By Shameem Akhtar
Whatever your preferred approach to yoga, practicing the opposite will balance your dosha
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.
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