योग हि दोष

By: Liliana Galvis

Based in work from David Frawley

“Combining Yoga and Ayurveda in their full applications and in the greater context of Vedic science offers a complete system of well-being for body, mind and consciousness, such as perhaps has no parallel anywhere else in the world. It can become the prime force of planetary healing that is so desperately needed today. It can add a spiritual and preventative dimension to modern medicine as well as adding important new keys for the understanding of disease and for applying natural therapies that can reduce the growing cost of high tech medicine.   Ayurveda provides the appropriate life-style recommendations for Yoga practice, as well as the background to unfold the full healing potential of all aspects of Yoga. Yoga provides the spiritual and psychological basis for Ayurveda and its higher applications. “                                   

-          David Frawley  

Vata Pacifying Yoga

Vata dosha is characterized by the qualities cold, mobility, lightness and space.

Asana is a must for Vata types. Without it they are unlikely to be healthy or have the stillness needed to meditate. BALANCE by adding the qualities of warmth, stability, grounding and focus to your practice, you can reestablish your natural state of health and well-being. Signs of aggravated Vata: Anxiety.

A yoga practice for a vata individual should be one creating warmth, serenity and nourishment. It is important for them to keep spine flexible (practice spine bending in every direction and twists: make sure breath is full otherwise vata increases at a fast rate). They must approach asana carefully as they can easily hurt themselves and start with the right mental attitude. They should never rush or hurry into asana practice, spend a few minutes centering, deepening the breath, putting ur mind and  emotions at rest b4 starting, moving slowly and gradually to lose their joints. Emphasize the pelvic region and colon, aim at release tension from the hips, lumbar spine and sacroiliac joints, sitting postures are grounding as they create strength and stillness in the lower abdomen (siddhasana: lotus and vajrasana: kneeling) as they control apana vayu.


Vatas can cultivate this by following some basic guidelines:

  • Practice at a slow, smooth and steady pace.

  • Explore fluidity in your poses. Use gentle movements such as spinal and pelvic undulation, rotation in the joints, counter-poses, and flexion and extension.

  • Hold each posture for a short amount of time, but do multiple repetitions.

  • Draw into and move from your power center or hara. The hara is the area below the navel and above the pubic bone.

  • Focus on the foundation of the pose to create stability.

  • Internally rotate the femurs and press into the outer edges of your legs.

  • As you move, imagine you are moving through a substance like warm water or warm mud.

  • Focus on lengthening your inhalation.

  • Stay connected to the earth. Ground down through your big toe mounts., in downward dog, focus on big toe mounts as well as thumbs and index fingers.

  • Fix your gaze below or at the horizon.

  • Engage your entire body by hugging your muscles to the bones.

  • Do not over extend or deplete yourself. Your practice should be strengthening, not draining. Vatas easily exhaust themselves and when the vata imbalance becomes severe, a restorative practice is best.

  • Forward bends afford immediate relief for excess vata, releasing tension/stiffness from the back but they cannot remove all vata unless combined with backbends: should be done gently, slowly to be effective.

  • Emphasize length of sitting postures.

  • Be present in your practice.

  • Stay warm.

  • Conclude your practice with a long relaxation. They should not end their practice abruptly or hurry off into any disturbing activity.

     More Guidelines:

Set an intention at the beginning of the practice, focusing on the present moment.

Establish an even rhythm to the breath. From that balance of the breath, extend the length of time it takes to inhale, then gradually increase the depth of the breath by inviting it to reach below the naval, this promotes grounding, warms up the body, nourishes Vata. Long exhalations cool the body down and can disperse energy depleting Vata.

Vata is efficiently pacified in Yoga through stability. To invite stability work in grounding the feet and hands in any posture where they touch the earth. Wobbly hands and feet contribute to feeling destabilized. In standing postures use the ball mounts of your toes, especially the big toe mount to create a stronger connection with the earth and ground the body at its foundation. In downward dog, root the hands through the mounts of the thumbs and index fingers.

Gaze: Level to or below the horizon to promote groundeness and stability (in all postures) fixing focus (Dristhi) on an unwavering point.

