Some background on why they are referred to as sister sciences
Both (spiritual) sciences are rooted in the sacred Indian scriptures (the Vedas) and help us to stay in balance, deal with stress and in the end find inner peace. Ayurveda does this mainly via self healing whereas Yoga is more a tradition of mental and spiritual refinement.
They both look at the human being as a whole and are therefore called holistic. Meaning that real health can only be reached when body, mind and soul are in balance.
Both sciences help us to stay in balance
In the West we know Yoga mostly as a physical practice and Ayurveda as an alternative healing system. In a way they are, but in its essence Yoga & Ayurveda are much more. Therefore I think it’s good to shortly define what is meant by Yoga & Ayurveda here before we dive deeper into their interrelationship.
What is Yoga?
Yoga – in its most simple form – is nothing more than training your mind to be in the present. It is a way of making your mind calmer and by this more clear. There are several methods for attaining this clarity of the mind. For example by mental control (Raja Yoga), by chanting as a form of devotion (Bhakti Yoga), by knowledge through studying the philosophy (Jnana Yoga) or by bodily control through physical practice (Hatha Yoga). All designed for the differentiability of people, but all with the same destination.
The most important books on the philosophy of yoga give us the following definitions:
“Yogas chitta vritti nirodhah”
Yoga is a mind free of all turbulence – calm and clean (Book 1, sutra 2 of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali).
“Yoga is perfection in action”
Perfect action is directed only by a calm mind. If your mind is restless, you can’t be perfect (Chapter Two Bhagavad Gita).
The most simple and best definition according to these old scriptures of Yoga is therefore that Yoga is a calm and clean mind.
Yoga is to calm the mind
What is Ayurveda?
The word “Ayur” comes from the Sanskrit word “Ayuh” which means life and “Veda” can be translated as wisdom or knowledge. Accordingly, Ayurveda can be translated as the “the science of life” or “the wisdom of living wisely”. It is the first ever recorded system of healing the physical, mental and energetic body. In essence it is based on each unique individual. Giving you personal tools to live a balanced and fulfilled lifestyle.
Ayurveda’s personalized approach to health helps you to understand your mind-body type (Dosha) which supports you to make the best choices in diet, exercise, yoga practice, supplements and all other aspects of your lifestyle. Even though Ayurveda put emphasize on the prevention of imbalances it also offers remarkable support once health is disturbed.
Ayurveda gives you a personal toolbox to live a balanced life
Before we dive into the combination I want to stipulate one more time that both traditions share the same goal which is liberation (Moksha – or a free mind & spirit).
The easiest way to look at it is to see Ayurveda as the science of Self-Healing whereas Yoga is the science of Self-Realisation. Meaning that Ayurveda is the foundation for Yoga. Yet we should keep in mind that Ayurveda’s ultimate aim is the highest form of Self-Healing which is, like in Yoga, Self-Realisation.
That been said it’s time to look at the importance of combining these traditions. Like I said, Yoga is mainly concerned with controlling the mind. For this a healthy body is needed which can be gained through an Ayurvedic Lifestyle. When Yoga is used in Ayurveda as a tool to stay in balance or regain balance it’s called Yoga Therapy (or in Sanskrit Yoga Chikitsa).
In addition, Ayurveda stipulates that we are all different, all unique. We all have our unique mix of the Elements (Pancha Maha Bhutas) which means that we all have different qualities and all need different yoga practices to keep us in balance. For example, someone who is over flexible needs more holding and support whereas someone who is more stiff will benefit more from intense long stretches. Knowing your unique mind-body constitution (Prakruti) or current imbalance (Vikruti) is therefore needed if you want to leave your mat with a smile.
Do you want to learn more? Come to the Yoga & Ayurveda Workshop where you will learn how to adjust your practice to your personal needs at that particular moment. Check out dates and locations here.
You can also leave me a message if you have some questions after reading this article.