Ayurvedic Body Types and Asana Practices
To understand the Asanas potentials of different people we will want to look at them according to their doşic body types
VATA BODY TYPE: Vata types have thin and long bones that are often weak or brittle. They have low body weight and poor development of the muscles, but a good deal of speed and flexibility. Their bone structure makes them good at bending and stretching, particularly of the arms and legs, when they are young. As they get older, however, the dry quality of Vata increases and causes them to lose mobility if they don’t exercise regularly. A gentle, slow asanas practise evenly balanced on both sides of the body is the ideal exercise for Vata types. Vatas are most in need of asanas practise because asanas alleviates accumulated Vata from the back and the bones, where it easily gets lodged. Vata diseases begin with an accumulation of the downward moving air (Apana Vayu) in the colon, which gets transferred to the bones, where it causes bone and joint problems. Väta benefits from the massaging action of asanas on the muscles and joints, which releases nervous tension and balances out the system.
PITTA BODY TYPE: Pitta types have an average build with a generally good development of the muscles and a looseness of the joints, which gives them a fair amount of flexibility. They are good at asanas practise but cannot do some of the more exotic poses that Vatas can do because of the shorter bones that they usually have. Pittas benefit from asanas practise to cool down the head, cool the blood, calm the heart and relieve tension. For example, Pittas tend to hypertension because of their fiery temperament that keeps them always wanting to succeed or to win.
KAPHA BODY TYPE: Kaphas are typically short and stocky, gaining weight easily. With their short and thick bones they lack flexibility and cannot do poses that require flexibility like the lotus pose. Yet they are sturdy and strong and have the best endurance of the different types. Kaphas need movement and stimulation to counter their tendency to complacency and inertia. They are good at keeping a practise going for longer periods of time, once they get it going in the first place. The Ayurvedic way of performing asanas.
Ayurveda does not look upon asanas as fixed forms that by them either decrease or increase the dosas. It views them as vehicles for energy that can be used to help balance the dosas, if used correctly. The same is true of the ayurvedic view of food. While Ayurveda says that foods of certain tastes are more likely to increase or decrease specific dosas, it also says that we need some degree of all the tastes. So too, we need to do all the major types of asanas to some degree. It is the degree and exertion that varies with the dosas type. Each person requires a full range of exercise that deals with the full range of motion in the body.