. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, prescribe or heal any health condition or to replace standard medical treatment or advice.