I am sure that most of you who read this either go to a yoga class once or twice a week or know someone who does. It’s the new fad; there is a yoga studio on every corner. But, did you know that yoga has a sister called Ayurveda. Not as dynamic and in your face as Yoga, the quieter, more reserved sister awaits her turn for the spotlight and now it’s time.
Yoga and Ayurveda are intimately woven together in the texts of the Vedas. The Vedas are ancient Indian spiritual texts that were compiled over a period of time beginning about 3,000 years ago in the Himalayan region of India. These texts are considered divinely revealed and include esoteric oral knowledge transposed in written form. The practices of yoga and Ayurveda are considered as complementary modalities for living a healthy, balanced, and happy life.
When practiced together, Ayurveda and Yoga techniques offer different ways to increase health, well-being, and vitality while living in balance with the natural rhythms that surround us. Yoga and Ayurveda recognize and respect the deep bonds between our mind, body, and spirit. Practicing balance and moderation are two of Ayurveda’s main keys. This concept of balance and moderation has its roots in the Buddhist concept of Devanagari which has arisen during the same period in India. Practicing yoga asanas, meditation techniques, and breathing exercises in balance with the rhythm of the day, week, and time of the year is also one of the main advocates of Vedic wisdom.
One of the main axes of Ayurveda is to eliminate toxins from the body and mind through the practice of Panchakarma. According to Ayurveda wisdom, cleansing toxins from the body on an annual basis helps to re-invigorate the body by maintaining a healthy metabolism and keeping digestive processes effective while reducing tension on the liver and kidneys. The Ayurveda theory asserts that when the energy channels in the body or mind are blocked, disease results. Many traditional Ayurveda techniques focus on unblocking these vital channels and restoring an optimal energy flow. The use of steam and sweating is also used by Ayurvedic doctors to help dissipate blockages in a patient’s energy system.
The release of tension and blockages throughout the energy system of the body-mind complex is complemented by a regular practice of yoga. Yoga asanas, whether vigorous or restorative, help to release deep muscle tension and increase balance and flexibility. There are even practices of yoga that are done in a heated room, further improving the purifying aspect of the asanas. Combining yoga practices with the great depth of wisdom found in Ayurveda will deeply support a Yogi or Yogini in creating and maintaining the physical, emotional vitality, health, and wellness throughout his or her lifetime.