One of the most significant strategies to pacify one’s dosha is to exercise correctly for our body type.
But learning how to do that can be challenging, especially when there is almost no detailed information about the subject.
In this Fitness and Ayurveda guide, I want to introduce you to the concept of Ayurvedic exercise.
Because, we want to feel great inside, but also look fantastic outside.
Regardless if you are in your 20s or 60s, these tips can help you include in your life wholesome, intuitive, grounding, balancing, and effective workouts.
The Prana Method (soon to be available in Prana app) integrates Fitness and Ayurveda principles in a unique way.
Most of my clients are explicit about wanting to look good besides needing to improve their digestion, regulate their elimination, balance their hormones, or reduce their stress levels.
Although enhancing their physical appearance comes as a natural result of living an Ayurvedic lifestyle, they want to be intentional about it.
And fitness (strength and resistance training), combined with the right diet for their body type, is my preferred strategy to get them there, especially because it is the best approach to:
- Improve conditioning — or what is colloquially called “look toned”.
- Increase muscle mass, which deteriorates as we age and become more Vata.
- Strengthen our bones and joints that also weaken when we get older.
- And burn body fat. This one comes in handy for those of us that spend hours sitting in front of a computer or have sedentary lifestyles.
Typically, living an Ayurvedic lifestyle means to stick to yoga or light walk routines, which are great for fragile and weak constitutions or if you love to practice them. However, I generally use these activities more as a complement to their fitness program, than as the main component of it, if my clients have sufficient Prana, stamina, and endurance.
Today, most women want to exercise, but without compromising their physical, mental, and emotional balance. They are very specific about wanting to lose, maintain, or gain weight, looking toned, or gaining muscle.
The good news is that you can get in the best shape of your life and still work towards pacifying your aggravated dosha by utilizing the Prana Method.
Change in perspective
First, it’s key to change the mindset of “no pain, no gain”.
While it’s true that we need to challenge our bodies in order to become stronger, fitter, or faster, with what is known as progressive overload, that is not always the most pertinent decision.
When pushing ourselves through increased intensity, frequency, or duration of activity, we will likely feel discomfort, fatigue, and overexertion, which leads to serious Vata or Pitta aggravations, even if that takes years to manifest.
Instead, honor your body and bear in mind your current state of health, age, and energy levels.
When fitness and Ayurveda are unified, it is also fundamental to learn about the qualities that pacify your constitution and apply the principles of Like increases Like and Opposites Create Balance.
Since exercise is drying, clarifying, hot, mobile, sharp, and light, practicing it can increase those same attributes in our bodies and minds.
If we know our aggravated dosha shares some or most of the same characteristics, we don’t have to quit exercise altogether, but our approach to physical activity has to be especially mindful and moderate.
Contrastingly, if our dosha lacks the drying, clarifying, hot, mobile, sharp, and light properties, then we know we must address exercise actively and vigorously.
According to Ayurveda, working out is something that should be done in line with our own constitution, disposition, and essence.
Further, ideal duration and intensity of exercise depends on the same factors. It is important to know this because too much or too little exercise, can be detrimental for our wellbeing.
Benefits of exercise
Exercise is essential to our health.
It helps us:
- Move Prana or life force, so it doesn’t stagnate.
- Promote blood flow and vitality.
- Alleviate constipation
- Improve digestion.
- Lose weight.
- Remove toxins from our body since it makes us sweat.
- Release serotonin, which makes us feel good. The energy boost and sense of accomplishment after a good workout session are some of the most positive aspects of moving our bodies.
However, to get these benefits, we don’t need to push ourselves to the edge.
Excessive sweating and panting might be an indication that we are.
In fact, it is said in Ayurvedic tradition that strenuous exercise can make our muscles consume the available Prana within ourselves and leave our organs and other tissues depleted. When we deplete our Prana, we lose our vitality and age prematurely.
Ayurvedic tips for fitness
Some of the most important Ayurvedic recommendations to follow when engaging in physical activity are:
Work out at the Kapha time of the day, from 6 to 10 in the morning.
During this time, Kapha dosha governs our bodies and the qualities of groundedness, stability, and heaviness are increased.
Our endurance and stamina are also more potent at a Kapha time.
Be present and strengthen the mind-muscle connection.
Furthermore, breathe deeply during your training session, take frequent rests, and drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
Vata dosha gets specially aggravated with exercise.
Therefore, before starting your routine, massage some warm oil on your legs and arms to hydrate your skin and soothe the dry, rough, and light qualities that exercise will produce in your body.
Keep in mind that overexertion will deplete your Prana or life force.
Hence, don’t work out at your full capacity. Same as with eating.
This is an example of a comprehensive, tridoshic workout. Watch!
The following is a morning routine that combines adequately Fitness and Ayurveda.
- Wake up early before the sun rises.
- Scrape your tongue, brush your teeth, wash your face, and cleanse your eyes with rose water.
- Drink warm water to stimulate a bowel movement.
- Apply eucalyptus oil in your nose.
- Meditate/pray and practice alternate nostril breathing for at least five minutes. Set an intention for the day. Journal.
- Apply sesame oil on your limbs to mitigate Vata dosha.
- Starting session: do a short activation circuit (2-5 minutes) to engage the muscles you will be training. This is the perfect time to connect your mind and muscles and become fully present.
- Training session: initiate your workout routine. Consider the tempo of each exercise, which is the speed in which you perform each repetition. Perform each movement in a controlled way.
- Grounding session: finish with a few grounding movements. Stretch, massage, feel your body, breathe deeply, and relax.
- Take a shower and get dressed.
- Have a nourishing, Ayurvedic breakfast, such as a grounding sweet potato halwa.
Fitness and Ayurveda for your dosha
If you are slender, with a delicate constitution, or under a lot of stress, it is best to abstain from doing arduous exercise routines like running or jumping.
Instead, do mindful strength training, QI gong, gentle yoga, hike, brisk walk, or ride a bike for about 30 minutes daily.
Make sure to add a Pranayama (breathing exercise) practice.
If you are Pitta, you tend to have a competitive mind.
But, be careful. Sometimes, we tend to think that our bodies are as strong as our will, and that might not be the case.
So, listen to your body. Observe it in non-judgmental ways. Protect it and nurture it. This is something that can help you pacify your fiery nature.
Focus on gently strengthening and building with light forms of mindful strength training, yoga, skating, jogging, or swimming for about 30-45 minutes.
Again, include a practice of Pranayama or yin yoga into your daily routine.
Kapha is the constitution that benefits the most from intense forms of exercise.
So go for it!
Engaging in stimulating workouts from 30 minutes to 1 hour can help you lose weight and liquify fat.
Mindful strength training, running, jogging, CrossFit, or vigorous yoga sessions are all good choices.
Next, read how to lose weight and keep it off with Ayurveda.