Ayurveda and yoga are sister sciences that go hand in hand. The more you infuse your yoga practice with Ayurveda, the more it becomes a tool for empowerment and healing.
Ayurveda is the world’s oldest continually practiced wellness system that addresses everything about our lifestyle from what to eat, when to sleep, how to behave as responsible citizens in society and just about everything else we could wonder about. I like to think of Ayurveda as a handbook for life. You could say that the “goal” of Ayurveda is to guide us to have a healthy mind and body full of vigor and vitality. From this place of true health, we are able to experience the best of life and in turn have more energy and space for higher pursuits.
Traditionally, yoga is a spiritual practice with the “goal” of moksha or liberation. As most yogi’s know, asana is just one of the 8 limbs that Patanjali laid out in the Yoga Sutras and even then, it was not exactly described as the physical practice that is popular today. It is said by some that asana comes from the Sanskrit word āsandī, which translates as a generic term for a seat of some sort. Ashtanga teacher Tim Miller describes the physical flow of a yoga practice akin to rocking a baby to sleep. Asana helps us move out energy so that we are able to sit in the stillness of meditation.
Tailoring Your Practice
There is a saying that all rivers lead to the same mother ocean. The same could be said about your yoga practice. However, as we learn more about our individual needs through the study and practice of Ayurveda, we can use that information to tailor yoga so that it is exactly what we need on any given day.
Like Attracts Like, Opposites Create Balance
“Like attracts like, opposites create balance” is a key phrase in understanding Ayurveda. This foundational principle is applied through the gurvadigunas, a set of 10 pairs of opposite qualities.
heavy – light
dull – sharp
cold – hot
oily – dry
smooth – rough
dense – liquid
hard – soft
static – mobile
subtle – gross
cloudy – clear
A huge factor in regards to your yoga practice is the pair of static and mobile. Consider the following questions for a moment: Is your mind racing? Have you been multitasking? If so, then maybe you have a lot of mobility in your life at the moment. Using the principle of like attracts like, opposites create balance teaches that you would probably benefit from a slower, more stable yoga practice. What does slower mean? Well, that depends on you. Perhaps a yoga nidra practice would be balancing, or perhaps a hatha yoga practice with long warrior holds.
Likewise, have you been spending a lot of time sitting? In that case, a more vigorous practice would probably help boost the flow of energy in your body.
Another consideration is temperature. Is it the middle of the summer? Do you run hot or flush easily? Does a heated yoga practice seem like it would be balancing under these circumstances? Cold doesn’t mean you have to freeze in air conditioning. Ayurveda is all about moderation. It could mean avoiding poses that cause too much heat in the body or choosing to practice early in the morning before the sun creates another layer of added intensity.
Ayurveda and Yoga Considerations
The deeper you go into your Ayurveda practice, the more you will discover the layers of these qualities within yourself and the world around you. Through our yoga and meditation practice we cultivate the ability to pause. And when we do pause, we can become more aware of how we are affected by the elements and the qualities. With this sacred connection we are able to make guided choices that help us practice yoga and everyday life in higher alignment.
Written by Angela Perger
Ayurveda Health Counselor & E-RYT