“You look like you’re dancing in a field of Dandelions”

Ever felt this way? Or do you perpetually feel this way? Well, you have a Vata body type.
Just like me, my first few lessons was greeted with comments such as “hey, you look like you’re dancing in a field of Dandelions” or “you have a very air/space body type”. What a weird first impression to give I thought. But hey, what a weird course to join in the first place! (I mean, who signs up and pays for mental and physical yogic torture!)
I later decided to pursue this point of intrigue and find out more about my yogic body type. It was like discovering a new horoscope system and taking all those horoscope indicator tests again.
Vata is a concept unique to Ayurveda and is one of the 3 doshas. Doshas are principles that govern the physio-chemical and physiological activities.  Most of us have 1 or 2 doshas, which are most dominant in our nature, with the remaining one(s) less expressed.
The 3 doshas are known as Vata, Pitta and Kapha. In this article, I have compiled various sources and will elaborate on how you can determine your individual constutition, what food constitutes to your dosha element and how to go about finding a balance.

3 Doshas
Vata, Pitta and Kapha
Vata is also known as space and air body type. People who are more “vata” have a “light” quality that may manifest itself in a lanky physique. Excess lightness may manifest as being underweight, having muscle wasting, light bones, insomnia or feeling “spacey” or insecure. The “dry” and “rough qualities may manifest itself as having dry or brittle skin, lips, hair, nails or bones. Or develop poor digestion with lots of bloating and constipation. The “subtle” quality of air may express itself as being introverted and creative, while the “mobile” quality can represent a healthy ability to multi-task. If in excess, this may result in scattered attention, fidgety tendency, tremors and nervousness.
Pitta is also known as the fire and water body type. Pitta individuals are typically of medium build. Physically, they have good muscle tone; have a tendency to always feel warm; have premature graying hair or balding; have reddish complexions; enjoy high energy levels; and have really strong digestion – they can eat almost anything. Mentally, they are extremely intelligent, focused, ambitious people. Emotionally, they are passionate about life, have a tendency to be perfectionists, and can become easily irritated.
Out of balance, Pitta types can experience excessive anger, suffer from inflammatory conditions (such as headaches and rashes), encounter digestive problems (such as acid reflux, diarrhea and ulcers), and become over-stressed, workaholics.
Kapha is also known as the earth and water body type and typically the largest of the body types. Physically, they have wide hips/shoulders; thick wavy hair; good physical stamina. Mentally, Kapha types tend to me slow to learn, but they have great memories. Emotionally, they tend to be very loyal, stable, and reliable – they are often referred to as the “rocks” in a relationship.
Out of balance, Kapha individuals have a tendency towards sinus congestion, poor circulation, and sluggish digestion that can easily lead to obesity.
To find out what dosha you are, take a dosha quiz here.
Vata, Pitta and Kapha foods
Even foods have their own Ayurvedic qualities. Try identifying some of these foods and you’ll see that the type of food you take in daily may actually correspond with your Ayurvedic body type.
Vata Food: Dry/crunchy foods, carbonated beverages, and cold/raw vegetables
Pitta Food: Hot spices, alcohol, coffee, vinegar, and acidic foods like citrus and tomatoes
Kapha Food: Deep fried, sweet or heavy foods. Too many cold foods or drinks can also lead to an increase as well. In general, fatty and oily food.
Eating for your Ayurvedic body type
Balance is the key to life.  Now that you know what is your dosha. Find out how what type of diet works best for you.
Vata Body Type
Following a vata diet helps rid your body of the imbalance responsible for your insomnia and anxiety, restoring your creativity. Fatty acids, such as avocados, almonds, flaxseeds and freshwater fish, are the answer for your anxiety and depression. Oils such as canola, coconut, corn, olive and sesame help relieve the dryness you experience. John Douillard, DC, Ph.D, author of “The Yoga Body Diet,” explains no oils are off-limits for the vata diet. He recommends choosing high-protein foods like nuts, chicken, turkey and fish. Increase oils for cooking and choose warm food over cold or dry food. Examples of vegetables include Brussels sprouts, garlic, winter squash and tomatoes. Fruits include dates, figs, grapefruits, grapes, lemons, limes, mangoes and oranges. Choose spices such as anise, black pepper, basil, cinnamon, cumin, fennel, ginger, saffron and turmeric. Enjoy butter or buttermilk, cottage cheese, rice or soy milk and yogurt. Brown rice, wheat and oats top the list for grains. Sweeteners such as raw honey, molasses, rice syrup and raw sugar can be used in moderation.
To find out more balancing your Vata Body Type, take a look at this video:
Pitta Body Type
In terms of a balancing diet, those who have a predominantly Pitta dosha need to be cooled down. Hospodar’s article in the “Yoga Journal” states that Pittas need a reduced amount of fats, oils and salt. Pitta-pacifying foods include ripe fruits and vegetables, except garlic, tomatoes, radishes and chilies. Coriander and mint have a cooling effect, and pomegranates, coconuts, grilled vegetable salads and rice pudding help to reduce Pitta if it is unbalanced.
To find out more balancing your Pitta Body Type, take a look at this video:
Kapha Body Type
To combat the congestion, Kapha types can add garlic to their diet or take garlic supplements. Hospodar’s article in the “Yoga Journal” states that light, dry, warm foods will help to stimulate and warm-up someone with predominately Kapha in their make-up. Grains such as barley, buckwheat and rye are good for the Kapha type, as are apples, cranberries and other light, dry fruits. Kaphas can also eat spices, herbs, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, but should avoid salt.
Exercise is also critical to keep Kapha people in balance; if you have a Kapha body type, you have to get up and move!
To find out more balancing your Kapha Body Type, take a look at this video:

Anatomy: Uddiyana Bandha

Uddiyhana Bhandha
Uddiyhana Bhandha Source: zenfriend.org
The idea of performing Uddiyana Bandha or even watching someone else perform it may be fairly repulsive for many people.

