Yoga and meditation are the conscious art forms of being still and clearing your mind of clutter.
From a vanity perspective, Yoga has saved me from losing all my hair. I'm a bit on the high-strung side (lol). But, while I think Yoga is an excellent way to relieve tension and calm overactive minds, I don't know if many people know that you must tailor your practice to your constitution.
Like everything in Ayurveda, it all comes down to balancing your Doshas. We have to be specific and focus on the poses that are most therapeutic to our individual needs.
Are we experiencing Vata Excess? With too much air and movement in our bodies? Do we feel scattered and anxious? Perhaps some excess air in our digestive tract causing bloating or dehydrated roughness in our skin.
Are we experiencing Pitta Excess? With too much fire and heat inflaming our bodies causing thoughts of self-pressure and demanding ambitions? Maybe we have an acidic stomach or pimples from all the stress or aggravation of rosacea.
Or are we experiencing Kapha Excess? With too much earthy dampness making us lethargic and demotivated? Coupling water-retention and puffiness?
Whichever your Doshic dysfunction, when trying to pacify your mind and body, doing the proper poses is much more therapeutic than taking a generalist class.
Vata types or those with excess Vata must slow down their yogic practice. Transitions between poses must be gradual with calm concentration.
Vata is easily ungrounded, so balancing poses are therapeutic.
Tree pose and downward dog are good examples of Vata decreasing poses. But simpler poses like Mountain (which is simply standing upright and feeling your feet implant into the floor) and Savasana are also excellent.
Savasana, which is laying in an open rest position, is particularly good as it has the whole body on the floor feeling its own weight and grounding itself.
When doing your sequence and balancing, setting your gaze downward is important, and many find that looking down helps with balance anyway.
This is why downward dog is a great pose because it's in a downward facing position.
Pitta types or those with excess Pitta benefit from poses that have core twisting involved.
You can do many modifications of different poses to incorporate a twist or do something as simple as a seated twist.
This is said to "break up the heat in the abdomen", where the main site of Pitta is (and our jatharagni - digestive fire).
Pittas also need to soften their hands while in poses (and not have them made into strong spears). I also find this helps shift your mentality during practice from one of rigid and goal-oriented to a more gentle approach.
So if doing warrior poses, remember to make your wrists supple.
Kaphas and those with Kapha excess need to open their chests.
Because in Ayurveda, Kapha governs the lungs, it is said that there can be an unconscious protecting of the lungs and a natural roll in of the shoulders and hunching over.
To counter-act that tendency, poses such as Fish pose, Sleeping Hero pose and Wheel pose are ideal. These open the chest beautifully.
Kapha also needs to be stimulated by speeding up transitions in their yoga sequence.
This can be done by doing one pose on the inhale and moving into the next on the exhale to keep your pace.
Ashtanga classes are also good for stimulating blood flow for Kapha.
Changing your yogic style depending on how you feel is a great way to bring awareness into your practice.
Also, becoming more body-aware and monitoring when you feel imbalanced is refined when you also treat your body with this type of physical therapy.
This way, you can feel the changes before and after asanas.
Image by Katee Lui via Unsplash