Words by Charlotte Holmes - U.K. Head of Yoga at Virgin Active and The Sports Edit Ambassador
Starting Yoga can be somewhat intimidating, especially if you believe that the prerequisites are touching your toes and being able to stand on your hands. Which in itself is ironic; as yoga really is the most forgiving practice of them all.
WHAT IS YOGA?
There is no consensus on its chronology or specific origin, other than that yoga developed in ancient India.The original context of yoga was spiritual development practices, to train the body and mind to self observe and become aware of its own nature. Its purpose was to cultivate discernment, awareness, self-regulation and higher consciousness in the individual.
Sadly these days yoga has translated in the West to an overly complex web of varying styles of movement practice, in which the individual seems to twist, turn and bind themselves up into knots. Ashtanga to Jivamukti, Ariel to Hot, Sivananda and Mandala and Hatha and Rocket and Yin… so many types - send help!
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if no matter what time, day or state you’re in, there was a type of yoga practice that would guarantee to consistently bring your whole self back to balance? In 2021 Yoga at Virgin Active will teach their new proposition; Ayurveda Yoga. Not another type I hear you cry! But let me explain why I see this concept as the way forward.
WHAT IS AYURVEDA?
The ancient holistic science of Ayurveda dates back over 5,000 years and suggests that everything we can see, hear, touch, taste and smell, including our own selves are made up of the five elements — Fire, Water, Earth, Air and Space. The balance (or imbalance) of these elements within us is what is known as our “Dosha” or constitution. It is all about maintaining wellness with an emphasis on prevention, based on the belief that health is maintained through a delicate balance of body, mind and consciousness (soul).
YOGA AND AYURVEDA
Yoga is Yoga and Ayurveda is Ayurveda. But, if you start to think of the two concepts more like sisters, who support and guide each other in order to create a deeper self-understanding as well as physical, mental and emotional harmony, the real question is; why wouldn’t we want to bring these two ancient systems of practice together?
Our constitution, when in balance, is our unique imprint that we are born with. It can’t be changed. However, it often shifts due to our environment. Things like stress, poor diet, lack of sleep and other life choices can cause our Dosha to come out of balance. Ayurveda always looks to bring us back to our unique constitution.
WHAT IS A DOSHA?
A questionnaire (which we provide at Virgin Active yoga) can soon help you determine your dominant Dosha (which is usually a mix of two in Doshas in fact - I am Pitta and Vata). This knowledge of your Dosha can in turn help you understand your physical, mental and emotional balance and lead you to choose the type of yoga that best suits you in that moment.
There are three types of Dosha, characterised as follows:
Characterised by the element of fire, with a small amount of water. Tend to be of muscular build. Organised and charismatic, but can be direct and controlling.
Characterised by the elements of air and space. Tend to have a lighter physical frame. Creative, artistic and light hearted in nature, but can be anxious.
Characterised by the elements of water and earth. Tend to have a larger physical frame. Relaxed and steady by nature. Can lean towards laziness and find it hard to surrender.
These three Doshas directly correspond to the three styles of classes under the new Virgin Active Ayurveda Yoga programme, with Kapha, Vatta and Pitta Doshas represented via our ‘Flow’, ‘Align’ and ‘Calm’ yoga classes.
THE BENEFITS OF AYURVEDA YOGA
Gone are the days of doing yoga because you feel you should, or attempting a class that really isn’t for you ‘cos your mate ‘swears by it’. No matter how you feel that day, no matter your mood or energy level you’ll be able to find the Ayurveda Yoga class that is going to bring you back to - well - you!
You may have previously found that you were naturally drawn toward a certain type of yoga - but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the best style to balance you out. In fact, you might find that the style you’re drawn to could bring you more out of whack!
Practice the style of Yoga that will give your Dosha the greatest opportunity to move back toward balance. This is where we truly feel the benefits of Yoga and Ayurveda.
THE 3 TYPES OF AYURVEDA YOGA
Your one stop shop for dynamism, energy and athleticism. A faster paced class with breath-to-movement sequences, seamlessly created to challenge you both physically and aerobically. Increase strength, support muscle development and clear your mind.
Recommended to balance the Kapha Dosha.
A foundational class to help get you out of your head and into your bodies. Think precision-focussed postures held for several breaths. An emphasis on muscle engagement through standing balance.
Recommended to balance the Vata Dosha.
A deeply grounding practice that sees poses help for many minutes. This mainly floor based class has an emphasis on letting go and releasing, long steady holds and a cooling breath practice. This practice is great for increasing self-awareness and reducing stress because of it's meditative nature.
Recommended to balance the Pitta Dosha.
Ayurveda Yoga at Virgin Active is here to demystify the practice of yoga in 2021. Whether you’re new to yoga or not, this really is yoga for everybody and every body. So, whether you’re practicing in our clubs or at home via our on-demand classes, you can practice the right yoga for you with your favourite teachers in the comfort of wherever you choose.
Don’t forget to follow myself @misscharholmes and my yoga team Evelyn Adams (@evelynadams) & Charles Balogh (@charles_balogh) on Instagram to stay up to date with where you can practice with us. Look forward to seeing you on the mat soon!