More than 5,000 years ago, the master Ayurvedic physician Charaka wrote, “From physical exercise, one gets lightness, a capacity for work, firmness, tolerance of difficulties, elimination of impurities, and stimulation of digestion.”
To keep your body in peak condition for as long as possible, you need to exercise it regularly, but this doesn’t mean pounding your muscles into shape. In the Ayurvedic view, exercise is meant to leave you feeling invigorated, happy, and ready for the day’s activities—not exhausted or in need of painkillers. Different bodies need different types of exercise, so for exercise for your dosha, look for activities that balance your metabolic type and avoid those that aggravate it. Keep reading for some exercise tips, according to your specific metabolic type. If you don’t already know your metabolic type or dosha, you can take our dosha quiz.
Naturally enthusiastic, Vata types have bursts of energy but tend to tire quickly. There is no other dosha that likes to move as much as a Vata, however, if they are out of balance, Vatas are particularly prone to getting carried away and pushing themselves too hard. Vata’s are naturally energetic and constantly moving so an exercise routine that brings more motion will create a more frenetic feeling. Feeling dizzy, exhausted, or on the verge of cramping are all signs of Vata imbalance.
Those who are predominantly Vata benefit enormously from grounding exercises such as yoga, easy walking, bicycling, and dancing. Vata’s benefit most from exercise that is scheduled, grounded and moving from intention. These activities help Vata develop much-needed strength, balance, and agility—as long as they don’t overdo it. Using their own weight to train as in yoga, Pilates, ballet and barre are all perfect. This makes the workout challenging enough without exhausting Vata and gives their muscles shape and tone; increasing circulation and promoting flexibility.
Pitta types have a strong drive and love to exercise, so a Pitta doesn’t need much motivation to get moving. They actually seek out activity and competition. They tend to like challenging sports such as skiing, hiking, tennis, and mountain climbing and often want to win at all costs. Pitta’s need to avoid exercise that is too competitive or too hot and because of their competitive nature, Pittas need to be careful not to increase their stress while exercising—stewing over every bad golf or fuming over a lost tennis shot.
If you are a Pitta type, you may especially enjoy a combination of cardio that combines a cooling element and thats why you often find a Pitta on the ski slopes or swimming. Cool air and cool water will invigorate a Pitta but not overheat them. Pitta’s love to sweat and if they don’t sweat in a worksout they will feel it was not worthwhile. Pitta’s can do some strength training, although they can feel heavy. You might like to try long-distance bicycling or rollerblading and swimming is an ideal exercise for Pitta dosha. The water cools the heat of PItta and relieves the accumulated tension of the day. Pitta’s should never exercise in the sun or do hot yoga – its just too hot for them It will cause irritability, a super-charged competitive streak and it fires up their sharp mind so that they cannot find stillness and peace. Pitta’s do best working out first thing in the morning when its cooler, and a sunset walk along some water will calm that competitive mind.
The Chopra Center reiterates that Kapha doshas have strong, steady energy and great physical strength. They therefore can excel at endurance sports such as long distance running, aerobics, dance, soccer, rowing, and so on. Any kind of aerobic activity that works up a good sweat is powerful for clearing Kapha congestion and sluggishness.
It is highly important that Kapha’s vigorously move and sweat. If you are predominantly Kapha, your biggest challenge may be finding the motivation to exercise. Kapha’s are the hardest dosha to get to move because they lack the mobile quality. They have a tendency to stay put. However, just because its not in their inherent nature to move – once they find an exercise regimen they love, they will stick to it because it will make them feel light, energized and alive!
The key for Kapha’s is to have a buddy as Kapha’s need the support and encouragement to keep moving. However, Kapha’s are stubborn, so they need positive reinforcement from their friends and an activity that is fun. Weight lifting is not a great exercise for Kapha’s as they are already quite strong and do not need to build more muscle tissue. They need to lengthen and lighten their bodies.
You have probably guessed, but cardio is best for Kaphas. It balances their heavy and static qualities. So, to feel a noticeable improvement in vitality, it’s important to experience some sweating during your exercise, Gradually increase your exercise to include jogging, hiking, and bicycling.
In short, the best exercise program is one that you can stick with. If you are straining to follow a workout program for the sake of your health but aren’t enjoying it, you are not likely to stick with it. No matter what your current fitness level is, the key is to move your body and use exercise to increase your metabolism, improve circulation, remove toxins through sweat and keep your tissues toned. A great morning start is my Ayurveda exercise regimen that brings synovial fluid to all the major joints of the body.
Develop the right exercise for your dosha or metabolic type and you will experience the flow of vitality and good health. Take our Modern Dosha Quiz today and discover your Ayurvedic body type today!