Healthy Living Magazine

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Remember when we were kids – playing games, running around, having fun? We didn’t realize it then, but we were exercising.
So why, as adults, do we turn exercise into a chore? 

Boutique fitness studios are popping up everywhere, providing an alternative for people who find the gym a chore, draining and intimidating.

Yoga studios are the staple of boutique fitness studios, pilates studios are morphing into barre studios, and all support mind-body programming. To bring cardio into the equation, spinning merged into mind-body studios, while bootcamps and running clinics started to pop up, too. Then weight training brought gyms to the fore.

No one approach will satisfy us all, so how can we better understand our choice of preferred fitness? Ayurveda, or the ‘science of life’, which underpins the yoga movement, outlines three primary constitutional tendencies: Kapha, Vata and Pitta.

Kaphas tend to be bigger boned with stronger frames; Pittas are more muscular, athletic and competitive; and Vatas are leaner and thinner. Ayurveda’s goal is to find a form of movement or play that leverages the best of one’s personality traits and keeps emotions in balance.

Vata is one of the most delicate of natures. Always busy and moving, Vatas gravitate towards running and step classes. But too much movement leads this constitution beyond busyness and movement towards emotions such as anxiety. This is when Vatas need to step back, find calm and breathe into ‘stillness’ to balance their emotions. Yoga – more specifically hatha yoga and restorative yoga – help Vatas to find balance.

Pittas, full of passion and intensity, naturally move towards competitive forms of play. But when emotions move beyond passion, the heat intensifies and emotions such as anger can signal imbalance. At this point, Pittas must allow themselves to play, surrender the outcome and forget the race. A great balancer for Pittas is to be outdoors, near water, cooling down, slowing down and breathing into ‘surrender.’

Last but not least, Kaphas are calm, grounded and strong. Stable and structured on their best days, their calm energy can morph into lethargy and laziness, and significant weight gain can occur. Because their loss of energy can lead to depression, Kaphas are at their best when challenged, structured and progressing. This is where intense weight training programs find their strongest following. These personalities need to breathe into the chest to open up, expand and lift their energy.

When it comes to play, what is natural for Vata (cardio forms) and Pitta (intensity and competition) is actually more suited to Kapha to maintain balance. What is natural to Kapha (slower, calmer) is more suited to Vata and Pitta to ground energy and keep emotions balanced.

At boutique fitness studios, the form of fitness resonates with particular constitutions and suddenly everyone feels they’ve found their tribe. As we become more sophisticated in choosing our form of play, we can modify our approach to better suit our constitutions.

For example, yoga encourages breathing techniques to calm Vata, to help Pitta surrender and encourage Kapha to find energy. Yoga will lead the charge in educating and bringing more sophistication to clients through knowledge of their constitutions.

In making your choice, move beyond marketing and proposed results. Ask how a particular form of play resonates for you and your personality, and how it will help to balance your emotions.

Finding your tribe, connecting with others, and improving alliances within your community are all necessary to a healthy balanced life.

Lynne Stewart, B.Sc., MBA is the Studio Owner/Instructor at Sol BARRE, Pilates & Yoga/SOL Wellness. www.solpilatesyoga.com. 416.948.7685.

10 thoughts on “Pure Play for Grown-Ups: Choosing the right exercise for your constitution and your personality

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