Yoga For Each Dosha
Beauty and Balance Through Ayuryoga
Often skincare stops at cleansing and moisturizing, but according to Ayurveda, beauty is achieved through healthy bodily tissues and energetic balance. Furthermore, wellness is dependant on our lifestyle. Healthy practices such as exercise greatly influence internal energies, making choices in fitness style and intensity a factor in how we look and feel.
Yoga is a sister science to Ayurveda and it is said that how we move through our yogic practice can offer balancing support to our doshas. Doshas are the elemental energies that our constitutions are comprised of. There are three doshas: Vata (air), Pitta (fire) and Kapha (earth/water), and the following are guidelines to balance each through yoga. Understanding this brings another dimension to self-care and the beauty-through-health concept.
The Vata dosha is embodied by air and space and has qualities of lightness, dryness and movement. Those with majority Vata in their constitution easily become scattered and anxious due to the fast-moving, “air-like” energy of their thoughts. Vatas have been characterized as “more spirit than matter” because they can live in their minds while having depleted physical bodies. Vatas are prone to exhausted bodily tissues such as dry hair, brittle nails and prematurely aged skin.
This dosha needs grounding and stability and therefore benefits from a yogic regime that is slow, relaxing and focused on balancing poses. Poses such as tree and mountain centre it and force it to concentrate on feeling rooted. Hatha is an excellent type of yoga for Vata and practicing with a face down gaze brings heightened groundedness. These practices reduce stress, comfort our bodies’ organs and help to gain restful sleep – all things that prevent depletion and sigsn of skin aging.
Pitta is the fire dosha and it governs inflammation, digestion and assimilation. High Pitta energy can lead to digestive problems, hyperacidity, hormonal imbalance and metabolism issues. The inflammation caused by Pitta causes redness in the skin, rosacea, acne and eczema.
To balance, Pittas need to practice yoga at a medium speed and bring attention to their breath. Cooling pranayam such as Shitali are excellent for reducing Pitta aggravation. Twisting asanas are good for this dosha as it wrings out the internal organs and helps to disperse heat in the G.I tract. These all soothe mental and physical inflammation, which in turn calms our complexions and comforts sensitive skin types.
Kapha energy is characterized by the qualities of water and earth. This dosha brings moisture, coolness and stability to the body. Kapha governs storage, growth and accumulation and high Kapha can translate into stagnation and congestion. Because of this, Kapha imbalance leads to excess mucous, weight gain and lethargy. Kapha skin is prone to being oily, thick and has congested pores.
To counter this heavy elemental energy, we must practice stimulating, fast-paced yoga. Styles like Ashtanga invigorate blood flow, breaking up stagnant Kapha. When doing poses, those with high Kapha should bring their gaze up to engage a more uplifted, light energy. Asanas that open the chest such as fish pose and upward facing dog also balances Kapha as they dispel congestion in the lungs. Pranayam that are fast and warming are also beneficial. These practices create movement, openness and circulation, which aid Kapha skin ailments.
Kristen Ma is an Ayurvedic Practitioner and Esthetician. She co-owns Pure + Simple Inc., an independent chain of holistic spas in Toronto and has authored the book “Beauty: Pure and Simple”. Kristen also blogs at holisticvanity.com and can be found on twitter @holisticvanity