“From physical exercise, one gets lightness, a capacity for work, firmness, tolerance of difficulties, elimination of impurities, and stimulation of digestion.” ~ Charaka
Our bodies are designed for movement, yet many of us associate exercise with pain, boredom, or drudgery rather than with lightness and feelings of wellbeing. We may completely avoid exercise or, if we do manage to “will” ourselves to exercise, we may remain disconnected from our body and our feelings as we move. Walk into any gym and witness the number of people staring at the TV monitors, reading magazines, or even talking on a cell phone as they pound out miles on the treadmill or hunch over a StairMaster set to a level that is too high to allow for the most beneficial posture and body alignment.
In vivid contrast with the “no pain, no gain” mentality, Ayurveda and other Eastern healing traditions view exercise as a way to experience the pleasure of moving, breathing, and circulating our life’s energy. It’s meant to leave us feeling invigorated, centered, and ready for rest of the day.
The secret is finding some physical activities that you like and that are suited to your mind-body type, or dosha. No matter what your current fitness level is, you can begin to move your body and breathe on a consistent basis, even if the most you can do right now is walk around the block. In addition, keep in mind that a complete exercise program includes attention to developing flexibility, strength, and cardiovascular conditioning.
Exercise offers prompt returns and within a week, you will begin to notice definite improvements in your wellbeing.
Exercise for your Mind-Body Type
Vata Dosha Naturally enthusiastic, Vata types have bursts of energy but tend to tire quickly. If they are out of balance, Vatas are particularly prone to getting carried away and pushing themselves too hard. 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 dance. These activities help Vatas develop much-needed strength, balance, and agility – as long as they don’t overdo it. In the winter, indoor exercise is recommended for Vatas because they are averse to cold and don’t have enough fat and muscle to protect themselves from the elements.
Pitta Dosha Pitta types have a strong drive and tend to like challenging sports such as skiing, hiking, tennis, and mountain climbing. Because of their competitive nature, Pittas need to be careful not to increase their stress while exercising – stewing over every bad golf shot or wanting to win at all costs.
If you are a Pitta type, you may especially enjoy winter sports of all kinds because you can handle cold better than Kaphas and Vatas. Pittas tend to have less endurance than Kaphas but are good at all exercise in moderation. You might like to try long-distance bicycling or Rollerblading. You also will benefit from taking a leisurely walk outdoors in a beautiful area. This will give you a change from your usual determined pace, allowing you to deeply experience nature’s beauty. Swimming is an ideal exercise for Pitta dosha. The water cools the heat of Pitta and relieves the accumulated tension of the day.
Kapha Dosha 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.
If you are predominantly Kapha, your biggest challenge may be finding the motivation to exercise. If you have not been exercising for a while, you can break the inertia by starting with brisk walking, beginning with half an hour.
To feel a noticeable improvement in vitality, it’s important to experience some sweating during your exercise, so you may want try wearing a two-layer exercise outfit, such as an all-cotton sweat suit under a nylon suit. Gradually increase your exercise to include jogging, hiking, and bicycling.