Ayurveda Exercise Guide
Did you know that if you choose the right exercises for your body type you could work out less and benefit more? That's right! And there's more good new from the Ayurveda experts, whose teachings draw upon a rich heritage of ancient medical wisdom from India. As the Vedas (physicians) taught, the human body was created with an innate capacity to self-heal. Once you learn some key factors about your basic constitution, you can begin to practice daily living habits which promote health and wellness in your mind, body, and spirit. This means that the state of your health is largely in your hands!
Ayurveda Exercising for Your Body Type
So how does the system work and how can you find out more about exercises that will benefit you most? Start by taking the Dosha Quiz, which will determine if you are one of three core body types: Vata, Pitta, or Kapha. (You will be asked some simple questions about your physical body and personal character traits/lifestyle habits). While we each have elements of all three body types, people typically have one or two dominant doshas that influence how they react to elements in the universe (i.e. the natural environment, the four seasons) as well as how and what they eat, their sleeping habits, their basic temperament, their relationships patterns, and more.
Moreover, since we are each a unique blend of building blocks with a one-of-a-kind constitution, any optimal health prescription must cater to our personal makeup and provide treatment, maintenance, and prevention protocols which are tailored in kind.
The Concept of Balaardh in Ayurvedic Exercise
So which workouts suit your body type best and what is the Ayurveda approach to exercise?
Well, if you exercising to the point of exhaustion, if you are experiencing workout burnout, if you are not getting the physical benefits you signed up for, if don't enjoy your exercise regimen, or if you simply don't like to exercise, Ayurveda can help!
According to the ancient Sanskrit texts, daily exercise is an important part of living an Ayurvedic lifestyle. Since too much exercise can be damaging or off-putting, they recommend the practice of Balaardh, where you begin working out at only half your capacity and gradually intensify or lengthen the duration of your regimen as you build strength and stamina. In other words, sometimes less really is more!
In fact, current scientific studies confirm that when people over-exercise, their body produces damaging excess free radicals which can lead to premature aging and/or degenerative diseases. However, when you exercise the Ayurveda way and don't push past your comfort zone, not only will you be able to stick to your program longer, but you will avoid injury and burnout and enjoy the experience more. Best of all, you will still reap the physical, mental, and emotional benefits you are striving for.
Dosha Workout Guidelines
In a Balaardh workout, the goal is to also choose exercises that keep your dominant dosha in balance. For example, Vata body types are typically fidgety, on the move, and their mind is racing. While they are naturally inclined towards bursts of high energy and activity, they also tend to quit exercise programs easily. Hence to help calm and balance their mind and body.
Workout recommendations for Vata personalities are:
- Slow movements
- Leisurely nature hikes
- Low-impact aerobics
- Slow dancing
- Swimming in a warm pool
- Tai Chi
Workout Recommendations for Pitta Personalities
Pitta-predominant personalities are naturally competitive and expect a lot from themselves. In nature, they are associated with the fire element. They are focused and determined and enjoy physical activities requiring strength and speed. On the flip side, they get flustered easily and frustrated when thy fail to meet their goals. To counter-balance their fiery constitution, Dosha workout recommendations for Pitta personalities are:
- Moderate levels of physical activity
- Activities/exercises which are challenging but also fun and enjoyable
- 'Cooling' sports involving snow, ice, or water such as downhill or cross-country skiing, ice skating, swimming, water-skiing, surfing, and rowing
- Walks in the park
- Jogging in shady areas
Workout Recommendations for Kapha Personalities
If your body type is Kapha, you most likely don't like to exercise and prefer sedentary activities. On the other hand, you are determined and have a lot of strength and endurance. You enjoy winning but are not bent out of shape if the final score doesn't go your way. Dosha workout recommendations for Kapha personalities are:
- High or intense levels of exercise
- Activities that are invigorating and stimulating
- Lively exercises that balance your dominant dosha, such as jogging, long-distance running, aerobics, cycling, playing football, racquetball, cross-country skiing
In summary, exercising the Ayurveda way means paying attention to your body, choosing activities suited for your body type, and reaping the rich rewards of enhanced vigor, strength, and an overall sense of vitality and well-being.
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