What is Kaula Thidosha restorative Yoga?

From the ancient Ayurveda Indian healing tradition, a yoga system with the power to balance your energy, mind and body in nowadays hectic life. So far been kept niche in the West.

In this video: Yoga Teacher training centre in Goa, India, under the guidance of Ms. Hickling, who has 8 years of experience in delivering classes and teaching Kaula Thridosha Yoga, and the Shrikali ashram founding father Mr. Bhagavan Shri Shanmukha Anantha Natha.

"Most yoga you'll find throughout the world today has been moulded to fit modern exercise culture, typically with a New Age spin thrown in. [...] the Kaula Tradition [...] will guide you toward culturing a meditative state in which you can progress rapidly - physically, mentally, and personally. The series we practice is derived from ancient texts, passed down directly to students through countless generations. It completely in accordance with the principles of Ayurveda and Eastern Medicine in order to promote health throughout every cell as well as enhance your intuitive intelligence and overall well-being."

(By Ms. Hickling, who trains new Yoga Teachers since many years, after having studied under the Indian traditional Kaula master Bhagavan Shri Shanmukha Anantha Natha).

It is very possible that you came across several times with the wisdom and healing powers of the Indian Ayurveda tradition. Therefore, you might have already heard about its pursuit of optimal health with personalised nutrition, heath treatments and exercises, according to their classification of the different nature of the human bodies and minds into three types of energies or principles, called Doshas: Vata, Pita or Kapha, based on the natural dominance of one of the three over the other two. The Ayurveda wisdom, which created a system for understanding these three nature of our body and its energies, is known as Tridosha.

Tridosha considers symbolically the human body as made up by five elements, which are called in Sanskrit mahabhutas: these are called air, ether, fire, water and earth, and are to balance as much as the energies that flow in our body. Each body is composed by all of these five elements, however, when one of the five elements is dominant, it means there is some imbalance, which causes the excessive dominance of one of the Doshas, and therefore, energies imbalance, which according to the Ayurveda system is at the roots of all illnesses. In fact, while one of three different energies or principles (Vata, Pitta, Kapha) is normally dominant according to our different body and mind types, an excess of dominance compromises our body and mind function on a physical and emotional level.

In this illustration: the naturally predominant concentrations of mahabhutas and doshas for each body-mind type, according to the Ayurveda tradition (from this EastWellbeing page)

Having explained what are the three types of doshas, I can now introduce the yoga that best balances them all

Tridosha Yoga has beneficial effects in balancing energies for everyone, regardless of which body and mind type one identifies with, according to the Ayurveda tradition. In fact, Tridosha Yoga works well with all three types of dominant Doshas. Thidosha also balances the metabolic activities within our body, and is at foundation of our healing processes, to gain better health and wellbeing for our bodies and minds.

Once a consistent practice of Thridosha Yoga is followed, as a main healing agent for general wellbeing and balance, it can be then complemented with additional practices more specific for each body-mind type: for example, mantra meditation is a powerful coadjuvant especially for Vata types, as it helps to calm the nerves and to reduce the Vata principle, when it's in excess (example of this are the repetitive and rhythmic prayers of several religions, done with beads in a string, to keep the count of a set number of unit prayers to repeat); walking meditation are particularly helpful for Kapha types (this can be done focusing and being conscious about one own natural breath, then while reciting a mantra, as in monasteries cluster-walks. In other traditions, by focusing on each step, and consciously giving commands to actions we normally do subconsciously, such as 'left foot move forward, right hand move forward' before doing it); breathing meditation, called pranayama, is especially beneficial for Pita types (it focuses the mind on our artificial flow of breath, while altered and forced into specific inhale and exhale patterns, by repeating certain sets of breathing exercises. This is often done by closing one of the nostrils, or by performing body movements to help the air exhaling process, in order to empty completely the lungs).

Thridosha Yoga is a restorative and calm yoga practice, a meditation in slow motion that might unsettle the urban yogis, quite used to the fast-changing power yoga and hata yoga asanas (the reclining, standing, inverted, twisting, and balancing poses of yoga exercise and meditation). Thridosha Yoga isn't a type of exercise to sweat and burn calories, and who tends to be more action prone might initially struggle to enjoy its stillness, which is well delivered by the process of meditation, staying for long counts on each asana.

However, once the practice is repeated regularly for a consistent period, its benefits in restoring energy and relaxing mind and body beyond the levels of more dynamic yoga can be appreciated also by the most active and action oriented students (who are usually the majority of yogis in urban and metropolitan environments, where a competitive, focused and fast paced life brings to initially dislike this unnatural total change of their life moving pace).

Above: example of Teacher Training practice, guiding a class of 90" of Thridosha Kaula Yoga

Above: Teacher Trainers December 2016 cohort, thought in Goa by Ms. Hickling, who has 8 years of experience in delivering classes and teaching Kaula Thridosha Yoga, and other teachers. (Theory taught by the founding father Bhagavan Shri Shanmukha Anantha Natha.)

Above: the feeling of the rejuvenating and regenerative process one experiences when disconnecting from hectic lifestyle to nurture mind and body with a restorative yoga practice.

Final disclaimer about the terms Kaula and Tantra Yoga

Despite the terms Kaula and Tantra might evoke impure practices, the Yoga under this name is pure and it has NOTHING TO DO with intimate activities. Kaula Thridosha Yoga is simply a meditative form of yoga: it's yoga WITHOUT physical contact and WITHOUT impure acts.

"Though this yoga is part of a tantric tradition, it is not a sexually based practice. The conflation of tantra with sexuality is a misconception brought about by the New Age movement and propagated by popular culture. Tantra is a wholesome science which honours the self and treats the entire being as sacred. Tantric lineages preserve the essential knowledge underlying yogic practices"

Quote from the blog of Ms. Jeana Hickling, who has spent years studying under the traditional Kaula master Bhagavan Shri Shanmukha Anantha Natha of Shri Kali Ashram.

(For advertisement reasons - to attract a wider market of students with more impure pursuits in life - the website of some ashrams who teach Kaula yoga has included a literary abstract of an ancient ritual involving impure practices: it has nothing to do with Kaula Thridosha Yoga).

In this video: Yoga Teacher training centre in Goa, India, for the Kaula Thridosha Yoga system.