The beautiful symbiosis between Ayurveda and Yoga
“The body is my temple, asanas are my prayers.”
Ayurveda is a sister science to Yoga. They both originate from the same “Veda”, the same knowledge or science. It is the science of life or longevity, which teaches about the power and the cycles of nature, as well as the elements and how our life will be happy, healthy and peaceful if we live according to these rules of nature. Ayurveda takes care of your physical and mental well-being, Yoga about the mental and spiritual one. At the same time it promotes a strong, healthy and flexible body. Ancient documents state that “the foundation of Yoga should be Ayurveda and the fruit of Ayurveda should be Yoga.”
Yoga supports the Ayurvedic way and vice-versa. They compliment each other on the way to become a complete individuum. The old Indian Samkya philiosophy teaches the concepts of Gunas (the 3 original qualities) and the Doshas (our 3 bio-energies). The 3 Gunas (Rajas, Tamas and Sattva) represent a certain state of body and mind. The 3 Doshas represent the combination of the 5 elements in our body and thus define our physical and mental constitution.
The system of Ayurveda and Yoga
It is impossible and most of all wrong to separate the mind and spirit from our body. To become a “holistic” individual we have to take care of both.
Ashtanga Yoga is the original Yoga, from which many varieties have been derived. Looking at fitness magazines new versions of Yoga seem to pop up every year. From acrobatic Yoga to Bikram Yoga, Power Yoga, Yogilates and many more. Ashtanga means Eight, the eight-folded path through Yoga. This path to enlightenment consists of the rules of social behavior, the rules of personal behavior, the asanas (toning of the physical body), the pranayama (breathing correctly and thus controlling our vitality). The last 4 steps are to be considered, but mostly reached only by true Yogis. Those consist of the control of mind and senses, concentration (control of perception), meditation and finally the complete union, the enlightenment. The word “yoga” means “union”, the ultimate goal of yoga is to become one with the cosmos, the good, the source of happiness.
The healing system of Ayurveda comprises of the “Ashtanga” as well, the eight branches: surgery, ear/nose/throat diseases, general medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry, toxicology, rejuvenation through rasayana (= herbal remidies), rejuvenation through vajikarana (=sexual health).
(from the Charaka Samhita)
Like heat to fire and liquidity to water,
on the inside Ayurveda is deeply familiar to every human being.
A beautiful efficient co-operation
Yoga and Ayurveda go hand in hand. It is believed, that the author of the ancient Ayurvedic writings (Charaka) and that of the ancient Yogic writings (Pantanjali) is one and the same person.
Both systems serve to balance our body, our Doshas, target our issues and our conditions. All of our problems originate from a misuse of our energy. Yoga and mediation reverses our psychological and physical problems and helps to pacify our mind and our consciousness. At the same time, it strengthens our vitality and our self-confidence. Ayurveda treats our conditions through purification of the organism, nutrition, herbal remedies, massages and other treatments.
Still, they both work in the same way. If you have a certain body condition, Ayurveda through the aforesaid aims to pacify the disturbed Dosha, while Yoga guides you to asanas and meditations working on the same Dosha.
A practical example: a Pitta condition – or someone with a disturbed Pitta dosha – should avoid any overheating. Ayurveda would treat such a person with calming, cooling oils (for example with added sandalwood and ylang ylang), which would cool down the body with the respective herbs and would recommend cooling food (e.g. cucumber, coriander, coconut, avocado). At the same time, meditation that calms the mind is very helpful and Yoga would work with cooling positions like for example Prasarita Padottanasana, a wide-legged forward bend or Uttanasana, a simple forward bend.
Yoga is that inner state, in which mental procedures come to a rest.
Why do we need to combine Yoga with Ayurveda
Through our yoga practice exclusively we will not become “whole” if we lead an inadequate lifestyle and find ourselves in an imbalance. Since most illnesses are of psycho-somatic nature, often already after 1 hour of practice we can note an improvement or relief. In order to be able to achieve a continuous betterment on a therapeutic level the integration of Ayurveda is imperative. This means we need to acknowledge our personal constitution and requirements and lead our lives according to our nature. Only if we consider our very own “self” we can achieve a healthy and stable base. Illness will always originate from an instability of the Tridosha in our bodies. The mind plays a very important role – hence Yoga and meditation – but we need to follow an integrative path and thus combine Yoga and Ayurveda.
Yoga leads us on our path to self-realization, Ayurveda to self-healing. The ultimate physical and mental healing, the ultimate realization of our true nature so links Yoga and Ayurveda in an inseparable union.
- “Vom Geist des Ayurveda”, Dr. David Frawley
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