Virasana is a wonderful remedy for tired legs at the end of a long day, as well as an alternative to posture for seated meditation.
vira = man, hero, chief
Hero Pose basics
Releases tension in the thighs, knees, and ankles
Strengthens the arches of the feet
Improves digestion and relieves gas
Helps relieve the symptoms of menopause
Reduces swelling of the legs during pregnancy (through second trimester) and Christmas shopping!
Therapeutic for high blood pressure and asthma
To come into Hero pose or Virasana, begin in an all fours position on your hands and knees.
Bring your knees closer together and separate your feet slightly wider than hip distance apart
Press the top of your feet down and slowly lower your hips back until eventually sitting on the mat (or props) between the heels
Use your hands to roll the flesh of your calves away, draw your navel in and up, ground through your sitting bones and extend through the crown of your head
Stay for 5 to 10 breaths
Come out of the pose the way you came in, by placing the hands in front of you and lifting the hips back up to all fours
Beginners’ tips for Hero pose
Use as many props as you need to raise the hips up, and avoid any discomfort in the knees. Stacking cushions or blocks between your feet is a great option
You can practise the pose one leg at a time with one leg folded under and the other straight out in front of you before coming into the full pose
Gradually build up the length of time you stay in the pose.
If your ankles are stiff, place a rolled up blanket underneath to decrease the stretch
Keep pressing firmly through the tops of the feet and firm the inner ankles in
If you feel any discomfort in your knees, adjust the pose accordingly by elevating your hips by placing a couple of blocks or cushions between the feet to sit on.
Avoid in the case of ankle or knee injuries or recent knee op.
If your quads (front of thigh muscles) are very tight, come into the pose slowly and keep the hips higher by sitting on props such as yoga blocks or cushions. You should feel the stretch in the belly of the muscle rather than at the attachment points at the knees.
I enjoy poses that appear simple yet present us with a physical and mental challenge. At first glance, Hero Pose appears to be as easy as just getting down on your knees. However, the posture calls for a precise, deliberate alignment of your feet and knees. Depending on the structure of your calves, ankles, and quadriceps, you might need to modify the pose. You must practise inner and outer calm and sit with oneself in order to hold the pose.
I hope this break down on hero pose helps you to explore it further in your own time, and you are more than welcome to come along to one of my yoga class in St Helens, or for an even deeper practise one of my yoga workshops in Merseyside too!
Oh and speaking of Christmas shopping and aching legs…why not come along to my Relax & Recharge Christmas Yoga Workshop. A few hours to treat yourself with some gentle postures to unwind, meditation to unravel the mind and a relaxing sound bath by my guest facilitator as my Christmas gift from me to you! All levels welcome, even complete beginners.
So what in the world does it mean to have a primary vata dosha?
First, let’s cover a few basics. Born out of the Vedic culture of India, Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old system of holistic healing that roughly translates to “the science of life.” Believed by many to be the oldest health system in the world, Ayurveda utilises diet, cleansing routines, herbal remedies, exercise and other lifestyle approaches to help bring the mind, body and spirit into balance.
The concept of balance is vital in Ayurveda, because being out of balance is the root of all disease, according to this ancient wellness philosophy. If you haven’t done so already, take the What dosha are you? quiz here.
What Are Doshas?
So how do doshas fit into all of this? First, let’s take a closer look at how the elements in the universe — ether (space), air, fire, water and earth — create the three main “doshas” found in all of us.
While we’re all made up of a unique mix of the three main doshas — Vata (ether/space + air), Pitta (fire + water) and Kapha (water + earth) — we tend to be most dominant in one. And that primary dosha is also the one that’s most likely to come out of balance, threatening our mental and physical health.
Knowing we’re all a unique mix of all three doshas, in this article, we’re going to build a greater understanding of the dosha vata.
Now, please keep in mind that understanding your dominant dosha is helpful and important, but combining that knowledge with the season is key to staying balanced, regardless of your constitution, notes Ayurveda and yoga teacher Michele D’Agostino.
we’re all a unique mix of all three doshas
That’s because the qualities of each season can increase or decrease those qualities in us. D’Agostino shares this example: “Autumn is vata season, which can really throw a vata person out of balance. They will need to be more mindful of creating balance during Autumn.”
But really, in today’s hyper-mobile society, chances are we’ve all got a little too much vata. “High mobility is the state of our current culture,” explains D’Agostino. “People travel more than ever, information travels at the speed of light — it’s seems as though time is speeding up.”
It’s this state of high mobility that tends to creates a vata derangement and need to balance in all of us, regardless of our primary dosha.
What Is Vata?
To understand vata, it’s best to break down the physical characteristics we’re born with, the mental characteristics associated with vata types and explore the conditions and symptoms that can bubble to the surface if you’re living with excess vata.
Physical Characteristics (Vata Dosha Body Type)
People high in vata tend to be exhibit the following physical characteristics, also known as vata body type:
Light-colored blue or green eyes, smaller or irregular in shape
Bony, joints crack
Light, thin frame
More translucent skin, easier to see veins
Fine light hair
Tend to “run cold”
Vata weight loss tends to be easy or even unintentional; this type often struggles to gain weight
Emotional and Personality Characteristics of Vata Dosha
Some vata dosha characteristics also include being:
Emotionally sensitive (heart on sleeve)
Multifaceted interests and abilities
When in balance, the vata type seems to effortlessly juggle several things at once, loves change, is adaptable and is highly creative. But what are the symptoms of vata excess? These tend to surface in the form of heightened anxiety, fear, racing thoughts and trouble concentrating.
