Two “sister” practices, Ayurveda and yoga, were developed thousands of years ago in India. Many of us are familiar and have experienced yoga’s profound benefits through postures, breathing exercises, and self-inquiry. Many of us don’t know much about Ayurveda. It might be something we have heard of in combination with yoga, but not sure exactly how it works.
Kripalu School of Yoga faculty member Jurian Hugh explains that yoga is Sanskrit for union, and Ayurveda as the wisdom of living. These complementary practices can be combined to provide transformative tools for greater health and vitality. Jurian also explained that incorporating Ayurvedic principles in your yoga practice can lead to a deeper and richer experience on the floor. This can be carried with you when you go off the mat.
Jurian states that Ayurveda doesn’t have a single approach. Jurian says that Ayurveda is not a one-size-fits all philosophy. “Our energy levels and moods are constantly changing throughout the day. Ayurvedic principles state that each person has a unique constitution . This is determined by our physical and psychological makeup as well as our lifestyle (eating habits, sleeping hours, etc.). These constitutions, doshas are connected to the elements. Vata (air, ether), pitta(fire and water), kapha (earth, and water) are the doshas.
Our doshas can be used to help us tailor our yoga practice to achieve maximum results. Here is Jurian’s yogic overview of the doshas.
Foundations of Ayurveda
Discover your natural wisdom while gaining knowledge of Ayurveda.
- Vata – Jurian states that Vatas are creative, mentally sharp, and enjoy movement. They are susceptible to anxiety, insomnia, and dryness. Jurian suggests slow, steady, grounding positions such as Mountain pose, spinal twists and inversions. This will help you cultivate stillness, nurture and self-care.
- Pitta – Pitta dosha is known for passion, enthusiasm, and courage. Anger, competitiveness, and inflammation, however, are signs of imbalance. Jurian recommends that you practice cooling and relaxing positions to release heat and tension. This includes forward bends and heart-openers like Bow and Camel to increase compassion, patience, and the ability to slow down.
- Kapha – Jurian notes that people with a strong Kapha constitution are more consistent, dedicated, stable, and powerful. Kapha imbalance may manifest as procrastination and dullness. So stimulating movements such as Sun Salutations or vigorous breathing exercises like kapalabhati can be helpful in fostering enthusiasm, heat, and focus.