Pace: Favor a pace that is slow, fluid, gentle and even. This tempo soothes Vata by encouraging internal fluidity as well as assists at maintaining inner focus. Moving quickly and erratically aggrevates Vata and contributes to a racy mind. Move to a temple that resembles moving through warm water. In a flow, pause pause between postures for one complete breath.

Holds: Hold postures for a short length of time, long holds require more strength and can deplete Vata. Come into the posture honoring the energy available at that moment while being mindful NOT to borrow from your reserves.

Transitions: In flows make gentle, slow and fluid transitions between postures in order to protect the joints and encourage connection to the body and to remain present. Quick erratic moves crate dryness, disconnects mind from body and revs up mobile quality adding stability. Use a slow pace to maintain a connection with the body. Synchronize movement to breath to smoothly transition from one posture to the next. Feel the empty space of the transition with your renewed presence.

Feet & Ankle Warm Up


Wrist Stretch


Variation of Cat/Cow

Shoulder Rotation

Sun Salutation


Warrior I

Warrior II

Side Angle

Wide Standing Forward Bend





Leg Lifts

Knees To Chest

Supine Pigeon

Supine Twist

Equal Pose Flow

Intense Westward Stretch

Legs Up The Wall



Pitta Pacifying Yoga

As a sister science of Ayurveda, Yoga is an excellent exercise and spiritual practice to incorporate in your daily routine for balancing your individual constitution. Signs of aggravated Pitta: Anger, Stress, Judgmental. Although many yoga poses or asanas are beneficial to each of the doshas, the greatest benefit for balancing your dosha comes from your approach and the way you practice the pose. A yoga practice for a pitta individual should encourage compassion, acceptance, relaxed effort and be cooling in nature.

Pittas can cultivate this by following some basic guidelines:

  • Have fun in your poses. Do not take yourself or your pose too seriously.

  • Take relaxing breaths and if needed sit quietly between strong asanas to release any stress build-up

  • Soften your gaze downward, at the horizon or even practice with your eyes closed.

  • Allow freedom and creativity in your practice. Change it up. Avoid sticking to one style or series of poses.

  • Practice in a moderately cool space. You do not want to get cold, but pittas should avoid practicing in extremely heated spaces creating too much sweat overheating the head. Always compensate by ending with cooling postures and cooling pranayama.

  • Focus on the yoga experience in your body, not your brain.

  • Work at 70% effort.

  • Avoid being judgmental and critical of yourself.

  • Make sure you have plenty of practice space.

  • Remind yourself that yoga is not a competition.

  • Focus on your exhalation, they cool body and mind.

  • Putting the body regularly into the shoulder stand (sarvangasana) or plow (halasana) protect the lunar principle from the depleting heat of the solar principle and creates coolness.

  • Use the exhalation to let go and release any built up anger, frustration, stress, etc.

  • Be aware of your breath in your back body.

  • Practice plenty of twists as they clear the liver – detoxifying pitta  and side body openers, postures that aim at releasing tension from the mid-abdomen (small  intestine and liver): bow (dhanurasana), cobra (bhujangasana), boat (navasana), fish (matsysasana)

  • Avoid headstands and backbends  as they are heat building unless you know how to balance the heat created.

  • Notice the position of your ribs; draw them back into your body.

  • Benefit from practicing at a moderate pace, slower than you think.

  • Remind yourself that less is more!

More Guidelines:

Encourage qualities of cool, flow, soft & grace. - Set an intention at the beginning of the practice to set a relaxed tone with relaxed effort, less is more kind of attitude.

Establish a balanced breath , from that place start to lengthen the exhalations as it cools, releases and relaxes. Additionally, as you exhale, focus on pulling belly button back toward the spine, this helps to decompress Pitta. To promote coolness, work at 70% of max effort instead of 120%. This aids in lowering intensity over-all.

Gaze: Keep it soft towards the horizon. This keeps Pitta eyes cool and relaxed. Even in postures which are upward lifting, keep ur gaze down to the horizon and cultivate coolness and relaxation. Try to keep back of the neck long and chin parallel to the earth.

Pace: Maintain a moderate tempo with fluid rhythm, It is Pittas opportunity to ease up on heat,  intensity & rigidity. Take a slower pace than usual accompanied it with grace, flow and relaxed effort.

