Some ads would have you believe you have to run out and buy the latest yoga pants before you even hit the mat. Trendy yoga gear isn’t necessary, but you do want to have clothing that’s comfortable and allows you to move with ease. Look for tops that are fairly formfitting. You don’t want your shirt falling down in your face when you’re in Downward-Facing Dog or other inversions. Pants should be made of a material that allows you to move freely, and formfitting enough so they won’t fall down when you are lying down and raise your legs in the air.
TAKING INVENTORY: AYURVEDA
Ayurveda means “the science of life” and is one of the great ancient tools to help you discover your physical and emotional tendencies. Ayurveda categorizes our physical, emotional, and mental characteristics into three doshas , or mind-body types: Vata , Pitta , and Kapha . Each dosha is characterized by the elements of earth, water, fire, air, and ether.
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You can find many online quizzes to discover your specific dosha. By identifying your mind-body type, you can create a lifestyle and yoga practice to support your nature. Practicing yoga for your dosha builds on the philosophy of “like increases like.” The idea, therefore, is to add in opposite elements to achieve a balanced state. The following are descriptions of the three doshas, including dominant characteristics and balancing elements, to help give you an idea of your type.
Vata: Air and Ether. A person with a predominant Vata dosha is usually thin with a light frame. They are creative and high-energy, but also a bit spacey and likely to experience sudden bouts of fatigue. They welcome change and new experiences, but when imbalanced can suffer from anxiety and insomnia. A grounding, calming, and warming practice and lifestyle will balance Vata’s excess air and ether elements, and reduce their fearful tendencies.
Pitta: Fire and Water. Someone with a dominant Pitta dosha is usually of medium size and weight. They are intellectual and have a strong ability to concentrate, but can also be short-tempered and argumentative. They are sharp-witted and often outspoken with abundant energy, but when imbalanced can suffer from ulcers, excessive body heat, and heartburn. A more cooling and heart-centered practice and lifestyle counteract Pitta’s fire. Spending time in nature and by water is nurturing for Pitta as well.
Kapha: Earth and Water. Those with a predominant Kapha dosha are strongly built. They love routine and are naturally calm and thoughtful, but can also be stubborn and resistant to change.
They operate in a slow and steady manner, but when imbalanced they may put on extra weight and become at risk for asthma and diabetes. Anything energetic and uplifting balances Kapha’s earth and water sluggishness. This constitution benefits greatly from movement.