In our busy lives, yoga is the perfect way of calming and strengthening body and mind - but you might find that you haven’t quite gelled with the practice because you’ve been doing the wrong type of yoga, or positions, that just don’t suit your particular body type or constitution.
We just ran a Health Dynamics Retreat that I ran, which we did yoga everyday and the participants had not been doing any yoga. They are all convinced feeling the positive changes in their mind, body and organs that they will continue.
According to Ayurveda, which like yoga originates from the sages of India some 5000 years ago, each person fits into three dominant body types - these are vata, pitta and kapha. With this in mind it makes perfect sense that the type of yoga practice you’ll be best suited to, largely depends on your unique body type.
To get the most out of your yoga practice, try to personalise your postures to suit your unique mind-body constitution, or dosha.
If you don’t know your body type yet, take the quick quiz here, otherwise here’s a guide to get your started.
With tendency towards anxiousness, vata body types need more yin and stretching yoga, which calms everything down. You have the qualities of cold, mobility, lightness and expansiveness so you’ll also do well bringing in warmth, stability and grounding movements into your practice as this will nourish your system and create a sense of serenity.
This yoga will drive you crazy at the start, because when you are feeling imbalanced you want to do everything fast, but you need to slow down to really benefit your body.
Grounding poses and strengthening poses include Vrksasana (tree pose), Tadasana (mountain pose), Virabhadrasana I and Virabhadrasana 2 (Warrior One and Two poses) are ideal for vatas.
On the other hand, fast-paced Vinyasas or flow sequences can aggravate vata, which is prone to anxiety, overexertion, and fatigue. It doesn’t mean you can’t do these, just try to slow them down and hold each position before moving into the next one.
Focussing on lengthening your inhalation, staying warm, wrapping up your practice with a long relaxation or Savasana (corpse pose) for 15 minutes or more, will also greatly help.
Super-competitive pitta body types will do well to leave their competitive streak out of their yoga practice. There is no competition, nor is there a need to compare yourself to other people in the room. Yoga is for you, and where you are at on that day.
Since pittas tend to have excess heat, avoid Bikram or any type of hot yoga as this sweating isn’t going to be good for you at all. Instead go for cooling and relaxing poses that release excess heat from the body – these include Kapotasana (pigeon) Ustrasana (camel), Bhujangasana (cobra), Matsyasana (fish) and Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (bridge) pose; as well as standing poses Vrksasana (tree) and Ardha Chandrasana (half moon). Also make sure to schedule your practice for the cooler part of the day.
Mixing up your style, or series of poses, focusing largely on exhalation, practicing plenty of twists and side body openers and having fun with your practice will all help greatly as well.
With plenty of stamina and strength, kapha body types will do best with a yoga session that is invigorating and makes you sweat. Challenge yourself so you can balance your body’s tendency to lethargy, excess weight, being cold and sluggish.
Backbends will be great for you – they open the chest and circulate prana (life force). You’ll also want to move through the flow sequences quickly to make sure you warm up; also hold positions for a longer time – go for up to 20 breaths.
Practicing yoga at a vigorous pace and intensity, doing it in a warm space, being precise in your poses and making sure to keep your chest and shoulders open and lifted will all help you get the most out of your practice.
With its popularity doubling in the past decade, yoga is now Australia’s fastest-growing sporting or fitness activity. One in 10 Aussies are now practicing yoga – that’s a jump from one in 20 in 2008 when aerobics was the biggest craze, according to Roy Morgan research.
Aside from these spiritual elements, there are countless studies, conducted over the last two decades, showing how yoga benefits the body. Research show the benefits range from reducing fatigue, improving mental outlook, regulating the stress hormone cortisol, reducing inflammation and increasing energy.
Ayurveda and yoga go really well together because yoga is the sister science of Ayurveda. If don’t know where you are on the health spectrum, that’s the next step to leading a healthy, happy and harmonious life.
The Health Spectrum is a world first health test that I’ve created with internationally-acclaimed wealth expert Roger Hamilton. You can take the test here today and start living the life you want to live Healthspectrumtest.com