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An Ayurvedic Perspective on Exercise

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As with any health issue, Ayurveda bases its instructions on the person, and the particular doshas that dominate that individual. Exercise should be in harmony with one’s specific constitution. For instance, those with high Kapha can take on the most strenuous exercise programs, whereas people with Pitta dominating can take some intense exercise, but not extremely strenuous and intense all the time. Aerobic exercise, swimming, biking and fast walking are all positive ways of expending energy for Pitta and Kapha types. Those with Vata dominating usually have a strong desire to do strenuous activities such as jogging, jumping, lifting weights, etc. but should actually avoid these, and practice a gentler form of exercise like yoga, stretching, Tai Chi and Qi Gong. Walking is a safe and practical form of exercise for people of any constitution.

Ayurveda instructs that healthy individuals should practice a workout that is half of one’s capacity (very different from the western attitude of pushing one’s self to the limit) One should exercise until sweat appears on the forehead, under the armpits, and up and down the spinal column, but once reaching that point, maintain for a short time, then slow down. This amount of exercise improves digestion by stimulating the gastric fire, induces relaxation, and promotes sound sleep. Sweating helps the body release toxins, control weight gain, and makes you feel good. Over exercising may cause breathlessness, dehydration, and can cause or increase pain in the muscles of the body.

So, as we can see – a lot of this information is based on common sense. We need to stay in tune to our bodys’ needs, and work to improve health, balance and tranquility in all the aspects of our lives.

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