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Yoga Sequences

Elemental Yoga: An Airy Asana Sequence to Balance Kapha

Boost energy flow in the body with this dynamic practice, representing the air element to counterbalance Kapha’s earthy and watery nature.

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Boost energy flow in the body with this dynamic practice, representing the air element to counterbalance Kapha’s earthy and watery nature.

Kapha is a mix of the earth and water elements. These earthy elements make Kapha dosha have the most strength and stamina but in excess can lead to excess weight and lethargy.

Kapha has a close relationship to fluids of the body, and when the fluids become stagnant, they clog the body’s channels—from sweat to prana. The asanas in this sequence represent the air element with a more dynamic flow, and increase the ability to open these pathways and resolve dullness of the skin. Seasonally, spring is the season that increases Kapha. It accumulates and clogs the prana pathways and reduces energy and immunity.

A dynamic, energizing yoga practice is ideal for Kaphas. Try practicing a lot of standing pose sequences, such as Surya Namaskar (or a creative variation of it, as outlined here), mindfully but at a good pace to stimulate increased energy flow in the body.

Warming Pranayama techniques, such as Kapalabhati, are also excellent for increasing metabolism and energy flow and Bhastrika breath, which cleanses the body and energizes the digestive system.

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.

See also Better-Summer Secret: 9 Tips To Burn Off Excess Kapha

Chair Pose

Chair Pose

Utkatasana

Move back and down as if you are going to sit down in a chair. This might only be a few inches back to start if you are a beginner. Root back strongly into your heels and lift your arms to ear level with your palms facing each other, shoulder blades moving down your back, and your chest broad. Keep drawing in your abdominal muscles to support your back. Breathe deeply.

See also Backbending Flow to Balance the Kapha Dosha

Kapalabhati Breath in Chair Pose

Chair Pose

Bring your attention to your lower abdomen and inhale through both nostrils deeply. Contract your lower belly, forcing the breath out in a short burst. It should feel strong and powerful. As you quickly release the contraction, your inhalation should be automatic and passive. Focus on the exhale. Start with 20 seconds, building up to 40 seconds. Always go at your own pace and never force yourself. Stop if you feel lightheaded or dizzy.

See also Kapha Dosha: Learn About this Ayurvedic Constitution

Standing Forward Bend

Standing Forward Bend

Uttanasana

Fold forward from your pelvis, rotating it over the legs and deepening the hip creases. Microbend your knees. Bring your fingertips in line with your toes. Press your palms flat to the mat or place blocks under your hands if they don’t touch the floor. Engage the quadriceps muscles of your thighs and draw then up. Bring your weight a little bit forward into the balls of your feet, keeping your hips over your ankles.

See also 8 Holiday Gifts for Yogis with a Kapha-Dominant Dosha

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.

See also Hot Cereal for Kapha

Warrior I

Warrior I

Virabhadrasana I

Step your right foot forward to the inside of your right hand. Pivot on the ball of your left foot and drop your left heel to the floor with your toes turned out about 45 degrees from the heel. Bend your right knee directly over your right ankle, bringing your right thigh parallel to the floor. Rise to standing, bringing your arms out to the side and up to the ceiling. Your chest stays open as you come into a slight backbend. Bring your palms to touch overhead or keep them shoulder’s distance apart, whichever is more comfortable. Lift your gaze up toward your thumbs and slide your shoulder blades down your back. Square your hips forward to the top of your mat, grounding down through the outer edge of your left foot. Keep your right thigh as parallel to the floor as possible.

See also Chef Nanditha Ram’s 3 Tips for Ayurvedic Cooking

Reverse Warrior

reverse warrior

Viparita Virabhadrasana

Stretch back into Reverse Warrior. Bring the rear hand down to the back leg, palm facing down. On an inhale, extend the front arm up toward the sky, palm facing toward the back of the room. Keep your hips open as you would in Warrior II Pose, but reach your heart up. Keep the back of your neck long and your eye gaze pointing in the same direction as your heart. Keep bending deeply into your front knee so it stays 90 degrees over your ankle. Breathe here for up to 30 seconds, then return to Warrior II Pose.

See also 6 Ayurvedic Practices That Boost Energy

Plank Pose

Plank Pose

Cartwheel your hands down and step your feet to the back of your mat. Bring your hips forward until your shoulders are over your wrists and your whole body is in one straight line from the top of your head to your heels. Don’t let your hips droop toward the floor or hike up toward the ceiling. Spread your fingers and press them firmly into your palms, keeping a little microbend in your elbows to prevent locking. Press back through the heels. Move your shoulders away from your ears. Keep your neck in line with the spine and look at the floor.

See also How Bitter Foods Balance Your Diet + Your Doshas

Four-Limbed Staff Pose

Four-Limbed Staff Pose

Chaturanga Dandasana

From Plank shifting your body forward while broadening across your collarbones so your hands are in line with your lower ribs, not directly under your shoulders. Then bend your elbows and hug them in toward your ribs as you lower from Plank halfway to the floor, engaging your core and upper back muscles.

See also Rejuvenate with a 4-Day Ayurvedic Fall Cleanse

Upward-Facing Dog

Upward-Facing Dog

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

From Chaturanga Dandasana, inhale to straighten your arms and roll over your toes, changing your foot position from toes tucked under to resting on the tops of your feet. If you can’t roll over the toes, it’s fine to flip them one at a time, but avoid bringing your thighs to the floor during the transition if possible. Open your chest toward the ceiling. Lift your gaze up slightly. Keep your legs engaged and drop your hips toward the floor. The only things touching the floor are the palms of your hands and the tops of your feet. Press strongly into both. Keep your shoulders over your wrists and not hunched up near your ears. From here, return to the beginning of the sequence and repeat on the opposite side.

See also Ayurveda tips for feeling your best

Boat Pose

Boat Pose

Navasana

Come to a seated position on your mat, placing your feet and bent knees together. Hold the backs of your knees or thighs. Lean slightly back and strongly engage your core, keeping your spine tall. Depending on what feels comfortable for you, either leave your feet on the mat, raise your heels to the height of your knees or slowly stretch your legs out straight. In any case, reach your arms forward so they are straight at the height of your shoulders. Maintain the pose for 10–20 breaths.

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

See also Yoga Practice for the Doshas: Calm Your Ayurvedic Traits with Asana

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.