Ayurveda and Yoga Asana

“Stretch out your legs, and bring them together like a mermaid’s tail. Take a deep breath and lift up like Superman flying”   I am teaching a mother and daughter class. My usual instructions would be “Reach into the soles of your feet, draw your inner thighs together and lift the pelvic floor” but trying to activate this young girl requires language to inspire her imagination. She is lethargic, sluggish, doesn’t really want to be here, but her mother is trying to interest her in some physical activity. It will be a difficult task to motivate her.


While I am no expert in the ancient discipline of Ayurveda, I see she has a preponderance of kapha in her constitution. Those with kapha bodies put on weight easily, have cool pale soft skin without obvious tendons and veins, and move slowly. They have good stamina once they are motivated but are burdened with laziness. A well balanced kapha constitution is strong and healthy, although with a tendency to excess mucous.   The nature of a person with this constitution, when in balance, is affectionate and forgiving. But when this constitution becomes unbalanced, there is lethargy, laziness, depression, greed and a tendency to hang onto things.

The Ayurvedic analysis of body and personality types describes 3 doshas or basic constitutions. These are rather like the three colours in an artist’s palate. All three colours are used to make an individual portrait, but in some paintings there may be more of one color than another. In the real world there is never a situation where a person has a body or mind that is entirely governed by one dosha. Always there will be an interplay of all three. Some constitutions will be described just as kapha, or pitta, or vatta, but many people will have a constitution called kapha pitta, or pitta kapha, or vatta pitta, etc, depending on the particular mix. Continue reading