Balance Your Practice Using Ayurveda: Vata in Depth

This is the first in a 3 part series where we will explore how to balance our yoga practice with the climate.

Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga, is a preventative medicine that balances the body with the elements. When living an Ayurvedic lifestyle, you choose everything with intention; your food, your drinks, your meditation and your yoga practice.

Even if an Ayurvedic lifestyle isn’t on the table for you right now, you can still bring the basic principles onto your mat to create a practice that serves you best.

Super simply, in Ayurveda if you have too much of one thing, you must balance it out with its opposite. When using Ayurveda in your yoga practice you can apply these principles to the time of day, your emotional state, or like we will explore today, the climate around you. You can do this using three elements: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. This week we will work with Vata, the air element, check back next week for Pitta.

Vata: Air: Associated with windy, dry climates.

The air element, Vata, is related to creativity and flourishing thoughts. If your Vata is out of balance it may be hard to concentrate or feel grounded. If the climate around you is particularly windy, it may increase the Vata in the body.

Think about it this way: Have you ever been on a windy beach and then left feeling totally wiped out physically and mentally? No, is that just me? That “wind whipped” feeling is the Vata increase in your body.

Balance: Apanasana (Knees-to-Chest Pose) Lay on your back and hug your knees into your chest. Apana is the downward flow of energy. Take calm, steady breaths in and out through your nose as you feel the body heavy on the mat, close your eyes. Press your low back down into the mat and away from the crown of your head. Feel the entire spine lengthen down into the ground. Hold for 3-5 breaths.

Tap into the power: If you would like to increase the Vata in your body, backbends are great for this, I love Wild Thing. Start in Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog). Lift your right leg up to the sky and open your hip toward the right. Gently bend the right leg and let it come to the floor behind your left leg as your right arm lifts up and open to the left. Your left leg should be straight as the sole of the foot is engaged into your mat. Your right leg will be bent with the ball of the foot pressed into the floor. Your front body should be turned toward the sky. Ground into your feet to your lift your hips. Breathe.

Next week, we’ll explore Pitta.

Happy practicing!