Yoga was introduced to the West in late 19th century and has been since eagerly adopted by a very receptive audience. Despite the huge popularity of yoga, its medicinal counterpart Ayurveda, was left behind. Yoga and Ayurveda are complementary practices that share a close relationship, so much that they are often described as two sides of the same coin.
Both these sciences with their origin in the ancient Vedic texts address the human body. If Yoga deals with the holistic wellness aspect of the Vedic teachings, Ayurveda is the healing aspect. Combined, they emphasize a comprehensive approach to the overall well being of the body, mind and spirit.
Both Yoga and Ayurveda share the common basic principles: the focus on the well being of an individual in both body and mind with the aim of helping one reconnect with their true self. While yoga trains the body and mind for the supreme enlightenment and liberation, Ayurveda deals with the various aspects that a body can be internally revitalized. Both these disciplines emphasize the close relationship and modify the interactions that humans have with their environment, in order to achieve harmony in the truest sense.
Benefits of Ayurveda
In the modern age, yoga is perceived as consisting of asanas (postures) and dhyana (meditation) – a mere exercise regimen to keep the body fit and nimble. People get drawn to yoga as a way to improve fitness even though the essence of yoga is to clear and settle the mind in order to develop a deeper mind-body connection and heighten awareness. A calm mind not affected by stress, results in a healthy body and a greater bond with one’s pure inner self.
In a similar manner, Ayurveda brings with it the knowledge of keeping the physical body healthy through external nourishment and augmentation.
A Customized Approach
Ayurveda sees each individual as unique and one’s journey toward perfect well being as a unique path. Hence, there is no common approach and that which is appropriate for an individual is unique to that person alone. This concept is remarkable in that Ayurveda prescribes unique, tailored programs for each individual based upon his/her constitution, physical condition and the nature of any instability, avoiding the “one size-fits all” concept that is common in other systems of healing.
Ayurveda is based on analysis and diagnosis of the needs and appropriate requirements of the individual – that may not be for others – in fulfilling the needs to develop complete harmony. This could be based on a person’s unique genetic heritage or constitution. An individual’s constitution defines a person at the most fundamental level. Ayurveda does not comply with the one common treatment for all concept, but subscribes to the philosophy that “everything is right for someone, while nothing is right for everyone.”
Along with the diet, medication, supplements, aromas, etc, Ayurveda also sheds light on the specific yoga asanas that are best suited for an individual based on his/her constitution. With an in-depth knowledge of Ayurveda, a yoga practitioner can fine-tune his/her practice to maintain their internal balance of energy.
With the awareness of one’s constitutional balance, an individual can practice suitable asanas to correct their imbalances and improve their overall health and well-being.
Advanced Benefits of Ayurveda
Ayurveda has been proved an effective treatment for multiple health conditions such as respiratory problems, rheumatism, blood pressure, diabetics, paralysis etc. This science of healing makes use of natural ingredients and non invasive therapy thus being highly curative and totally harmless at the same time.
One of the most effective procedures in Ayurveda that can be undertaken by everyone is the “Panchakarma” – the five step therapy. It is a management protocol for different diseases and health conditions that detoxifies the body, strengthens the immune system and restores the internal balance and well-being of the body.
The Panch Karma is considered to be the most radical and effective way to cleanse the body and eliminate disease. It removes the unhealthy elements from the body’s gross channels (GIT, respiratory tract) as well as at the most intricate levels (tissues, cell membranes etc.) It flushes the accumulated toxins, from the body through the conventional modes of elimination- via the sweat glands, intestines and urinary tract.
Practicing Ayurveda – the simple and modern way
- Ayurveda emphasizes the value of sound sleep, as rest and recuperation is the foundation for dynamic activity. So go to sleep early, and avoid any distractions that might interrupt your blissful sleep. An average sleep of around 8 hours is necessary for a quality and deep rest.
- Rising with the sun will give you ample time to devote to your morning ablutions, prepare a good, nourishing breakfast and plan the rest of the day. Most of all, it lets you time to enjoy the early morning calm.
- Being with people whose company makes us feel happy and loved is akin to medicine: they help heal and restore. The simplest exercise that you can adopt is a walk outdoors with your partner, a friend or coworker – what Ayurveda considers a tridoshic (triple benefits) exercise: it combines light physical activity, personal interaction and an experience of the outdoors, thus calming the mind and nourishing the senses.
- Drink lots of water. Water flushes out the accumulated toxins, while aiding the process of digestion. Water is an excellent healer and should be sipped throughout the day. Other recommended brews are warm milk and herbal tea.
- Opt for fresh foods. Processed, frozen or packaged foods are hard to digest, are aged, denatured by processing, and can include harmful chemical preservatives as ingredients. They retain less of their natural nutrition, resulting in the creation of ama, or toxins that hinders our thought process and actions. Make an effort to have a fresh and warm lunch in a quiet atmosphere and focus on your food when you eat.
- Take an occasional break wherever you are – Sit down and close your eyes and breathe deep. Disconnect from the external world and tune in to your own self. Rhythmic breathing increases the flow of oxygen and other vital nutrients to all organs. Even when done for a minute, you will feel rejuvenated with an instant sense of well-being.
Ayurveda as a science and practice can bring benefits to all of us. Whether adopting the simple practices or going in for a full fledged therapy program, we get to purify our bodies and restore our inner balance. Combined with a regular regimen of yoga practice, we can achieve the ultimate harmony of body and nature.