A regular yoga practice can be incredibly health supporting and enriching for our lives. This is not only because the poses help to lengthen and strengthen our muscles but because it is a truly holistic mind-body-spirit practice. Ayurveda is a sister science to yoga. While yoga focuses on the asanas, pranayama and meditation to obtain balance, Ayurveda seeks out total body harmonization through life habits such as diet, detox, mantra, herbal medicine and also yoga. Holistic Ayurveda prescriptions include yogic postures, breathing and reflection based on the ailment we are treating.
Inflammation and inflammatory pathologies can be supported by balancing what Ayurveda refers to as pitta: internal fire and heat. Yoga postures and adjustments that support this will temper chronic vasodilation, regulate blood flow and cool the mind. This is also great for holistic vanity as anti-inflammatory yoga can help temper rosacea, eczema and inflames acne.
Before we get into picking poses, first lets start with the basics. Slower paced yoga will move lymph and blood without over-stimulating the latter. Moving the lymphatics is important for avoiding water-retention, which puts pressure on your capillaries but fast-paced exercise will spiking circulation, creating heat. Along with this, you should practice in a cool room. Hot yoga classes are good environments for those who need more stimulation as the temperature heat increases blood flow but for those will too much vasodilation, this is inflaming. Practice in a comfortably cool room (not cold) for a gentle, soothing yoga ritual.
If you are looking to calm inflammation should also make sure to incorporate soothing pranayam (breathing exercises) at the end of your yoga session. This brings cooling breath and oxygen into the body as well as calms the mind. Examples of this type of pranayam can be found here. The theme of a more grounded mind must also be emphasized during the entire routine. Trying to avoid tendencies of perfectionism or competitiveness is very important. Simply enjoying how your body feels and focusing on living in the body rather than the mind helps to temper inflammation linked to our mentalities and stress. On tip to help with this is to be conscious of softening the face and hands. When we are concentrating hard and becoming very detail-oriented we tend to tighten our expressions and stiffen our hands, so relaxing these areas will also send feedback to relax the mind too.
Those with excess Pitta need to do poses with twisting involved as these wring out the digestive organs, where a lot of inflammation resides. This breaks up the heat in the abdomen, which is also the main site of Pitta is (in our jatharagni – digestive fire). With this, you need to do upright postures and avoid bending poses in which your head is lower than your heart. This encourages blood to pool in the head and bring heat there through the blood and also stimulates extra bloodflow when you return upright. This is an especially good tip for those with rosacea and sensitive skin as blood will also pool in the face putting more pressure on the capillaries, risking vessel breakage. Some examples of cooling postures are:
Another anti-inflammatory tip is in your modifications. Pittas need to soften their hands during poses (so not have them made into strong spears). When doing poses such as warrior, remember to make your wrists supple. This will also encourage you to instinctively soften your face, gaze and mind. Here are some poses to look out for: