Staying fit with Ayurveda
Page Description: People try out different things, approaches, and strategies to reach their fitness goals. However, there’s an ancient holistic approach to fitness of Hindi origin called Ayurveda which was previously neglected but is now being accepted by people. This article highlights the overview, benefits, and ways of achieving fitness using the Ayurvedic approach.
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is an ancient Hindi treatment technique and one of the oldest holistic (whole body) forms of treatment in the world. The Ayurveda concept is based on the belief that the body, soul, spirit, and universe are interconnected. An imbalance in any of them can result in different forms of illness, or hamper healing, while a balance among the three results in good health.
Ayurveda believes that the world is made up of five elements, air, water, fire, earth, and space or ether which combine variedly to form three types of energies that control the body. The three energies are called Vata dosha, Pitta dosha, and Kapha dosha respectively, control the physiological functions of the body and are collectively called Tridoshas.
The doshas of Ayurveda
People who practice Ayurveda believe that the Tridoshas control a human being. It is also believed that one of the three doshas in no particular pattern is dominant in every living thing. That’s to say, if a dosha is prevalent in your being, then you are prone to develop the emotions and illness associated with that dosha. The doshas include:
- Vata dosha
Most believers of Ayurveda believe that the Vata dosha is the most powerful form of the three doshas as it controls the basic functions and catabolic activities of the body. Vata dosha controls activities such as cell division, cellular transport, heart rate, heart function, electrolyte balance, and bowel movement.
Things that can hamper Vata dosha include such as grief, fear, late night sleep, and overeating, amongst others. It is believed that people with dominant Vata dosha are prone to diseases like asthma, rheumatism, arthritis, anxiety, skin diseases, and heart diseases.
- Pitta dosha
Pitta dosha controls the metabolic activities of the body. They include activities like digestion, optic nerve coordination, hunger and thirst management, and body temperature. Things that can hinder Pitta dosha include spicy foods, sour foods, and spending much time under the sun. People with dominant Pitta dosha are prone to diseases like high blood pressure, Crohn’s disease, heart disease, and infections.
- Kapha dosha
Kapha dosha is in charge of the anabolic activities of the body. It controls activities such as muscle growth, weight, coordination, strength and stability, and joint lubrication. Things that disrupt Kapha dosha include excessive eating of sweet foods, sleeping during the day, and taking salty drinks. People with dominant Kapha are prone to developing diseases like asthma and other breathing disorders, diabetes, cancer, obesity, and nausea after food.
Ayurveda’s view of fitness
Ayurveda exercise is a routine of exercise developed on the basic principles of Ayurveda. Ayurveda believes that everyone is unique and that applies to exercise. It also believes that fitness is affected by one’s constitution, age, season, prevailing climate, and the current state of balance –referring to the balance of the Tridoshas.
Ayurveda general tips on exercise
- The best time to exercise is in the morning between 6 to 10 am. Working out during these times of the day will have you feeling burned out and tired easily.
- Exercise at 50% of your capacity. Ayurveda recommends that you keep working out until you start sweating on your forehead, thighs, underarms, and along the spines or when your mouth gets dry and your breathing becomes rigorous.
- Warm up before you exercise. Exercise triggers Vata and Pitta doshas and reduces the Kapha dosha which is in charge of your joints and muscles. Warming up helps to boost Kapha and relax the joints and muscles, relieving the feeling of stiffness.
- Breathe through your nostrils when exercising. This helps to boost your energy and enhance tolerance. The more tolerant you get, the more intensity you develop.
The benefit of Ayurveda’s approach to exercise
- Helps to boost metabolism that speeds up the fitness journey.
- Engaging in Ayurveda exercises helps to build body strength and improve coordination and balance.
- The Ayurvedic approach of exercise helps to burn excess fat and calories which helps to lose weight and maintain a healthy body weight.
- The balance attained through Ayurveda exercise helps to maintain physical body health, and prevent and treat illnesses.
- Ayurveda exercise helps to manage stress by releasing the accumulated tension in the body
- Ayurveda exercise helps people understand themselves, and build a connection with their inner selves.
