Ayurveda considers Vayayama as an important technique for proper maintenance of health, as a part of Dinacharya.
Shareera Aayaasa jananam karma Vyayama uchyate
Any kind of physical activity which causes tiredness is considered as Vyayama.
शरीरचेष्टा या चेष्टा स्थैर्यार्था बलवर्धिनी ।
देहव्यायामसङ्ख्याता मात्रया तां समाचरेत् ॥ चरक संहिता
Any physical movement or activity which intends to bring stability in body, and increases in strength, is known as Vyayama. This has to be practiced in moderation and for proper duration.
Why should we exercise?
Vyayama helps to maintain a balance of vata, pitta and kapha. It helps in increasing one's bala (strength) and sthairya (stability).
One can determine the strength of body based on one's exercising capacity. Regular and routine vyayama helps in slowly increasing the strength and there by helps in improving the capacity of exercising as well.
One experiences lightness in the body, increase in appetite, reduction of excess fat in the body, increase in muscle tone, improvement of endurance and dissipation of laziness on judicial practice of Vyayama.
When do we exercise?
One should exercise
✓ once the previously eaten food is completely digested
✓ when the bowels and bladder are evacuated
✓ when one is slightly hungry
✓ at the time of sunrise.
When not to exercise?
One should not exercise
✓ after eating a heavy meal
✓ before the previous meal has been completely digested
✓ if the bowels are not clear
✓ if there is any indigestion
✓ If intoxicated with alcohol
✓ after being exposed to excessive heat because of sunlight or fire.
✓ after taking fomentation (swedana) therapy
✓ when one is angry.
✓ when one is sick
✓ at night
✓ immediately after having sex.
Exercising at non ideal times can be the cause for various rogas/diseases in future.
How much to exercise?
Ayurveda suggests that for a person to maintain health, one has to exercise to half of his/her strength (ardha shakti). Bala of a person also varies according to the season, thus one has to exercise upto half of their strength as per that season.
How to know Ardha Shakti Vyayama?
When one starts breathing (panting) through their mouth, when one starts sweating from their axilla (armpits), forehead, over the nose, between the joints of their arms and legs, and feels dryness in the mouth, one should understand that they have done ardha shakti vyayama.
The time take to achieve this ardha shakti state of body varies from person to person and season to season
What to do after exercise?
It is recommended to gently massage (mardana- to massage without much pressure) yourself after doing vyayama. Mardana procedure is considered as a part of vyayama itself.
What not to do after exercise?
✓ Avoid using cool/cold water for drinking, washing of face, washing of eyes and bathing right after exercising or doing some other physical activity like excessive walking.
✓ One should wait till the body relaxes and the body temperature comes back to normal before doing any of the above activity.
✓ Regular usage of cold water right after exercising can lead to various diseases pertaining to skin, eyes.
✓ Do not indulge in sexual intercourse immediately after exercise.
Why one shouldn't over exercise?
Exercising beyond one's limit can lead to various diseases like excessive thirst, emaciation, fever, cough, vomiting etc.
To explain this Ayurveda uses the simile -
"A person who indulges in over exercise and other strenuous activities perishes, just as a lion, after vanquishing an elephant."
The lion though vanquishes and kills the elephant, dies soon afterwards due to severe strain and consequent exhaustion.