Nowadays, most people are looking for alternative ways to escape from the stress and hectic rhythm of their daily lives; for ways to feel better and to feel that their body, their mind and their emotions are in harmony.
Often, this harmony or balance that people are looking for can be found through the practice of yoga. The word yoga comes from the root yug (which means union or meeting) and the objective of practitioners is to unite the individual consciousness with a divine consciousness.
Each time you practice yoga you are strengthening not just your body, but also your self-control; you can relax and calm the mind, raise you energy and lift your spirit. In an ideal world, it’s best to combine yoga with another form of ancient knowledge found in traditional Indian medicine: Ayurveda. Ayur (life) and veda (knowledge) – ayurveda therefore refers to the knowledge of life.
If you combine these two systems you will achieve balance and harmony on a physical, mental and spiritual plane.
Ayurveda can be broken down into 3 basic energies which are responsible for the body’s physiological state, health and sickness – each called a dosha or biological mood.
These 3 doshas are known specifically as Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Each individual is different and has a unique balance of each of these energies; in the same way that each individual has their own attributes and stumbling blocks.
Vata corresponds to the air and space elements of the earth. This means that somebody who is a ‘Vata’ type person has a light, breezy constitution. The function of this energy in the body is that of movement – for this reason they are also people who like exercise, energetic yoga practice and fast-paced activities. Vata people need sustenance that provides them with energy – seeing as they use up a lot of it – and food that heats them up (as they tend to be cold-blooded due to their link to the air element).
Pitta corresponds to the elements of fire and water. This type of person has a regular constitution – neither strong nor weak. It is a person who is decisive and who walks fast, with a fiery temperament (in other words, someone who is easily irritable); and who tends to think more towards the future than make the most of the here and now. Their yoga practice should be moderate and focused on celebrating the achievement of present goals rather than looking towards the future. Pitta-type people eat in moderation and need cold foods to refresh them.
Kapha corresponds to the elements of earth and water. Kapha-type people are robust and move slower. They are strong, resistant, calm, serene and stable. They often fall into inertia; and need stimuli to avoid boredom and routine. They maintain union and dislike change. The ideal type of yoga practice for this type of person is one that is constantly stimulating and generating movement. Their food should include spices, as these provide the fire and air that they need to generate balance. Bitter and astringent flavours also suit them, although they should avoid salty and sour.
Ideally, a person will maintain these 3 energies in balance – although one will always be more dominant than the others. However, it is valuable knowledge to have to choose the right food and optimize energy levels.