Even for yoga beginners like myself, my first encounter with a live demonstration was nothing short of digust. I thought it’d be more befitting for a contortionist in training, rather than a yogini in training.
Nonethless, I gradually realized the beauty and wonders of Uddiyana Bandha and have since started to perform this “contortic” act every single morning.
As a frequent sufferer of constipation and ill digestion, I was never one of those lucky ones who always strutted out of the bathroom with a great sense of relief, looking like they’ve had a great burden lifted off their shoulders. Which is why I am so happy to share my testimonial of how performing Uddiyana Bandha have made all these ailments, a thing of the past. And of course, how it strengthened other areas of my physical body.
Uddiyana bandha tones, massages and cleans the abdominal and digestive organs. Imagine the internal action of sucking up all your internal organs into your ribcage and releasing it back down. Imagine your intestines compressing up and rearranging itself back to its natural state on the release. These movements subsequently lead to healthy movements along the digestive tract and will also help provide emotional and mental benefits. Long gone are the days where all you think about is when your body will let you take your next dump.
In addition, Uddiyana bandha stimulates blood circulation in the abdomen and blood flow to the heart and brain, returning freshly oxygenated blood to each organ and breathing new life into it. Very often understated, the brain needs blood flow in order to get an excellent supply of oxygen.. Your brain’s energy, as well as the energy in the rest of your body, is made by energy powerhouses called mitochondria that are found in each cell. Oxygen enables mitochondria in your brain cells to pump out an energy chemical, adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Without adequate levels of ATP, your brain has an energy drain and its function decreases.
Whilst perfoming this, the pancreas is also being massaged and toned. A better working pancreas will result in healthy regulations of pancreatic juice being secreted. Enzymes in this juice mixes with bile from the liver to make the digestive process possible. If the pancreas is not functioning properly, the pancreatic enzymes’ benefits cannot be realized.
This video further elaborates the overall function of the pancreas.
Other than massaging the pancreas, the solar plexus will also be massaged.  The solar plexus is a complex network of nerves (a plexus) located in the abdomen, where the celiac trunksuperior mesenteric artery, and renal arteries branch from the abdominal aorta. It is also referred to as the pit of the stomach. A blow to that area such as a kick or jab from a baton will not only cause great pain, but could also potentially damage internal organs or rupture the abdominal aorta, which would be fatal. Through it extensive reach, it controls many vital functions such as adrenal secretion and intestinal contractions.
Take a look at this video and witness the effect of when a Karate guy takes a great shot at someone else’s solar plexus.
Uddiyana bandha also helps to tone the diaphragm. Having a strong diaphragm is not only important for opera singers, but also crucial to everyone because it plays a major role in our breathing. It is a vital component of a strong and efficient core, which will help protect your spine and prevent backaches.
The video below provides a 3D view of the diaphragm during respiration. From there, it is easy to see how Uddiyana Bandha will help tone this muscle of the body.
Yes I know. You’re excited to try the Uddiyana Bandha right? But before that, please take note of the many precautions.

  1. For females, do not perform this during your moon cycle. (You don’t want blood flowing the wrong way, eh?)
  2. For females again, do not perform this if you are pregnant.
  3. Only perform this on an empty stomach. If not, perform it at your own risk.
  4. This is an extremely intense breathing exercise. Therefore, do not perform if you have diseases such as high blood pressure, pancreatic problems, hernia or any other medical conditions. Please consult medical professional if you are unsure.

For guided instructions on how to perfrom Uddiyhana Bandha, take a good look at this video.

Learn, try, practice and be on your way to bowel-free intestines and a powerful digestive system! Good luck!
Liz

Sri K. Pattabhi Jois on Ashtanga Yoga

This is a video interview of the late Guruji Sri K. Pattabhi Jois on Ashtanga Yoga. His famous words: “95% practice, 5% theory”. Don’t think too much, just discipline ourselves and practice.

The key to the whole practice is on breathing. Breathing is the key to our 3 bodies, external, internal and spiritual. Without focusing on the breath, the series is just a aerobic exercise.
Usually I would tell the students, 2-3 seconds inhale, 2-3 seconds exhale. That is way too fast compared to his words, 10-15 seconds inhale, 10-15 seconds exhale.
Let’s practice more then.
Enjoy the video.

Sutra Neti (Nasal Cleansing)

Sutra Neti demonstration by Master Paalu Ramasamy from Tirisula Yoga during a 200 Hr Yoga Teacher Training Course in Singapore. Sutra means thread and Neti means nasal cleansing. Neti is one of the six purification techniques known as Shat Kriya as documented in the literature, Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Neti helps to clean the nasal passage ways, removing excess mucus and stimulate the nerves to make the brain more alert.
Do not practice this on your own without guidance from a Yoga teacher.