Exercise for your Body Type: The Best Exercises for Vata, Pitta and Kapha

walkingExercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle not matter what your age, weight, health goals or dosha type may be.  Ideally our routine should include a minimum of 30 minutes of “intentional movement” each and every day.  However, just as our diet can either create balance or wreak havoc on our system, our exercise regimen can have the same effects.  Therefore it is essential to know what your body-type is (Vata, Pitta or Kapha), as well as any imbalance in the system in order to discover the best exercises for you and your current needs.  This will help you to chose the most appropriate exercise practices that will nourish and heal your body and mind , rather than create further imbalance.

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According to Ayurveda, the best exercise for just about any individual is good ol’ fashion walking.  This can be a gentle walk for the Vata types, or a brisk, fast paced walk for Kapha; but overall walking is considered “tridoshic” and is beneficial for every-body, no matter what their constitution or their current imbalance is.  Walking is fairly gentle on the joints and is beneficial for both our physical and mental health, especially when done outdoors.  It is important to take time out each day for a walk, rather than consider “walking to work” or “walking at work” as an exercise.  The reason behind this is because “intentional movement” is not occurring when we are racing to work or as we go about our busy day.  Part of the healing comes not only from the act itself, but from taking special time to do it, in which you can allow the space to enjoy the fresh air and environment around us. 

Although walking is great, it is nice to get a variety going for our weekly exercise routine in order to keep us engaged, as well as to utilize different muscles in our bodies (including our heart!).  Of course one will have to gauge their current state of health and strength to ultimately decide which exercise is best for them, however, this list will at least give you an idea of some basic exercises to chose from.  By exercising for your dosha type (or doshic imbalance), you will be achieving your physical exercise needs while also creating balance in the body and mind.  

As I mentioned above, no matter what your dosha type or health goals are, you will want to get at least 30 minutes of exercise in each day for establishing optimal health and well being.  If you currently do not have any exercise routine at the moment however, this means you will probably have to build up your weekly routine overtime.  This means that instead of jumping from 0 to 60, you will want to slowly incorporate a consistent schedule in by beginning with a goal of 3 days a week.  After a couple of weeks of establishing this, then you can increase the amount to 5 sessions a  week; and then in time increase further until you reach your ultimate goal of 3o minutes of exercise, 7 days a week.  Also keep in mind that these lists are not exhaustive.  You are welcome to play around with other types of exercise that are not listed; just please utilize the overall “favor” and “avoid” recommendations, as these will still need to be implemented.

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Best Exercises for Vata Dosha:

Vata dosha is made up of the kinetic elements of Air and Space, and therefore the best exercises will be slower paced and more focused in order to balance out these energies.  Vata types tend to be smaller, more fragile and lower weight by nature and often can experience weakness or depletion when imbalanced.  Although exercise is extremely essential for every-body, Vata types must remember to keep the pace slow and the intensity low in order to avoid further disruption.

  • Best time for exercise: Early morning or between 2-6pm; avoid exercise at night as it can be too stimulating
  • Favor: Slow pace, gentle, non-weight-bearing, consistent routine and low intensity exercises
  • Avoid: Fast pace, high intensity, extreme weather and late night exercises

Vata exercise chart

Best Exercises for Pitta Dosha:

Pitta dosha is comprised mainly of the fire element (and secondary water) and tends to be hot and sharp by nature.  Pitta types are often extremists and therefore should avoid overdoing it when it comes to exercise.  The best exercises for Pitta types are medium in intensity and will avoid overheating the body and mind.  This means that exercising outdoors in the direct sunlight should always be avoided, especially at mid-day when both the sun and the Pitta are at their strongest point.    

  • Best time for exercise: Early morning or evening; avoid intense exercise at night as it can be too stimulating
  • Favor: Medium pace, moderate intensity, cool environments
  • Avoid: Direct sunlight, exercising mid-day (especially in summer) and competitive exercise

Pitta exercise chart

Best exercises for Kapha Dosha:

Kapha dosha being predominant in both the Water and Earth elements manifests as slow, steady and solid.  Kapha types have strong constitutions, although if imbalanced they have a tendency to become sluggish, stagnant and unmotivated.  Therefore the best Kapha exercises will  involve a faster paced regimen that will help to get the blood pumping and the body moving!

  • Best time for exercise: Between 6-10 in the morning (best) or 6-9 in the evening; avoid late night exercise if it causes sleep issues
  • Favor: Medium to high intensity exercise, high reps, fast pace and a variety of exercises
  • Avoid: Slow pace, long breaks, low intensity, monotonous regimen and excessive water drinking

Kapha exercise chart

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