The links between yoga and Ayurveda (the science of longevity) are once more being understood by many around the world. Anyone who has been to a yoga class in recent years may have heard of their constitutional type referred to as Vāta, Pitta or Kapha, or translated simply as the 'air', 'fire' or 'water' types. These are the somatotypes developed by psychologist William Herbert Sheldon in the 1940s, which he referred to as the ectomorph, mesomorph and endomorph. Ayurveda has a more comprehensive evaluation of these constitutional types and they have been used to treat and prevent illness for thousands of years.
The common-sense approach of Ayurveda is seen in how we now approach any form of exercise. We can apply these same principles to all of our activities in life, be they yoga, gym exercises, leisure activities, or simply our everyday habits and routines. We are beginning to see how one approach to exercise will not necessarily suit everyone. Any activity cannot be a ‘one size fits all’, but must be tailor-made for each individual. This applies to the type of exercises one does as well as the approach to such exercises.
We are all a combination of all three, although one or more may dominate in your constitution.
How you find balance will differ depending on your constitution.
Lower impact training such as bodyweight exercises are a safer way for them to exercise. This helps them build more strength safely, which they tend to lack. Exercises of a longer duration will only deplete already low reserves. Although it will give them the high they crave, and undo the stress they tend to accumulate, it will not offer them the balance they need. Less is more for this type, which may mean doing less more often, or doing more in less time, as long as they are adequately warmed up and feeling energetic.
Fire types' ambition can be facilitated with more vigorous routines to express some of their immense drive and will power. They have moderate endurance, however, so would benefit from slowing down throughout a workout, emphasizing a longer cool down.
Giving less than 100% all the time creates more space for things to happen naturally, without injury.
Gentle encouragement is needed to keep water types moving. Once stores of energy are unblocked, they have the greatest endurance of any type. They may benefit joining groups to give them the motivation to continue with exercise, while repeating exercises keeps them moving, except when more strenuous if held for longer. This will give them the intense workout they need to stay balanced. Starting slow keeps this type going once they have tapped into their reserves.