Updated: May 19
Age and expectations have a real difference in modern society as compared to the traditional approaches of many indigenous cultures. A common societal belief is that age limits what we can do, preventing many people from exploring the benefits of yoga. Many people believe that you have to be young and flexible to do yoga, but this is simply not true!
Anyone can do yoga - regardless of age or physical ability.
In this blog post, we will dispel the myth that you have to be young to practise this amazing discipline and will also share specific yoga practices for different stages of life that can help you stay healthy, balanced, and connected to your body.
● Introducing Yoga and Ayurveda
● Ayurveda & Your Energy Profile?
● Ayurvedic Approach for Every Life Stage
· Transitioning between poses
● Yoga Poses for Different stages of your life
· Kapha (0-20Years)
· Pitta (20-60 Years)
· Vatta (60 Years and over)
Introducing Yoga and Ayurveda
Yoga is more than taking your body through a series of positions that challenge your flexibility, strength, and balance. It's a lifestyle that can help you keep your body, mind, and emotions in control.
Yoga is an ancient science, popularised by the Indian approach that teaches us how to live in harmony with our surroundings. The word "Yoga" means 'union'. In Sanskrit – an ancient Indo-European language. Yoga could mean the union of mind, body, and spirit. It is a holistic approach to health and well-being.
This means that ' ‘Union '’ or Yog can be achieved by anyone at any age and at any levels of fitness. And there are specific Yoga practices that can help you in every stage of your life.
To get the most out of your yoga practice, it is important to tailor your session specifically for your mind-body constitution - also known in Ayurveda as Dosha. Thus Yoga and Ayurveda together create the holistic map of well-being for your mind, body and soul.
Ayurveda and Your Energy Profile
Ayurveda is based on the belief that five elements make up life: earth, water, fire, air, and ether. All living things are made up of a mix of these five elements to create three energy patterns – or three doshas—Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
Each energy pattern – or Doshas – has a particular characteristic, expressed through their particular patterns physically, emotionally, mentally & intellectually.
● Space and Air combine to create the Vata Dosha which is responsible for the movement
● The Pitta Dosha, made of Fire and Water elements, is responsible for biochemical processes that generate heat and energy.
● Water and Earth elements merge to create Kapha Dosha which is responsible for stability and holding things together.
Although all 3 doshas are present within every one of us, we each have a unique pattern where one dosha usually predominates the other two – or each individual has the propensity to become unbalanced within one of the doshas more than the other.
Ayurveda would say that such dosha imbalances can lead to many health issues like anxiety, nervousness, indigestion, low immunity, and many more.
With regards to age, the three doshas—Vata, Pitta, and Kapha—heavily influence every stage of our lives.
Kapha Dosha is believed to be in excess during childhood to 0-16 Years, the first stage of life.
Pitta Dosha tends to be in excess from puberty until the fifties & sixties.
The third and final stage govern the last trimester of ones life, is governed by Vata Dosha.
Although it may seem daunting, there's no need to worry. Ayurveda and Yoga are complementary practices that can help to bring the doshas back into balance – and a state of YOG, thereby restoring our health and well-being.
Ayurvedic Approach for Each Life Stage
The approach we take towards yoga asana (poses) should be changed according to these energy types to help create balance at each stage of life.
Let's discuss some of the tools that you can include in your yoga practice to help further balance your doshas
Even if you've been practising yoga for years, it's important to listen to your body and go at the pace that feels right for you.
● Those with a Vata constitution, according to Ayurveda, favour a pace that is slow, rhythmical, and gentle. This tempo encourages internal fluidity in Vata and also assists with maintaining inner focus.
● Pitta-dominant individuals should establish a moderate tempo and fluid rhythm. This is their opportunity to ease up on striving, ambition, and rigidity
● Kapha-dominant individuals should do yoga at a dynamic and brisk pace to generate heat and break up any feelings of stagnation or lethargy
Another tool that Ayurveda suggests is how to set the gaze – or Drishti.
● Vata: Maintaining a level or below gaze to the horizon will help you feel more grounded and stable.
● Pitta: Keep your gaze soft and level with the horizon.
● Kapha: A sharp and upward gaze creates heat, intensity, and lightness. These are the qualities Kapha needs to generate change, up-liftment, and engagement.
● Vatta: For those with a Vata Dosha, slowly inhale and pause for a few seconds before slowly exhaling.
● Pitta: For those with a Pitta constitution, slight deep breaths with slight pauses in between the inhale and exhale are advised.
● Kapha: If you tend to be Kapha dominant, breathe quickly and deeply, with only a short break in between each breath.
4. Transitioning between poses
Lastly, transitioning between yoga poses is just as important as the duration you hold each pose. Ayurveda recommends modifying the length of time spent in each pose (short, moderate, or long), and smooth transitions from one pose to another. This is determined by counting how many breathes you take whilst in the posture.
Ayurveda recommends certain yoga poses for different life stages and dosha types. Let's take a closer look at them.
Yoga Poses for Different stages of your life
Kapha (0-16 Years)
According to Ayurvedic principles, the first year of life is all about pure love; from 1 year to 10 years old, ethics, values, and boundaries should be emphasised. Yoga asana should be considered more like play time up to this stage. Children aged 10 to 16 can begin practising yoga postures.
In these cases, the stability of Kapha is about creating boundaries that will lead to the success of the young person. Physically, congestion is often experienced at this age - especially in years 1 to 10. Playful yoga postures, massage, and a diet to free the congestion are advised. In latter years, Camel pose and Bridge pose – can help prevent congestion and free up the chest, Downward-facing Dog, and repetitions of Sun Salutations.
Preparatory breathing practices – known as kriyas – are particularly good at helping to break up congestion.
Pitta (puberty-latter years)
The years of energy to build life, success, learning, and career needs energy which is achieved by managing Pitta (or the internal fire).
Some of the best poses to help balance pitta and release tension in the mid-abdomen area are the Triangle pose, Cobra pose, Bow pose, Moon Salutations, gentle backbends, and other chest-opening, hip-flexor lengthening poses.
Also, make sure to explore other cooling calming breathing practices such as sheetali* pranayama.
Vatta (60 Years and over)
The wise sage. Elders of communities would retreat into the forest to contemplate life and bring their wisdom back to help others.
In modern society, the Vatta stage of life can become more philosophical and more creative than before.
Concerning the physical body, consider practising grounding poses such as Warrior II and Forward Fold, Seated Forward Fold, Head to Knee pose, and Lotus pose.
Performing gentle twists while focusing on your breath is an excellent way to release built-up nervous tension.
Regarding breath work, the practice of retaining the breath helps to create stability of mind and emotions, keeping excess worry at bay.
Yoga at any Age
As you can see, the Ayurvedic approach with yoga is tailored specifically for each life stage and energy type. How old you are is not relevant to whether or not you should practise yoga. What may be a steady pace for one person may be dynamic to another or too sedentary for others. Thus, understanding your particular Dosha is important when choosing your approach to yoga. And of course, adapting as necessary
If you’re looking to restore balance in your Doshas, consider trying out some of the practices we shared above.
So, what are you waiting for? Start practising today and feel the difference yoga can make in your overall health and well-being.
Let us know in the comments below which poses you find helpful for your dosha type. Share this article with your friends and family to help them learn more about how they can benefit from yoga!
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*To be covered in future blog posts
teachings from Kaivalyadhama school of yoga