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What is Ayurveda Yoga Therapy?

Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy is the traditional system of Yoga Therapy from India. Yoga Therapy is the application of yoga to the healing process. The mechanism of understanding how yoga contributes to healing is the physiological model of Ayurveda. Ayurveda is the healing side of Yoga.

Ayurveda teaches that each person has a unique physiology with tendencies that lead toward imbalances. Though a proper lifestyle that antidotes these tendencies, imbalances will not manifest and a person remains healthy. If a person is already out of balance, sick or diseased, physically or emotionally, lifestyle is the means through which normal physiology is restored. To restore normal physiology, ayurveda utilizes diet, herbs, colors, aromas, massage, sound and Yoga Therapy. Yoga Therapy includes asana, pranayama, mantra and meditation.

What makes Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy unique is that each person’s approach to their yoga practice is also individualized.  By individualizing one’s yoga practices support the restoring of normal physiology and the healing process. Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy is the intelligent application of Yoga practices based on one’s individual constitution and the nature of any imbalances that are present.

There are many nuances to the proper application of Yoga for healing. However, a little knowledge goes a long way. People of vata nature or imbalance tend to have excessive motion in their bodies and minds leading to nervousness, twitches and an irregular heart rhythm among other imbalances. To restore normal physiology and support healing, ones approach to yoga must be slower. To move quickly simply aggravates the hyperactivity of the nervous system.  Those with a pitta nature or imbalance tend to experience excessive heat which can manifest as skin rashes, inflammation red eyes and being highly critical. Yoga practices must be performed in a manner that does not overheat the body. Through understanding the energetics of asana and how to use one’s breath to cool the body, the physiology of the body cannot only be controlled to prevent an increase in heat but can be manipulated to actually cool the body and mind.  Those with a kapha nature or imbalance tend to experience excessive heaviness, sluggishness and fluidity.  To restore normal physiology, yoga practices need to support lightness, mobility and dryness. Asana practice and pranayama can be designed to facilitate these qualities. To restore kapha imbalance to health, ones approach to asana needs to be more vigorous and should be practiced quickly while remaining mindful.

There is of course much more to healing through Yoga. Ayurvedic Yoga Therapists understand the energetic of each asana and how the asana moves the five vayus or principle forces of the body, and influences the qualities of the five elements.  With this knowledge the Ayurvedic Yoga Therapist is able to structure a person’s practice to maximize their potential for healing.

Ayurvedic Yoga Therapists support the healing process. Though many practitioners establish independent practices and provide private yoga therapy sessions, they are ideally positioned to provide supportive care to the patients of any health care practitioner. Ayurvedic Yoga Therapists can work alongside Medical doctors, Chiropractors, Acupuncturists and Ayurvedic Healthcare Professionals. They can also conduct dosha specific yoga classes in their yoga studios.

Dr. Marc Halpern is the Founder and President of the California College of Ayurveda, author of Healing Your Life; Lessons on the Path of Ayurveda, and the developer of the Ayurvedic Yoga Therapist Certification Course taught World-wide. A pioneer of Ayurveda in the West, Dr. Halpern has received awards for his teaching of Ayurveda in the both the United States and India.  He is the co-founder of the National Ayurvedic Medical Association (USA) and sits on the advisory board to Light on Ayurveda Journal (USA) and the Journal of Research and Education in Indian Medicine (India).

For information about Ayurveda courses offered at the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Camp, click here.