What is Vata?
ELEMENTS: Space and Air – dry and restless
Vata is made up of the two elements space and air.
Characteristics of Vata dosha: dry and rough (rookshaha); cool (sheetoha); light–lacking weight (laghuhu); very tiny, penetrating molecules (sookhshmaha); always moving (chalota); broad, unlimited, unbounded–akash means unbounded space (vishadaha); and rough (kharaha).
People with more Vata in their constitutions tend to be thin, with a slender frame and prominent joints, delicate skin that is naturally dry, and dry voluminous hair. They are quick and lively in thought, speech and action, and make friends easily. There is an element of airiness to their step, a quality of lightness in their laughter. Change is usually their second name. They are light sleepers and gravitate towards warm environments. Creativity and enthusiasm are hallmarks of balanced Vata.
If your prakriti or original constitution has more Vata in it, you will exhibit many of the characteristics and qualities of Vata when you are in balance than people who have more Pitta or Kapha in their make-up. And that’s natural. But if the qualities become extreme, or more pronounced than usual at a given time, then the Vata in you has in all likelihood become aggravated or imbalanced, and needs to be brought back into balance. And if a predominantly Kapha or Pitta person starts exhibiting many Vata qualities, that indicates a Vata imbalance in that Kapha or Pitta body type. In both cases, it is then time to follow a Vata-balancing diet and lifestyle to help restore the level of Vata in the physiology to its normal proportion.
Factors that can cause Vata dosha to increase in the physiology include a diet that contains too many dry or raw foods, over-consumption of ice-cold beverages, exposure to cold dry winds, a variable daily routine, too much travel, and mental overexertion.
Signs that you need to balance Vata:
If you answered yes to many of the questions above, following a Vata-balancing diet and lifestyle can help restore balance to Vata.
Have you eve wondered whether there is something more than the physical, matter world that you can touch, smell and see? In the same vein as electricity – which we cannot touch, smell or see – there is energy flowing all around us. It is from this energy that the physical body is nourished.
When it comes to energy in and around your body, there are three basic components.
This post focuses on the chakras which can be seen as as receivers, transformers and distributors of the energy (commonly referred to as prana) that flows around our energy system.
While there are numerous energy centres in the human body, there are seven “main” chakras. These chakras are as follows:
1. Muladhara (Mūlādhāra) Base or Root Chakra (last bone in spinal cord or coxis)
2. Swadhisthana (Svādhiṣṭhāna) Sacral Chakra (ovaries/prostate)
3. Manipura (Maṇipūra) Solar Plexus Chakra (navel area)
4. Anahata (Anāhata) Heart Chakra (heart area)
5. Vishuddha (Viśuddha) Throat Chakra (throat and neck area)
6. Ajna (Ājñā) Brow or Third Eye Chakra (pituary gland)
7. Sahasrara (Sahasrāra) Crown Chakra (pineal gland or third eye)
What is the Goal of Ayureda?
To have a better understanding on my dosha (energetic profile) and explore how to balance my dosha to support me towards health and well-being.
How many of you are familiar with Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is a sister-science of Yoga that deals with health from a perspective of relationships – our relationship to the food we eat, in accordance with our relationship to the earth and the seasons, etc.
The Doshas – read any article on Ayurveda and you are likely to see some mention of the three doshas, Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
What exactly are doshas and what do they have to do with our well-being?
According to ayurveda, the five fundamental elements that make up the universe are:
These elements also make up the human physiology.
How do these elements work within us?
Look at the elements from the point of view of what they do in the physiology, rather than what they are — ayurveda describes three biological profiles/ constitutions/ or psychophysiological energies called doshas.
There are three doshas, called Vata, Pitta and Kapha, and each is mainly a combination of two elements:
Each of these doshas is further divided into five sub-doshas. Together, the doshas create all the activities that occur within us.
The combination of the three doshas that you inherit at conception is called your prakriti or original or birth constitution
While it is not unheard of for people to have nearly equal proportions of the three doshas or just one very predominant dosha as their prakriti, most people have two doshas that are more or less equally dominant, with the remaining one less dominant
Thus, there are ten classic types of prakriti possible:
Of course, each of us has a unique doshic thumbprint, and an ayurvedic healer performs an ayurvedic pulse assessment to discover that unique doshic make-up and the exact nature of imbalances in order to recommend a very individual program (diet & lifestyle) for restoring balance.
For good health and well-being to be maintained, the three doshas within you need to be in balance. That does not mean they need to be equal, unless you were born with equal doshas
It means that you need to maintain your original doshic make-up or prakriti through life as much as possible to maintain good health.
Unfortunately, factors such as the dietary choices you make, the lifestyle you lead, the climate where you live, levels of environmental pollution, the work you do, the nature of your relationships with people and even just the passage of time can cause one of more of the doshas in your prakriti to increase or decrease from its original level in your constitution, creating vikriti or imbalance. If this imbalance is not corrected, you eventually lose your good health. That’s why restoring balance is the central theme of the ayurvedic approach to health.
