You may hate to keep hearing this, but research shows that regular exercise is the best thing you can do for yourself. It helps you on so many different levels – it strengthens muscles, limbers joints, burns bodyfat, reduces stress, lowers cholesterol levels and blood pressure, boosts metabolism, and your ability to learn (so it’s also good for your kids). And one recent study by the University of Boston School of Medicine showed tremendous promise in using Yoga to treat depression (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/71719.php) while other studies being conducted at Walter Reed shows benefits for soldiers suffering from PTSD (http://www.yogajournal.com/health/2532?print=1).

From the Ayurvedic standpoint, exercise is part of a daily routine that includes cleansing the body, purifying the mind (meditation), and consuming pure food. Exercise should be appropriate for the individual’s nature: some need to exercise gently while others should be more vigorous in order to avoid creating imbalances that can cause disease.

Someone who is “Vata” dominant is already inclined to movement, as Vata is responsible for movement. One who is “Pitta” dominant is fiery in nature, and often very committed to whatever they wish to do; Pitta is responsible for digestion of food as well as mental impressions. “Kapha” dominant individuals tend toward stability, and may not wish to move unless the benefits are clearly explained and they have some time to consider and make up their minds. Kapha is responsible for assimilation of nutrients and impressions. Which type would benefit most from vigorous exercise, and who should slow down? (hint: the things you hate to do are the things you need to do most…)

We should also keep in mind that any one of these doshas (literally, “that which goes out of balance”) or combination of doshas can be out of balance. A Vata person can have a Kapha imbalance, or a Pitta imbalance, or all three doshas out of balance. The right type and amount of exercise can help alleviate these imbalances, but one can’t expect to continue eating bad food and hope that exercise will keep away the imbalance. If you aren’t sure what your type is or what may be out of balance, consultation with someone who specializes in Ayurveda can help you to understand your nature and why you constantly suffer from cracking joints, stuffy sinuses, or whatever else may ail you. He or she can also help you find the proper regimen for slowly bringing you back into balance so these things will become a thing of the past!

While we may have difficulty making radical changes in our lifestyles, if we make small steps and work consistently towards a lifestyle that is sustainable as well as beneficial for our natures we will notice how much better we feel when in balance. Even a little change, practiced consistently over a long period of time, will make a big difference years down the road. So Vata and Pitta types, learn to slow down and smell the Yoga; Kapha types, get offa yer asana and move!

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