Digestion and Weight, Paschimottanasana

Digestion and Weight, Paschimottanasana

Digestion and Weight, Paschimottanasana, 
This beautiful asansa offers many benefits to health and well-being. From a purely physical, structural perspective, its easy to see that this asana stretches the muscles of the lower back and hamstrings offering those who practice regularly greater flexibility in general. However, one of the most important benefits according to the texts of Hatha Yoga like the Siva Samhita is that this asana kindles agni – the power of digestion. In addition, the Siva Samhita states that this asana also brings mastery of vata dosha – the air the disturbs digestion. Hence, this asana reduces vata and kapha doshas. Those who have a pitta imbalance (vikruti) should use some caution as this asana increases heat. This is especially true if a person experience GERD or hyperacidity.
Because this asana helps balance both vata and kapha doshas, it can be used to help manage vata-kapha type weight gain. This is weight gain that has its origin in anxiety eating. Indeed, this asana is very grounding and centering – reducing anxiety. Combined with stabilizing or increasing agni, weight slowly comes off. Naturally, for this purpose, the practice should be combined with a vata-kapha pacifying diet and lifestyle.
Caution should be taken by those who have back problems caused by a disc herniation as this can aggravate the back pain. However, not all low back pain has it’s origin in the disc. Please take care and if there is pain, decrease or eliminate the practice.
Om Shanti.
The Three Doshas

The Three Doshas

Your constitution or Prakruti is the fundamental and unique balance of three basic energies called doshas. The three doshas are Vata, Pitta and Kapha. The balance in each individual is different; hence, each individual has his or her own special set of challenges and gifts. For this reason no two healthcare programs are identical, and each person’s path toward optimal health is unique.

Vata Dosha

The Vata dosha is said to be made up of the air and ether elements. This means that it has qualities that are similar to these elements. Vata is very much like the wind – it is light, cool, dry and mobile. In the body those people with a Vata nature experience more of these qualities. Their bodies tend to be light, their bones thin, and their skin and hair dry. They often move and speak quickly. When out of balance, they may lose weight, become constipated, and have weakness in their immune and nervous systems.

These qualities are also reflected in the personality. Those with a Vata nature tend to be talkative, enthusiastic, creative, flexible, and energetic. Yet when out of balance, they may also become easily confused and overwhelmed, have difficulty focusing or making decisions, and have trouble sleeping. This becomes more apparent when they are under stress. They are challenged by cool emotions like worry, fear and anxiety.

In order to bring balance to Vata, programs are designed that emphasize the opposing qualities of warmth, heaviness (nourishment), moistness and stability. In the diet this is reflected in the consumption of cooked grains such as rice and cooked vegetables as well as the intake of warm milk with spices. Pungent herbs like ginger that increase internal heat and nourishing herbs like ashwagandha bring balance to Vata.

Pitta Dosha

The Pitta dosha is said to be made up of the fire and water elements. Fire is more predominant, and those people with a predominant Pitta nature have many of the qualities of fire within them. Pitta tends to be hot, sharp and penetrating. It is also somewhat volatile and oily. The oily nature of Pitta is related to the secondary component of water. People with a Pitta nature reflect these qualities. They tend to feel warm, have somewhat oily skin, penetrating eyes, and sharp features. They tend to have moderate weight and good musculature. When out of balance, they tend toward diarrhea, infections, skin rashes, and weakness in the liver, spleen, and blood.

These qualities are also reflected in their personalities. Pitta people tend to be highly focused, competitive, capable, courageous, energetic, and clear communicators, who get right to the point. They like to solve problems, and, when under stress, they dig in their heels. However, they can also become overly intense and speak with a sharp tongue. They make great friends but feared enemies. Emotionally, they are challenged by the heated emotions of anger, resentment, and jealousy.

In order to bring balance to Pitta, programs are designed to emphasize the opposing qualities of coolness, heaviness (nourishing) and dryness. Cool spices like fennel are recommended in the diet along with foods such as raw vegetables, cooked rice, and wheat as well as most beans. Sweet herbs like shatavari are used to nourish the body, while bitters like dandelion root temper the fire.

Kapha Dosha

Within the Kapha dosha there is a predominance of the water and earth elements. Like these elements Kapha tends to be cool, moist, stable, and heavy. In the body these qualities manifest as dense, heavy bones; lustrous, supple skin; low metabolism; and large, stocky frames. In addition, those with a Kapha nature tend to feel cool. When out of balance, Kapha individuals are prone to gaining weight and tend to have weaknesses in their lungs and sinuses, where there is an accumulation of mucous. Those of Kapha nature are also most prone to non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

The elements of water and earth are also manifested in the personality. The heavy, stable nature of Kapha is reflected in a steady personality that is not prone to quick fluctuations. Those with a Kapha nature handle stress very well, often not even noticing that it exists. They don’t like change, are generally conservative, and would prefer to keep things just the way they are. Those with a Kapha nature are also comfort seekers. This relates to the soft, watery nature of Kapha. Too much comfort, however, can lead to a lack of motivation and a feeling of becoming stuck. When Kapha is out of balance, the heavy emotions of depression and lethargy result.

In order to bring balance to a Kapha nature, the opposing qualities of lightness, dryness, and warmth are recommended. Grains such as quinoa and amaranth are recommended as well as hot spices like cayenne pepper. Lots of vegetables and very little nuts or dairy are prescribed. Cleansing herbs like guggul and pungents like clove bring balance to Kapha.