Have you ever felt dissatisfied by the answers Western medicine had to offer for your physical ailments?
If you are in search for a system of healing that encompasses all dimensions of your being, and teaches you how to create a harmonious relationship with yourself and the world around you, Ayurveda just might fit the bill.
Ayurveda, the ancient medical system of India, is often called the“Sister Science”to Yoga because it developed side by side with it as a separate but related system.
Yoga and Ayurveda have influenced each other considerably through the ages, arising out of the Vedas and absorbing elements from shamanism, Tantra, Buddhism, and in later times, influences from beyond India’s shores.
Yoga and Ayurveda are so closely related in fact, that in India it is said, “a Yogi without knowledge of Ayurveda is only half a Yogi, and a Vaidya (an Ayurvedic doctor) without knowledge of Yoga is only half a Vaidya.”
For those who have been practicing Yoga for some time, it is the“next step”on the journey to deeper self-understanding.
There are no shortage of reasons why today’s Yoga practitioners should spend some time studying Ayurvedic medicine, but here are the top five reasons:
Gain a Deeper Understanding of the Yoga Tradition
Today, Yoga is often thought of as a purely physical practice. But it is a technology that has evolved over thousands of years, passed on from Master to disciple as a sacred tradition. There is an immensely rich body of knowledge that forms the foundation of a spiritual way of life.
Ayurveda and Yoga share the same cosmology known as Samkhya philosophy. In Sanskrit, samkhya literally means “to count”, and Samkhya philosophy shows us how Consciousness descends to the level of material manifestation in a step-by-step manner.
This is powerful stuff!
I have found that the study of Samkhya alone answered so many of my existential questions, and quite literally revolutionized the way I experience life.
Needless to say, it comes highly recommended for anyone interested in Yoga beyond asanas! We’ll go much deeper into this philosophy in my next post.
- Gain Self-Knowledge for Self-Healing
They are known as Prakriti, or your natal constitution, and Vikriti, your current or acquired imbalance.
They will tell us exactly which foods will balance us, and which ones will tip us further in the direction of imbalance. They will not only guide us about our diet, but will begin to transform the way we approach our lives.
- Refine your physical Yoga practice.
Study of Ayurveda is a study of the qualities that infuse everything we engage with. This is because Ayurveda is a qualitative medicine, not quantitative, as is Western medicine.
Instead of relying on statistics to draw conclusions, Ayurveda teaches us to pay attention to the qualities of herbs and food we consume, and the activities we engage in, and observe how they impact the way we feel.
If we bring this understanding to our Yoga practice, it can bring a whole new perspective to our experience on the mat. Once we understand our constitutional make up and our current imbalance, we can begin a Yoga practice that helps to correct our imbalances.
For example, if you tend to suffer from vertigo, which is understood in Ayurveda as primarily an Air-Ether or Vata predominant condition, you should avoid movements or asanas that are inherently ungrounding or overstimulating, such as the“jump back”Sun Salutations of the Ashtanga Vinyasa tradition.
You should instead opt for a slower moving, alignment-oriented class that focuses on grounding and stabilizing your foundation, that strengthens without exhausting.
Learn to Prevent Diseases Before They Sprout
Studying Ayurveda’s non-invasive diagnostic techniques such as tongue and pulse diagnosis will help you detect imbalances before they become full-blown diseases.
Not only that, you will have the knowledge of what foods, herbs and lifestyle adjustments are helpful so that you can nip the problem in the bud.
Ayurveda is all about aligning with Nature’s rhythms to maximize your energy and health potential.
Because Ayurveda was passed down from the Sages, who were profoundly attuned to Nature, it is full of subtle insights into ways energies ebb and flow throughout the days, seasons, and even lifetimes.
Based on these insights, Ayurveda offers ideal rituals to follow on a daily or seasonal basis. Ayurveda considers timely, good habits to be potent medicine, and the basis for sound health.
Many of my clients have found that simply altering when they ate made a big difference in how they felt. This is because the digestive system has its peak hours and“off”hours.
Following the Ayurvedic schedule, you learn to respect your innate digestive capacity. This is the essence of a healthy relationship to food.
As you can see, Ayurveda is an ocean of wisdom. I hope I’ve whetted your appetite to learn about this amazing healing system!
I know you may have many questions at this point, but as we dive deeper into this knowledge, they will get answered, one by one.
The best way to learn Ayurveda is by experiencing its principles in action in our own lives.
Then we will begin to trust the process of not just learning, but imbibing this knowledge, and making it ours.
In my upcoming posts, we’ll delve into the principles that form the pillars of this time-tested science of healing.
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