Yoga is the sister science of Ayurveda. Because of this, there are many ways to tailor your yoga practice to fit your dosha needs. Some asanas are helpful for stimulating specific dosha’s in the body, and there are also asanas that help to soothe them as well. Since it’s Vata season, I thought I would share some tips on how to customize your yoga practice to help pacify Vata Dosha.
The Components of a Vata Pacifying Asana Practice.
Because Vata dosha is sporadic and mobile, you will want to focus on asanas that are more grounding to the system. Instead of doing an intense vinyasa flow, where you are quickly transitioning from one pose to the next, you will want to focus on the more yin aspect of a practice. It is good to implement holding posses for a more extended period of time. It is also to keep your focus on more grounding standing poses or poses you would do on the floor. Repetition is also helpful for grounding Vata. You may want to repeat specific asanas 2-3 times in your practice and think about holding for anywhere from 3-5 breaths depending on your energy level.
Vata Pacifying Asanas
I have been shaping my classes around many of the following poses to help my students pacify Vata. I wanted to share some of these poses with you to add to your personal routine.
Virabhadrasana I, II and III(Warrior poses)
Virabhadrasana I(warrior I)- To come into this pose, you can start from crescent lunge where you are in a lunge on the ball of the back foot, arms extended overhead. Next, drop the back heal to the mat so that the outer edge of the foot is aligned with the back edge of the mat. Shift the hips so that they are squared with the front edge of the mat and if it feels good and is accessible for you, deepen the lunge in the front knee.
Virabhadrasana II(warrior II)- To come into this pose. you can start from warrior I, then shift the torso 180 degrees so that the chest and hips are squared towards the side edge of the mat. Bring the arms to a “T” and take your gaze over your front middle finger. draw the shoulder down and away from the ears and engage the core for strength and stability.
Virabhadrasana III(warrior III)- To come into this pose, start from warrior I. I like to have my students kick off a few times to feel into their balance, then when they are ready, lift and extend the leg back and reach the arms forward. Both hips will be squared towards the ground and the standing knee can be slightly bent to avoid hyperextension. The core will be engaged to help with balance.
These poses are standing poses and are considered to be more grounding poses because they have an affinity for the root chakra and help to stabilize the legs. Incorporating these earthy, grounding asanas into your practice will help you to strengthen your root, and send you energy down into the body and out of the mind where vata can cause spaciousness and anxiety. Try holding these poses for a count of 4-5 breaths before transitioning.
Navasana is a great pose for pacifying vata because it builds heat in the body, specifically in the core. This fiery aspect is great for warming up the cold quality of vata.
To come into this pose, start sitting with the knees bent and the soles of the feet on the ground. Find a place of balance on the sit bones by slightly leaning back. Engage the core. Lift the left foot and then the right. Your hands can be to the sides of your knees, gently holding the thighs( but not so much that they are holding the legs up, this is the work of the core) or extended overhead. For full Navasana, the legs can be extended as well.
You would want to hold this pose for about 3-4 breaths and then rest. If you are feeling up to it, it would also be great to repeat the pose 1 to 2 more times.
Many yogis consider this to be the real yoga! This is because savasana is a pose for deep meditation, and the asanas help to open up places in the body that need to be relaxed so that one can feel comfortable in meditation. It is a very grounding pose and is crucial for integrating the work done in a yoga class.
To come into this pose, lie down on the mat with your arms and legs extended, taking up as much space as you’d like. Relax the tongue, jaw, and muscles in the face and scan the body mentally for any other spaces of tension that need to be released. Use your breath to breathe into those spaces and let go! If you have lower back tension, you can also do this pose with the knees bent and soles of the feet on the earth, or with a bolster beneath the knees.
It is good to leave at least 5 minutes in your practice that is devoted to this pose but you can be here for as long as you’d like.
Any of these asanas can be done individually, just make sure you do the warrior poses on both sides to balance out the body and avoid injury in the hips and lower back. These can also be weaved together in a vinyasa sequence.
I hope these asanas help to guide you towards a juicy, nourishing, vata pacifying practice for the fall season. Next week, I’ll share some Pranayama Exercises that will help to support you during Vata Season. Have fun yogis!
Love and Moonlight!