What is Ayu-Yog? How to combine Ayurveda and Yoga for Health and Well Being. Why is it important to use them in conjunction?
My journey in Yoga started nearly 15 years ago, when I attended a Hatha Yoga class with an amazing teacher in London, England. After the yoga session, I felt that my mind and body was in sync and I was experiencing an internal bliss as the Prana or Life Force was flowing inside me. I instantly understood that Yoga is a science and art of living that awakens ones spirit. I have never been the kind who goes to Yoga Studio for a Hot Yoga session but always appreciated teachers who incorporated breath work with every move.
I realized my sessions with traditional or authentic Yoga teachers were different from that of a commercial Yoga studio in Toronto. Yoga is the umbrella term and Asana is what is taught at the studio which is ONE of the eight branches of Yoga; more on this later.
Ayurveda is the lifestyle I learned from my grandparent, my mother and friends who believed in more holistic approach when it came to food and health. I have been teaching the foundation of Ayurveda course for the last 6 years. Ayurveda provided me with various tools that I use daily in my life to live a more conscious and fulfilling life.
Understanding a deeper meaning of health and healing occurred when I was approached by a Yoga teacher – Nicole Mahabir who is the founder of Jai Yoga and Ayurveda – Center for Wellness and Education in Toronto. I completed my Ayu-Yoga Teacher’s Training at Jai with amazing teachers such as Nicole Mahabir and Johar Singh. I see a permanent shift inside me as a person since the Ayu-Yoga Program. I highly recommend this program to anyone interested in health and wellbeing as well as students of Yoga. Yoga training is more complete with integration of Ayurveda and vice versa.
Simply put both Ayurveda and Yoga is eastern philosophies that came from the Vedic knowledge and are interrelated. Ayurveda is one of the Upavedas (secondary Vedic teachings) and addresses all aspects of health, healing and wellbeing of the body and the mind. Ayurveda is the Vedic system that is developed to help us with health and healing. And Yoga comes from the Yoga Sutras of Pratanjali which is one of the six systems of Vedic philosophy or Shad Darshan. Yoga is the practical side of the philosophy, outlining the methods for developing a meditative state of mind. Yoga is the Vedic system that is developed for spiritual practice or sadhana.
The Vedic scriptures for Ayurveda focus of creating balance and maintenance of good health.
The Vedic scriptures for Yoga focus on mind, body and spirit unification and reach a meditative state.
Meaning Yoga and Ayurveda:
The term Yoga is a Sanskrit word that means “union” or “to join together” or “combine” or “harmonize” or “integrate.” Yoga refers to the union of body, mind, spirit and soul. Yoga helps the mind become stronger by connecting the mind with the Self or the soul (atma). Yoga is NOT limited to ‘Asana’s’ or physical postures. When incorporating Yoga in life consider combining body, prana (life force), mind and consciousness. Asana is the external medicine of Yoga.
According to the Yoga Sutra
“Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha – Yoga is mastering mental modification.”
- Yoga is Samadhi (reaching a state of balance and coming together with consciousness)
- Yoga is one‐ness of breath, mind and senses, and abandonment of all states of existence.
- Yoga is separation (viyoga) of the Self from the Earthly (prakriti)
- Yoga is disconnection (viyoga) of connection (samyoga) with suffering
- Yoga is skill in action
- Yoga is balance Union of mind, body and spirit (the 3 bodies).
The goal of Yoga is to reach a state of meditation. Yoga helps to draw all senses inward which assist in expansion of mind. This deepens our dharana.
There are various types of Yoga such as, Raja Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Karma Yoga, Bahkti Yoga and Jnana Yoga (Gyana Yoga). Since I practice Hatha Yoga I have experience how Hatha Yoga helps in controlling the fluctuations or modifications of the mind. Hatha Yoga texts indicate that by controlling the flow of Prana or life force, the mind is automatically controlled.
The term Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word that can be split into two words – ayu means ‘life’ and veda means ‘knowledge’. Thus Ayurveda is “the science of life and longevity. Ayurveda addresses all aspects of health and medicine system such as diet, herbs, lifestyle changes, surgery, bodywork, and its own clinical detoxification step, more popularly known as pancha karma.
Ayurveda takes into consideration time, season, age, environment and health condition of the individual before providing any lifestyle or treatment plan.
