Ayurveda and Yoga are not merely two separate but related healing disciplines of India. Each has its unique place and function, but each overlaps into the other on various levels.
Ayurveda — is one of the world’s oldest holistic (whole-body) healing systems. It developed thousands of years ago in India.
It is based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit. The primary focus of Ayurveda is to promote good health, rather than fight disease. It addresses all aspects of healing and well-being for body and mind.
According to Ayurvedic theory, everything in the universe — living or not — is connected. Good health is achieved when your mind, body, and spirit are in harmony with the universe. A disruption of this harmony can lead to poor health and sickness.
For followers of Ayurveda, anything that affects your physical, spiritual, or emotional well-being can cause you to be out of balance with the universe. Some things that can cause a disruption include: genetic or birth defects, injuries, climate and seasonal changes, age and emotions.
How your body works to keep you healthy and your unique physical and psychological characteristics combine to form your body’s constitution, or prakriti. Your prakriti is believed to stay the same for your entire life. However, how you digest food and eliminate waste can influence it.
Every person is made of a combination of five basic elements found in the universe: space, air, fire, water and earth. These elements combine in the human body to form three life forces or energies, called doshas. They control how your body works. The three doshas are:
- vata dosha (space and air)
- pitta dosha (fire and water)
- kapha dosha (water and earth)
Everyone inherits a unique mix of the three doshas. One dosha is usually more dominant. Each dosha controls a different body function. Maintaining the balance of your doshas is key to staying healthy.
Ayurvedic Approach to Healing
Historically, Ayurveda addresses all aspects of medicine including diet, herbs, drugs, surgery, bodywork and its own special clinical procedures like Pancha karma. It brings in ritual, mantra and meditation for healing the mind. In addition, it provides life-style recommendations for health, longevity and disease prevention as well as special methods for rejuvenation of body and mind. It includes the practices of Yoga from asana (poses) and pranayama (breathing exercises) to mantra (chants) and meditation as part of its healing tools.
A main goal of Ayurvedic medicine is to cleanse your body of undigested food called ama, which can stick to the inside of your body and make you sick. This cleansing process is called panchakarma. It is used to reduce any disease symptoms and reestablish harmony and balance.
Ayurveda and Yoga therapeutics depends on your unique prakriti, your primary dosha, and the balance between all three of them. The therapy may include recommendations to restore balance, improve spiritual healing, boost immunity and reduce symptoms with:
- diet changes
- plant-based oils and spices
- lifestyle changes
- breathing exercises
- stretching and customized yoga poses
Ayurveda provides the appropriate life-style recommendations for Yoga practice, as well as the background to unfold the full healing potential of all aspects of Yoga. Yoga provides the spiritual and psychological basis for Ayurveda and its higher applications.