How To Find Balance In Life Through Your Yoga Practice & The Art Of Ayurveda
Finding balance is one of the many essentials for cultivating a sense of overall happiness in life — so we've heard, at least. But honestly, where do you even start? How do you focus on finding and maintaining some elusive sense of balance when you're probably already struggling to juggle a laundry list of responsibilities you can hardly keep up with as it is? Figuring out how to find balance in life is definitely no easy feat, but meditative activities like yoga make it seem, at the very least, possible, if not truly achievable. Moreover, when you practice yoga, the accompanying art of Ayurveda can be used to help you harness that blissful sense of equilibrium.
In October 2017, I went on a yoga retreat hosted by YogaOutlet, and during the retreat, I took a workshop on Ayurveda led by yoga instructor and Ayurvedic wellness counselor Vivica Schwartz. In an exclusive interview with Elite Daily, Schwartz tells me all about how Ayurveda — an ancient Indian healing practice that focuses on the use of holistic health as a way of maintaining a physically and emotionally balanced state of being — can help teach you about specific yoga asanas that'll work best for cultivating your own individual sense of balance.
Basically, according to Ayurveda, different people benefit from vastly different yoga practices to help them achieve true mind-body harmony.
So, your yoga practice is most effective when it's personalized in relation to your specific "dosha." There are three doshas within Ayurveda — Pitta, Vata, and Kapha — and similar to the way you might read your horoscope to learn more about yourself through your zodiac sign, your dosha can help you read more deeply into both your mental and physical traits. While everyone technically has a little bit of each of the three doshas within them, most people have a highly dominant one that best applies to them (you can find out what your dosha is by taking this quiz from The Chopra Center).
Even if you've done yoga for years, you can expand your practice so much more once you know about your dosha because it'll offer more insight about which movements will best help you alleviate mental and physical imbalances in life.
In an interview with Elite Daily, Schwartz fills me in on what each dosha's quest for balance looks like, and what you should be doing in your yoga routine to best cultivate your own individual sense of balance.
If you're mostly Pitta, you might be butting heads with your own drive to succeed.
Schwartz tells Elite Daily,
Pitta-predominant people are encouraged to practice yoga with compassion, acceptance, relaxation, and in a cooling nature.
Since they're very goal-oriented, they'll push and push; rather than having fun, they'll look toward the end goal only.
A Pitta-dominant person might get overly competitive at times, Schwartz explains, which means they need to remind themselves why they do yoga in the first place, and what it is about the practice that makes them happy. Bottom line: Lose the judgmental thoughts, and try not to take yourself too seriously.
Pittas should work at 80 percent of [their] effort during their yoga flows — not 110 percent, like they usually do.
Pittas also tend to have a lot of heat in their bodies, Schwartz says, so she recommends practicing in a cool space (maybe avoid hot yoga classes, too). Some great asanas for Pittas include twisting poses, camel pose, cobra pose, and headstand.
Vatas benefit from focusing on the flow to help them maintain balance.
If your dominant dosha appears to be Vata, you "should create a warm, nourishing, and serene space for [your] yoga practice," Schwartz explains. "Move at a slow, smooth, and steady pace — incorporating fluidity and gentle movement.
Schwartz recommends specifically holding your postures for a shorter amount of time if you're Vata-dominant; focus on building a strong foundation in your practice:
Vatas can be a bit unstable and flighty, so try focusing on the inhalations rather than the exhalations to balance yourself.
Vatas will feel best flowing through child's pose, bow pose, and corpse pose in their yoga practice.
Kaphas, unlike the more goal-driven Pitta, need a little push to get them motivated.
When a Kapha dosha is out of balance, it translates to a lethargic, heavy, and stagnant feeling overall for the individual.
To find harmony, Schwartz explains,
You should create space, stimulation, warmth, and buoyancy in your practice.
Unlike Pittas, it is recommended for Kaphas to push themselves a little further than they thought they could go.
If you know that you're mainly Kapha, Schwartz says you should try practicing in a warm, perhaps even hot space (hot yoga is for you, girl) with a fiery intensity to keep you going.
Kaphas should definitely push themselves a little further than they thought they could go.
Challenge yourself, be precise, and don't give up.
Beneficial yoga asanas for Kaphas include sun salutations and Kapalabhati breathing (breath of fire).
Remember that all three of the doshas can harness a heightened sense of mind-body harmony through meditation, as well.
For beginners, Schwartz knows it can seem frustratingly impossible to clear your mind and actually meditate. She recommends "a simple breath meditation" if you're just starting out with the practice. Find "a comfortable seat and allow the thoughts to come and go without rejecting them."
Thoughts will always arise, Schwartz explains, but the trick is to do your best to not react whatsoever to them:
Even monks meditating for years in caves in the Himalayas have thoughts arise as they meditate.
They've just learned how to master their mind, and not to react to the thoughts.
Whether you're balancing your dosha through physical asanas or mindful meditation, Schwartz reminds us all that Ayurveda is meant to help you find a way to work with your mind and body, rather than against them, on your quest to becoming the most harmonious, vibrant version of yourself. That's something everyone can benefit from, don't you think?