You’ve seen it, heard it and if you’re like me, shamefully mispronounced it more times then one should count - Ayurveda, the sister science of yoga and India’s traditional healing system for over 5, 000 years.
Here in the West Ayurveda has received less recognition, in comparison to Yoga. Traditionally, Ayurveda and yoga were threaded together in order to bring about a holistic way of living. For some reason Ayurveda has lagged behind yoga in terms of popularity. However, that my friends seems to be changing. For about a decade or so, there has been a surge of awareness on Ayurveda and alternative forms of healing. I would like to continue sharing this wave of knowledge and shed some light on it’s begging’s and the importance it plays on the intimate relationship with yoga.
Ayurveda can be understood by breaking down the actual word. Ayu= life and Veda= science/knowledge. Combine “Ayu” and “veda” and the word literally means “Science/knowledge of life” this translation represents a balanced life; connected mind, body and spirit and with the cycles of nature.
As stated in Anne Mcintyre’s book, “The Ayurveda Bible; the Definitive Guide to Ayurvedic Healing,” early literature preserved by Buddhist monks, explains that Ayurveda is said to have evolved as a medical and philosophical tradition created from the wisdom of spiritually enlightened prophets or seers known as Rishis. These prophets or seers lived surrounded by the Himalayan Mountains and devoted their lives to understanding the world around them. What came to fruition from their devotion was the practice of Ayurveda, yoga and meditation. These practices were transmitted orally from teacher to disciple and eventually written down into Sanskrit poetry known as the Vedas. The Veda’s summed up historical, religious, philosophical and medical knowledge at that time, and presently forms the foundations of few cultures found within India (12-16).
At the center of Ayurveda lies the interpretation that everything is One- that nothing exists in isolation. For instance, mind affects the body and body affects the mind, this understanding is also within yoga. The idea that the body affects the mind and vice versa, represents the relationship between Ayurveda and yoga- as Vamadeva Shastri (David Frawley) describes “Ayurveda [as] the physical counterpart of classical Yoga [which] provides the basis of a complete medical system in both theory and practice that reflects yogic point of view…Yoga [was created] for realizing a higher consciousness and Ayurveda [was meant] for health and well-being.” (Yoga and Ayurveda; American Institute of Vedic Studies). An example of the relationship between yoga and Ayurveda can be witnessed in Ayurveda’s notion of balancing the Agni, the “digestive fire”, which can be maintained and supported with a specific yoga practice.
In general Ayurveda provides a multitude of benefits for enhancing a Yoga practice, but mainly it applies a specific and individualized diet, with herbs and clinical practices, which are created to compliment a Yoga practice. Once could say that Ayurveda is a platform for Yogic living.
Fast-forward to today, and Ayurveda is not just food, and herbal concoctions, it is a complimentary system, nay, a science that when paired with yoga can revitalize each and every one of us. Riding this new wave of awareness and era of healing I hope these sister sciences can both heal us and the world at large.