Asanas and Pranayamas for the Doshas


hile the origins of Ayurveda are ancient, the teachings can manifest in practical and tangible ways for all of us every day if we tune in and integrate the wisdom offered. Learning how to work with your doshas in your daily practice is an excellent place to start.

How would the people who know you the best describe you? Do you have a fiery personality? Are you steady and calm under pressure? Do you tend to forget things, and are you always scattered? These qualities can be linked to your doshas and accentuated by imbalances, which manifest in ways ranging from mood swings to skin or digestive problems to lack of motivation. 

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What is a Dosha?

Hope Yogi Practicing in a Meditative Pose

Photo: @Hope.Yogi

Ayurveda, the ancient traditional Hindu medicine form, is based on maintaining harmony and balance in all body systems. The International Quarterly Journal of Research in Ayurveda states, “Ayurveda is based on an experiential, intuitive, and holistic approach.” ¹ The Pancha Mahabhutas are the five principles of Ayurveda. They are Vayu (Air), Jala (Water), Aakash (Space), Prithvi (Earth), and Teja (fire). These are the fundamental elements that make up the entire universe and also what make us. Our constitutions balance these elements and are unique to each person. This combination of elements is your dosha. 

Dosha means “that which darkens” in Sanskrit. If you have an excess of any one of the three doshas, it can lead to imbalance and disease in the body. This is not to say that your dosha is always problematic! Your dosha also dictates things like your level of creativity, perseverance, ability to lead, and how deep your well of patience is. When your doshas are in balance, you will likely feel much more in your flow and capable of living with more energy, clarity, and creativity. 

Let’s first examine dosha types and then consider ways to regain one’s balance when it’s lost.

The Doshas and Their Qualities

We are all made up of these three doshas, with one (or sometimes two) standing out as your dominant trait. Prakriti is the Sanskrit word for what your dosha was at birth. We can become imbalanced through our lifestyle and environment, and a new predominant dosha may overtake the original.

Vata - Space and Air

  • Light, thin body frame and very energetic and agile
  • Fluctuating between bursts of energy countered by sudden fatigue
  • Prone to dry skin and hair, sensitive to cold – cold hands and feet
  • A very light sleeper, easily ungrounded
  • Can have a sensitive, dry digestive system
  • Creative, entertaining, and enthusiastic

Pitta - Fire and Water

  • A medium body frame can be pretty athletic
  • Very ambitious, charismatic, and driven individuals
  • May lean toward perfectionism in their work and relationships
  • Friendly, engaging personality, courageous and warm
  • Social beings with a great sense of humor
  • Prone to heartburn, skin rashes, quick to anger

Kapha - Earth and Water

  • Heavier body type, strong with excellent stamina
  • May have a robust immune system but a tendency to lethargy
  • Tranquil disposition and  tends to withdraw when pressured or stressed 
  • Deep sleeper, thick hair, great skin
  • Naturals at establishing routines and creating structure
  • Very thoughtful and supportive in relationships

What is your dosha?

The easiest way to determine your current dosha balance is to take a quiz asking several questions about how you usually feel and respond to the world and the current state of your physical body wellness. 

  • Kripalu has a quick, simple quiz and a lot of information based on your results. 
  • Bayan Botanicals has a bit more in-depth quiz. If you share your email, they will send you a full dosha report with recommendations on finding and maintaining balance for optimal wellness.
  • The Art of Living Retreat Center also has a great quiz, a lot of information and tips for dosha balancing, and retreats centered around Ayurvedic practices. 

I have found my dosha type and imbalances. Now what?

Yoga’s eight limbs contain many simple, highly effective dosha-balancing tools. Here are the most accessible and effective ones to integrate into your daily routine. Generally, if you have an imbalance, consider focusing on its opposite to reharmonize. If your Vata is running high, it may benefit you to slow down and connect to the Earth. If your Kapha elements feel like a boulder sitting on top of your life, ignite and stoke your inner fire. 

Learn a pranayama sequence to incorporate specific asanas into your flow, end your practice with intentional mantra-based meditations, or train to balance your chakras with exercises that can be easy to follow.

Balancing Excess Vata - Reconnect to the Earth

Some signs of excess Vata in the body may include increased anxiety, restlessness, dry hair and skin, poor sleep, constipation, cracking or popping joints, and cold hands or feet. Here are a few simple practices to begin feeling grounded again: 


Asana – Anchoring Back into Earth Energy

  • Tadasana: Mountain Pose
  • Virabhadrasana 1 and 2: Warrior Pose
  • Uttanasana: Forward Fold
  • Adho Mukha Svanasana: Downward Facing Dog
  • Chaturanga Dandasana: Low Push-Up Pose
  • Balasana: Child’s Pose
  • Utthan Pristhasana: Lizard Pose
  • Utkata Konasana: Goddess Pose
  • Trikonasana: Triangle Pose
  • Savasana: Corpse Pose

Mudra and Mantra-Based Meditation 

  • Hold the Prithvi: Earth Mudra (hold the ring finger and thumb to touch, hands resting facing up on thighs) in seated meditation.
  • Repeat “Ham” as a mantra (pronounced with a long ahhhh sound) in seated meditation while envisioning the color blue radiating around your throat and neck. Vata relates to air and space qualities aligning with the throat (Vishuddha) chakra. Ham is the balancing vibration for this chakra, and blue is the color. 

