What is Yoga? To answer this question we must first understand that there are various paths and approaches to yoga and that it is, in fact, impossible to define yoga as a whole. What we can do is define the yoga we practice. In this context, the science of yoga is a holistic approach to physical, mental and emotional health as well as a path toward spiritual fulfillment. The practice includes yoga postures, breathing techniques, meditation, journaling, moral behaviors and more. It is open to all regardless of age, ability or religion. As a science of the mind yoga provides tools for self-inquiry and leads to clarity, direction, and happiness. Although yoga is mostly known for the yoga postures, it's important to know that as a holistic practice the yoga postures come to life when they include meditative introspection and in the same manner, meditation practice is enhanced when we take care of our body. As a complete practice, yoga meets us where we are and provides the knowledge and energy we need to move forward.
As for asanas, I am often asked the question " What should I think about in asana practice?' I love this question and for that reason I have written my answer. Click here to read.
What is Ayurveda? As sister practices, Ayurveda and yoga enhance each other's potential. Ayur means life and Veda is defined as knowledge. Aimed at healing, Ayurveda’s definition of health goes beyond the absence of disease and includes having energy, a positive mind focused on possibilities, and a connection with our sense of purpose. Seeing each individual as unique and using a time-tested approach to identify doshas (constitutions) Ayurveda provides a variety of tools to enhance individual health. When Ayurveda is combined with yoga we can offer individual nutritional and herbal programs as well as mantras, breathing techniques, meditations and asanas for therapeutic purposes. Both yoga and Ayurveda provide excellent guidance to manage stress, which is considered the root of all illness and imbalances. Getting deeply acquainted with our individual starting point and implementing practical and uplifting lifestyle practices prevents and reduces mental, physical and emotional obstacles and brings radiance and inspired living.
The five basic elements of Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Space manifest in the body and mind as three basic principles known in Ayurveda as Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. They govern all biological, psychological and emotional patterns. And, if we want to experience yoga as a tool for healing, energy, positive aging, and for emotional, physical, psychological and spiritual development, knowing and balancing our dosha, is essential.
Know Your Dosha: Our dosha determines how our health and ill health and how our strengths and weaknesses manifest.
Keep in mind that the following descriptions are brief and know that there are seven doshic types which means you may relate to more than one dosha. The seven types are: Vata. Pitta. Kapha. Vata/Pitta. Vata/Kapha. Pita/Kapha. Vata/Pitta/Kapha.
When you’re energized you’re positively sensitive, aware of your environment and how others are feeling. You’re caring, understanding, energetic, adaptable, enthusiastic and positive. You have excellent comprehension and you’re a good communicator. You’re in tune with energy and healing and/or are a humanitarian with a consciousness that extends to the welfare of the planet. You have the ability to bring change where change is needed and you are able help others get unstuck.
But when you’re depleted you lack in confidence, you’re indecisive, agitated, you talk too much and worry a lot. You’re restless and have a difficult time sleeping because you overthink —- everything. You go from one thing to another without accomplishing or completing what you started, which makes you feel more depleted so you mask your lack of energy under a pleasing nature with false enthusiasm.
Do you see yourself here? If you can relate to this, even in part, you have some beautiful and powerful Vata in you.
When you’re energized you’re a goal-oriented visionary who has the
courage to go after what you want and the ability to make great things
happen. You’re intelligent, perceptive and an excellent leader who can
empower people to empower themselves. You're physically and
mentally energetic with a strong emotional body. You're friendly,
witty and positive. You know how to rise above limitations and
create and experience new possibilities.
But when you’re depleted you’re quick to anger and impatient--whether it’s politics, the driver in front of you, the way the organization or society are run or…you hate inefficiency. When that happens you give most of your energy to your anger and to why your anger is justified and you burn yourself out. Physically you create injury; Whether it's pushing yourself while running, biking or even in downward dog or while shoveling or raking...Your competitive and/or efficient (get it done) nature leads to self-inflicted pain. You suffer from inflammation,
burnout and can become reckless and mean.
Do you see yourself here? If you can relate to this, even in part, you have some beautiful and powerful Pitta in you.
When you are energized you’re content, at peace, grounded with who you are. You’re strong, loyal, compassionate, patient, devoted, decisive and good with money or managing property. You’re the type of person who can go all day at a steady pace. You know how to hold space and people feel supported and safe in your prescence. You're consistent, nurturing and you have a strong steady faith. You smile easily, listen attentively and you're a good keeper of secrets.
But when you’re depleted you’re stuck in your ways unable to take perspective, you overindulge in food, become sedentary, controlling and if unmanaged for a long time, greedy. You're comprehension reduces and you limit your ability to remain curious. You become materialistic and overly sentimental. You put on weight and develop problems related to it such as bloating or joint pain or you suffer from excess mucous.
Do you see yourself here? If you can relate to this, even in part, you have some beautiful and powerful Kapha in you.
Just Enough to Plant a Seed
Again, know that I am simplifying. There is a lot more to this. If you want to know more and you want to feel your best, come see me for yoga therapy. Also, know that when I describe an energized dosha I am talking about sattva and when I say depleted, I am in this case, blending tamas and rajas. If you don't know what these terms mean, look at my virtual yoga page and scroll down to the talk on the gunas. It's one of the most important and interesting topics. Please note that there are no good or bad doshas. They are simply energized or depleted.
You can complete this test to know your dosha. It's an easy download and print so that you can answer in private.
If I have $1000 and a $500 unexpected expense occurs, it hurts, but not as much as if I was $1000 in debt. Pretty simple. The same is true with energy. Life is life; Things happen, but if I know how to bring energy in, as well as how to contain and direct it, I build a surplus of energy which allows me to better manage the waves of life. In fact, I am sure that you, like me, know that when we're depleted, a $50 energetic expense feels like a $500 weight. Being depleted is like having an injured toe, we're always on guard, contracted and feeling like someone is going to step on our toe. Simply put, everything hurts more when we're depleted. Yoga and Ayurveda not only provide an abundance of practices to gather and maintain energy but the research and implemented practices help us with self-understanding (doshas) and with how energy or lack of it, individually manifests.
Yoga Therapy - The application of yoga and Ayurveda to harmonize our energy
Why go through life depleted when energy is abundant and free -