As we all know exercise is just as important as a healthy diet in maintaining balance and overall health and well-being in our lives. Exercise helps regulate our appetite and keeps our digestion functioning smoothly, as well as help rid the body of toxins through sweat. Lack of exercise as we have been taught many times, can lead to many diseases, including cancer, heart disease, osteoporosis, and obesity. Through our previous discussions of Ayurvedic medicine we know that our constitution or type is very important in knowing what types of foods to eat and what to avoid, the same holds true to exercise. Just as you want to select foods that balance and prevent illness you also want to select to the correct exercises to help balance your constitution.
The below chart breaks down the type of exercises needed based on the three constitutions; Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. This is in no way all inclusive, but gives you an idea of some of the types of exercise and sports that should be more balancing to each type. There is a world of exercise and sports available so based on your constitution you can determine if the sport would balance and enhance your health.
|light, flexible, and quick energy||moderate physical capacity, typically athletic build||strong, but can be lazy and avoid exercise|
|should focus on calming, grounding sports||drawn to competitive sports, but can unbalance Pitta||should find strong, intense exercise|
|gentle, flowing type of yoga (ie Iyengar Yoga)||focus on exercise that relaxes and cools||athletic, high-power yoga (ie Ashtanga Yoga)|
|swimming||cooling yoga (ie Vini Yoga)||running|
|cycling||snowshoeing||walking - fast pace|
One form of exercise that is very common in Ayurvedic medicine and in India is yoga. Yoga is a much more detailed practice then we will focus on here, however, we will briefly discuss some types of yoga since it has deep roots in India and is revered by many.
The study and practice of yoga consists of eight steps or limbs. The third limb is known as asana and focuses on the postures and movements which is what is often thought of when we hear yoga. There are thousands of different postures in yoga and each posture has a specific effect on the body and mind, like removing toxins from the liver or increasing circulation. Typically an instructor teaches a group class even though yoga was initially taught one-on-one in order to find a course of sequences that fit a persons type, age, sex, and stage of health.
There are many different yoga styles, below are some of the more common in the West.
If you have yet to experience yoga, I would suggest trying some classes and see if you enjoy the practice. My first impression before I took a class was that is would not give me a solid workout, but I quickly learned that is not true when I barely made it through the first class. Yoga is a great form of exercise and I am sure you would enjoy trying a class or two. Start with a class that fits your constitution and see how healthy you feel after.