Ayurveda and Exercise
ayurveda and exercise
Our bodies are designed to move. When we move our physical bodies, we are allowing prana, the life force energy of our existence, to flow through us. The connection between are mind and body is strengthened, and we simply feel alive.
Ayurveda is all about keeping both the mind and body healthy, so that we can be the highest version of our true self. Exercise allows you to calm your thoughts, directing your focus to the movements of the physical body, the vibrations of the music playing in your headphones, or putting you in a space where you feel like you have actually lost you mind (aka “the zone”).
For me personally, exercise has become the greatest teacher for connecting with my mind, body, and soul. I believe that fitness was the catalyst for deepening my spirituality and my connection to the Source Energy / Divine Power / Universe / whatever you may call this force of life.
From an Ayurvedic standpoint, this all makes a lot of sense. Ayurveda believes that when the mind and body are balanced with you natural dosha, you are then able to achieve states (or “the state”) of enlightenment.
Depending on your dosha, you will naturally be more drawn to certain forms of exercise. This follows the universal principle of the Law of Attraction, that “like attracts like”. As a natural Vata-Pitta, I am drawn to a lot of movement, that challenges both my endurance (Vata) and strength (Pitta), which is why I personally enjoy both running, and strength training.
But to maintain balance, you have to contrast with other forms of exercise that help ground you. When I was hyper focused on moving around all of the time, hitting the gym 6x a week for intense lifting sessions, and not giving my body ample time to recover, I experienced a lot of dosha imbalances. I got adrenal fatigue, lost my menstrual cycle, developed disordered eating patterns, didn’t know when I was hungry or full, and I was mentally burned the fuck out.
Again, Ayurveda is all about balance, and it is so so sooo important to balance exercise with rest for recovery.
Once you know your dosha, you can then get a sense about what types of exercise are best for you. [Take the dosha quiz here]
Vatas are the ones that are constantly moving. They are the ones who wake up early for a morning run, constantly walking to and from places, spinning up a storm in SpinCycle, and doing crazy, intense circuit training in the gym. Vatas love workouts that challenge their endurance and make them feel lost in their own world, and they get so much satisfaction from leaving the gym as a sweaty mess.
Having the motivation to workout and get moving is never an issue for Vatas, but sometimes they can way over do it. Vatas typically have a harder time gaining muscle mass, since they focus more on cardiovascular exercise versus strength training. They tend to burn a lot of calories and often times consume too little food to keep up with their training.
To counterbalance, I recommend adding in weight lifting sessions that focus on strength (lower reps) versus speed. Strength training will mentally help Vatas feel more grounded and “in their bodies”, while putting on muscle mass will help improve bone health.
It is also super important for Vatas to prioritize rest, so their bodies and minds have a chance to recover from exercise. Taking a couple of rest days every week, and adding in slow-paced yoga (such as Yin Yoga, where postures are held for longer periods of time) and meditation, can be extremely beneficial for staying balanced as a Vata.
Pittas are the natural-born athletes that can put on muscle no prob. They are the ones busting out heavy squats and deadlifts at the gym, crushing intense Crossfit workouts, and sweating it all out in hot Vinyasa yoga classes. Pittas crave workouts that allow them to push their limits and exceed their perceived potential.
But sometimes all of that intense exercise can backfire on Pittas. If they don’t take adequate rest, they may find themselves with frequent injuries, hormonal imbalances, and overall physical and mental fatigue. Similar to Vatas, Pittas need to give themselves a chance to slow the fuck down and relax.
To counterbalance, I recommend adding in meditation and pranayama (breathing exercises) to help with grounding. You can also add in slower paced yoga styles such as Yin Yoga (description), Iyengar Yoga (description), or Kundalini yoga (focus on breathing and subtler movements to guide energy through the body). Swimming is also great for “cooling down” the natural fire Pittas hold, (why swimming? benefits).
Pittas especially need to prioritize rest to allow their muscle a chance to repair and grow stronger. Remember, we break down our muscles in the gym, but they grow bigger and stronger when we are out of the gym taking time to recover.
Kaphas are the ones that would rather cozy up in their bed and binge watch Netflix, rather than hit an evening gym sesh. Getting to the gym is more of a struggle for Kaphas, but once they get moving, they feel physically and mentally stimulated, which counterbalances their heavy energy. Kaphas naturally store more fat and prefer more sedentary lifestyles, so it’s especially important for Kaphas to get moving.
Kaphas should combine both cardiovascular and strength training into their routine, to help aid in weight loss and increase in the metabolism. Cardio (steady state and high-intensity-interval-training, or HITT) will help boost endurance levels and burn excess calories that have been stored as fat on the body. Strength training will help preserve muscle mass, creating an athletic shape to the body that will be more apparent as they get leaner (less fat mass covering the body).
Rest days are just as important for Kaphas, as they are for Vatas and Pittas. Adding in various forms of yoga, meditation, and pranayama, can help with grounding and mental rejuvenation.
Flux Fitness Plan
Sign up now for the Flux Fitness Plan, a free 4-week fitness program that takes a holistic approach to fitness, infusing spirituality into exercise and nutrition.
Elements of Ayurveda are combined with modern science, allowing you to reach your physical fitness goal, and elevate your mental state and your soul.
4-week workout plan for each dosha: Vata, Pitta, Kapha
Food recommendations for your mind-body type
Step-by-step guide for calculating your daily calories/macros
Daily food journal for tracking meals and practicing conscious eating