Holds: Holding postures with too much muscular strength and precision creates heat in both body and mind. Favor breath based flows rather than static, rigid, aligned based postures. Chose cooling postures such as: forward bends, side bends & twists as your primary action, if possible. More physically demanding postures, hold for less amount of time and use gentle muscular holding, less focus on precision. Allow the focus to be on the quality of the pose rather than the amount of time it is held for.

Transitions: A short pause with breath at the end of each individual posture or string of postures is recommended for Pittas, this is cooling and releasing. With out a pause, it builds too much intensity and an agenda driven mode. KEY: pause for as long as you held the pose and observe inward from a cool, calm and relaxed place.

Back to the Yoga Index

Child's Pose

Child's Pose Flow

Free The Cat And Cow


Moon Salutation


Revolved Chair

Standing Forward Fold

Side Angle

Revolved Side Angle




Leg Lift



Half Shoulder Stand

Supine Twist

Intense Westward Stretch


Full Yogic Breath

Kapha Pacifying Yoga

As a sister science of Ayurveda, Yoga is an excellent exercise and spiritual practice to incorporate in your daily routine for balancing your individual constitution. Although many yoga poses or asanas are beneficial to each of the doshas, the greatest benefit for balancing your dosha comes from your approach and the way you practice the pose.

Signs of aggravated Kapha: Lethargy, attachement. A yoga practice for a kapha individual should be one creating space, stimulation, warmth and buoyancy. Kaphas can cultivate this by following some basic guidelines:

  • Cultivate the following: Lightness, mobility, sharpness to your practice. Set this as intentions at the beginning of practice

  • Establish early on an even inhalation and exhalation rhythm with a brief pause between each breath, Be aware that Kapha is increased by breathing through the mouth, as it has a cooling effect.

  • Remain focus whole heartedly through the entire practice

  • Be conscious of each and every breath, pause between breaths as it fuels inner heat, stimulating the metabolism to help get rid of excess weight, breaks up stagnation – heaviness - dullness and builds focus.

  • Practice at a vigorous pace and intensity.

  • Avoid a cool-compliecent attitude in ur practice as it keeps kapha in a rat. Kaphas naturally have the tendency to pull downwards into heaviness, therefore needs invigorating movements to create heat and enthusiasm.

  • Focus on the subtlety of the pose and how it creates an expansive presence in the body and energy field.

  • Practice in a warm space.

  • Favor movements that are precise, vigorous & physically demanding, chose dynamic postures and heating flows like the sun salutations. Remember the intention of finding lightness within the postures.

  • When you are ready to release the pose……take one more deep breath.

  • Keep your chest and shoulders open and lifted as you practice.

  • Have a sharp upward gaze.

  • Challenge yourself.

  • Be sure to vary ur practice from day to day as to not get bored or compliecent.

  • Keep moving.

  • Enjoy a restorative pose for final relaxation.

  • Be precise in your poses.

  • Pay close attention to your alignment.

  • Warrior poses are good, backward bends are also good, forward bends not so good except when caught up in emotional distress for short term relieve.

  • Stimulate the naval area as is the seat of agni, like Nauli & Bow (Dhanurasana), plow (Halasana) excellent for opening the lungs.

  • Don’t give up!

More Guidelines:

Gaze: An upward and sharp gaze builds heat, intensity, lightness, all of which are the qualities that kapha needs to ignate change. Full engagement is vital.

Pace: Engage in a dynamic - brisk practice which removes lethargy and stagnation. Moving slow with no direction or conviction, does not provide the qualities that kapha needs. Maintain a practice that provokes sweat and an up-beat attitude.

Holds: Long holds in challenging postures promote heat and sweat as they require strength and energy. Hold with intense muscular effort, remain in the posture until u break a sweat then stay for one more breath cycle to cultivate challenge and will power, think of engaging the whole body in this difficult postures.  Favor precision to help lower kapha.

Transitions: Stay focused during transitions and do not get distracted.  Precision is key.

Back to the Yoga Index

Breath of Joy

Tapping The Thymus

Standing Spinal Twist

Angel Wings


Sun Salutation


Standing Extended Leg

Warrior I

Warrior II

Reverse Warrior



Side Plank

Spinal Rolls

Supine Twist

Leg Lift

Cow's Face


Full Yogic Breath