Ayurvedic Approach to Working Out
Ayurveda originated in India over 5000 years ago and is a wellness system that teaches you how to find your balance. You might have heard of the term doshas in which there are 3- vata, pitta & kapha. We have all 3 in us in unique amounts that make up our prakriti and vikriti.
Prakriti what we are born, vikriti any imbalances we are currently experiencing.
When we look at exercise we are looking at what your current state is at just like in the western philosophy. If you're new to exercise you wouldn't start a 5-6 day a week program that doesn't make sense. Most of us in the west are over exercising and breaking down tissue that can't always be repaired though.
Let's dive in..
Ayurvedic Principles before your workouts
- You want to do abhyanga before you exercise especially doing circular motions around your joints to warm-up the body. Sesame is the universal oil to use.
- You want to workout fasted if possible. If you need something to eat have 2 dates or soak 5 almonds overnight and peel them and enjoy those before your workout.
- If thirsty they recommend peppermint tea.
- You also want to try and workout in the kapha time of day 6-10am is ideal to help move the kapha sluggishness.
Goal= Gentle Muscle Building
A weekly routine might look as follows:
Thursday- Gentle Cardio
What does stretch mean?
- Yin Yoga
- Holding longer stretches
- Your morning asana practice.
What does strength mean?
- Barre Class
- The Class (bodyweight exercises)
- Light strength classes with weights
What does gentle cardio mean?
- Walking outside
- The Class
- Getting your heartrate up but coming back down after a few minutes
Moderate Muscle Building
*You want to be here in your 30's and where most of the population wants to be for their average weekly routine
A Weekly Routine might look as follows:
Sunday- Light Stretch
What's the difference?
These are guidelines suggested by Nidhi Pandya that she got from the ancient Ayurvedic texts. In general compared to the western approach the main difference is more is not always better.
- You don't want to workout until you are sweating profusely that depletes your ojas (vital energy)
- You adjust your workouts to the seasons and listen to your body. If you need rest you take it.
- Less focus on aesthetic and more on maintaining body tissue and ojas vs how much muscle one has or looks like wearing a tank top.
Fall & Winter
- Best time to workout as it's colder outside and calming to the vata and kapha doshas
- Great time to do more cardio to shake off the kapha dosha (cardio doesn't mean run a marathon in Ayurveda either)
- Stretch, walk or take it easy. The summer is the hardest time to workout as it's pitta season and people are already running hot so be cautious that you don't deplete yourself leaving you feeling burnt out heading into the Fall season.
My Own Experience
I have been lifting weights consistently since I was 16 years old. In August I stopped lifting as I had Covoid and didn't have the energy to workout at all for 6 weeks. When I got back into my routine I started with The Class. It is a combo of cardio, strength and stretch. It has been all I've been doing since September.
When we think about doing something different I think we believe we will gain weight (I didn't) diet matters more than a workout. We might lose muscle tone (I did) since I hadn't been lifting heavy weights. Does that concern me? A little if I'm being honest. As I'm approaching 40 I know I need to make sure I lift weights and not just do bodyweight workouts. Even Ayurveda says that. I'm going to be tweaking my routine next week as I'm currently battling my second round of Covoid 🤪 so taking it easy vs deciding to go all out when my body isn't quite ready for that yet.
What about working out with your cycle?
To me this is my sweet spot. I can implement the Ayurvedic approach which I plan on doing and tweak it around my cycle. Rest is best during your menstrual cycle and something I've been practicing for years now. I always can do more when I'm in my Follicular and ovulatory phase of my cycle through the start of my luteal.
If we all learned how to listen to our bodies working out would feel easier
Craving more mindful movement, morning routines & reducing anxiety?
The Mindful Soul Coaching Program starts Feb. 7th.
- Reduce anxiety & overwhelm
- Become more present
- Connect with a community of holistic minded women
- Learn how to listen to your body