Enrich your Yoga Practice with the Help of Ayurveda

Ayurveda and Yoga have always been inseparable sisters, they’re like two branches of the same ancient tree, the Vedas. To be more specific, Yoga has its roots in the Yajur Veda, while Ayurveda originates in the Atharva Veda and Rig Veda.

And yet, while all of us have thoroughly studied Yoga’s principles, not many teachers are familiar with those of Ayurveda. This proves that apparently, the deep connection between these disciplines has somehow gotten weaker with time. Interestingly enough though, not only do these two disciplines share the same historical and cultural root but even the same purpose: health. So much that they literally seem to offset one with the other. 

In fact, some holistic experts agree that the key to an ideal body-mind balance is to integrate the methods and practices of Yoga with a more complete medical system. A system that can be effective to prevent not solely physical conditions, but also those of the mind, focusing on the different range of emotions that are constantly triggered within. This ideal system is Ayurveda and hence we’ll see that by bringing Ayurveda to Yoga we can actually achieve a solid overall equilibrium. But there’s more, we’ll shortly find out how Ayurveda can actually be a great teaching tool, because it can help us get to know our students better, enabling us to adjust the practice to their real necessities. 

They’re important information carriers that could help us customize the practice so that they can fully enjoy its benefits. 

What is Ayurveda?

Ayurveda is the science of life and longevity (where Ayur stands for life and Veda for knowledge/science). It recognises three different constitutions, also known as doshas and each of them generates from a combination of natural elements, such as: Vata (air and ether), Pitta (fire and water), and Kapha (earth and water). 

The goal of Ayurveda is therefore to achieve or maintain the perfect balance, teaching us to cultivate more awareness into what we eat, do or think. Therefore, if you want to deepen your connection with your students, start by analysing their doshas: they’re important information carriers that could help us customize the practice so that they can fully enjoy its benefits.

Applying Ayurveda’s principles to your classes

Ideally, you could start your Ayurvedic journey ideally with the help of an expert. Afterwards, feel free to look up this blog to find some inspiration for your practice. Obviously, when you're in the studio surrounded by many students with various constitutions it can be hard to tell whether the majority is pitta, vata or kapha. So maybe simply start applying Ayurveda’s principles with a restricted number of students, like those who attend private classes. With bigger groups I’d suggest something a bit different: try asking an Ayurveda specialist to team up with you for a workshop, if you fancy the idea. I warmly recommend this experience because it can be a great chance to expand your network and learn more about this beautiful discipline! Once you’ve set up your workshop gather up the students who are willing to try Ayurveda Yoga. Once you know your students’ doshas, divide them into different categories based on their dosha and think about a practice that best suits each category. 

Yoga for Vata

As we’ve seen, the Vata dosha is a mix of space and air elements. Lean bodies with dry skin, cold hands and feet are typical signs of Vata individuals.

Vata students generally tend to feel anxious or may easily lose focus. Try to teach them how to stay grounded. Encourage and support them at all times and offer a comfortable, friendly environment, because that’s exactly what brings them to balance. Their ideal practice should be rhythmic, pacifying, grounding and poses such as Tadasana, Uttanasana and Apanasana are ideal for this purpose.


Yoga for Pitta

Those with a predominance of this dosha tend to have a medium build, oily skin, and sharp intelligence. Pitta students are quite easy to spot: they’re full of energy and highly competitive. When out of balance they’re likely to get frustrated easily and may feel overly effortful. As a teacher, you could help them to channel their energy, teaching them how to take control over their emotions. To do so simply start by putting more awareness into the breathing. Try some pranayama cooling techniques (like Shitali pranayama) to bring balance into their bodies and minds and choose a soothing, slow-pacing practice that includes refreshing poses like Ardha Chakrasana, Halasana or Sarvangasana. 

Yoga for Kapha

Students with a predominance of Kapha dosha are often strong with larger build, cold skin and very often with big eyes. A Kapha-centred practice can help those who feel excessively heavy or stiff, to bring light, movement and warmth into their bodies and minds. Guide them thoroughly through the practice and stimulate their tapas helping them achieve goals but also allowing them to follow their own pace. So, cue step by step and remember to always offer adjustments if you want to include more challenging poses in the practice. Standing and engaging poses that generate heath and test their willpower, like Virabhadrasana I and II or Utthita parsvakonasana are perfect for Kapha students. Also great for Kaphas are back bendings because they can help them release tension accumulated in the body. Urdhva dhanurasana and salabhasana are great backbends for Kapha.  

So that being said, I hope this short intro on Ayurveda has stimulated your curiosity and gave you a deeper understanding of this beautiful, ancient discipline.

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Ludovica Picardi
Ludovica Picardi is a young writer and passionate yoga student who found her path through Yoga several years ago under the warm sun of Italy and never stopped practicing since then. She also has a deep love for nature and yoga’s philosophy, as she sees yoga as an extremely powerful tool that can help us connect not only with ourselves but also with the outside world.

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