By Genevieve Gilbreath on June 25, 2014
Both Yoga and Ayurveda are scientific systems that cultivate higher states of health. While the goal of both is similar, Ayurveda primarily focuses on correct diet, a healthy lifestyle, and the use of herbs. Yoga primarily emphasizes physical and mental practices. When used together Yoga and Ayurveda keep you healthy and balanced. Here is why:
1) Maintaining Energy Levels
Ayurveda explains the nature of our being through the science of our vital energies or Doshas, (Vata, Pitta & Kapha). It provides diet, lifestyle and herbal practices for maintaining and restoring proper energy levels.
Ayurvedic herbs to balance aggravated doshas:
- Vata – Pippali, Ashwaganda, Ginger
- Pitta – Amalaki, Coriander, Brahmi
- Kapha – Ginger, Cardamom, Black Pepper
Yoga provides specific postures (asanas), breathwork (pranayama) and meditation practices to keep energy levels balanced.
Yoga practices to balance aggravated doshas:
- Vata – Regular daily practice that is soothing and gentle
- Pitta – Challenging yoga practice at the cooler times of day
- Kapha – Vigorous yoga practice at least 5 times a week
2) Maintaining Healthy Digestion
According to Ayurveda, a powerful digestive fire or Agni, (pronounced: “ugh-nee”) transforms all that we ingest into useful energy. Using Agni igniting herbs like ginger, black pepper, long pepper and licorice, we can maintain a healthy digestive fire.
Yoga postures like reclined knees to chest posture, and seated or standing twist help cleanse and ignite the digestive system.
3) Dealing with Change
Ayurveda teaches that we are in a constant state of change. Changes due to age, fluctuations in digestion, mental & emotional states, relationships and environment can cause imbalance in our health. By modifying diet, regulating lifestyle and using appropriate herbs, Ayurveda can help regain balance. Find which dosha is aggravated and modify for that imbalance. Keep in mind it is not always your dominant doshas that may be out of balance!
Yoga is the practical science that gives us the tools to become conscious of changes in our body, mind and spirit. Through awareness and meditation practices (like simple breath awareness or mantra) we can keep changes from becoming as disruptive. Don’t wait until you are faced with a stressful situation, the best method to deal with difficult change is to maintain a consistent practice.
These are just three of thousands of ways that the sister sciences of Yoga and Ayurveda work together to create a strong and balanced state of being. Just remember to be consistent and always listen to your body and mind to find the right practices for you.