Why would you want to live according to your dosha constitution?
As you now know, in ayurveda we study the individual and live and eat according to our dosha constitution to prevent ourselves from disease. In other words, an ayurvedic lifestyle is living according to your dosha constitution. In western medicine, to prevent illness we are encouraged to eat a balanced diet, work out and sleep enough following the recommendations for your age group or gender for example, not for each individual.
Disease as you know it from western medicine has quite a different definition or treatment. In western medicine, disease gets treated when you go to the doctor and it’s tested and diagnosed. In ayurveda, disease starts with ’dis-ease’; a lack of ease; signs of feeling uneasy in your body. The little signs that we tend to ignore often before an illness gets serious. For example, inflammation, red eyes, a rash, tiredness, general discomfort, etc.
In ayurveda the disease process has 6 steps. The earlier you discover or treat dis-ease, the more likely it is you’ll prevent ‘proper diseases’. Things that can help to detect disease early on are: abnormal digestion, excretion and mucus, inflammation, breathing and organ function.
So, by living according to our dosha constitution, we can keep listening to our body and act straight away when we notice something abnormal.
In our later courses we will dive further into the disease process, sleep, seasons, activity and living according to your dosha. But in the rest of this blog, I’d like to introduce you to a daily routine and yoga, pranayama and mindfulness practice according to your dosha constitution.
Daily routine – according to your dosha constitution
In ayurveda, a daily routine is called a Danyacharia. A danyacharia includes Raja Yoga. Raja yoga is a collection of teachings that includes Hatha Yoga and Kriya Yoga. Hatha Yoga focuses on the health of the physical body. Kriya Yoga focuses on breath control (pranayama) and is considered a separate path by many practitioners.
The daily routine (danyacharia) can include tongue scraping, body cleansing, self-massage, physical movement (asana), mindfulness and pranayama. It’s designed according to your constitution and body’s needs and is therefore very personal. You might use herbs, oils and spices to help you balance. However, it’s recommended not to just pick what you like, instead go and see an Ayurvedic doctor that’s licensed to prescribe herbs for consumption.
Ayurveda and the seasons – according to the doshas
The following sections include journal prompts to reflect on your constitutions and personal experience. Go to the Clean, Cleanse and Intro to Ayurveda to download your worksheets.
The seasons also follow the doshas. Depending on where you live you might recognise the following qualities or changes in the weather. You might have noticed how they affect you. Do you feel more comfortable in a particular season?
- Kapha: cold, damp, airy, fluid – often late winter and early spring
- Pitta: hot/warm, vibrant, transformative – often late spring and summer
- Vata: cold, dry, calm, windy, clear – often autumn and winter
The dosha’s time of day
- Kapha: 6 – 10am | 6 – 10pm
- Pitta: 10am – 2pm | 10pm – 2am
- Vata: 2pm – 6pm | 2am – 6pm
Yoga, pranayama and mindfulness according to the doshas
Why do some asanas, breathing and mindfulness techniques seem so easy, yet are a challenge to others. Why does my teacher like Kapalbhati so much, and why can’t I stand it?
There will be several reasons that can explain likes and dislikes but from my experience, a lot of this has to do with your constitution. For example if you’re vata dominant, you might have a smaller ribcage which makes breathing more challenging. If you’re pitta dominant, you may be competitive by nature. If you’re kapha dominant, you’re likely to be strong, but take a while to get into your flow.
No asanas, pranayamas or mindfulness practices should be neglected based on your constitution, but understanding the doshas in each of these practices, understanding your own or your students’ body will help you practise and/or teach with more compassion.
Asana (yoga poses and postures)
The benefits of asana are countless, but in general practising asana helps you to stay fit. Lubricating the joints and increasing circulation, mobility and flexibility while obtaining a sense of calm.
- Kapha: strong, patient and great endurance, but slow to start.
- Pitta: ask for (more) focus on simultaneous control of movement, breathing, posture and relaxation.
- Vata: moves (fast) naturally. Holding poses and stillness can be challenging.
