We know that going with the flow of nature’s rhythmic cycles is the key to good health and longevity. This applies not only to our diet but also to our exercise, and yoga is no exception. As yoga and Ayurveda are interdependent, the Ayurvedic doshas play an important role in yoga practice. Benefits are found by practicing asanas which will balance vata, pitta and kapha through the different seasons of the year. But not only do the doshas have seasonal requirements, they also control different stages of life. The nature and energy of each is approximately as follows:
Kapha rules childhood from birth to 18 years.
Pitta is in control through our adult years of 18 – 55.
Vata dominates old age, 55 years plus.
Although every age group may focus on the breathing and relaxation benefits of yoga, the physical asanas can be adapted according to the age group.
Childhood is ruled by Kapha, whose characteristics are heavy, sticky, sluggish and viscous. These qualities all represent mucus or phlegm, and kapha years can be a time of suffering from colds and allergies. Children and teenagers who practice yoga will benefit from poses that focus on clearing congestion from head, sinuses and lungs. Children also enjoy yoga with more movement and energy.
The Pitta stage of life of adulthood is one of achievement, competition and drive. It can also be a time of stress and aggression, which means that even though the yoga practice may be vigorous, it is best to end it with more calming and cooling asanas. This way pitta will not be aggravated.
Vata is dominant in our senior years. As we age, our energy, strength and flexibility decline. This is when we need asanas that can replenish our bodily systems and maintain and revitalize internal energy. It is a time to focus more on breathing and quietening rather than using up large quantities of energy in strenuous poses. An increase in vata in old age can lead to a loss of fluids in our body and restriction of movement. Arthritis and other degenerative diseases take hold and damage our bones. Poses that provide a range of motion for all our spine and joints will be beneficial. Restorative poses may be necessary to restore and replenish energy. Modified or full inverted asanas will help counteract the effects of gravity that age the body. Stretching and strengthening in general, as well as concentration on more meditative poses, become more important at this stage of life.
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