Ayurveda: A Study of Life

If you’ve taken my training, I’d like to incorporate Ayurveda, an ancient Indian medicine into our personal practice. What I love about it is that the whole practice really is holistic and individually approached. My practice is not for you and your practice is not for me. It’s how yoga should be taught and was taught by Krishnamacharya, father of Hatha Yoga.

The goal of Ayurveda is not to bring you to this imagined ideal of Tridosha (all three constitutions) but to bring you back to the alignment with the original mix of dominant dosas. So let’s start from the beginning.

What is a dosa?

Dosha or dosa means a constitution, your natural tendency for mental, physical and emotional health. There are three of them and we have all three within us. It’s just that one or two are more dominant than the others.

Vata- Air & Ether

Vata is symbolised with air. So let’s think about that. What are the qualities of air? Air is light, space, dry, moving, subtle so Vata qualities represent:

  • thinking too much
  • creative
  • prefers warm climates
  • cracking joints
  • prone to constipation
  • stress prone
  • irregular
  • easily imbalanced or irritated

For Vata dominant people, there is no such thing as “too little” movement. My recent health crisis is exactly the kind of thing you see in Vata dominant people. If left to their own devices, they can be extremely creative with no stopping. Their minds can run faster than speed and they exhaust themselves. Current hiatus situation is exactly the kind of time they go absolutely insane because they are driven by a mix of pure creativity and fear of stopping. So what does it mean for our practice? Sit and breathe is the go-to. Meditation and pranayama practice should be the main practice even though they would most likely prefer power vinyasa style.

Pitta- Fire & Water

Pitta is fire. It is hot, can be moist, sharp. It spreads fast and bright. Fire can be a great energy source or it destroys anything in its paths. Pitta dominant people can be sharp eyed, focused, goal oriented, and may have high metabolism so they can eat many times a day. They can be prone to very strong passion turning into anger and complications, and they can be extremely competitive and jealous. Pitta people make stuff happen. They have the vitality and conviction to do something if they set their minds to it. They have their natural talents for public speaking so they tend to be great teachers naturally and can be in the spotlight very easily.

So what should their practice be like? Burn energy. They would love power vinyasa style but what they need is a steady flow. If it’s too hot, it can feed their anger and frustration. They love to sweat and it would be good for them but they need to disperse their own heat, not practice in the externally heated places. They need to avoid spicy food.

Kapha- Earth & Water

Some practitioners would say Kapha is the best constitution. Naturally steady, and has earthy vibe. So what does it mean?

  • tends to be always content
  • cuddly
  • nurturing
  • easy person to deal with
  • don’t move or make a decision very fast
  • strong immune system
  • takes long to process
  • lack of physical exercises

This earthy nurturing type tends to be slower and prefers not to move around too much but that tends to be exactly what they need. Their practice should involve strong physically challenging vinyasa practice coupled with a lot of pranayama to move their energies.

Simple online questionnaire like this one can tell you rough idea of what your dominant constitution might be or if you have an Ayurvedic doctor close by, I’d highly recommend going to see them because it really is a science of life. They can tell you what kind of food you should eat to how long you should sleep and when. If anything, you’d find out more about your natural tendencies and helpful in determining what your best practice is. Keep in mind it may not be something you like. But hey, that’s what the practice is all about.

About the author: Tomomi Becot

Tomomi is the owner of Flying Elephant Yoga in Pulau Weh, Sumatra, Indonesia. She started practicing yoga when she first moved to Canada as a teenager in 2000. She then became a certified yoga teacher in 2008 and has been an integral part of extensive yoga teacher training programs both at a 200hr and 500hr level. After teaching and traveling in North America, Mexico, Australia, and Bali, Indonesia, she established her own independent yoga school in 2014. Her classes are based on vinyasa or flow mixed with her own personality and experience, and various styles of yoga she studied along her journey. With the background of vinyasa, power vinyasa, yin, pre- and post-natal yoga, she encourages her students to observe their minds while nurturing their own individuality. Her classes are about honoring both the traditional and the modern, physical and mental aspects of yoga.