December 20, 2013

Yoga & Ayurveda Practices for Dosha Balancing. ~ Liilamaya

The ancient sister sciences of yoga and Ayurveda believe that stress stems from the mind.

Yoga and Ayurveda suggest that we consider only what we can handle—so it’s imperative to find out what we need to remain balanced.

How we respond to the incessant fluctuations of the mind varies according to our own individual mind-body constitution, known as our dosha. Translation: “that which contaminates is called dosha.” (Find out your dosha here.)

  • Vata (Space & Air)
  • Pitta (Fire & Water)
  • Kapha (Water & Earth)

Technically, the doshas are considered the disease-causing agents for body and mind. Imbalance of vata, pitta and kapha doshas cause disease in the body.

Yoga and Ayurveda provide the opportunity to explore our bodies and observe the mind from a detached place, to learn and understand our own true nature and to discover how to come into balance and learn to be our own true healers.

Look for the signs.

Vata Dosha

Signs of imbalance: physical pain, variable appetite, insomnia, dry skin, constipation, flatulence, irregular menstruation, being prone to distraction, anxiety, worry, weight loss, teeth grinding, insomnia, constipation, fast speech.

Healing herbs and scents: ginger, cumin, fennel, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, calamus, Valerian, nutmeg, holy-basil and chamomile. Take a natural laxative before bedtime like flaxseed or psyllium husks.

Pitta Dosha

Signs of imbalance: diarrhea, burning sensations, skin irritations, odorous sweating, fever, inflammation, a hypercritical or intense mental outlook, outbursts, criticism, migraines, burning hands and feet.

Healing herbs and scents: jasmine, lavender, rose, sandalwood, lotus seed, passion flower, hibiscus, aloe, barberry, turmeric, fennel, coriander, cumin and mint.

Kapha Dosha

Signs of imbalance: feeling heavy, slow, cold, sedated, stubborn, lethargic, possessive, depressed, prone to overeating, resistant to change.

Healing herbs and scents: cayenne, black pepper, dry ginger, mustard, saffron, myrrh, aloe, cloves, rosemary, frankincense, sage and bayberry.

For the asana component, make the surroundings as inviting and quiet as possible. Start by ensuring all phones and computers are turned off. To allow fresh air to circulate, a window can be left open. Keep warm (dress in layers if necessary), dim the lights and light some candles or incense. We want the space to be filled with a magical sense of surrender.

Allow 20 to 30 minutes to practice the following asanas according to your dosha constitution.

Vata Practice

Energy needs to be grounded.

Suggested poses: balasana (child’s pose), any seated forward bends like badhakonasana (butterfly), upavista konasana (wide angle seated forward bend). Hold for a minimum of three minutes each.

Most pacifying pose: pashimottanasana (seated forward bend) with a blanket placed between the belly and chest. Stay for five minutes or longer if possible.

Don’t skip savasana: practice long and deep, for at least 15 minutes. Keep warm, using as many blankets as needed to maintain the heat you’ve created, Place a rolled up blanket under the knees and cover the eyes.

Pitta Practice

Energy needs to be cooled and calmed down.

Suggested poses: ustrasana (camel), matsyasana (fish), utthita parsvakonasana (extended side angle), meru vakrasana (simple spinal twist), ardha matsyendrasana (semi spinal seated twist), supta vajrasana (diamond pose). Hold for a minimum of three minutes each.

Most cooling pose: salamba sarvangasana (shoulderstand), held for at least 10 breaths.

Don’t skip savasana: practice for 10 minutes. Cover the eyes and place a rolled blanket under the knees, Focus on the rhythm of the breath as our hearts melt into Mother Earth.

Kapha Practice

Energy needs to be stimulated. Repetition is key and jumping between transitions is recommended,

Suggested poses: Strong vinyasas, surya namaskar (sun salutations), sirsasana (headstand), any handstand variations, dhanurasana (bow), bhujangasana (cobra), ustrasana (camel), shalambasana (locust), halasana (plow), setu bandhasana (bridge). Hold for a minimum of three minutes each.

Most stimulating pose: sirsasana (headstand), held for at least 10 breaths.

Don’t skip savasana: practice for five to eight minutes. Keep warm using a blanket. Place a rolled up blanket under the knees. Try not to fall asleep. Practice visualization or use a guided meditation.

Becoming the observer rather than the doer is one of the first steps towards raising our awareness to become our own healers. We have been granted such a pristine gift by Mother Nature: self-repair.

We truly are capable and have the innate knowledge we need. It takes self-inquiry and curiosity to ignite such powerful tools, which are no further than our very own fingertips.


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Editor: Michelle Margaret

Image: elephant journal Archive

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