Yoga Sequences

Elemental Yoga: An Earthy Sequence to Ground Vata

Balancing the air and ether of your Vata dosha with the opposing energy of the earth element can help ease the anxiety, nervousness, fatigue, and digestive issues Vatas are prone to.

Balancing the air and ether of your Vata dosha with the opposing energy of the earth element can help ease the anxiety, nervousness, fatigue, and digestive issues Vatas are prone to.

Vata, which is a mix of the air and ether elements, is associated with the fall season into winter, when the wind picks up and the climate becomes more dry and cold. As our external environment changes, it increases Vata in our internal environment. And an imbalance of Vata can lead to anxiety and nervousness.

If your dosha is predominantly Vata (take our dosha quiz to find out), you may feel the effects of fall even more acutely. Grounding, earthy, and calming poses, which make up the foundation of this practice, are ideal to help you feel centered. Earth energy helps to balance excess wind/air energy. It’s better to move more slowly in your practice, spending a little extra time in each pose. Flowing too quickly or in a hurried or forced way can aggravate Vata, which is prone to overexertion and fatigue. Don’t rush! Enjoy and relish every transition mindfully for a Vata-pacifying practice.

Asanas that engage the lower back and thighs are major regions of Vata dosha. Asanas such as Tree Pose and Mountain Pose root your feet into the earth, having a stabilizing effect. Warrior I and II poses are excellent to help ground you, while also building strength.

Vata types are prone to constipation, an energy and beauty block that must be addressed. Standing or seated forward bends, such as Paschimottanasana, that compress the pelvis are healing, as are twists that wring out the digestive tract. Knees-to-Chest Pose works on the lower intestines and can also calm down Vata energy. Finishing with a long Savasana of at least 15 minutes is also highly pacifying for Vata types.

Mountain Pose

Mountain Pose

Tadasana

Stand straight with the insides of your big toes together. Line up your feet parallel, heels a little apart, middle toes pointing forward. Ground your energy evenly through the four corners of your feet, and gently pull up from your spine. Open your chest and shoulders slightly, but keep your chin parallel to the floor. Hands come together in Anjali Mudra.

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Warrior II

Warrior II

Virabhadrasana II

Step your left foot to the back of your mat, with your toes pointed forward at around a 45-degree angle (some say 90-degree but 45 feels better in my body; experiment for yourself) and your front heel roughly lined up with your back arch. Bend your front right knee so your thigh is parallel to the floor. Open your hips to the left side of your mat, rotating both thighs outward. Your torso will be facing left. Extend your right arm toward the front of the mat and your left arm back with palms facing down. Keep both arms parallel to the floor. Release your shoulders away from your ears. Reach out through the fingertips of both hands. Turn your head to gaze forward over the right hand.

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Pyramid Pose

Pyramid Pose

Parsvottanasana

Transition into a wide stance with your right leg forward, pointing straight ahead, and your left leg behind and pointed at a 45-degree angle. Square your hips so both are pointing straight forward. On an exhale, fold forward from the hips until your torso is parallel with the floor or, if comfortable, fold in more deeply toward your right leg, placing your fingertips on the floor or on two blocks on either side of your right leg. Breathe deeply for 5–10 breaths.

See also Grounding Tips for Vata Imbalance

Downward-Facing Dog

Downward-Facing Dog

Adho Mukha Svanasana

Step both legs back into Downward Dog, making an inverted “V” shape with your hips lifted and legs straight. Spread your fingers and ground down from the forearms into the fingertips. Rotate your upper arms outward to broaden the collarbones. Let your head hang and move your shoulder blades away from your ears toward your hips. Engage your quadriceps and rotate your thighs inward, sinking your heels toward the floor.

Step forward into Tadasana and then repeat on the opposite side.

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Tree Pose

Vrksasana

Stand tall and straight with arms by the side of your body. Bend your right knee and place the right foot flat and high up on your left thigh, above your knee. Straighten your left leg and lengthen your spine. Look straight ahead at a point eye level or a bit higher and soften your face. Maintain a nice slow, steady breathing pattern. Once you feel balanced, lift your arms overhead on either side of your ears. To come out of the pose, lower your arms and gently release the right leg. Stand tall in Tadasana then tepeat this pose on the other side.

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Head-to-Knee Pose

Head-to-Knee Forward Bend

Janu Sirsasana

Move to the ground, stretching your legs out in front of you, heels extended and big toes pointed upward. Bring the heel of your left leg into your right groin. Inhale and reach your hands up, with your arms at the sides of your ears to create length in your spine. As you exhale, lean forward from your hip joints, creating as much length as possible by stretching your arms forward. You may not come anywhere close to your legs, and that is OK. Do not force it. It takes a while to open up your hamstrings and other leg muscles. You can rest your hands, fingertips, or forearms down on the mat for support. You can also grab on to the outside of your calves.

See also 6 Ayurvedic Practices That Boost Energy

Plow Pose

Plow Pose

Halasana

Transition onto your back with your arms beside you and your palms facing down. As you inhale, use your abdominal muscles to lift your feet off the floor and sweep your legs overhead. Your feet may or may not touch the floor behind you. Support your hips and back with your hands, palms facing up. To avoid overstretching your neck, the tops of your shoulders should push down into the mat. Maintain the pose for 5–10 breaths or more. To exit the pose, gently roll back down to your mat.

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Supine Twist

Supine Twist

Supta Matsyendrasana

Begin lying on your back. Open your arms out to the side in a T. Bend your left knee, and lift it up, allowing it to start to drop and twist over your right thigh as far as it feels natural and comfortable. Continue to breathe slowly as you let your head turn naturally to the left and root your shoulders down. Let your knee drop open as much as feels natural, allowing the spine and organs to twist and wring out. Stay in the twist for at least 5–10 breaths or more. Repeat on the right side.

FINISH YOUR SEQUENCE Spend 15 minutes or more in Corpse Pose (Savasana).

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Kimberly Snyder, C.N., is a nutritionist, yoga instructor and the multi-time New York Times bestselling author of the Beauty Detox book series and the new book Radical Beauty, which she co-authored with Deepak Chopra. Radical Beauty redefines beauty to be an empowering and attainable concept to tap into your highest potential of your natural unique beauty and health, inside and out, that includes 6 Pillars for a holistic lifestyle (Internal Nourishment, External Nourishment, Sleep, Primal Beauty/Connecting with Nature, Movement/Yoga and Spiritual Beauty). Snyder has appeared as a nutrition and beauty expert on Good Morning America, Dr. Oz, Ellen, Today and has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and many others. The go-to nutritionist for many Hollywood stars, Snyder founded Glow Bio, an organic cleanse and smoothie company, and is a Kriya and Vinyasa yoga practitioner, 200-hour Yoga Alliance-certified instructor and avid meditator. In 2015, her first yoga DVD, The Beauty Detox Power Yoga DVD, was released. Snyder is an Ayurvedic doctoral student under the esteemed Dr. Parla Jayagopal at AUCM. Snyder promotes balance, one thing she juggles herself with her writing, her businesses, her practice, and her beloved 6-month old son.