When the beginning yoga or ayurvedic student asks the question, “How do ayurveda and yoga work together?” the answer may be as simple as considering how the two modalities complement and function seamlessly together. The principles of ayurveda incorporate the three doshas (or energies) that constitute the world around us, as well as our body types. By discovering which dosha governs your constitutional make-up, you can find a complementary form of yoga to harness that energy most effectively for an enhanced sense of well-being and then discover how both ayurveda and yoga work best together.
From the Sanskrit word for air, “vata” signifies what we would call a “Type A” personality. If you believe in multi-tasking and think there are never enough hours in the day to get everything done, you are ruled by the vata dosha. These personalities are prone to burn-out and exhaustion, especially if they experience a lot of change or disruption in their normal routine.
Yoga poses, or asanas, that ground this type of individual are ideal to transfer this energy to the core, such as the plow or standing forward poses. In terms of pranayama, or controlled breathing, consider the alternate nostril method to regulate this energy effectively.
This personality type is characterized by fire and water and literally means “that which cooks” in Sanskrit. If you are a people person who is always “on,” with a passionate, often volatile personality, then you are ruled by pitta. If this energy is out of balance, you may become quarrelsome and obsessive.
To regulate this energy, use seated poses, such as the full and half lotus. Avoid strenuous yoga, such as Bikram or Ashtanga. For pranayama, try the three-part breathing method by taking a belly breath then inhaling just a little more to inflate the diaphragm before exhaling.
Kapha types are what we Westerners call “endomorphs,” the solidly built, earth and water dosha. At their very best, they are dependable and patient; but when this dosha gets out of control, they procrastinate and put on weight.
To discover how do ayurveda and yoga work together for this body type, focus on active, energizing asanas, such as headstands, the cobra and plow. Sun salutations are ideal to greet the day and get yourself moving, as well as Bikram or Ashtanga yoga. For pranayama, try the energizing breathing method of Kundalini yoga to open up the lungs and reinvigorate a sluggish constitution.