Bring balance to your Vata dosha
Routine is Vata’s best lifestyle remedy. The minimum routine for healthy, happy, and successful living is 1) eating your meals at the same time daily and 2) getting into and out of bed at the same time daily. Changes in these two areas disrupt your bio-rhythms, upset digestion and the liver, and have the potential to undermine Vata’s delicate health. Vata individuals must take caution not to get too excited or distracted. Excitement will ultimately lead to exhaustion and knock Vata off their routine. Instead, Vata must learn to channel their energy and focus in order to nurture their creative projects long enough to bear fruit.
Vata individuals can create more stability in their lives by making their home nurturing, affectionate, warm, soft, and comfortable. Slippers, comfortable jumpers, throw blankets, and plenty of pillows are helpful for Vata. Keep your home tidy, as a sure sign of Vata imbalance is disorganisation or lack of cleanliness.
Vata balancing with foods
Vata individuals tend towards lightness and need more nurturing foods rich in sweet taste, oil, and salt. Other body types may be jealous of the delicious food recommended for a Vata diet. Sweet taste does not mean sugar, which is actually overstimulating for Vata. In Ayurveda, sweet refers to nourishing foods like root vegetables, animal products, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Foods should be warm, moist, and heavy, yet easy to digest – something like a root vegetable soup, or grandma’s chicken soup, for example.
Vata tends toward dryness, which is often the first sign of Vata imbalance. If you are Vata, hydrate your body before sitting down to eat. Stomach acid, enzymes, and bile all come in liquid form. If you are not hydrating at least half hour before a meal, you’ll lack the 2/3rd litre of fluid necessary to digest your meal, and may experience fullness after only a few morsels.Take care to drink before that window, avoiding water while eating half hour before and after a meal. Dryness often causes gas, bloating, and constipation. Aside from hydrating with water, sour and salty tastes are the juicy flavors to favour. Add good quality oils like ghee to your diet and regularly massage your skin with oil, especially mustard seed.
Vata tends to be cold skinned and deficient. The blood of a Vata person may be anemic and lacking umph. This lack of umph also weakens digestion since the digestive organs are fueled by blood. Blood builders like grass fed red meat, raisins, eggs, and saffron may be helpful.
A Vata person’s metabolism may be low due to exhaustion. As a result, their food doesn’t get broken down fully. This begins a chain reaction where nutrients don’t get absorbed, further weakening the blood. Bad bacteria grow in the unabsorbed food, causing gas and bloating. Not the afters were looking for after a meal hey?!
Vata individuals should avoid foods that are cold and difficult to digest, such as legumes, raw food, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. Add warmth by adding mild spices and serve food hot, ginger, and black pepper support healthy Vata digestion. Vatas need to be sure to chew food well and be present and still while eating.
Remedies for the following imbalanced qualities:
Dry – with salt, oil, sour taste, or protein
Light – with carbs, fats, and proteins
Cold – with spices and cooked food served hot
Rough – with gooey foods like oatmeal
Subtle – with grounding root vegetables
Clear – with grounding root vegetables
A go to dish for Vatas feeling off balance is MungDahl Kitchari
1 cup Basmati rice
1 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tbs ghee
1 inch of fresh ginger root diced or tsp off ginger paste
1/4 tsp Asafoetida
1/2 cup of mung beans
1/2 tsp salt
4-5 cups of water
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1. Use split mung bean if possible.
2. Soak the mung beans for several hours before cooking and drain.
3. Bring the mung beans and 4 cups of water to a boil, scooping off any foam that forms on the top. Then, strain out the liquid, and add another 4c to the mung dal.
4. Meanwhile mash the ginger with a mortar and pestle, or slice thinly. Set the mustard seed aside. Mix the remaining spices together with 1 tsp water, making a paste.
5. Fry the mustard seeds in ghee until they begin to pop.
6. Add the spice paste, spreading it in the pan, and fry for thirty seconds.
7. Add the spices to mung bean. Take some of the broth and wash any remaining spices from the frying pan into the simmering mung bean.
8. After an hour, or when mung beans begin to soften add white basmati rice and another cup of water. If you are going to use brown rice, be sure to add an extra cup of water and cook for longer – until the rice is soft.
9. Cook until tender on low heat for 20-25 minutes.
A common question is, “Can vata dosha be cured?” Instead of thinking about “curing” a dosha, it’s better to focus on choosing a appropriate daily routine that helps balance your vata dosha.
Bring excess vata back into balance by focusing on:
Spending time with people who are grounded (kapha)
Considering exploring Ayurvedic herbals like triphala to improve digestive health, ashwagandha to balance stress hormones and brahmi, also known as bacopa, historically used to purify the mind
A vata dosha diet should include plenty of warm, cooked root vegetables, warm lemon water and even some seaweed.
I hope this article has given you a useful insight into your dosha, and if you would like more information or support in bringing your mind/body/soul back into union, please leave a comment or drop me a message here
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