Yoga and Ayurveda: Sister Sciences

Relationship between Yoga and Ayurveda 

Yoga and Ayurveda are the ancient life-disciplines that have been practiced and co-existed in India for centuries. They are mentioned in the scriptures of the Vedas and Upanishads. The purpose of each practice is to help the individual to achieve longevity, rejuvenation and self-realisation.

Yoga and Ayurveda are two interrelated branches of the same great tree of Vedic knowledge that encompasses all of human life and the entire universe. In this regard, it is important to understand the respective roles of Ayurveda and Yoga in the Vedic system. Yoga and Ayurveda 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.

Yoga is the ‘science of union with the Ultimate Source’. Ayurveda is the ‘science of daily living’. The object of the practice of yoga is liberation, although discipline is needed. According to Ayurveda, the practise of yoga, which is the spiritual science of life, is a very important, natural, preventative measure to ensure good health.

Ayurveda is a truly holistic way to optimise the physical body, just as yoga is meant to optimise the spirit. Together yoga and Ayurveda can harmonize your spirit, body, and mind and create a persistent state of well-being.

Ancient yoga texts use terminology from ayurveda, like the ayurvedic names for common disorders, and the model of the three doshas, to describe the health benefits of the practice of yoga. Ayurveda deals mainly with the use of food, medicines and lifestyle changes to address illnesses. Yoga explains how the body (asana), breathing (pranayama) and the mind (meditation and many other practices as suggested in the yoga sutras) can be used to enhance health and heal illness.

The beauty of Ayurveda is that it teaches us that the individual has the power to heal himself. Thus the science of life offers everyone the freedom to recover health by understanding the body and its needs. Fundamental to the individual’s ability to remain healthy, according to Ayurveda, are the maintenance of a sound diet and a stable healthy routine. Also important are the pursuit of practices such as yoga and breathing exercises and an understanding of spiritual practices that can create harmony and happiness, (such as meditation).

Introduction to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras

The yogic practices described by Patanjali, who is regarded as the exponent on yoga, are very useful in maintaining good health, happiness, peace of mind and longevity. Patanjali is known for his knowledge contained in the Yoga Sutras. A section from the Yoga Sutras, called the Eight-Fold Path/Limbs or Asthanga Yoga, aims to achieve reintegration and wholeness. These eight ‘limbs’ are not simply steps or stages although they follow a certain sequences. They must be seen as the limbs of the body – each has its proper role, although not equally important. The eight limbs of yoga (astanga) involve the following:

  • Yamas: the five don’ts on the spiritual path.
  • Niyamas: the five do’s on the spiritual path.
  • Asanas: physical postures.
  • Pranayama: breath/energy control
  • Pratyahara: control and withdrawal of the mind and the senses
  • Dharana: concentration
  • Dhyana: meditation
  • Samadhi: absorption, superconsciousness or nirvana, God-realisation.

 

It is important to reintegrate Yoga and Ayurveda in order to bring out the full healing and spiritual potential of each. Bringing Ayurveda into Yoga provides a yogic and Vedic system of medicine to allow for the full healing application of all aspects of Yoga. It provides a diagnosis and treatment in harmony with Yoga philosophy, as well as a diet and herbal treatment that follows the spiritual approach of Yoga. Bringing Yoga into Ayurveda adds a spiritual and psychological dimension to Ayurvedic treatment, without which Ayurveda tends to get reduced to a physical model in which its full Vedic healing powers cannot be easily realised.

To learn more about Ayurveda as a natural and complete healing modality, view the online course: Ayurveda Foundation Program

 

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