How Your Dosha Impacts Your Practice

Your Dosha, or mind-body type, according to Ayurveda, may impact your practice both physically and mentally.

In fact, some schools of yoga prescribe asana based on the individual’s constitution for healing and therapeutic reasons.

Contrastingly, in Ashtanga Yoga, we all do the same thing. Now, in our last post, we actually talked about how this is beneficial in terms of cultivating depth. And in my opinion, we can use this practice to heal as well.

Being aware of our doshic constitution in the context of Ashtanga Yoga is particularly interesting because Ashtanga acts like a mirror into these qualities. We get to use the objective framework to observe the fluctuations of the body, mind, and doshic qualities on a daily basis.

David says, “We use asana’s as screens to reveal the impermanent nature of our thoughts and feelings.” Similarly, we can use asana to observe the constant ebb and flow of our dosha, and to gain insight into how they may impact us.

According to Dr. David Frawley, one of the most renowned Ayurvedic practitioners in the west, what matters far more than what specific asana you do, is how you do it.

The way we approach the practice is far more important than whether or not the specific asana is healing or therapeutic for our specific dosha.

This week, I’m going to briefly break down each of the dosha’s, give you some insight into how they may impact your practice, and what you can do about it.

Now, before we get into that, make sure you download our Discover your Dosha quiz so that this article has some context. Of course, if you’re already familiar with your dosha, keep on reading!

It’s also important to understand that we are in a constant state of flux.

Our environment, lifestyle, diet and many other factors are constantly brining us in and out of balance with our dosha.

So, Let’s take a look at each Dosha, it’s characteristics and how these specific individuals may want to take on the practice:

How your Dosha Impacts your Practice


Vata types are by far the most creative of the doshas. At their best they are smart, quick thinkers, they are physically light and often quite flexible. But when out of balance, Vata types may become overly anxious, unable to turn off their mind, and may overstretch or injure themselves.

In Ashtanga this may manifest as an inability to focus on the practice or an abundance of anxiety. You may find yourself rushing through Asana, your breath may become more shallow and quick, and you might find yourself feeling flighty. You may find it hard to stay on your mat and may notice feelings of wanting to leave the practice.

If this sounds like you, the first step is simply to notice. Bring your awareness to it. Let the practice show you this imbalance, and be with it. 

To pacify Vata we want to really ground ourselves. Approaching the practice with this grounding intent is key. Intentionally deepening the breath, moving a little slower, and more intentionally through the practice might be helpful. Bring your focus to your dristi, and allow the nature of the practice to help you ground and concentrate.

Off the mat you can focus on eating warm foods and warming spices. Favouring the flavours of sweet, salty and spicy will help you ground. Making time for daily meditation may also be helpful for Vata types.


Pitta types are fiery, motivated and intense. At their best they are goal oriented, focused, and really hard workers. When out of balance they can become angry, irritable, and obsessive.

In Ashtanga this can manifest as obsessing over a specific pose, or putting the body through pain or harm to achieve that asana. It may manifest as an obsession with this practice, and viewing it as a purely physical performance, rather than a deep spiritual discipline.

If this sounds like you, the first step is simply to notice. Bring your awareness to it. Let the practice show you this imbalance, and be with it. 

To pacify pitta we want to chill out a bit on the mat. Pitta is representative of fire, so adopting a calm, relaxed mentality about practice is key. Deepening our breath is useful. If you notice yourself obsessing over a posture, a good rule of thumb is to try a pose three times, and if you can’t get it on your own, wait for an assist, or simply move on.

Off the mat, you can focus on eating cooling foods like cucumber and favouring raw foods like salads and veggie bowls. Mint tea is great for Pittas, along with creating space for daily meditation. Cold showers also do wonders every now and then to cool down a hot headed Pitta!


Kapha types are grounded. Characterized by water and earth they are the most grounded of the Doshas. When they’re in balance these people are super grounded and strong in both body and mind. But when out of whack they are tired, lethargic, a little lazy and don’t want to do much.

In Ashtanga this can manifest as not wanting to show up on your mat. It may manifest in a sluggish, “dragging your ass” kind of practice. You know when you feel heavy, and tired and don’t want to move?

Kaphas actually benefit from picking up the pace a bit on their mat. Creating heat in the body by doing jump throughs and jump backs is helpful. These types want to harness the intensity of Ashtanga and use it to get “unstuck” in both the body and mind.

Off the mat, Kaphas want to favour spicy, astringent and bitter foods. They want to load up on the spices and eat things that are easy to digest like dal or kitchari, along with plenty of green things!

Of course, there are times when you may experience the anxiety of a vata, anger of a pitta, and lethargy of a kapha, and perhaps need to stop. These suggestions should of course be dealt with on an individual basis, and you should always have a conversation with your teacher about how your feeling.

As we know, they can usually spot your BS and help you determine if what you’re dealing with is your own story, or in fact something more serious that necessitates you stepping back a bit.

I hope this was helpful and gave you some insight into your mind-body type, and how you ought to approach practice based on your unique constitution!



Posted in ,

Melissa Singh

1 Comment

  1. Harshita on November 23, 2020 at 3:07 am

    I was completely unaware of the impact of dosha. Thanks for sharing! Very informative.