For thousands of years, people have turned to the wisdom of Ayurveda and Yoga to achieve optimal health in body, mind and soul. These two ancient sister sciences have been practiced continuously since the dawn of human history. In fact, Ayurveda is considered to be “the mother of all healing sciences,” and yoga is its corollary.
In what way are they sister sciences? Ayurveda is the healing side of Yoga; Yoga is the spiritual side of Ayurveda. They each address aspects of our being that allow for perfect health within the body and mind, and this paves the way for us to achieve the highest goal: reconnection to our Divine nature, also called Self-Realization, enlightenment or what Yoga calls Samadhi. In the words of Dr. Marc Halpern, the Founder and Director of the California College of Ayurveda, “the path to perfect health parallels the path to enlightenment!”
Ayurveda’s job in all of this is to keep our body healthy, recognizing that in order to achieve our highest goal, enlightenment, we need a healthy, well-functioning body. Ayurveda is natural healing based on natural law, and harnesses the forces in the natural world to help us to reverse disease and maintain optimal health.
Yoga is transformational, a science of Self-realization. With a healthy body in place to support us, one is able to fully utilize Yoga to move us from our ego-bound identity to our immortal Self that dwells within our heart. In doing this, Yoga also utilizes natural laws and spiritual forces within nature to transform our consciousness from ignorance to enlightenment. Yoga teaches us to relinquish outer seeking in favor of coming to know our own true nature. However, yoga is not a religion; it does not dictate one’s belief system, it simply opens the door and lays a pathway for one to experience one’s own spiritual nature, in whatever form each of holds dear, equally embracing all spiritual traditions. And, yoga is much more than twisty poses, but rather a pathway to inner calm.
How do Ayurveda and Yoga accomplish this? For Ayurveda, the toolkit is vast and endless, and in essence encompasses all modalities that bring balance and harmony. There is a saying in Ayurveda that “nothing is right for everyone, everything is right for someone.” Ayurveda utilizes five sense therapies, looks at each person as a unique individual, and determines what is the most ideal food, herbs, lifestyle practices, aromas, sights, forms of healing touch, and etc. in order to achieve health. These determinations are made based on an understanding of each person’s energetic make-up, what Ayurveda calls the ˆdoshas” – vata, pitta and kapha.
In Classical Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy, as taught by Dr. Marc Halpern and the teaching faculty at CCA, the principles of Ayurveda are applied to Yoga. This is a beautiful opportunity to deeply learn the intersection of these two sister sciences, and how to apply the profound healing and transformative principles that they both provide.
In a world filled with so much strife, so much disease, so much disharmony, Yoga and Ayurveda serve as torchlights in the dark, illuminating deeper truths, uncovering hidden secrets of health, healing, and inner calm, guiding us gently back home…to remembering our true nature as spirit.
Written by Marisa Laursen, CAS, PKS, AYT
Image: Dr. Marc Halpern and students, Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy Certification Program, Sivananda Ashram Retreat, Bahamas, April 2015