Wednesday, September 22, 2010

yoga and ayurveda

I am always reminding you during class that you shouldn't base your yoga practice on those around you. Why is this? From the very beginning of my teaching I've wanted yoga class to be a time that you can focus on yourself, and not those around you. I've wanted class to be a time that you could honor your own body and your process with the understanding that this varies from the person next to you.

It wasn't until this year when I started studying Ayurveda (the sister science of yoga) that I realized why this system approaches the practice of the postures from an understanding of individuality, meaning the doshas. Asanas are categorized for their effect on vata, pitta, and kapha. Ayurveda takes into consideration the type of asana (pose), as well as the flow and speed in which it is practiced.

Vata types are generally slight in build, with small bones and thin frames. They usually have a great deal of flexibility and agility when young, but lack energy and stamina. Of all the doshas, vata types can benefit most from yoga, as they can be somewhat frail and prone to excessive movement. Asana is also helpful for vata types as it can help access stillness for meditation.

Pitta types have medium or average builds. They usually possess a good musculature and flexibility. When they dedicate themselves to asana, they can become quite good. They can also be so very dedicated that they can make their joints too loose from excessive practice thus creating problems just as significant as too much stiffness in the joints. Psychologically pitas are aggressive and like to excel at what they do. This high achievement is not something recommended for asana. They can be good at the physical/technical part of the practice but lose the spiritual side of the practice.

Kapha types are usually stocky and hold weight easily. They are generally shorter than average, but sometimes taller. They usually have short bones and generally poor flexibility. Kapha types should not try to force themselves into poses that are not appropriate for the joints that they have. Kapha types tend to be sedentary and need to be motivated to be physically active. They need more active exercise stimulating their metabolism and increasing circulation. Sweating, even profusely is good! Being pushed and made to do stronger exercises than they like is good.

I think it's so very fascinating, helpful, and freeing when we can learn how to live in harmony with our body!

If you're interested in learning more about ayurveda, determining your dosha, and the types of foods you should favor, and the recommended way to practice asana please join me this Saturday from 1:00 - 4:00.

**photo taken this summer at our retreat in tulum, mexico! see how similar it is to our studio here in lex? love it.**

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