Yoga was first introduced to the West in 1893 by Swami Vivekananda and was welcomed by a very receptive audience. While people embraced yoga, its counterpart Ayurveda, was left behind in India. This despite the fact that both yoga and Ayurveda are two very similar paths sharing a close relationship, so closely related that they are often described as two sides of the same coin. Both are considered sciences, and in fact the word “Ayurveda” means the science of Life. Both these sciences have their origin in the ancient Vedic texts from over 5000 years ago and address health issues and health practices. If Ayurveda is the healing aspect, yoga is the spiritual and practical side of the Vedic teachings. Together they emphasize a complete approach to the wellbeing of the body, the mind, and the spirit. In fact, their close relationship has even led to some scholars arguing that Patanjali, considered by many to be the father of yoga, and Charaka, often considered as the father of Ayurveda, may have in fact been one and the same person known in Vedic India by different names during his travels to spread the teachings of these ancient sciences.
Both sciences have common underlying principles: the well-being of an individual at the level of body and mind and with the aim of helping an individual re-connect to their true nature through direct and personal experience (pratyeksha in Sanskrit). While yoga prepares the body and mind of the individual for eventual liberation (Moksha) and enlightenment, Ayurveda describes the various ways to keep the body and mind healthy through prevention and rejuvenation to bring about balance. Both sciences emphasize our close relationship with the environment. Ayurveda isn’t a one-size-fits-all philosophy. It’s highly individualistic and sees each individual as unique and an individual’s path toward perfect health as a unique path. Hence, what is right for each individual is unique to that individual alone. We’re constantly in flux throughout the day: our energy level and our mood, for example, are different first thing in the morning than they are at noon. Ayurveda, then, is a personalized, intuitive health philosophy. According to Ayurvedic principles, each of us has a unique constitution governed by our physical and emotional makeup, as well as our lifestyle—the foods we eat, what time we go to sleep. These constitutions are called doshas, and they are linked to the elements. The doshas are Vata (air and ether), Pitta (fire and water), and Kapha (earth and water). When your doshas are out of balance, that’s when disease takes hold in different forms. Ayurveda brings with it the knowledge of how to keep the physical body healthy and how this relates to one’s spiritual journey. It addresses our entire lifestyle, including exercise and yoga.
In today’s world, yoga is often thought of as “asanas only,” something like a stretching tool to keep the body limber and agile. People are drawn to yoga as a way to keep fit even though the idea behind the physical practice of yoga is to help the mind to become clear or pure and develop deeper mind-body awareness. A clear mind is not affected by stress and a clear mind produces a healthy body thus creating a greater connection with one’s own pure, essential nature.
Thus, Ayurveda is based upon understanding individualized needs and what is right only for the individual – not the masses – and fulfilling those needs to bring complete harmony.
Ayurveda sheds light on which specific yoga asanas are best for each individual based on his/her constitution. With the knowledge of Ayurveda, a practitioner of hatha yoga can refine his or her practice so that it is in harmony with their internal balance of energy. Some yoga postures are best for one person while others can cause greater imbalance. By knowing one’s constitutional balance, an individual can use constitution-specific asanas to reverse their imbalances and improve their health and wellbeing. Indeed, if we can understand our constitution, we can control our choices and choose only those that will lead us toward optimal health.
At www.esmeandsita.com we carry massage oils specifically to balance out your doshas. These are Vata Nourishing, Pitta Cooling and Invigorating Kapha oils. We even have a Tridoshic oil which is good for anyone in all seasons.