Vata dosha approach to fitness
Vata dosha is very sensitive. That’s to say that people with dominant Vata have sensitive bodies. Hence, they need a grounded gentle approach to fitness; they should avoid exerting much pressure on themselves.
The best time for Vata people to exercise is during the Kapha time (morning) time of the day, between the time of 6 am to 10 am. Atmospheric Kapha is the Kapha energy in the atmosphere. It helps to shield the delicate nature of Vata, that’s why it is recommended. Exercises should be slow, intentional, smooth, grounded, and fluid or smooth. It should also focus on building strength and stretching. Vata people should connect themselves to the earth’s elements during exercise as it offers them support. They can connect to earthy elements through workouts that involve lying down, standing bare feet, and taking balance postures during workouts like yoga.
Exercise should be slow and intentional. This means that while moving the body, slow down your thought process and consciously invite your workout to take effect on your body, relieve stress, heal, rejuvenate, and balance every area of your life. The process might sound complicated, but it’s not. You just have to connect to your inner mind and speak to it. Vata tends towards being stiff. Hence, the need to engage in fluid and flexible movement. The fluid movement supports Vata dosha more than intense repetitive movement; that’s why Yoga would be more effective than running for people with dominant Vata tendencies.
Before and after every workout, Vata people are advised to stretch themselves to prevent contraction. You can practice breathing in and out to help release tension. Also, establish a balance between your duration of workout and rest; the level of rest you take should equal the level of your exercise.
Pitta dosha’s approach to fitness
Pitta dosha requires grounded and mild exercise. It should not be too gentle or intense. Pitta people should avoid accumulating internal heat and competitive forms of exercise as they aggravate the Pitta dosha. Exercising during the Kapha time of the day (6 to 10 am) is the best recommended time for people with pitta dominance because it offers them atmospheric support and prevents exposure to heat. However, any time outside mid-day (when the sun is high) is okay because high heat triggers Pitta dosha.
People with dominant Pitta dosha should engage in exercises and movements that are a little challenging but relaxing. These people are ambitious, strong-willed, and love challenges. However, taking this to the extreme affects the physical body’s health. Pitta people don’t like to admit this fact, but it’s undeniable.
Pitta people are very intense. They need a relaxing environment and activities to calm down their intensity. So, working in a creative, flexible, and fun-filled environment will help them to step down and soften their intensity. Like people with Vata dosha, people with dominant pitta dosha should consciously connect to their inner self and the earthy elements of the environment. They can do it by lying down, standing bare feet, exercising outdoors, and striking balance poses during exercise.
People with dominant pitta dosha accumulate tension. So, they need to engage in fluid movements to help ease anxiety. Instead of focusing on body-building activities, they should focus on activities that relieve tension like swimming. Breathing exercises can be a way to release accumulated tension. Make sure to stretch before and after exercise as it helps to release the muscles and prevent constriction. Also, ensure to balance your duration of exercise with your period of rest. Whenever you engage in more intense work, rest for a longer period.
Kapha dosha approach to fitness
Kapha dosha is the strongest of the Tridoshas. People with dominant Kapha dosha are for natural strength and vigor. They have mixed personalities. They can be dense, soft, gross, cool, heavy, stable, and slow, amongst others. Hence, their approach to fitness should be intense but fun.
Due to the intensity of Kapha dosha, they need more exercise to balance their system. The best time for people with Kapha dosha to work out is the Kapha (morning) time of the day (6 to 10 am). That’s because morning time comes with sluggishness and heaviness, which the intense exercise helps to dissipate.
Exercise for people with dominant Kapha dosha should be fun, and engaging. They should be able to try out different fun exercises and explore the limit of their strength. This is because Kapha people tend to lose motivation for things. So, this kind of exercise will help keep them on track.
The ayurvedic approach to fitness focuses on a person’s uniqueness and how to leverage it to attain your fitness goals. Having a better understanding of yourself, your dosha, and how your system works will help you know the fitness practice best for you. If the Ayurvedic term and approach to fitness are new to you, you can find out your current dosha state.
The Ayurvedic Approach to Fitness
Ayurvedic Exercise: Are You Fighting to be Fit?
THE BENEFITS OF PRACTICING AYURVEDA
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