Energy governs physiological activity. This energy is called dosha in Ayurvedic science. The Chopra Center states there are three energy bodies or mind/body types. Dosha express unique blends of physical, emotional, and mental characteristics. In Ayurveda, health is defined by the dynamic state of balance between mind, body, & environment. "Your lifestyle should support the unique nature of your dosha."
There are three types of dosha. They include Vata, Pitta, Kapha. Each dosha represents qualities found in nature. People embody all three qualities but one dosha is usually most dominant. This dominant dosha is what supports our unique characteristics, features, likes, and dislikes. Feeding the dominant dosha also brings balance to the energy bodies. An example of feeding the dosha is a little like when a person eats sweet foods, there is a point where the sweet turns from nurturing the body's constitution to weakening it. At this point the practice of over indulging in what we like should be restricted or modified. The same can be said for overindulging in a particular form of yoga practice.
Pitta dominates metabolism and transformation in the body. Pitta's makeup consists of fire & water, and is characterized by "that which digests things." The Pitta prefers a strong consistent yoga practice when its energy is in balance. A Vinyasa flow with long holds and stretches that crosses between power, speed and endurance. When the Pitta type is out of balance however the style of yoga should change in order to support the dosha. Taking in more gentle meditative classes that cool the fire like Hip Opener, Yin yoga, or Restorative classes.
Kapha represents stability, lubrication, substance, and support of the body. Kapha's makeup consists of water and earth, and is characterized by "that which holds things together." The Kapha type runs cool and is grounded. Kapha types like the restorative and gentle yoga programs. However when stagnation appears at times of imbalance, Kapha should engage in a practice that challenges their slower metabolism with heat and flowing (less grounded) movement like Prana Vinyasa Flow.
Vata is the primary motivating force of all the doshas. It is "the wind (vayu) that moves things. Vata energy governs the nervous system and is the force behind the body and mind." Vata likes to move and gravitates toward high energy yoga classes like flow classes. Out of balance Vata has a nervous quality. Yoga classes that include seated meditative poses, and standing poses like those found in warrior series will assist out of balance vata to center and reconnect with its wind force. Classes that include powerful core poses or Yang yoga, as well as the long holding stretches of Yin Yoga would work well.
Yoga International; Katherine Templeton