Yoga has become a household word. But its “sister science”, Āyurveda, is still largely unknown. So what is Āyurveda? And what is the connection between Yoga and Āyurveda?
Yoga and Āyurveda are both based on the same philosophical principles. Both traditions trace their origins back to the Vedas of India, and both lean heavily on concepts from the Sāṁkhya school of Indian Philosophy. They share many of the same understandings of anatomy and physiology and have many of the same goals. In India, Yoga and Āyurveda are so interconnected that the main texts from both traditions, Patañjali’s Yogasūtra and the Caraka Saṁhitā, are considered to be composed by the same person. There is a deep connection between the two sister sciences because of these rich and philosophical roots.
Yoga and Āyurveda Share the Same Goal
Āyurveda is an age-old medical science. Its name comes from the Sanskrit words, ayus meaning life, longevity or health, and veda meaning knowledge or understanding. So Āyurveda is literally the science of life and health. Āyurveda has many goals as a medical science, but its primary goal is to support and maintain a sense of balance in your entire system, which includes a healthy body and a clear mind. The goal of Yoga is also to create and maintain a balanced mind and body. The two sister sciences share this goal.
Yoga and Āyurveda View the Human System Similarly
Yoga and Āyurveda are both sciences of the human system and how it functions. Both have their own anatomies and physiologies that explain their understanding. The anatomies of Yoga and Āyurveda are different from what you would find in a Western medical journal; they help you to understand the connection between your mind, body, and spirit. Many of these depictions are shared by both Yoga and Āyurveda The‘five prāṇa’ model (pañcavāyu) include prāṇa, vyāna, udāna, samāna and apāna. These 5 items explain the different aspects, locations, and functions of prāṇa, vital energy, in both Yoga and Āyurvedic theories.
The Importance of Your Digestive System
In Āyurveda, digestive fire, or agni, is thought to dictate the overall health of a person. If your agni is functioning well, your overall health will be optimal. The body is able to digest food efficiently and rid itself of impurities in your system that will cause it to operate incorrectly and prevent the smooth flow of prāṇa and the proper operation of body and mind. Yoga, especially haṭha practices, is also designed to ignite and support a strong agni. Yoga and Āyurveda both support a strong digestive fire and the proper flow of prāṇa in your system in order to support digestion and remove impurities.
Each Person is an Individual
One size does not fit all. Traditional Yoga looks at each person and what is happening for them decides what practices to give to balance their state, etc. Āyurveda is very similar. Āyurveda meets the person where they are by identifying the imbalanced state and then working to bring it into balance. Once the person’s state has been balanced, Āyurveda and Yoga will both work to support the person to maintain that sense of health and balance.
Yoga and Āyurveda Together Quicken the Path to Wellness
When someone is doing a proper Yoga practice that was modified for them specifically, along with a daily set of Āyurvedic rituals and routines, their healing improves much quicker than with one or the other alone. Āsanas, or postures, coordinated with the breath, brings so much into balance: mind is more stable; breath is smoother and more even; energy is more stable and agni is improved. Coupled with Āyurveda, the digestive fire is supported, the channels are open and health is restored more quickly. Because Āyurveda’s focus is to bring the body into balance, the more Āyurveda can support you on a daily basis, the more impactful your Yoga practice will be.