Yoga & Ayurveda, the Sister Sciences

You may have heard of Ayurveda as someone who practices Yoga, but did you know it is actually the sister science of Yoga? It’s true; Yoga and Ayurveda are related healing disciplines of India. They have the same origin and goal. They both originate as part of the system of Vedic knowledge, and both aim to gain better health.

The principles of trigunas—the subtle components of creation which correspond to sattva (equilibrium), rajas (action), and tamas (inertia)—and the panchamahabuthas (the elements of earth, air, fire, water, ether) form the basis of Yoga and Ayurveda. Through the understanding of these principles, these sciences teach us how to keep our instruments, body and mind, healthy to fulfill the four goals of life: dharma (duty), artha (wealth), kama (desire), and moksha (liberation).

The ayurvedic texts such as Charaka Samhita mention Yoga as central to dinacharya, the ayurvedic daily routine. Yoga practices such as pranayama, meditation and asanas are ideal ayurvedic applications because of their power in improving digestion, removing stress and calming the mind. All the three doshas, or mind-body constitutions, are balanced by Yoga practices. For instance, asanas like forward bends cool Pitta dosha, while the heating effect of Ujjayi breath balances Vata, and the repetition of the mantra OM stimulates Kapha.

At the same time the knowledge of Ayurveda brings great support to Yoga practitioners. A daily routine like nasya (the ayurvedic application of special herbalized oil), for instance, lubricates the nasal passages preventing dryness from pranayama practices. With a foundation in ayurvedic knowledge, Hatha Yoga benefits can be felt more quickly and deeper. When going to Hatha Yoga classes on a regular basis, ama (digestive impurities) starts to be freed in the body. The dietary, lifestyle, and purification practices of Ayurveda support the practitioner in the detoxing process; otherwise all they are really doing is moving their muck around. This interrelationship of these ancient sciences explains why traditional Yoga schools also teach ayurvedic principles in conjunction with the Yoga practices.

Undoubtedly, both Yoga and Ayurveda have their own exclusive benefits, however they were designed to be practiced together, each supporting and enhancing the other. So, if you would like to expand the power of your study of Yoga, what about integrating some ayurvedic concepts into your daily practice?

Coming up soon is the workshop “Taking Ayurveda to the Mat”.  On June 8th, I will be in Yogaville where we will explore ways to take the concepts and practices of Ayurveda to the mat… Sign up here!