The Ayurvedic approach to exercise is very different from our modern thought around exercise. In Ayurveda, exercise is a way to balance the body. A way to bring yourself closer to yourself by honouring the physical body and your spiritual self at the same time. Exercising this way should be energizing, calming and invigorating, without being taxing to the body or something you feel you should `have’ to do. While there are exercises that we all can benefit from, we should also pay attention to our constitutions (doshas) and choose activities that complement our unique physiology.
Walking vigorously outside for 20 minutes at sunrise and sunset is a good way ALL of us can start and finish our day. As well, Yoga and Pilates two to three times a week is another wonderful way for all of us to align and balance the body.
However, there are also dosha-specific activities that we should include in our lives for at least 30 minutes a day (more if we have jobs where we sit a lot.) Exercising for your dosha is helpful in creating harmony without overtaxing or depleting our bodies.
For instance, Vata types can sometimes go too hard with their workouts and should go for exercises that are gentle in nature, flowing and calming such as swimming, bicycling, dancing, tai chi and lower impact aerobics.
Pitta types can do many different exercises as long as they too don’t overdo it or become too competitive. Exercises like surfing, skiing, jogging/running, soccer, tennis, martial arts and weight lifting are great for Pitta.
Kapha types often resist exercise, yet it is the best thing to balance out their constitutions. Kaphas should aim for exercises that are stimulating and also harness their strength, like aerobics, rock climbing, basketball, tennis, rowing and bicycling.
Respect your dosha and work on using exercise and daily movement to rejuvenate and invigorate both the mind and the body. Charaka once said, “From physical exercise we get lightness, a capacity for work, tolerance of difficulties, elimination of impurities, and stimulation of digestion.” Regular exercise should energize you and fill you with vitality and energy, not ever robbing or depleting you in any way. Try exercises that work with your constitution and see how good you feel, both mentally and physically.