How to Choose a Meditation Practice for Your Dosha

Spring is perfect for fresh starts—it’s nature’s new year. As flowers blossom and the world is renewed with color, it’s an excellent time to begin a revitalizing meditation practice. If you’ve been searching for a sustainable meditation technique but haven’t found a good fit (for you or for your students), it might help to consider the qualities of each technique and match that to your doshic state. (Don’t know your dosha yet? Take our quiz.)

Meditation is beneficial for all doshas (vata, pitta, and kapha) year round, but it's especially pertinent at this time of year as we refocus on our goals and clear the clutter within and without. Meditation practice helps free the mind of old, unhelpful thoughts, expanding awareness. 

While the following three meditation practices can be done by anyone at any time of year, each technique has particular qualities that are helpful for balancing a particular dosha. Explore the qualities of these three practices, and see which one feels right for you (or your students) this season.

Kapha: Walking Meditation

During spring, excess kapha can manifest as mental sluggishness, foggy thinking, lethargy, and lack of motivation. Ensuring good movement and circulation helps prevent the heavy, thick, damp qualities of kapha from accumulating. Reduce excess kapha by using meditation techniques that have opposite qualities: light, lively, and energizing. One of my favorite meditations to clear out the cobwebs in the spring is walking meditation, as it keeps the body moving while enhancing focus and mental clarity.

Instructions for Walking Meditation

  • Allow 15–20 minutes for practice.
  • If it's cool outside, look for a quiet place to do an indoor walking meditation, like a long hallway or yoga studio before class—you can even do laps around a room in your home.
  • Take off your shoes and socks, if possible, to more easily feel sensations in the feet.
  • Stand in Mountain pose. Pause to take a few breaths and notice how you're feeling. Set an intention for your walking meditation.
  • With natural breath and a downward gaze, begin walking slowly and rhythmically, either back and forth in a long line or in a circular path. As you walk, silently use these three phrases as you note each step: Lift, move, place. Anchor your mind's attention on the sole of each foot as you travel, noting the sensation as the foot lifts off the floor, moves through space, and is placed back down.
  • When you stop moving at the end of the meditation, pause to notice how you feel. 

Pitta: Meditation on the Breath

Peace and quiet—that's what you need when the hot, sharp qualities of pitta increase in the mind and body as a result of life stresses or excess heat. When excess pitta manifests as mental irritation, impatience, frustration, or anger, try a meditation with cooling, spacious qualities. Meditation on the breath redirects the intense focus of pitta to rest on the subtle anchor of the breath. Let go of the planning, organizing, and list-making activities that often consume pitta's attention, and make time for deep quiet to reset the mind to its tranquil state.

Meditation on the Breath

  • Find a comfortable seat where you won’t be distracted or interrupted. Sit with the spine tall, resting your hands on your lap with the palms turned up.
  • Close your eyes. Soften the muscles in your face and jaw.
  • Anchor your mind’s attention on the belly. Without controlling the breath, simply observe the natural movement and sensation of breath in the belly.
  • Continue for 10–20 minutes, or until you feel your mind get calm and quiet.

Vata: Mantra Meditation

Establishing a comfortable rhythm is one of the most effective ways to soothe an overactive or jittery mind. When the light, subtle, mobile qualities of vata dosha increase excessively due to travel, stress, cold temperatures, or unsettling changes, vata often manifests as restlessness, worry, fear, or anxiety. The rhythmic repetition of mantra can slow a racing mind and enhance focus. Mala beads are helpful for tracking mantra repetitions, as they have some weight, and that tangible anchor helps balance excess vata. If you don’t have mala beads, simply repeat the mantra for five to 15 minutes, or until you feel quiet and relaxed.

Mantra Meditation with Mala Beads

  • Choose a mantra that resonates with you—a single word or phrase tends to work well. Use any language you like. You might want to try this mantra (actually Patanjali’s second sutra): Yogash Chitta Vritti Nirodhah (“Yoga ceases the fluctuations of the mind”).
  • Sitting comfortably, take the mala into your right hand, draping it over the middle, ring, and pinky fingers (relax the pointer finger—it doesn't touch the mala).
  • Close your eyes and soften the facial muscles.
  • Use your thumb to move the mala beads, one bead at a time. Silently or in a whisper, repeat the mantra once for each bead, using a soothing rhythm.
  • Do this 108 times, or until your mind feels focused and steady.

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Larissa Hall Carlson, E-RYT 500, MA, 20-year Kripalu faculy and former Dean of the Kripalu School of Ayurveda, guides retreats, directs trainings, and provides Ayurvedic consultations across the country.

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