The Best Exercise For Each Dosha (Ayurvedic Mind-Body Type)

I truly believe movement is medicine. I even named my Costa Rica retreat this February the Movement is Medicine Retreat because the mantra is so near and dear to my heart!

 

Because the mind and body are connected, physical stimulation creates mental stimulation. A stagnant body is a stagnant mind. By opening the channels of our bodies, we open the channels of our minds.. If people exercised more often, most diseases and depression would cease to exist!

 

However, not all exercise is created equal. In fact, the type of exercise you need is totally dependent on your Doshas—both your Prakriti, the Doshic combination you were born with, and your Vikruti, the Doshic combination you have today according to your diet and lifestyle.

If you don’t know your mind-body type, take my quiz on the homepage here.

 

Once you know, here are the best workouts for you..

 

Those with Vata bodies:

Vatas are naturally high in energy and love to move. They enjoy cardio, dance, running, spinning and anything else that allows them to move- fast. They have a need for speed and love the types of workouts where you lose your breath (and yourself) while doing them. They love the feeling of getting their heart rates up, which makes them feel free- something very important for Vatas.

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However, not all that movement is always a good thing. Ayurveda is all about seeking balance. Therefore, you should counter-balance whatever type of exercise you are naturally incline to with one that your body may be lacking in.

 

Because Vatas are drawn to fast, sweaty cardio sessions, it’s best to counter-balance that quickness with some slow, steady strength training. Vatas have a hard time gaining muscle mass and need to pay particular attention to building their bones and muscles to prevent bone-density issues in the future. I recommend scheduling two to three strength-training sessions in the week where you really isolate your individual muscles, without the cardio component of quickly trying to lift as fast as possible. Think- slow, steady and thorough. Form is more important than speed.

 

Balance is also very important to practice for Vatas, as they naturally can have weak balance due to skeletal irregularities in their physiology. Try doing one-leg deadlifts, bicep curls on one leg and lunge-walks to improve your balance and agility.

 

And make sure you take your rest days! Vatas are naturally on the thin side and have a hard time preserving body-fat so you want to make sure you don’t overdo it and give your muscles a chance to rest between sweat sessions.

 

Those with Pitta bodies:

 

Pittas are natural athletes. They have strong staminas and LOVE to work their muscles to the max. They are drawn to boot-camps, boxing, Crossfit and anything else that pushes their bodies’ limits. They put muscle on easily and love the results they get. Needless to say, they love to feel the burn!

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However, not all that intense exercise is recommended. Pittas should counter-balance their naturally competitive energy with non-competitive, relaxing workouts.

 

Be sure to practice yin yoga, which is the practice of holding one stretch for two to three minutes without moving. Pilates is another great exercise for Pittas because it works their muscles but at the same time is therapeutic and relaxing. If you do boot-camps, be sure to meditate and ground down afterwards so you don’t stay in that fight-or-flight mode for the rest of the day.

 

It’s also important for Pittas to avoid getting overheated. Pittas are hot by nature, so a humid room can really throw them off balance. Avoid working out in hot weather, such as in the middle of the day or outside in the summer. Steer clear of heated yoga practices, which will throw your Pitta energy way out of wack. Instead, focus on cooling down. Swimming is a great practice for Pittas because it allows you to move, strengthen and stretch your body, while cooling down. Look for a local swimming pool near you!

 

It’s also crucial for you to take your rest days! Pittas like to go, go, go and often forget to schedule in down-time. Remember- your muscles cannot develop if you are always working them. Try to take two off-days during the week to just stretch your body out. Foam rolling is a really great option to knead out deep knots, which Pittas often have.

 

It’s also very beneficial for Pittas to practice Abhyanga, self-oil massage. The cooling coconut oil will calm their bodies and help them replenish and nourish after a tough workout.. I explain all about how to practice Abhyanga self-oil massage here.

 

 

Those with Kapha bodies:

 

Kaphas are naturally slow and steady and may actually hate to work-out. Getting up to go to the gym may feel like physical torture for them. Does this sound like you?

 

Kaphas are more sedentary by nature and have a tough time getting into an exercise routine. However, once they start getting their sweat sessions on, they actually begin to love it because it stimulates their minds and bodies, counter-balancing their heavy energy. Kaphas actually have the highest endurance of all the Doshas and can tolerate the longest duration of exercise, so don’t be afraid to work it!

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Kaphas should focus on building up a sweat. In Ayurveda, sweat is the removal of fat. Therefore, by sweating everyday, you are decreasing the fat-storage on your body. Kaphas naturally store fat more easily than the other Doshas so sweat is really medicine for them. I always like to tell myself in a tough workout, “Sweat is fat crying!” You can try that little mantra to motivate you the next time you find yourself on a treadmill.

 

Kaphas should avoid excess strength-training if they are trying to lose weight because it will actually make them heavier. Kaphas may be drawn to slow, steady weight-lifting and shy away from cardio but it’s really the opposite that they need.

 

Kaphas should do HIIT classes (high intensity interval training) where they are doing things like jump-squats, jumping jacks, mountain climbers and burpies throughout the class, with quick weight lifting in between. This is really going to speed up your metabolisms and help you trigger your body’s fat-burning potential. If your heart-rate isn’t increased, you won’t be burning enough calories to target your fat-cells.

 

Check out your local gym for classes. Tabata, Plyometrics, Spinning and Ropes & Rower Classes are all great options and gyms often have their own variations of classes. If that sounds too intimidating for you, start off with a type of cardio class you enjoy like Zumba or a barre class.

 

Even if you don’t have a gym membership, there are so many workouts you can do at home! Try going for a run, jump roping or practice lunges, squats, push-ups and planks at home. That’s really all you need to get your body going!

 

And don’t underestimate the power of walking! Walking 20 minutes a day can make significant differences in your weight over-time. Do something that you enjoy and don’t be afraid of a challenge!

 

I promise it’ll get easier with time. I’m a Kapha Prakriti, meaning I was born with a lot of Kapha in me, but because of the amount of exercise I do, I have lowered my Kapha energy and am a huge fitness-fanatic! So if I can go from skipping days at school where we had to run (true story) to waking up at 7am to head to classes called “Tough Love” (it is what is sounds like), so can you!

 

Which type of exercise is your favorite? What’s your Dosha? Let me know in the comments!

 

Love and Squats,

Sahara

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