Did you know that Yoga has a sister?
Her name is Ayurveda.
Yoga and Ayurveda are both powerful, holistic mind-body-spirit sciences that not only aim to prevent disease but also help manage ailments by taking a root cause approach in healing and well-being.
Yoga and Ayurveda are lovingly called the sister sciences as both practices were established in India around the same time with the intention of them being used together as a complete science and approach to wellness.
Yoga was originally intended to be the spiritual practice (Mind) and Ayurveda the health or longevity practice (body). Both are restorative in nature and can be seen as the mind-body connection we all now speak of in modern day life.
For those that do not know, Yoga means to “Yoke”, “Bind” or “Unite” and Ayurveda means the “Science of life”. It is said that just like the mind and body can not exist without the other Yoga and Ayurveda should be viewed in the same way. Practicing Yoga and Ayurveda is actively a practice of Uniting the Science of Life.
When seeing an Ayurvedic specialist, Yoga is automatically incorporated into suggested daily regimes, testifying to the importance of using both practices together in order to create a holistic and complete system of health. Many of us in the West do not have much Ayurvedic knowledge and have turned yoga into a purely physical practice, only thinking about health when we get sick and then turn to allopathic medicine for a quick fix. Although allopathic medicine has it’s time and place it is important to know that Yoga and Ayurveda share the science of prana and consciousness, they work in harmony using nature and self-awareness as a baseline to maintain and achieve overall wellness. Yoga and Ayurveda are not intended to be separated.
I am often surprised at how many Yogi’s don't actually know anything about Ayurveda so I think that it is worth a quick introduction before we continue.
Over 2500 years ago (before Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism) a few ancient texts called the Vedas were written. Among these texts was the “Ayur-veda” which originated in Kerala, a small part in the South of India where the practice of Ayurveda still blossoms to this day.
The teachings of Ayurveda are broadly classified into 2 categories:
Regimen for the healthy [Svastha Vr’tta]
Regimen for the sick [Aathura vr’tta]
A well-known concept and teaching of Ayurveda is that of the “ Three Doshas “ This teaches that each of us has a unique ratio of Air, Ether, Fire, Water and Earth within each of us making up our unique constitution / mind and body type called the Doshas.
The Doshas or division of elements are divided into 3 Constitutions:
Vata (Air & Ether)
Pitta (Fire & Water)
Kapha (Earth & Water)
Once you understand Ayurveda and your unique constitution/dosha you begin to access greater mind & body awareness which ultimately flows over into your yoga practice and daily life.
According to Ayurveda, Yoga mostly forms part of the Svastha Vr’tta a regimen for the healthy, here we aim to maintain health and recognize imbalance in the body before it creates disease but yoga has also been used as a powerful tool to treat the sick in many ways. Unfortunately in the West yoga has broadly become a physical exercise discipline and the subtle healing benefits are rarely taught.
With that said I encourage you to check in with your personal yoga or physical exercise practice, How have you been treating your mind and body on your mat?
Do you approach your practice in a loving and healing way or are you grinding through this practice like you do other aspects of your life? Is your practice bringing balance to your life or encouraging more of the same grinding and fiery energy you potentially spend most of your day in?
How to practically unite Yoga with the science of life.
Once you have spoken to a trained Ayurvedic practitioner and have a good idea of what your dominant dosha is or what dosha needs to be balanced, you can then start applying certain yoga postures, foods and regimens to your life in order to maintain or achieve a more balanced state. Ayurveda has such a wide range of powerful lifestyle suggestions and regimens but for the sake of this article I will focus on yoga and share some posture suggestions for each dosha .
Vata dominant dosha:
- Warrior pose 2 (Virabhadrasana 2 )
- Dancers pose (Natarajasana)
- Sun salutation (Surya namaskara)
- Meditation. Something that most Vata persons will struggle with. Their busy and flighty minds find it difficult to relax and often start worrying about things that haven’t happened yet or dreaming of their next travel destination. Their minds are forever racing and find it challenging to be still for to long. A great tool for this individual is to find a focus point in meditation such as chanting a mantra or repeating positive
affirmations in order to relax more.
Pitta dominant dosha:
- Rag doll pose(uttanasana)
- Reclining butterfly (Supta baddha konasana)
- Child’s pose (balasana)
- Meditation Like Vata individuals, meditation doesn’t come naturally to a pitta individual. They often find themselves wrestless, planning tomorrow's schedule, brainstorming business ideas and annoyed with the concept of being still and doing nothing but the truth of the matter is that when a pitta person can learn to meditate regularly they gain great clarity and can make decisions more effectively with greater peace of mind.
Kapha dominant dosha :
- Chaturanga push up ( Chaturanga dandasana)
- Cobra (bhujangasana)
- Abdominal twist ( Jathara parivartanasana)
- Meditation, Kapha individuals would love a meditation session in bed upon waking but are encouraged to do a walking meditation out in nature. Focus on breathing and nature around you. It is important to emphasize thoughts on the present and future as these individuals have a tendency to live in the past. Pranayama meditation is also beneficial to a Kapha as they usually struggle with upper respiratory tract problems.
My hope is that this article will spark a fiery interest in you.
A process of integrating Ayurveda into your yoga practice.
A passion for uniting the science of life.