What do Yoga and Ayurveda have in common? Both are Vedic traditions. The vedic religion is the oldest religion of India that can be found in written documents. In India, Ayurveda and Yoga have been integrated into the health system for a very long time and are seen parallel to western/traditional medicine.
The Ayurvedic philosophy includes a holistic medical view. This also includes movement (Asanas), meditation and breathing exercises (Pranayama). Here you can see the first parallels to the Yoga practices. In our blogpost about wholeness you will find an introduction to what it means to look at health holistically.
Yoga, in addition to the pure asanas, also offers recommendations for a healthy lifestyle. Various cleansing techniques and many nutritional recommendations described in Yoga philosophy have their origins in Ayurveda.
The essence of both philosophies – Ayurveda and Yoga
The essence of both Ayurveda and Yoga is a harmonious and balanced life. The philosophies define many similar goals such as health, balance, mindfulness, contentment in one’s own life and throughout the world.
Meaning in Sanskrit: “knowledge of life” (“Ayus” = life, “Veda” = knowledge). A general wisdom to live your life is given. A holistic view of health is at the focus of interest.
Meaning in Sanskrit: “union”. What is meant is the connection of body, mind and soul. The connection to our inner self.
Both philosophies recommend regular self-study, mindfulness towards fellow human beings and nature, and a simple life to achieve a healthy mind.
Ayurvedic Psychology – Sattvavajaya
We would like to give you a short insight into the Ayurvedic Psychology to understand the essence of the similarities between Ayurveda and Yoga. Ayurvedic psychology is based on the philosophy of Yoga. In Ayurveda the health of the mind, also called Sattva, is an important component. Sattvavajaya refers to the “science of a healthy mind”, the pathway to get a healthy mind. One possible way is to reach this state with subtle methods. Subtle methods can often not be rationally explained. This includes meditation, psychology, prayers and rituals. As Yoga describes not only physical asanas but also e.g. pranayamas (breathing exercises) and meditation, yoga falls under the subtle methods to achieve mental health.
In summary, Yoga philosophy seeks the state of ” Sattva”. But how can you reach this state of mind? And how do you know you’ve found it?
“Sattva is basically characterized by high awareness, mental and moral strength, but also by naivety. Decisions are made based on values and you are free from worldly desires. You are good with yourself and for yourself. Other sattvic qualities are: calm, peaceful, friendly, enthusiastic, beautiful and satisfied.”
You can work on your Sattva on different levels (body sheaths).
Koshas – Body Sheaths
The Ayurveda and also the Yoga philosophy define different subtle body sheaths also called Koshas. To summarize, the deeper the Kosha, the more subtle it becomes.
We do not want to go into too much detail about Ayurveda psychology here, so we will stick to the connection between Ayurveda and Yoga. Your yoga practice mainly affects the first two Koshas, Anna-maya-Kosha “food sheath” and Prana-maya-Kosha “energy sheath”. The yoga asanas and pranayama exercises, as well as meditation, are based on these body sheaths, and the health effects then continue on and on to the subtle sheath, the Ananda-maya-Kosha “joy sheath”.
So you can feel different effects on all levels through certain Yoga Asanas. And this in turn leads to a state of sattva, the health and strength of mind and joy within you!
Extend your yoga practice with Ayurveda – 5 tips
Ayurveda and Yoga thus work hand in hand to strengthen the well-being of each individual.
We have summarized for you 5 practical tips from the Ayurveda philosophy, which can support your yoga practice.
- Besides the yoga asanas, pay attention to a regular practice of pranayama, breathing exercises, and meditation. With a daily practice of these mindfulness methods you will soon notice that relaxation and peace can spread within you. When your Prana ( breath ) flows through the body, body and mind connect.
- Try to drink warm water throughout the day. How about a warm water with lemon and ginger right after getting up?
- An Ayurvedic morning routine can also contribute to your well-being. Examples are, besides the warm ginger water, tongue scraping, dry brushing or oil pulling. Start your morning relaxed and allow some time for this.
- Let your body get fresh air every day! You will notice that breathing in nature has a stress-reducing effect and can provide more energy.
- Ayurveda recommends to follow a healthy diet. Try to eat your food as fresh as possible. Fresh meals have an effect especially on the first two Koshas: Food- and Energy-Kosha. There is also a list of foods that you can include in your diet to strengthen mental health.
[actually, honey, milk & ghee are included here. However, they are deliberately excluded, because the yoga philosophy recommends a vegetarian diet as much as possible.]
Our favourite mantra for your Ayurveda and Yoga practice
We would like to give you our favourite mantra, because it fits very well to both vedic traditions, Ayurveda and Yoga:
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu
May everyone in this world be connected, be in harmony and experience happiness.
Put yourself in a comfortable upright seat. Breathe deeply and evenly. When you feel ready, slowly close your eyes. Repeat the mantra a few times, optionally in Sanskrit. Think about wishing everyone harmony and happiness. Really everyone. Even to those who have challenged you or are challenging you right now. All living beings in this world. Take a few more deep breaths, feel the space around you again and slowly open your eyes. Smile.
You can find more yoga asanas and meditation exercises for your practice at home here.
Ayurveda and Yoga overlap in many ways and can therefore be combined perfectly. Ayurvedic practices can easily be integrated into your existing yoga routines and thus improve your practice holistically. Simply try out our tips!
[Source: Rosenberg Europäische Akademie für Ayurveda, https://www.ayurveda-akademie.org/en/home/]