While it is ideal to follow a personal program of balance laid out by an ayurvedic healer after an ayurvedic pulse assessment and a question-answer session designed to discover your precise needs for balance at a given time, a well-designed questionnaire can help you assess for yourself if you need to balance one or more doshas, and diet and lifestyle tips and herbal formulas can help maintain or restore balance.
Please note: The statements on this web site have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. None of the information or products on this web site is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. For medical concerns, please consult your physician. Before making changes to your diet or lifestyle, please consult your physician.
For more information on each of the three Doshas:
My favourite yoga studio is in Berkeley, California – The Yoga Room.
It’s a purpose- built space designed by an architect in a rough-hewn style with an exposed beam ceiling, natural light on two sides and a dance bar along one wall. Not overly large, there’s still room for perhaps twenty students, with an ambience of friendly welcome.
The building is only two stories high, with a cafe on the ground level that offers the requisite wholesome menu for yogis.
Best of all is the main teacher at the Berkeley Yoga Room, Donald Moyer, who is highly skilled, hugely experienced, and consummately gracious.
Written by Eve Grzybowski
Yoga Therapy, also referred to in the industry as “Remedial Yoga” or “Special Needs Yoga”, describes a specialised area of teaching or practice that offers a holistic approach to treating chronic or acute ailments.
What sort of treatment is offered?
A range of approaches are available – asanas (physical postures), breath work, relaxation techniques to reduce stress and release blocked energy, meditation, Ayurvedic (diet and lifestyle) remedies – some or all of these may be used for the purpose of creating or re-establishing balance in the body and harmony in the mind. Here below is an example of a propped yoga pose.
With consistent practice in the hands of a capable Yoga Therapist, one’s symptoms and even the causes of illnesses may be alleviated.
What is a Yoga Therapist?
A yoga therapist is usually a very experienced yoga teacher who, through years of teaching experience or consistent work with a range of different individuals of varying injuries and medical conditions, has developed the skills, and cultivated the knowledge and intuition to confidently work responsively with different conditions and body-types.
In consultation with the student, the Yoga Therapist designs appropriate practices for the student’s age, condition, and stage of life — in many ways providing the individual with a yoga prescription for special needs. The student can then practice this personalised sequence or set of sequences at home.
Ideally, the student will be inspired to keep up the consistent practice and maintain mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health as a way of life, on an ongoing basis.
The Yoga Therapist and student work together. The student is empowered by doing the yoga practice, and the Yoga Therapist assesses and refines the practice to create an optimum healing situation.
I can say personally that Yoga has assisted me therapeutically over the years dealing with symptoms of hip osteoarthritis. Yoga therapy practice also sped my successful recovery from major surgery after a total hysterectomy. Regular practice of yoga therapy routines assisted me to improve my body’s condition and general sense of well-being.
If you are looking for a practice to provide relief from hip arthritis or recuperation after hysterectomy (or other abdominal surgery), try out my Hip-Arthritis Routine and my Hysterectomy Routine available online here on LYL. These are both short, easy-to-do routines which I have specifically designed.
For yoga teachers – If you are interested in developing your skills in yoga therapy, you can train in Yoga Therapy in Australia. There are schools that run a courses offering a graduate certificate in the subject. You can also become a member of The Australian Association of Yoga Therapists, if you meet the organisation’s standards.
Written by GuruJivan Goodman
Kundalini Yoga is a technology to awaken your awareness and bring you in touch with your original Self. It is a process that allows the natural unfolding of your inner-nature.
“Kundalini yoga classes are a dynamic blend of postures, pranayam, mantra, music and meditation, which teach you the art of relaxation, self-healing and elevation. Balancing body and mind enables you to experience the clarity and beauty of your soul. No previous experience in yoga is required for you to achieve results with your very first class.”
– Yogi Bhajan, The Aquarian Teacher
The practice of Kundalini Yoga balances the glandular system, strengthens the nervous system and enables us to harness the energy of the mind and the emotions, so we can be in control of ourselves, rather than being controlled by our thoughts and feelings.
There is nothing more powerful than to awaken your consciousness, confront your ego and drop your fears. There is nothing more elegant than building the strength of your nervous system and character. There is nothing more effective than developing your capacity to be happy in the midst of challenges, grateful for each moment of your life. And there is nothing more profound than getting in touch with the core of your being – listening deeply and hearing the pulse of the creator in all people and all things.
The main difference between kundalini yoga and other forms is a matter of time. Kundalini yoga is yoga for householders, for people who have to cope with the daily challenges and stresses of holding jobs, raising families, managing businesses. It gives results in the shortest possible time. It does not require you to leave your home, become an ascetic or sit in a cave. Kundalini Yoga is for everyone who wants the skills to cope successfully with the challenges of living in this day and age.
Kundalini and the Breath
“The main problem in the world is stress. It is not going to decrease – it is going to increase. If through pranayam the shock can be harnessed, the entire stress and disease can be eliminated.”
– Yogi Bhajan
The breath is a fundamental tool to Kundalini yoga, it:
The quantity, quality and circulation of breath creates the foundation of a vital and creative life.
