Just about everyone understands that exercise is good for you. Exercise helps maintain proper weight, eases stress, strengthens bones and muscles, reduces risks of most diseases, improves mental health, and more. Why is it then that less than half of all adults in the U.S. exercise on a regular basis? Maybe we just haven’t figured out what kind of exercise best suits our mind/body type or constitution.
Luckily for us, Ayurveda can help. The ancient art of longevity recognizes that we are all individuals and that there is not a one size fits all approach to anything, including exercise. The first thing you will want to do if you don’t already know your Ayurvedic body type is to find out with a simple quiz. There is a great one here: Dosha Quiz
Having a basic understanding of Ayurveda and the doshas will help to bring some clarity to this issue. According to Ayurveda, there is some of each of the three great energies inside each of us. Simplified, they allow us to have structure, metabolism and movement. Everything we experience, see and do has an impact on these energies. When we can identify what is predominant within us then we can see what will have a positive or negative effect on our mind and body. In Ayurveda, we use opposites as medicine.
For those who are considered Vata, or the combination of the elements air and space, there is already a tendency towards flexibility and lacking muscular strength and definition. Bringing in the opposite will help Vata individuals to find balance. Activities such as Hatha Yoga, Pilates, barre, weight training and Tai Chi would help to achieve strength while keeping the overactive Vata mind calm. Vata’s challenge is to try to stick to a routine as they often get easily distracted and excited by new things. Structure and routines will help Vata to feel strong and confident.
For Pitta predominant individuals, those with a combination of fire and water elements, there is a natural athleticism usually present. The issue is often finding an activity that diffuses their natural intensity and competitive nature. Pitta types will get the most benefit from fun, leisurely activities such as swimming, hiking, cycling and team sports. These fiery personalities will also benefit from practicing exercises at a 70% output of energy rather that their usual 120%. Pittas need to watch out for burning themselves out, so no hot yoga, please. Humor, natural settings and camaraderie can help Pitta to release some stress while staying in shape.
For our lovable Kapha types, people who have mostly water and earth elements, there is already plenty of strength and stability. These individuals lack flexibility and motivation. Since energy creates energy, once these folks get moving, they will want to keep it up. Cardiovascular and aerobic exercise will support this body type by raising internal temperatures and allowing a sweat. Sun Salutations and Vinyasa style yoga are perfect for Kapha along with Martial Arts, vigorous team sports and brisk walks. Finding an accountability partner would be a great idea to keep up the motivation to get moving. A varied routine will benefit Kaphas in both body and mind.
No matter what your body type, the best time to exercise is the time that you will actually do it. If your schedule allows, shoot for between 6 and 10am as this is the Kapha time of day and you can take advantage of the stamina and endurance that this time offers us. Practice listening to and honoring your body. Be open to change as we all fluctuate with the seasons and the time of our lives.
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