AYURVEDIC EXERCISE: The best exercise for your body type
Our bodies are designed to move. Charaka, the ancient Ayurvedic Physician, wrote over 5,000 years ago ‘from physical exercise, one gets lightness, a capacity for work, firmness, tolerance of difficulties, elimination of impurities, and stimulation of digestion.” Along with getting adequate rest and having a wholesome diet, exercise is one of the 3 pillars of health and wellness.
We all know that to keep your body and mind in top condition, regular exercise is a must. Exercise should leave you feeling happy, revitalised and energised, not exhausted and depleted. Exercise shouldn’t be a painful, gruelling experience. In fact, if it is, it causes more damage than good. For general wellness and preventative health benefits, regular, gentle, fun exercise for at least 20 minutes per day is all you need.
The secret to establishing a regular exercise routine is finding something that you enjoy, and suits your mind-body type. The unique gift Ayurveda offers is that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to health. Ayurveda acknowledges that we are all unique in our body shape, constitution and mind. Because of this, there is no one specific health regime that is beneficial for everyone. Everyone benefits from different foods, different routines and even different exercise practices.
Vata body types move fast, are naturally enthusiastic, and hyper-metabolic. They tend to have quick bursts of high energy, but can tire easily and have poor endurance. Vata body shapes are quite thin and they find it hard to put on weight, so because of this longer, high intensity or endurance exercises are quite depleting and damaging to their body.
Vatas are always on the go. They have great speed and agility, but they can be very restless and even jumpy at times. They love the fast, vigorous sports but their physiology can’t handle too much of this as it shifts them out of balance easily. If Vatas are out of balance they tend to worry, become anxious, have disturbed sleep. Vatas are prone to over exercise, and when they do they experience dizziness, exhaustion and cramping.
Vatas benefit from grounding and calming exercises such as Yoga, walking, cycling and dancing. If anxiety is present then relaxing, subtle exercises such as Tai Qi, Qi Gong and restorative Yoga are extremely healing.
Pitta people have a strong drive to excel. They are competitive and ambitious. They love a challenge and enjoy challenging sports such as skiing, hiking, tennis, climbing and long distance running. Pittas have great strength and muscle development. Pittas suit individual competition where strength, speed and stamina are required. They are competent in most sports.
As Pittas are highly motivated to win, they must be careful not to increase their stress while exercising, or be constantly pushing themselves to achieve their PB (Personal Best). When a Pitta is out of balance, they can overheat, get irritated and suffer skin rashes and indigestion. They need to learn how to enjoy themselves while exercising.
Pittas can enjoy long-distance cycling, running or the above challenging sports. Exercising outside, especially in a beautiful, green area is very healing to Pittas. Long walks in nature, hiking or gardening are beneficial. Swimming is extremely ideal as the water cools the heat of a Pitta and helps to relieve stress and tension.
Kapha body types typically have bigger frames that are hypo-metabolic. They have an easy-going nature, steady energy and great physical strength. They excel in endurance sports and any sport that requires a lot of power such as long distance running/ walking, aerobics, dance, weight lifting and rowing. Exercises that produce an aerobic effect and cause a sweat are necessary to keep a Kapha in balance. This counter balances their health issues of weight gain, congestion and sluggishness.
Motivation is the biggest obstacle for Kaphas. They tend to move slower than the other doshas and are prone to lethargy and laziness. Team sports are also beneficial as being in a team provides the motivation a Kapha needs. Their easy-going, fun nature makes them great teammates also.
Author: Tegan Wallis
Holistic Health Practitioner.