Most people do not breathe correctly. When we consciously lower the frequency of breaths per minute, we encourage great benefits. Normally we find that men breathe between 16-18 breaths per minute, women generally breathe 18-20 breaths per minute.
8 Breaths per minute
If we can consciously breathe 8 breaths per minute we begin to feel more relaxed. The parasympathetic nervous system begins to be influenced and the healing processes of the body are elevated we also get relief from stress and increased mental awareness.
4 Breaths per minute
At this rate the Pituitary & Pineal glands begin to coordinate at an enhanced level thereby producing a meditative state. Positive shifts in mental function begin; we tend to experience intense feelings of awareness, increased visual clarity and sometimes heightened body sensitivity.
1 Breath per minute (Not recommended for Beginners)
Advanced yogi’s who have had a lot of practice can achieve 1 breath per minute. They experience a stronger connection between brain hemispheres, relief from anxiety and fear, increased intuition and the presence of spirit.
The Natural Breath
Many people have learned to breathe backwards, they inhale pulling the belly in, which makes the space for the breath to enter less instead of more. People who are anxious or smoke tend to breathe in this manner.
A natural breath uses the nose, which filters, warms and humidifies the air. There are many different breathing techniques used in Kundalini Yoga and many of these techniques are incorporated into the Kriya and meditations used while practicing Kundalini yoga.
Kriyas (Asana / Posture) in Kundalini
The word Kriya means complete action, in kundalini yoga it is a sequence of postures, breath and sound that are integrated together to allow the manifestation of a particular state. i.e. to remove blocks, anger or fear, eliminate disease, and create elevation just to name a few.
Postures are used to isolate specific muscles to pressurize specific points or areas in the body that act as reflex triggers to enhance the functions of the glands, organs and to re-direct, flush or increase circulation.
In the beginning you may feel awkward or uncomfortable adjusting to a posture. As you hold it, it starts to feel better. It starts to find a natural place in you. Your body adjusts, your shoulders relax, together with tense muscle groups you didn’t need to use.
You will observe, at some point, a relationship building between you and yourself. There starts to be a bridge of communication between the conscious and the unconscious. This then starts to realign the body and the mind.
Kriya is the spontaneous fulfilment of action by using posture (Asana) that links the infinite Self of you to this finite moment. It tears away at your old attachments and starts to reform you gradually. Postures make you conscious of areas in the body. As you hold the posture you find yourself self-conscious initiall, then you become conscious of Yourself. And if you really put yourself into it you become a conscious self.
There are many Kriyas in Kundalini Yoga that support just about every area of life. Kundalini yoga has many manuals available that focus on Kriyas for a specific purpose, outcome or even, time of day. These manuals contain a wealth of information about the postures sequences, breathing exercises, and types of meditation in each particular kriya.
Kundalini and Relaxation
“Total harmonious relaxation cures the body. To achieve this there must be a coordination between the three facets of ourselves: body, mind and soul.”
– Yoga Bhajan
The ability to relax is essential for physical and mental wellbeing but it something surprisingly difficult for many people to do in today’s world.
After completing a Kriya, the student’s physiological and neural is elevated. At this point, it is then important to relax and allow the physiology of awakening and awareness to begin. During this relaxation phase the following benefits may occur:
Corpse Pose (Shavasana)
Corpse Pose is the best position for deep relaxation, after a Kriya, a hard day or even a stressful situation. Lie on your back, arms by your sides with the palms facing up and the legs uncrossed and relaxed. The feet normally fall to the side for most people and the arms are usually approximately at a 45 degree angle from the body.
Kundalini and Meditation
Meditation is the process of controlling and transcending the waves of the mind. Meditation creates a communion between you and your mind and between your mind and your body. It is beneficial for everyone.
Some of the benefits that you may experience while practicing meditation are:
Meditation is a personal and private experience even when you are meditating in large groups.
When you sit quietly and focus your attention inwards you become very aware of what is going on in your mind and all the thoughts that you are thinking (or even thoughts you didn’t think you were thinking!).
By not reacting to or judging the thoughts, and processing them with mantra, breath or mudra you can create a stillness and calmness that will serve you through your daily life.
There are many types of meditation in Kundalini Yoga that can help you stay focused and quiet. There are actually hundreds of these meditations – ranging from group, healing, couples or children’s mediations through to meditations that work on addictions, increasing vitality, clearing chakras or simply just trying to improve mental clarity.
The term Sadhana means daily practice; it is a practice in self – discipline that enables one to express the infinite within one’s self. It is a self – discipline by which we energise and balance the body and clear the mind and the subconscious. It is generally practiced between the hours of 4am – 7am during the Ambrosial Hours. To exercise before sunrise is important because of the angle of the sun to the earth, which makes it very conducive to meditation.
Sadhana is a test of self – grit and refines and develops the characteristics of our consciousness as human beings.
Sadhana benefits us by:
You can choose a Sadhana that suits you or ask your teacher to choose one for you. Start small if you are just beginning or are new to yoga, even if you just do 3 minutes per day for 40 days. Commit to that, it is good a start and you can slowly increase the time as you feel you are ready.