Ayurveda is a sister science to yoga. While yoga focuses on poses, the art of breathing and meditation to for health and balance, Ayurveda is a medicinal science that uses the same mind-body-spirit approach to wellness employing diet, detox, mantra, herbs and, yes, also yoga. There are so many types of yoga – different schools and styles – but what is important from an Ayurvedic point of view is how it balances your doshas. Doshas are different energies in our bodies that make us who we are as well as dictate our physical and emotional tendencies. I have already written about the Vata energy and its need for restorative yoga and Pitta energy and its need for anti-inflammatory yoga. Now, we will discuss Kapha energy and its need for stimulating, detoxifying yoga.
According to Ayurveda, Kapha is embodies by the elements of water and earth and is what causes us to accumulate waste and experience stagnation. This is why those with high Kapha are prone to toxic buildup, growths such as cysts and dampness. Dampness is another term for wet toxins in Asian medicine and can be seen as excess mucous, water-retention and fluid-filled pustules. To breakup and release this stagnation we must stimulate and detoxify our bodies – and in our yoga practice this means having a routine that is fast-paced, challagning and promoting of circulation.
Kapha needs to increase blood flow and energy in its body so its practice must have a vigorous pace and high intensity. Practicing in a warm room is best and this dosha does well with hot yoga (unlike inflamed Pitta types). To spur lung detox and oxygenation (oxygen is also anti-bacterial), Kaphas must use forceful breathing during practice or when doing pranayam.
Kapha is said to congest in the lungs, so we must open the chest and choosing poses that force this such as fish and bow. To counteract this heavy, damp dosha, it is recommended to use a sharp, upward gaze and to push yourself in your practice (obviously not to the point of injury. But Kaphas tend to be lethargic and prone to being too easy on themselves).
As mentioned previously, poses should open the chest, challenge the body and promote movement