Benefits of Sun Salutations
- Kapha: movement doesn’t come naturally to kapha, that’s why they might feel a bit resistant at first. However, the blood circulation and prana increase will be motivating and bring an enjoyable tension release.
- Pitta: the systematic and choreography-like movement stimulates pitta’s muscle strength. Taking deep breaths will allow the pitta body to safely expand and stretch.
- Vata: gentle, flowing movements are natural to vata. Vata can benefit from breath control, and relaxation between asanas to prevent overexertion/the body from doing too much too quickly.
Pranayama according to the doshas
Pranayama boosts your oxygen supply, reduces fatigue and allows energy to be stored and released to revitalise the body.
- Kapha: the kapha’s respiratory system is sensitive, but easily balanced by breathing techniques. The bigger kapha body will enjoy the abdominal movement without any physical restrictions. They’re known for being patient and concentrated.
- Pitta: pitta has excellent lung capacity and can hold its breath the longest which, in return, helps to balance out the heat, fire and passion of pitta’s sharp and overachieving nature. Longer exhalations promote relaxation and increase energy.
- Vata: generally, vata has a smaller ribcage and a sensitive nervous system. Both could benefit from the expansion in abdominal breathing. Deep inhalations and breath holding are beneficial for developing and expanding vata’s lung capacity.
Mindfulness & relaxation
When was the last time you did nothing? Even in savasana many of us still experience tension. Complete relaxation, when energy is only used to keep your metabolism going will help you to restore and find calm, clarity and balance.
Observe: Separate the body from your mind
- Scan your body for tension and breathe steady, long deep breaths.
- If your mind allows, try to visualise a space between your body and your thoughts.
- Watch your thoughts come and go, in and out, left and right without stopping: like a monkey jumping from one thought to another.
- Observe the mind without feeling your thoughts. Literally see your thoughts pass by.
- Repeat to yourself, “I witness my thoughts, and therefore I am not my thoughts.”
- Notice what sensations this practice awakens/stimulates in the body.
- Write down a few of your recurring thoughts. Observe them and ask how much of them are really true! What is a fact? What have you allowed to become your reality?
Do you ignore unwanted thoughts? Do you run, hide or hope that they’ll disappear? Those that aren’t willing to deal with negativity show signs of inner weakness. It’s okay to be negative sometimes, but don’t let it control you or become your reality.
Practise positive thinking:
Could you turn negative ‘what if’ scenarios into positive ‘what if’ scenarios?
For example, turning: ‘what if I’ll never be a good teacher and no one will want to work with me’ into: ‘what if I’m a great teacher and have a lot of cool projects others want to work on with me’. Try to manipulate your insecurity. You manifest its thoughts!
Affirmations: often, the ones we dislike, we need the most.
Redefine your values: write your own definition of the Yamas / Niyamas.
Practise mantras and chant: there are a lot of resources out there, but I can help you find some if you like!
When creating awareness and practising acceptance, everything becomes ‘easier’. In our modern society, it’s generally seen as normal to have a busy monkey mind, but I also believe that it makes us feel unbalanced. A busy mind can be very distracting and takes away from your yoga experience both on and off the mat. Become aware of the fluctuations of your mind and seek the willingness to work on it! It’s just a matter of putting things into action.
Clean, Cleanse and Intro to Ayurveda Course
Are you ready to adapt to an ayurvedic lifestyle and live according to your dosha constitution? Go to the Clean, Cleanse and Intro to Ayurveda course to learn more about your own dosha constitution and how to take care of yourself and prevent disease according to internal and external circumstances.
Please note: In Indian medical school, Ayurvedic doctors study at least 8 years to become qualified. The information we cover in these blogs offer you a basic introduction to the science behind ayurveda. It’s a great tool to help you understand your own body and those of your loved ones and/or students better, but please not use our content to diagnose disease or prescribe medicine of any kind for yourself or others. We do not diagnose or prescribe anything to any individual, nor is it the purpose of our content.