Balancing Excess Pitta - Calm the Fire

An overabundance of Pitta in your system can manifest as chronic inflammation, angry or impatient moods, excessive sweating, acid stomach and indigestion, skin rashes, or sour body odor. Tips for balancing Pitta:


  • Sitali: (Cooling Breath) Curl the tongue and focus on breathing through the mouth. 
  • Simple Coherence Breath: slow, evenly paced, relaxed breathing (inhale to the count of 6, exhale to the count of 6) focused on eventually taking fewer breaths per minute
  • Bhramari: (Humming Bee Breath) will calm anxiety and restlessness.

Asana – Cultivate Introspection, Balance, and Cool Down

  • Marjoryasana/Bitilasana: Cat/Cow Pose
  • Balasana: Child’s Pose
  • Malasana: Garland Pose
  • Viparita Karani: Waterfall Pose (Legs up the Wall) 
  • Parivritta Sukhasana: Seated Twist Pose
  • Ardha Matseyandrasnana: Half Lord of the Fishes Pose
  • Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana: One Legged Pigeon Pose
  • Jathara Parivartanasana: Reclined Twist Pose
  • Supta Baddha Konasana: Reclined Goddess

Mantra and Mudra-Based Meditation 

  • Hold the prana (touch the tip of the thumbs with your ring and pinkie fingers while keeping the pointer and middle fingers straight.)  
  • In seated meditation or while lying in Reclined Goddess Pose, repeat a mantra of “Ram” to balance the Manipura Chakra at your naval. Envision the color yellow surrounding your mid-section – radiating from the inside out like the sun.

Balancing Excess Kapha - Get Back into the Flow

When this dosha is out of balance, some symptoms may be weight gain, brain fog, lethargy, complacent, stuffy nose, white coating on the tongue, slow digestion, and sleeping too long. Here are some practices to counter these symptoms and regain balance:


Asana –  Build Heat and Increase Prana Flow

  • Adho Mukha Svanasana: Downward Facing Dog
  • Phalakasana: Plank Pose
  • Chaturanga Dandasana: Low Push – Up Pose
  • Prasarita Paddotanasana A  and C Variations: Wide Legged Forward Bend
  • Surya Namaskar A: Sun Salutation A 
  • Virabhadrasana 1 and 3: Warrior 1 and 3 Poses
  • Salabhasana: Flying Locust Pose
  • Danurasana: Bow Pose
  • Setu Bandha Sarvangasana: Bridge Pose
  • Sirsasana: Headstand 

Mantra and Mudra Based Meditation

  • Practice Surya (Sun Mudra) to stimulate your inner fire. Touch the upper part of the ring finger with the thumb. Rest your hands facing up on top of your thighs. 
  • While in an upright, seated position, repeat the mantra “Lam” while maintaining a gentle lift in the Root Chakra and envisioning a brilliant red color surrounding the bases of your spine. You may then move up to the Svadhisthana Chakra sacral area and repeat the mantra “Vam” while envisioning your hips surrounded by a deep orange hue. These two chakras relate to Earth and Water, which are the elements of the Kapha dosha.

Aim for Doshic Balance

By combining these practices into a flow, beginning with the pranayama, then moving through the asana with great bodily awareness, and ending with the meditation incorporating the mudra and mantras, you shine a healing light on the areas that need it most. You reconnect with the flow of prana in your system and move toward balance.


  • 1. Tubaki, Basavaraj Ramappa; Prasad, Buduru Sreenivasa1. Ayurveda fundamentals and science – A perspective. AYU (An International Quarterly Journal of Research in Ayurveda) 43(2):p 65-70, Apr–Jun 2022. | DOI: 10.4103/ayu.ayu_36_23

Bethany Orbison is an RTY-200 Chopra yoga teacher, certified meditation teacher, and nutrition coach. She is also a writer and part-time digital nomad. Bethany grew up learning to appreciate and stay deeply connected with the natural world and carries that passion and connection into her lifestyle today. Her favorite activities include outdoor yoga, forest bathing, hiking, and foraging. Bethany has worked as a photographer and for many years as a professional chocolatier. Yoga and chocolate are her two favorite things to share with others.


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