I get the question “what is Ayurveda?” a lot. And I wish just as many people would ask me what the hell yoga is because yoga is NOT asana. Asana is a small part of yoga…got it?
To me, these two systems of science are pretty inseparable. I’ve been working in the yoga and Ayurveda disciplines for several decades, and have found that the connections between these systems are much greater than is acknowledged, especially in the West.
We cannot separate them or understand one of these systems without the other. Together, they are part of a much larger and complete integrated stream of higher knowledge that is referred to as Vedic knowledge or the Vedic Sciences.
This includes the FULL scope of all eight limbs of Ashtanga Yoga found in the Yoga Sutras and Ayurveda for both body and mind found in these ancient texts.
So if you’ve never heard of Ayurveda and don’t really understand Yoga to its fullest capacity, I will try to briefly explain.
Ayurveda means life knowledge…or the science of life.
Yoga means union, joining or connecting.
Together…the harmonizing of life.
But it’s not that simple. These are highly evolved sciences that have been codified into an elaborate and specific system. Here’s a super simple and basic outline:
There are 8 limbs of yoga:
Yamas - guidelines of moral behavior and sense of integrity
Niyamas - guidelines of personal behavior and self-discipline
Asana - posture – control over the body to be seated comfortably for a length of time
Pranayama - breathing techniques to control prana
Pratyahara - withdrawal of the senses
Dharana - deep concentration
Dyana - practice of meditation
Samadhi - merging with the divine, realization of our connection to totality, a state of ecstasy
There are also 8 limbs of Ayurveda.
Kayachikitsa - Internal medicine
Shalya Tantra - Surgery
Shalakya tantra - Ears and ENT
Kaumarabhritya - Gynecology and Pediatrics
Agada tantra - Toxicology
Bhuta Vidya - Psychiatry
Rasayana - Rejuvenation and anti-aging
Vajikarana - Reproductive and enhancing sexual power
This science was derived from the intense yearning to heal and to know who we are and what life is from the inside out AND outside in. And as you can see…there’s a lot of that looks familiar. Thus, sister sciences.
I think of the history of Yoga and Ayurveda as a “once upon a time” fairytale that begins thousands and thousands of years ago in the far away land of India. Twin sisters were born, Yoga and Ayurveda. They had an awesome life together…pretty much joined at the hip. Together, their expansive knowledge of life, spirituality, medicine, body and mind were unsurpassed anywhere in the world.
One day, Yoga hears of all these cool things happening in the West, and she decides to leave the safety and comfort of her sister and her homeland to go off and explore what all the fuss was all about. She takes off in her beautiful sari and as soon as she hits the West, she disrobes like a teen sneaking out on a Friday night and removes her numerous layers of her soul down to the bare…just asana.
She falls prey to partying and constantly is showing off her fancy “yoga” clothes and her super advanced variations of poses…I mean, she IS Yoga, right? And over time, Yoga became a ROCK STAR! Showing off all over the world, traveling to exotic places and saturating society with her grace and ease of contortioning her body into all kinds of positions that most of the population would never be able to attain…but she IS Yoga.
Every once in a while she connects back to her roots…occasionally practicing pranayama and meditating, maybe she goes through spurts of self-reflection, but life in the West is so demanding.
They just want her for her asana…the rest of her offerings become watered down.
This carries on for years…and as time goes on, Yoga becomes more and more exhausted…she has totally lost touch with her Self. But her wiser sister, Ayurveda, senses her sister’s despair.
She’s been feeling her loss as if she was missing a limb. She makes her way to the West to re-connect with her beloved sister.
Yoga falls to her feet in relief. Her rock…her support…her safety net has returned to her.
Ayurveda helps her sister gain back her strength, building her back up, layer by layer. And the reuniting of these two powerful sisters is the beginning of a planetary shift in consciousness towards progress instead of de-gress, which creates the container for humanity to re-align with the rhythm of nature.
Through this evolution we connect to a deeper sense of body and mind integrity and transform our lives from dis-ease into ease and grace.
Are you ready to harmonize your life, unleash your inner badass, and make the investment in your health that will lead you to drop your self-judgement and doubt, halt the guilt, and trade in the bullshit excuses so you can finally reclaim your health?
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