by guest author David Timbs
From Dass Vishnu, Ayurveda and Yoga, Ancient Sister Sciences:
Ayurveda and yoga are sister Vedic sciences that have been united for thousands of years for the sake of healing body, mind, and consciousness. Generally speaking, Ayurveda deals more with the health of the body, while yoga deals with purifying the mind and consciousness, but in reality they complement and embrace each other.
It is said that Ayurveda is for the body, Tantra for the mind and Yoga for the spirit. Or in my understanding and experience, Hatha Yoga disciplines the body and mind to realise the spirit (consciousness), Ayurveda uses ones consciousness and mind to realise the body, and Tantra uses ones consciousness and body to realise the mind.
So how are they connected or related?
To quote Vishnu Dass again from his article Ayurveda and Yoga, Ancient Sister Sciences. The similarities between yoga and Ayurveda:
- Both are ancient Vedic teachings. Yoga originates in the Yajur Veda, while Ayurveda originates in the Atharva Veda and Rig Veda.
- Both recognize that keeping the body healthy is vital for fulfilling the four aims of life: Dharma (duty), Artha (wealth), Kama (desire), and Moksha (liberation).
- Both recognize that the balance of doshas (humors), dhatus (tissues), and malas (waste products) is essential for maintaining good health.
- Both share virtually the same metaphysical anatomy and physiology, which consists of 72,000 nadis (subtle channels), 7 main chakras (energy centers), 5 bodily sheaths, and the Kundalini Shakti (energy).
- Both advocate the use of diet, herbs, asana, pranayama, meditation, mantra, astrology, prayer, puja, and rituals for healing the entire being.
- Both encourage physical health as a good foundation for mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
- Both share the same view on psychology. Ayurveda embraces all six of the main schools of philosophy including the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and Vedanta (a non-dual philosophical and spiritual path). They both understand that the attachment to the body-mind complex is the root cause of all suffering and that the ultimate state of health is experienced when we abide in our true nature, which is total peace, regardless of the state of the physical body.
- Both use cleansing methods for the body, all of which encourage the removal of waste products and toxins through their natural routes of elimination. Ayurveda has panchakarma (five cleansing actions) and yoga uses Shat Karma (six purification measures).
For Yoga and Ayurveda modalities to work in a healthy manner one must have (viveka) discernment, whereby one can discriminate between reality and unreality, truth and falsehood, the eternal and the transient, true joy and passing pleasure. As well as (vairagya) the absence of egotistic emotional reactions, which cloud our perspective.
It is the purpose of Ayurveda to give us the means of health and healing on a physical and psychological level so that we can pursue the path of Yoga.
For the practitioner of both Yoga and Ayurveda one must choose a lifestyle that enhances their life for whatever their reasons might be. In the documentary film Enlighten Up it shows how yogis of all abilities have differing options on what yoga is, why they do it and what they get out of it.
From the documentary movie Enlighten Up: Dr Joseph Alter, University of Pittsburgh:
Yoga as we know it is really only about 100 years old. Without documentary evidence we are left to conclude that it was really reinvented towards the end of the nineteen century.
Shri K Pattabhi Jois:
Yoga means your mind controlling capacity, taking practice that is yoga.
Practice, practice, practice. That is the method.
Don’t ask theory. Theory you don’t want. Whole life is practice.
B K S Iyengar:
By the grace of God, it’s a subjective way of you know eradicating the instinctive weakness of the human being.
For some it may be quick, for some it may be slow. But change has to take place, whoever it may be in whatever average intellectual condition they are.
Yoga can take man into two ways of living, enjoyment of life, or liberation in life.
Whatever one’s participation is into Yoga, Ayurveda supports the individual with a healthy life based on Natural Law – appropriate for you personally. Ayurveda is tailored for the individual yet at the same time is a system relevant for everyone to learn from. It is a personal health care system, steeped in thousands of years of tradition, yet is appropriate to any culture and any era.
Yoga and Ayurveda are both based on one’s personal experience. The practice of self observation is the key. The more knowledge you have to exercise that practice the more complete your experience. And that often means walking your own path, being an individual and listening acutely to your true self. I like this next quote because it summaries what it sometimes takes to be true to oneself.
From Alexander Greens, The Secret of Shelter Island: Money and What Matters:
Diogenes is sitting on the side of the road eating his simple meal of porridge. A court philosopher sees him and comes over to chat.
“You know, Diogenes, if you learned to play up to the king like the rest of us, you wouldn’t have to live on porridge.”
Diogenes doesn’t even glance up from his bowl; he just says. “If you learned to live on porridge, you wouldn’t have to play up to the king.”
For any Yoga student, teacher, enthusiast, or those individuals interested in their own health and wellbeing, I am more than happy to give introductory Ayurveda Simplified Workshops anywhere in NZ or overseas.
David Timbs ND, Dip Ayur (India), Dip Acup, B Ed.
Ph. 06 868 5790