Ayu or life encompasses body, senses, mind and spirit. Ayurveda
- Is an art and science of healing
- Complete medicine that cares for the physical body, emotions and mind.
- Uses herbs, food, body therapy, time and seasons to balance individual body types.
- Focuses on prevention.
- Emphasizes on longevity, vitality and perseverance.
- Provides tools and methods for body purification or cleanse.
Integrative Approach – Ayu-Yoga from an Ayurvedic Perspective:
Ayurvedic texts such as Charaka Samhita mentions Yoga in order to bring balance. Yoga Asana assists with dissolving physical stress and calming the mind prior to reaching a meditative state. Yoga can be incorporated in Ayurvedic Dinacharya or Daily Practices for maintenance of good health. Ayurveda acknowledges Yoga Asana’s, Pranayam’s (Breathing Exercises) and Meditation as form of exercise that can rejuvenate the body, improves digestion, eliminate physical stress and calm the mind. This in turn provides energy abundance, stronger immune system and cultivates greater intelligence.
From an Ayurvedic standpoint Asana’s and Pranayam’s can be chosen to suit each of the body type. In Ayurveda three primary body types or three dosha’s (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) are mentioned. Each of them has a unique need to keep the body in balance. Therefore, Asana’s can be developed to bring balance to each of the humors. For example, forward bending Asana’s or postures are cooling and suits Pitta body type individuals. Twists (in Asana’s) are great for Kapha body type who often struggles with sluggish digestion. Back bending postures are heating thus works very well for Vata body type individuals.
Integrative Approach – Ayu-Yoga from a Yogic Perspective:
Yoga practitioners anywhere in the world can deeply benefit from Ayurvedic approaches such as diet, herbs, daily routines and cleanses. Ayurveda promotes a more Sattvic Diet that is essential for preparing the body for Yoga and healing. Ayurveda teaches abhyanga (self-massage), tongue cleaning (using copper or stainless steel tongue cleaners), oil swishing (preferably with sesame seed oil) etc. that can only assist with a stronger Asana practices. There are many tonic herbs in Ayurveda that can be used (when recommended by an Ayurvedic practitioner) that can reduce inflammation, strengthen the bones and joints and improve flexibility.
I learned Hatha Yoga practice and Ayurveda had provided support to my practice. I strongly believe without incorporating Ayurveda – my Yoga practice would only be limited to a physical practice. Yoga Asana’s and Pranayama’s aim to cleanse the Nadi’s (body channels) and Ayurvedic practices will further assist with removing the ‘ama’ or toxins from the body. Therefore, practicing Yoga Asana’s without any of the Ayurvedic cleansing practices mentioned above can keep the toxins circulating in the body. While learning the Ayurvedic practices (such as diet and detoxification process) in conjunction with Yoga can help to move and remove the toxins from the body.
Similarities between the Sister Sciences of Ayu-Yog:
- The birth place of Ayurveda and Yoga is South East Asia and both are derived from Vedic teachings. Yoga is derived from Yajur Veda while Ayurveda is from Rig Veda.
- Ayurveda and Yoga are based on the principles of trigunas (three qualities) which are Sattva, Rajas and Tamas.
- Both take into consideration of the panchamahabhutas or five elements which are earth, water, fire, air and space.
- Ayurveda and Yoga both have eight branches (Ashthanga) which makes them an extensive science of healing.
- Both are natural and holistic health sciences that focuses on prevention and maintenance of good health.
- Both systems consider body, mind and spirit in conjunction for healing.
- Yogic and Ayurvedic cleansing practices are renowned globally. Ayurveda utilizes panchakarma and Yoga uses Shat Karma.
Ayu-Yoga Teacher’s Training in Toronto:
The school I recommend is JAI Yoga and Ayurveda – Centre for Wellness and Education. They centre attracts the very best teachers and educators in Yoga, Ayurveda and Meditation. This is the place to be for Yogi’s, Ayurvedic Practitioners and Holistic Health Care practitioners. They utilize the best practices from both Ayurveda and Yoga. I completed my Ayu-Yoga Teacher’s Training and aiming to attend the Meditation Teacher’s Training Program with Jai Yoga and Ayurveda.
Contact Information: Jai Yoga and Ayurveda
Address: 688 Richmond Street, Suite 103 (ground level – follow stairs going down).