Yoga & Ayurveda
The world is rapidly converting to the true meaning of health – which means far more than the mere absence of disease. True health and happiness requires man’s recognition of unity within his own self and synergy with his environment. The ongoing proliferation of Yoga around the world proves the great need for this attitude in every country; Ayurveda now follows in its wake, seeking to complete the worldview that already gives peace and inspiration to millions. Kairali Yoga’s 2013-2014 retreat schedule in Kerala, India aims to give our guests a truly integrated experience of the two disciplines as a united system of health.
The Common Roots of Yoga and Ayurveda
The simplest way to understand the relationship between Yoga and Ayurveda is to see Ayurveda as the science of health, and Yoga as the practice of this science. The growing profile of Yoga Therapy shows the need for bringing the two disciplines close together again. Yoga focuses on psychological method and physical strength, but has no curative aspect by itself. Only Ayurveda, emanating from the same ancient Vedic sources, can complete the system in terms of lifestyle, diet and curative aspects of health.
The Three Gunas in Indian Philosophy
Both Yoga and Ayurveda utilize the ‘three guna’ system of sattva, rajas and tamas. These three universal energies of calm, passion and inertia are harnessed in all Yogic practices, which aim to energize the individual and bring him to a state of peace (sattva). Ayurvedic lifestyle prescriptions typically include dietary advice to this effect as well as the Yogic practices most beneficial to one’s body type. Any full consultation with an Ayurvedic doctor or Yoga Therapist will necessarily include recommendations from both disciplines. One can reasonably claim that they are not in fact separate disciplines, but part of one larger system of health.
The Shared Philosophy of Yoga and Ayurveda
Yoga and Ayurveda have the same philosophical system, Samkhya Darshan, as their basis. Samkhya is a complete metaphysical system explaining the manifestation of the world from the state of luminous self-consciousness all the way down to the five elements forming our material realm – space, air, fire, water and earth. These five elements are easily recognizable in all systems of ancient philosophy, and represent science’s earliest methods of codifying our physical makeup. Yoga and Ayurveda are the arts of balancing these five elements within the individual to achieve optimum health and emotional balance.
Ayurveda’s ‘Tri-Dosha’ System
The five elements are behind Ayurveda’s tridosha system, indicating individuals’ constitutional types; Vata, predominance of air and ether; Pitta, fire and water; and Kapha, earth and water. Ayurvedic treatments will always begin with an extensive physical and psychological diagnosis of the individual’s elemental type, known as a Prakriti analysis. It is this diagnosis that allows Ayurvedic clinicians to personalize your treatment and lifestyle recommendations; every course of Ayurvedic treatment is as unique as the individual receiving it. Students of Yoga may not hear much about the five elements when embarking upon their study, but the application of elemental knowledge is central to the more advanced Yogic practices, especially Tantric techniques.
Of the twenty-five evolutes recognized in Yoga and Samkhya philosophy, the grossest five elements are the starting point of the process of transcendence; being the easiest to identify and manipulate. Bringing the five elements into balance is the only way of enabling further physical, emotional and spiritual development. The mastery of one’s own mind and body is essential for further progress to be made on the path to optimum health.
For more on Yoga and Ayurveda visit our Yoga Resources section.
To find out about our upcoming Yoga and Ayurveda retreats in Kerala, India click here.