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Ayurvedic Art of Exercise

Updated: Dec 8, 2021

This week my Living Ayurveda students and I are revamping our breath body practices. A BBP is any exercise done in sync with nose breathing—not just yoga asana. We're practicing creating a balanced routine for ourselves factoring in the right kind of exercise for our body type and current needs. A breath body practice is one of the daily non-negotiables to caring for our body and mind. In the winter, it’s especially important to find ways to get out, and get moving to invigorate us as the days shorten and cold sets in.

  • How are you getting moving these days?

  • Is your current BBP serving your needs?

If you’re someone who struggles to get enough exercise, especially in the winter, or if you find your body wearing down from the exercise you’re doing, you may find the Ayurvedic take on exercise, called "vyayam," refreshing.

Ayurveda teaches to exercise to half of our capacity each day. "Exercise until you break a sweat," is another teaching I've heard from this tradition. That’s a lot different than western approaches to exercise which are about hitting it hard most days. If we’re not in training for an athletic event, is that approach really serving us? We are all familiar with the benefits of aerobic exercise for our heart and circulation, flexibility and balance training to stay open and supple, and balance and strength training for stability, to support bone health and keep muscles strong. All forms of exercise support brain health and, when done in sync with the breath, support mental calm.

We may be less aware of the ways that overexercise can lead to problems: premature joint deterioration, fatigue, lowered immunity and muscle wasting. I know many yoga teachers in their 50's and 60's with joint replacements. Too much of a good thing is still too much.

Dr. John Douillard, a doctor of chiropractic and an Ayurveda practitioner, used to run marathons, and do a lot of extreme sports. He’s a man with a lot of energy to be sure: father of 5, runs a popular online company, and produces videos about scientific research that overlaps with the teachings of ayurveda. I was most interested when he published a 12 minute workout that he found to be very effective and in line with ayurveda's teachings.

He suggests a 12 minute workout that he feels gives us all we need in a short, concise form. Here it is:

  1. Warm up for 2 minutes—moving at a pace that feels good to you—breathing through your nose

  2. Sprint for 1 minute—walk uphill, run, dance, jump rope, anything to your full capacity while maintaining nose breathing.

  3. Back to warm up pace for 1 minute

  4. Repeat 2 and 3 until you’ve done 4 reps of each

  5. Cool down for final 2 minutes—moving at a good pace, not your max, while nose breathing.

And that’s it! 12 minutes to get yourself invigorated and warm. I do this walking up hills, and sometimes I even just walk as fast as I can on a level surface, focusing on even breathing.

So this week, consider your current exercise rhythm. Ask yourself:

  • What are you current needs? (stimulation, mental upliftment, weight loss, flexibility, strength?)

  • Are you overdoing it?

  • Are you underdoing it? If so, where can you schedule in 12 minutes a day during the week?

Sketch it out for yourself. Reach out to a friend and do it together, or if you're in different locations, do it at the same time.

Need some help? Schedule a complimentary 15 min coaching gym, and let's talk. I'd love to hear about your body goals, and help you sketch out some possibilities.

In service and love,



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