Finding the perfect yoga class is hard. So many factors contribute to finding a class feels likes a perfect fit. The teacher, the style, even the time of day—all are equally important for you to achieve total yogi bliss.
One thing you might be overlooking however, is finding a yoga class that supports your Dosha. According to Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, each of us is dominant in one of three body constitutions, or Doshas. You can take this quiz to find out if you are a Vata, Pitta, or Kapha dominant.
Once you know your Dosha, check out the following advice on how to find the right yoga class for you.
Creating Balance With Ayurveda
The general rule of thumb in Ayurveda is to create balance. This is true when considering which yoga class to take. Each of the Doshas will present as imbalance when we are not adequately taking care of ourselves.
You might feel agitated if Pitta is out of balance, spacey if Vata is out of balance, and lethargic if Kapha is out of balance. Essentially, we want to counteract those feelings through our yoga practice.
One of the elements associated with Vata is air. thus, people who are Vata-dominant often seem to have their head in the clouds. They tend to be stuck in their head, floating away on their thoughts and can feel generally ungrounded.
Vatas also tend to be thin, cold, quick moving, and prone to bone and joint issues. Vatas can be flexible when they are young, but develop stiffness, specifically in the spine, as they age.
The best classes for Vata types are those done in a warm room. Classes should focus on grounding, both with breath and with postures. Slow moving Vinyasa or Hatha classes are ideal.
Poses that extend the spine like forward folds and backbends will help to release excess Vata energy. Strong, engaging poses will help develop stability, and twists will help release excess air. Despite their tendency to rush into poses, it's important for Vatas to move slowly to help prevent injury.
Associated with fire, Pitta-dominant people can present as aggressive, competitive, and generally hot-headed when out of balance. They are prone to inflammation and becoming overheated. Fire is also associated with digestion, and when Pitta is high, digestion can suffer.
The goal of the yoga classes to balance Pitta is to cool the body. Yin and Restorative yoga classes are ideal. Poses should be slow, nourishing, and held for an extended period of time.
The tendency for Pittas to compete is challenged by these classes which help to pacify that energy. Forward bends, supine poses, hip openers, twists and a long Savasana are wonderful for Pittas. Classes with focus on meditation and introspection are also centering and beneficial for Pittas.
Having to do with the element of Earth, Kapha-dominant people tend to be sturdy in build, and heavy in disposition. They might feel dull, legthargic, and slow when out of balance. They are prone to issues with weight gain and excess mucus.
Yoga classes should serve to energize Kaphas and release heaviness. Warm, flowing, strong classes are ideal. Vinyasa and even Power Yoga classes would be appropriate. Sun Salutations, heart openers, and inversions all stimulate heat and energy in the body, flushing out the stagnant Kapha energy that sits in the chest region.
Understanding your Dosha is a great place to start if you’re looking to start or deepen a yoga practice. Often, we choose classes based on what we think we should do rather than what our body and mind truly needs. Tuning in to those needs can lead to a deeper connection to your yoga practice, and huge shifts in your overall health and wellbeing.
Of course, as each of us is unique and has unique levels of all three Doshas in us, that perfect class will differ as well.
Additionally, our dominant Dosha can shift as we age. Having the presence of mind to check in each day with your energy, mind, and body will allow you to assess which Dosha needs balancing. Try it out and let us know how it goes!