Why is yoga so wonderful for general health & wellness?

Yoga is an advanced technology that has existed for at least 5000 years. It deals primarily with the management of our mind. It explains in great detail how we can increase our mental balance and clarity. Yoga therapy is a beautiful combination of Yoga and Ayurveda, the medicine of Ancient India that goes hand in hand with Yoga and which is concerned with how to maintain and restore balance in the qualities and functions of our body.

For these purposes, Yoga Therapy uses the model of the 5 elements and the model of the 3 Doshas. The 5 elements are Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Space; and the three Doshas or “constitutional types” are Pitta Dosha (Fire); Vata Dosha (Air) ; Kapha Dosha (Earth). According to Ayurveda, each human being is born with an excess of an element which gives them their fixed constitutional characteristics for the rest of their lives. The word Dosha means “that which is in excess” and the principle then revolves around the one element that is in excess from birth till death. Pitta Dosha people are born with excess fire in their constitution; Vata Dosha people are born with excess air in their constitution; and Kapha Dosha people are born with excess earth in their constitution. Because excess of any of these elements leads to states of imbalance or “dis-ease”, the aim of both Ayurveda and Yoga Therapy is to help the individual balance this excess with the aim of propitiating equilibrium, rejuvenation, and optimum health. To read your Dosha the therapist must either observe your body frame and other physical and personality traits; or ask you a short series of questions.
In Yoga Therapy, we choose specific asana, pranayama and meditations that are exclusively favourable for your individual constitutional type or Dosha.
Let me give you a short preview now:
Pitta Dosha people have an excess of the element fire in their constitution. These are the people that we call in English “fiery”. These individuals are high energy people, speak loud and are overly vocal, have tendency towards anger, are naturally judgemental, and can be violent or tyrannical. They are also very enthusiastic people,  great leaders, have great vitality, and a very good capacity to digest their foods. Poor lifestyle and dietary choices can push their fire element to dangerous limits causing some of their bodily tissues to be “on fire”, or as we describe it in Western terms, to become “inflamed”, making them to become intolerant, aggressive, and snappy. The most appropriate Yoga Therapy for the fiery type, will include yoga poses, pranayama techniques, and meditations, destined to cool their body/mind/emotions down. Cooling practices are the best therapy for Pittas. With the drop in body temperature –yes, very literally!- these individuals can feel more relaxed, their energy settles, and the inflammation in their mental sphere and bodily tissues is diminished. Pittas are very prone to hormonal imbalances but cooling asana, pranayama and mediation can help them to regulate excess cortisol and insulin resistance. Inverted poses like Shoulder Stand or Plow Pose, or backbends like Cobra pose or Sphynx, are cooling poses that are fantastic for Pittas. Cooling pranayama exercises like Sitali Pranayama (breathing like a snake) or Bhastrika Pranamaya (the “Bellows” breathing that imitates the blacksmith’s bellows), are also cooling. Meditations with visualisations are the most appropriate for the fiery type. These visualisations will revolve around water, lakes, waterfalls, flowers, letting go, acceptance, forgiveness, and other cooling themes.
Vata Dosha individuals, or the “airy” type, are quick in their movements and speech; chat a lot; are very creative; and tend to be intuitive and spiritual. They are thin and bony and find it almost impossible to put on weight in spite of eating a lot and very frequently throughout the day. Their body frame is delicate, they cannot develop big muscles, and their energy tends to circulate and concentrate in their mind. These people are not physically strong as they’re not muscular, but tend to be very strong in the mind. When out of balance or diseased, their mental activity becomes disrupted (excessive) and disrupts the health of the body. They will then develop disorders of the nervous system like anxiety, nervousness, panic attacks, substance abuse, addictions, or insomnia, among other. When devising a series of sessions in Yoga Therapy for them, I always aim at emptying their cluttered mind by pushing their mental energy down to their feet. This helps them feel grounded and serene and promotes balance at the nervous system by downregulating the fight-or-flight response which tends to go hyperactive in these individuals. Standing poses that force them to focus on their feet and on maintaining a connection with the Earth like Tree Pose or Triangle Pose are fantastic for Vatas as very grounding and capable of pushing mental energy downwards into their feet. Pranayama exercises like Ujayii Pranayama (throat breathing) are highly beneficial for Vatas as they warm up the body from the inside out and pacify the mind by forcing it to follow a slow breath rhythm. Mantra repetition is the best type of meditation for Vatas, as it dispels the hidden fears of these sensitive individuals and creates calmness and mental serenity in no time.
Finally, the Kapha Dosha or “earthy” types have pleasant, deep, and good tone voices; their speech is slow and are not talkative. They are typically calm and sentimental, as well as very loyal and constant. Their bodies have squarish frames that are dense and strong. When their excess Earth is not contained and goes out of balance, they develop diseases of stagnation of body fluids and mental activity, like sinusitis, digestive insufficiency, constipation, bile stones, or cancer; but also stubbornness and attachment. To help these individuals balance their elements and reduce the excess Earth, I use invigorating asana to promote a healthy flow of stagnant fluids and stagnation in their mind. The Sun Salutation practiced vigorously is a fantastic sequence to energize the Kapha Dosha whose natural tendency is to move towards lethargy, sluggishness, and inertia. Fast-paced pranayama exercises that heat up the body like Kappalabhati (the Shining Skull Breathing) or Surya Bedhana (the Purification with the Sun Breathing) are also fantastic for Kaphas. Meditations through animated chanting, like in Kirtan, are great for this body type.

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