Being a Varma and Siddha medicine practitioner, my yoga classes incorporates the tackling of "doshas" using asanas.
Dosha is essentially biological energy that is found in the human body, and the mind. It takes care of all the physical and mental courses, and provides a blueprint for health.
There are three types of doshas - namely, vatha, pitha, and kapha. One dosha can be the most dominant element in a person, or it could be a combination of two or all three doshas.
Have you ever wondered why some people are always active and fast moving, while others are always calm and composed?
And then there are those who seem to be able to eat so much food with ease, while others struggle to finish a plate of rice.
Some people are joyous while others look like they carry the weight of the world on their shoulders.
Every dosha is derived from the five elements of nature (panchabootham). For example, vatha is composed of space and air, pitha of fire and water, and kapha of earth and water.
VathaThe most suitable asanas for the vatha dominant are those that are calming and grounded. Since the imbalance of this dosha causes agitation, nervousness, worries and anxiety, the asanas to combat this should be those that calm the mind. For example, the tree and mountain poses that roots your feet to the ground, reducing anxiety and stress. The warrior 1 and 2 poses are also beneficial and can help ground you, besides building strength.
Improving vatha imbalances can get rid of health conditions such as constipation, lower back pain, and joint pains. A person with vatha imbalance should also focus on asanas related to the lower abdomen, pelvis and large intestine, as it is the main "residence" of vatha in the body. Vatha dominant persons should also perform slow moves, extending the length of each asana.
PithaPitha dominant persons need asanas that are calming, not overly heating and less intense. This is to ease the fundamental emotions of pitha - anger and resentment. A person with pitha imbalance can practise asanas that cultivates a calm, relaxed attitude and favour cooling.
Poses that help release excess heat from the body and open up the chest (lungs) are the pigeon, camel, cobra, bow, fish, and bridge poses. For standing poses, they are the tree, warrior and half moon poses.
By improving pitha, one can get treated for conditions such as ulcers and hyperacidity, liver disease and acne - a common issue among pitha imbalance sufferers.
Asanas that put pressure on the solar plexus region, the abdomen, small intestine and stomach will affect the liver and spleen and help regulate the strength of the digestive fire.
KaphaHeavy, slow, cold, and composed are the nature of kapha. Those who are kapha dominant need asanas that are more stimulating and heating. The stomach and chest are the areas where kapha accumulates.
Asanas best suited to individuals in this category are chest openings and back bends such as wheel, fish and the warrior 1 pose. Those asanas are good for prevention and treatment of congestive conditions like bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma and emphysema.
A stimulating, energizing practice is essential. Challenge yourself and create heat in your body to counter Kapha imbalance. Make quick and rapid movements to lighten and warm your body.
Nizha Periaswamy is a yoga instructor and freelance writer.
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