Ayurveda recommends selecting an exercise routine that suits your body-type and practicing it at least 30 minutes each day.

Vata Pitta Kapha Exercises for all three doshas
Yoga, dance aerobics, walking, short hikes, light bicycling. Skiing, walking, running, hiking, mountain climbing, swimming. Running, walking, weight training, aerobics, rowing, dancing. Walking, Yoga and Pranayama exercises are best. You can vary the speed and intensity of your walk according to your body type. Kapha types may like jogging or aerobic walking, while Vata types may like more of a continuous stroll.

These are only suggestions to help you find the best exercise for your body-type. You shouldn’t feel restricted by these lists. Choose something that you enjoy. (If you have a serious medical condition or are over the age of 40, it is advisable to consult your physician before beginning a new exercise programme.)

Use these Ayurvedic guidelines when you exercise:

  • In general, use only 50% of your capacity. For example, if your maximum running distance is six miles, run only three. Or if you can swim 12 laps, stop after six. After exercise you should feel energetic and comfortable, never strained or tired. With regular exercise, your capacity will grow.
  • Exercise every day, seven days a week.
  • Do not strain when you exercise. If you start to breathe heavily or perspire, cut back for the moment and gradually increase the amount of exercise. Remember: No strain produces maximum gain.
  • For best results, exercise during the Kapha cycles (6:00 to 10:00, morning and evening).

Yoga exercises as part of your daily routine

Yoga exercises are recommended by Ayurveda as the help remove toxic waste from your cells and tissues, improve flexibility in your joints and muscles, integrate all the different functions and systems in your body and restore your mind/body coordination. When done without strain, yogas exercises have a balancing effect on all three Doshas.

We recommend the following Surya Namaskara (Sun Salute) exercise a few minutes each day, ideally both in the morning before breakfast and in the evening before dinner.

This easy set of yoga postures, helps balance all the Doshas and strengthens the muscular, cardiovascular and metabolic systems. It also improve mind/body coordination.

Surya Namaskara (Sun Salute) includes a series of 12 flexion and extension exercises that integrate the mind, body and breathe. Surya Namaskara lubricates the joints, conditions the spine and strengthens every major muscle group in the body. It creates balance, stability, suppleness and flexibility.

General Guidelines for Surya Namaskara

When you do Surya Namaskara, do so one-half hour before a meal and/or three hours after a meal. If you practice a meditation programme, or do Yoga postures, the Surya Namaskara can be performed before them.

One cycle of the Surya Namaskara, consisting of 12 postures, is described below. Start with two or three cycles and increase this over time, if comfortable. Do not strain – if you start to breathe heavily or begin perspiring, lie down and rest for a minute or two.

Surya Namaskara uses a specific pattern of breathing – inhale or exhale – for each posture. Inhale during extension postures – because inhaling facilitates the extending and lengthening movements of the spine. You will be asked to exhale on the flexion postures, because this helps the body to fold, bend and flex.

You’ll see that there are two Equestrian poses per cycle. Use the same knee forward during the same cycle. Switch to the opposite knee for the next cycle, and continue alternating with each new cycle. Always do an even number of cycles so that both sides of your body are exercised in a balanced way.

Do not rush through the exercises – maximum value comes from doing them slowly.

After completing your cycles, lie down on your back, arms at your sides, with palms facing upward, for two minutes. Just allow your attention to be easily on your body.

Be careful not to strain by stretching too far. The drawings show the ideal performance of each pose, but you should stretch only as far as your body is comfortable. Over time, more flexibility will develop. You should definitely not feel pain or discomfort while doing these exercises. If even minimal performance of a particular posture causes discomfort, omit that posture.

WARNING: If you have back problems, consult your physician before starting these exercises.

1 – PRANAMASANA (prayer pose)
Standing erect with feet kept together, join the palms in front of the chest and inhale.

2 – HASTA UTTANASANA (raised arms pose or crescent moon pose)
Bring the arms above the head, bending the spine in backward direction so as to form an arch at the back from the waist while simultaneously moving the hips forward. The eyes can focus on the hands and the neck should be left relaxed. The hands should not appear bent from the elbows.

3 – PADAHASTASANA (hand to foot pose)
Bending forward from the waist, place hands on either sides of the feet. Care should be taken not to bend the knees while doing this posture. The head and neck should appear relaxed in a bending posture. Don’t worry if the hands are unable to reach the floor – just stretch as far as possible without strain.
Surya-Namaskara-03 4 – ASHWA SANCHALASANA (equestarian pose)
Exerting weight on the hands, stretching the right leg behind (in the next round stretch back the left leg instead), allowing it to rest on the toes. Bend the right leg at the knee and place it on the floor, and exert weight on the left foot, arching the spine backwards. The head and neck should be lifted up first and then should be bent in backward direction. The eyes can move in upward direction towards the ceiling. The hands should be placed in between the left foot.
5 – PARVATASANA (the mountain pose)
Gently bring the left foot in the backward direction, inline with the right foot. The hips can be lifted up high in the form of a mountain. The heels can now be brought down to the floor. Bend the head in downward direction and focus on the toes by keeping head down in between the arms.
Surya-Namaskara-05 6 – ASHTANGA NAMASKARA (the eight limb pose)
Bring the knees down first and then the chest. Ensure that eight parts of the body (the feet, knees, hands, chest, forehead and the chin) touches the floor.  “Ashta” refers to “eight” and “namaskara” refers to “Salutation” by touching the floor. Ensure that the hips are raised slightly high above the ground.
7 – BHUJANGASANA (the cobra pose)
Bring the abdomen and pelvis down to the floor. Keep the toes stretched on the floor. Gently lift the head up and make an arch with the spine and neck while simultaneously looking up. The legs should be kept together, with elbows besides the body slightly bent and the shoulders to be kept down. 
Surya-Namaskara-07 8 – PARVATASANA (the mountain pose)
Bring the toes forward in such a way that the feet rests on the soles, with hips in slightly raised position, just as mentioned in Step 5. 
9 – ASHWA SANCHALANASANA (equestrian pose)
Bring the left foot forward bending at the knee and assume the position as in Step 4 just that the positions of the legs are reversed. 
Surya-Namaskara-09 10 – PADAHASTASANA (hand to foot pose)
Bring the right foot forward, and repeat the position mentioned in Step 3. 
11 – HASTA UTTANASANA (raised arms pose)
Stretch in an upward direction in a standing posture with arms up and bending backwards, forming an arch at the spine, repeating the posture of Step 2.
Surya-Namaskara-11 12 – PRANAMASANA (prayer pose)
Bring back the hands to the front of the chest, joining palms and standing erect as in the position mentioned in Step 1.
Surya Namaskara all poses

Benefits of Surya Namaskara

Surya Namaskara has numerous benefits. It stimulates all the endocrinal glands and enables the thyroid, pancreas, pituitary and adrenal glands to secrete their respective hormones and to function normally.

It rectifies disorder of the liver, the pancreas and helps cures indigestion, intestinal disorders, acidity, constipation and flatulence. It prevents abdominal fat and strengthens the spinal cord and the nervous system.

Surya Namaskara strengthens the spine and limbs and gives them greater flexibility.