Best Exercise for Vata, Pitta & Kapha Types, According to Ayurveda

Updated 9/2014
Here are some recommended best types of exercise according to Ayurveda for each dosha  (body/mind type.)  The Ayurvedic system of health/medicine developed in India over thousands of years and can get quite sophisticated, if one sees an Ayurvedic doctor.  This is drawn from my readings of Deepak Chopras work, and is general food for thought;  because each person is a mix of dosha’s and all varies depending on season, age, health condition etc. So you can see there are a lot of factors that come into play.  But once one understands the concepts it’s pretty easy to put into practice.  Like any holistic therapy it works best when one develops self-awareness.

For an intro to the general meaning of Vata, Pitta and Kapha see my article published at InfoBarrel.

To learn more (free) about Ayurveda:

the first step, I highly recommend: 

  • Banyan Botanicals, this link takes you directly to a test to find out your Ayurveda type (dosha,) they have the best online test I’ve seen.  Plus they give a good explanation of what that means in terms of easy self-care and lifestyle tips.  So check that out and come back here!
  • As always listen to your body and check with a medical professional before beginning an exercise program. 
  • See Vasant Lad’s (highly respected Ayurvedic doctor) page for excellent, clear overview of Ayurvedic daily lifestyle  habits.  They may seem simple but go a huge way to staying healthy.
  • After each type, see links to buy helpful, recommended products, a purchase via blog helps to support continuation of this blog. Thank you.

Vata

Exercise such as walking, yoga, bicycling and dance are great for vata types.  Because they help vata’s develop strength, balance and agility.  But just not to the point of exhaustion, so long-distance biking would not be ideal for example.  Just be aware that cold/windy or dry weather is not best for Vata’s so indoor exercise is recommended under those conditions. Also vata’s need regularity, they need to keep to a schedule as they tend to be more erratic.  And they need to be careful to not overexert.   When  a vata type overexerts it’s more based on a lack of attention to the body’s signals and needs.  While they enjoy vinyasa type classes it’ can be too much movement for them over time.  This is because vata itself is characterized by motion, (vata needs movement to avoid stiffness) but also is balanced by it’s opposite: stillness or holding of physical movements.  The latter tends to be hard for vata’s.   In my yoga class, a vata imbalanced person would be seen fidgeting, or not mentally there- they are in the pose but you can see the mind is not there. Yoga for your Type: An Ayurvedic Approach to Your Asana Practice

Healing with Nature for Vata:

Stability is key for the changeable, anxious vata type.  So try

  • Walking barefoot on grass/earth for a time every day, in a quiet area where you feel safe.  Traditional Chinese Medicine says early morn dew nourishes the kidneys-there is a key point Kidney #1 on sole of foot.
  • Meditation outdoors would also be ideal (or indoors) for a vata, as it adds stillness/stability.
  • Also warmth is key, spend safe amount of time enjoying the sun’s light and warmth, allowing the heat to suffuse your body.

Pitta

Pitta folks tend to enjoy things that challenge them, so sports like-hiking, tennis, long-distance cycling, and mountain climbing.  But swimming is ideal for pitta types because water is cooling (pittas are by definition “hot” in temperature,) you know the folks in shorts when it’s cold out!  So water because it’s cooling and stress relieving is a nice for pitta’s to work out in. Also pitta’s will tend to overexert because of the drive to excel.  In my yoga class, I can tell pitta types because if I start with a slow intro or relaxation, one can feel they are irritated, like “I didn’t come to just lay around.”  In fact I will always say “don’t worry we will be moving soon.” It’s hard for pitta’s to just relax, and intense movement actually facilitates the ability to relax for that type, so by end of class they can.  Ashtanga Yoga: The Practice Manual

Healing with Nature for Pitta:

  • Water is the best natural restorative for pitta types, again it’s calming & cooling, so walking along a stream, or lake is  healing.  Feel the cooling influence of water and let it refresh and soothe you.  But…
  • A midday (hottest part of day) lounge or volleyball (any intense movement would worsen effects,)  in the hot sun and sand at a beach,  is not best for pitta’s, and if done regularly will imbalance them.  They need to stay cool.   Headaches are often the result of imbalanced pitta lifestyle (liver in overdrive.)
  • Also take a walk in lush green setting (green soothes the liver which governs anger/irritation-a pitta imbalance) outdoors or simply be outside, rest or meditate, but avoid bright sun and high temperatures. 

Kapha

Kapha types tend to have a strong steady energy and lots of physical strength-they may not enjoy exerting themselves though!  But once a kapha type gets moving they see the increase in vitality and the lift in their energy.  So sports like long-distance running, racquetball, soccer and rowing.  Any kind of aerobic activity that develops a good sweat is powerful for moving and clearing the congestion and sluggishness that is typical for kaphas.  If a kapha type does yoga a vinyasa, or Astanga flowing style is best, if health allows it of course.  Kapha types in my class, move a bit slower but with awareness.  And Kaphas are earth types and more solidly built, they are often flexible I find.  Ayurvedic Cooking for Westerners: Familiar Western Food Prepared with Ayurvedic Principles

Healing with Nature for Kapha:

Movement and expansion are key positive words for a kapha type.  True kapha types will not naturally want to move alot,  but it’s excellent for them.  So take a brisk walk, hike or run in a beautiful park, better yet go with a friend, so it’s social will motivate a kapha type.   Also going outside at night and looking at the stars, feeling the openess of the universe is also a classical recommendation.

Purchase Books on Ayurveda:

Yoga & Ayurveda: Self-Healing and Self-Realization More esoteric, see emphasis on “self-realization” best if one has background already in Ayurveda.  Actually I just pulled this off my shelf-it does have great chapter on exercise for Vata, Pitta, and Kapha-so if you already have background in yogic ideas- then this is highly recommended!  My own copy is dog-earred.

Ayurveda: The Science of Self Healing – A Practical Guide.  A nice general overview.

Ayurveda: A Life of Balance: The Complete Guide to Ayurvedic Nutrition & Body Types with Recipes  An encyclopedic but clear work by Maya Tiwari, work is aimed more a healing for women.

Absolute Beauty: Radiant Skin and Inner Harmony Through the Ancient Secrets of Ayurveda Another encyclopedic reference work on ayurvedic skin care-with natural skin care recipes!

 


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