Pranayama - Ayurvedic Breathing Exercises For Vata, Pitta, And Kapha Dosha

Pranayama, more commonly understood as a breathing exercise, is much more than just a breathing exercise. I would rather call it conscious breathing!

Breathing is basically an involuntary process that is required at all times to survive, however, what makes pranayama unique is the increased awareness of the breathing processes and the improved mind-body connection it brings. Pranayama is the science of self-healing through breath regulation. It is an integral part of the ancient system of medicine, Ayurveda. It is a major component of yoga, aimed at improving physical, mental, and spiritual wellness.

What makes pranayama more effective is it requires you to adapt your breathing according to your Dosha: Vata, Pitta, or Kapha.

Let us move on to learn more about how to practice pranayama depending on your dominant Dosha to derive maximum benefits.

What exactly is pranayama?

Pranayama involves controlled breathing during which you inhale, hold your breath, and exhale in a specific sequence and in a regulated manner. The goal of pranayama is to stimulate the interconnectedness between your body, mind, and soul. I recommend choosing the most appropriate breathing technique depending on your dominant Dosha to create opposite qualities in order to restore balance and harmony within your mind and body.

Each Dosha should practice pranayama in a specific way that encourages balance based on the specific characteristics.

Pranayama for Vata Dosha

Vata is made of air, space, ether, and wind. The main qualities of this Dosha are manifested as dryness, coldness, roughness, light, and mobility.

One of the best ways to balance and harmonize Vata is to alternate breathing through nostrils. This form of pranayama is also called Nadi Shodhana that involves rhythmic, grounding, and soothing inhalation and exhalation.

Nadi Shodhana would be excellent for releasing physical stress or stiffness in the muscles and other tissues. It would also promote mantel clarity, enhance tranquillity, and reduce anxiety. It basically works by stilling your wavering mind, which, just like wind or air, tends to wander off aimlessly.

You can practice Nadi Shodhana regularly to balance Vata Dosha at any time you feel anxious, stressed, nervous, depleted, and exhausted.

How to practice pranayama for Vata Dosha?

  1. Sit comfortably on a yoga mat with your back stretched. Make sure you feel warm.
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. Then, close the right nostril by applying gentle pressure with the right thumb.
  4. Inhale gently through the left nostril.
  5. Then, close the left nostril using the ring finger of the same hand.
  6. Lift the thumb from the right nostril and exhale through the right nostril.
  7. Inhale through the right nostril slowly and gently and exhale through the left nostril, continuing at a comfortable and controlled rhythm. The breathing should be soft, smooth, relaxing, and comforting.

Practice this for about 5 to 10 minutes every day and you will feel rejuvenated with increased energy levels seeping through your mind and body.

Pranayama for Pitta Dosha

Pitta Dosha is made of water and fire. Its main qualities include warmth, oily, sharpness, and light.

Pranayama for Pitta Dosha, also called Sitali Breath, can calm the specific imbalances by producing a cooling effect.

You can practice Sitali Breath if you have a dominant pitta dosha, especially during hot summer months when you feel irritated, frustrated, and angry due to the heat and excessive sweating. It is also a perfect pranayama exercise for those living in warm climatic conditions.

It can help those who suffer from digestive disturbances due to the increased secretion of acidic juices in the stomach.

How to practice Pranayama for Pitta Dosha?

  1. Sit comfortably on a yoga mat with an erect spine.
  2. Place your hands on your laps with the palms facing up and close your eyes.
  3. Take a deep refreshing breath by curling your tongue.
  4. Then, close the lips and gently touch the tip of the tongue to the roof of the mouth.
  5. Exhale slowly through the nose.
  6. Repeat the same by inhaling deeply through the curled tongue and exhaling through your nose.
  7. Establish a calming and relaxing rhythm and continue for about 3 to 5 minutes until you feel refreshed, mentally and physically.

You would notice an improvement in your mental clarity after the sessions. It can also restore coolness and increase spaciousness in your mind and body.

Pranayama for Kapha Dosha

Kapha Dosha is made of earth and water. Its main qualities include heaviness, stickiness, oily, and coolness. Pranayama for Kapha Dosha is also called Bhastrika that imparts the opposite qualities of this Dosha.

Bhastrika would stimulate warmth and balance the excess Kapha. It would also increase and regulate the graceful flow of prana or energy through the nadis or energy channels of your body.

Bhastrika is suitable for those who suffer from respiratory disorders causing excess mucus secretions and congestion in the nose, sinuses, and lungs.

It can also brighten your dull and stressed mind. This is why; Bhastrika is considered the best breathing exercise to perform during springtime when we all tend to feel lethargic, sluggish, and demotivated.

It is important to note that Bhastrika must be practiced on an empty stomach. Also, since it causes the excess mucus secretions in the nose and lungs to loosen up, I would advise you to have a tissue paper handy while practicing it. 

How to practice Pranayama for Kapha Dosha?

  1. Sit comfortably on a yoga mat with an erect spine. Rest your hands on the laps and close your eyes.
  2. Relax or soften your facial muscles and jaw.
  3. Inhale deeply through the nose, while flaring open the ribs.
  4. Then, exhale fully, allowing the lungs to deflate as much as possible but without causing discomfort.
  5. Continue the breathing technique emphasizing equally on the flaring inhalations as well as deflating exhalations. Keep your spine straight and stretched to help squeeze out the excess Kapha or mucus.
  6. Continue for about 15 to 20 seconds and return to normal breathing.

You will notice lightness, warmth, and stimulation of the mind and body after this exercise.

What are the benefits of Pranayama?

  • Decreases mental stress
  • Reduces muscle stiffness
  • Improves lung functions
  • Increases mindfulness
  • Enhances memory and attention span
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Control blood pressure
  • Regulates blood sugar levels

The takeaway

It is possible to stay healthy and active, physically as well as mentally, by correcting the imbalances in your Doshas. You can practice Pranayama on a regular basis to calm the predominant Dosha and restore balance and harmony in your mind, body, and soul.

Please be sure to follow us on Instagram: @caru_nyc for Ayurvedic inspiration and tips on how to embrace your dosha for beauty, inside and out.  

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