Ayurveda and Yoga: Seeing the Connection
Some might say that there is no yoga without Ayurveda and that there is no Ayurveda without yoga; and they are most probably right.
What Is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda refers to a holistic mind-body natural health system that was developed by Indian sages thousands of years ago. With its Sanskrit words Ayur, meaning life and Veda, standing for science or knowledge; this method is not only useful to cure and overcome physical illnesses, but it is also a practice that gives you access to leading a vigorous balanced life by taking into account these two basic principles:
The Mind and Body are Inherently Connected
There is nothing more powerful than the mind, when it comes to healing and transforming the body
Ayurveda’s goal is to remove the root cause of disease and the imbalance of the doshas. Doshas are different types of mind, body and emotional combinations that show predominant characteristics in an individual. An individual’s predominant dosha will fall into one of the three categories of Vata, Pitta or Kapha; each one being related to two of the five elements of space, air, fire, water, and earth. Suitable and effective diet and remedies will entirely depend on a person’s corresponding dosha. This system is all about purification of the mind and body, through leading a healthy lifestyle in all facets of your daily routines and life; from eating to thinking and from resting to carrying out any given activity.
Ok… So How Is Ayurveda Related to Yoga?
Just as Pattabhi Jois explains in his book Yoga Mala, the goal of yoga is “to finally come to the realization of one’s true self or universal self; freeing the mind and sense organs and thus making it possible for us to control them.” This is not achieved only by carrying out the practice of the many Asanas or postures, but by simultaneously following what is recommended in the Eight Limbs of yoga. It is in these eight foundations that we are capable of finding the connection in between these two Indian wisdom philosophies.
The first limb Yama, for example, is composed of Ahimsa which is basically the principle of not causing harm to anyone, in any form and at any time including animals and all sentient beings; a principle that is quite linked to Ayurveda prescribing mostly vegetarian diets, with meat being suggested only under certain specific conditions and in small amounts. Aparigraha, on the other hand, mentions how what we eat should be pure (sattvic), untainted (nirmala) food that is acquired through righteousness, thaking into account that the amount of food being ingested is that one necessary for our body to sustain itself; which means not over eating or not eating less than what we need. This principle is closely connected to the one proposed by Ayurveda that encourages to eat with complete awareness. Finally, the second limb, Niyama, mentions Saucha or purification (inner and outer purification); a goal that is overall sought by Ayurvedic medicine as well.
Meditation, one of the essential components in yoga, was also the main prescription used by Ayurvedic physicians, as it aids with bringing balance back into our minds and because our mind and body are naturally connected, this immediately helps with bringing homeostasis back into our body.