Yoga - Of doshas and asanas
by Shameem Akthar
Whatever your preferred approach to yoga, practicing the opposite will balance your dosha
Shameem Akthar has trained as yoga Acharya with
the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre, Kerala, and
is a master-trainer in neuro-linguistic psychology.
If you are a hyperactive person, slowing
down your pace can be excruciatingly
challenging. If you are a slow,
lethargic person speeding up is as challenging.
The ayurvedic suggestion for
pacing your yoga practice based on
your dosha or personality type is based
on this logic.
As an instructor, who is herself a
high vata or hyperactive person, I
have found this the most intriguing
and most beneficial aspect of yoga –
the pace of one’s practice on the mat.
However, the reason why the opposite
pace to who you are is suggested is very
wise – it is to invite a balance in your
body-mind complex. This balance, in
turn, brings harmony.
A high vata (air) personality –
who is fast-paced, hyperactive, loves
variations and over-exertion must
find balance by slowing down one’s
practice, learn to hold poses for long,
limit the challenges to just a few days in
the week and practise a regular sadhana
at a regular time. He or she must
also control the urge to over-exert.
The pitta (fire) person, who is
competitive, likes regularity in practice
and refuses to take on challenges, prefers
a slow practice and longer meditation
must focus on a steady practice that,
however, also invites a few challenges.
Focusing on the calming, cooler poses
like certain inversions (shoulder stand),
forward bends like shashankasana, and
digestive poses (naukasana or boat)
will help cool and balance pitta.
The kapha (earth) personality, strongest
of the lot but most resistant to physical activity and prefers theory to practice needs to do dynamic, fastpaced
workouts, introduce challenges
that one can very well negotiate but
resists. Stimulating poses and practices
must form the core of their practice.
They need to include a daily physical
activity into their lifestyles, and
keep varying their challenges to strike
a balance within.
A meditative class is tri-doshic, in
that it can harmonise all of the three
elements. An instructor’s challenge
comes in providing such a class.
However, students also contribute in
their own way – they unfortunately
choose classes which strongly appeals
to their element.
Trikonasana (Triangle pose):
Stand up, with feet a metre apart. Flare
out right foot. Adjust left foot slightly,
turning it inwards. Inhale, extending
arms out at shoulder level. Exhale, twist
to the right side, reaching left hand to
hold right leg wherever you can reach
it (the lower the better). Extend the
right hand up in the air, straightening.
Continue normal breathing throughout.
Hold for a few seconds, looking
up at the extended hand. Then inhale
deeply to return to the centre. Release.
Repeat on the other side.
Benefits: Is a great detox, because of
the squeeze on the internal organs.
Improves balance and mental focus.
Hikes mood. Removes spinal defects.