To get the full benefit of exercise, you need to do it consistently. If you’re like most of us, one reason you don’t always stick with an exercise program is that you don’t always enjoy it. To the rescue--Ayurveda, an ancient East Indian system of healing that promotes balance of the mind and body.
The teachings of Ayurveda can be applied to many aspects of health, including exercise. Ayurveda can help you identify the type of exercise that you really will enjoy. According to Ayurveda, each of us has physical and psychological characteristics that identify us as one of three personality types or doshas--Vata, Kapha or Pitta.
The thinking: Your primary dosha--the one that represents your most obvious or assertive characteristics--may actually guide you to exercise choices that are not optimal for you. Instead, you need exercises thatbalance your primary dosha. Example: You might be a naturally quick-moving Vata who wants to be a runner but may lack the patience and endurance for this type of exercise. To find out more about doshas and the exercise that’s best for you, John Douillard, PhD, DC, an Ayurveda practitioner explains the concepts. Take a break from one-size-fits-all exercise, and choose one that works best for your body.
FIND THE BEST EXERCISE FOR YOU
Doshas reflect body temperature, digestive patterns, learning styles and natural energy level. The descriptions below will help you determine your dosha. Most people have a number of characteristics that align with each of the doshas, although one tends to dominate. Note that some exercises, such as walking and yoga, are good choices for all three doshas, since you can adapt the intensity of the workout to your own needs. Follow the guidelines for the exercise type you most resemble...
Body type: Slender build, thin. Have a difficult time gaining weight.
Personality: Quick-thinking. Restless. Enjoy being active.
Movement style: Quick-moving. Have quick, short bursts of energy. Not much resilience or endurance. You are drawn to vigorous activity but tire easily.
Exercise to keep you in balance: Exercises that slow you down, including hiking, tai chi, walking, yoga and Pilates. You may enjoy these much more than you expect. Weight training for stability.
Walking: Gentle pace
Body type: Big-boned. Tends to be heavy, sluggish and gain weight easily.
Personality: Easygoing. Good under pressure, calm and stable.
Movement style: Excels in endurance activities and mind-body coordination. You benefit most from vigorous aerobic activities.
Exercise to keep you in balance: Exercises such as running or cycling that counter your tendency toward weight gain. Diverse activities (such as biking one day and swimming the next) will help you stick with an exercise program (rather than doing the same activity every day).
Walking: Brisk pace
Body type: Moderate build. Agile.
Personality: Fiery by nature. Competitive and highly motivated. Not happy unless you win. Can get overheated, dehydrated and irritated easily.
Movement style: Good at individual competition requiring speed, strength and stamina. You sometimes overexert yourself, especially when in the spotlight.
Exercise to keep you in balance: Recreational sports such as volleyball that counter your drive to individually excel. Winter sports such as skating and summer sports such as swimming are good for you because they counter your tendency to overheat. Exercise is especially important as a stress reliever for your type.
Walking: Moderate pace
For more help identifying your dosha, go to www.LifeSpa.com and click on “Body Type Quiz” on the right side of the page. To find an Ayurveda practitioner in your area, contact the National Ayurvedic Medical Association (www.Ayurveda-nama.org).
John Douillard, PhD, DC, is an Ayurveda practitioner and owner of LifeSpa in Boulder, Colorado