How to use Ayurveda in your yoga practice

Ayurveda is an egalitarian system that is held on two significant and fundamental pillars that reflect the natural, innate intelligence within you:

  • like attracts like & opposites bring balance
  • nothing is considered good or bad: anything can be medicine or poison – it depends on our relationship to it (quality), how often we engage it (frequency), and how much we consume (quantity).

As we study the gunas, elements, and doshas, we learn how to be better stewards of our wellbeing through more clearly understanding prakruti and vikruti. We can ask the question: is this thing I’m about to do/eat/say going to keep my current state neutral, increase it, or deplete it? 

Imagine it is a hot summer day and you are feeling agitated, overheated, and impatient. You can either find balance through drinking cool coconut water and practicing yin yoga, or you can further increase your experience of heat and agitation by practicing a heated or rigorous vinyasa and then eating spicy, oily food. This doesn’t mean that yin is inherently better or that vigorous movement is inherently worse; rather, that in the moment based on your context, one choice will support balance, and one will take you further away. 

We can learn how to use our yoga practice to support ourselves or our students when feeling some of the most common imbalances in body, mind, and emotions. 

Feeling anxious, fearful, overwhelmed, and spacey?

  • Try vata-balancing movement focusing on the lower 1/3 of the body. 
  • Favor the lower back, hips, legs, and pelvis. Incorporate forward folds, lunges, and hip openers. 
  • Remain rhythmic in your movement to generate warmth. 
  • Invite a slower pace to focus on grounding and stability. 

Feeling sharp, agitated, angry, and overheated?

  • Try pitta-balancing movement focusing on the middle 1/3 of the body.
  • Favor the side body, abdomen, and back. “Air out” the inseam of the body by moving the limbs away from the torso. Incorporate belly-down backbends, lateral movement, twists, and seated forward folds. 
  • Remain rhythmic in your movement to create airflow and coolness.
  • Invite a moderate pace to focus on calming and centering.

Feeling stuck, heavy, lethargic, and depressed?

  • Try kapha-balancing movement focusing on the upper 1/3 of the body.
  • Favor the chest, upper back, arms, and side body. Favor twists to stimulate and cut through stagnation. Incorporate variations of asana, exploring new ways to move and feel your body.
  • Create dynamic, strong movement to generate circulation and heat.
  • Invite a faster pace to focus on energizing and mobilizing.

If you’re also interested in how to take your Ayurveda off your mat and into your daily life, join us for the next post on a basic daily routine! If you’re interested in learning more about the doshas and how to teach or practice dosha-balancing yoga, join Marissa this Stepmber for Ayurveda 101