Yoga and Ayurveda: Ayurveda Isn’t Yoga
Yoga and Ayurveda, both are different and both have a different role to solve our problem. Within the Yoga community, there are many practitioners and patients of Ayurvedic medicine. The two systems get tied together, sometimes so closely you can’t tell where one begins and the other ends. What concept is Ayurvedic and which is yogic? Which is neither but rather a common principle of both stemming from their common heritage?
Yoga and Ayurveda: Everything Ayurvedic isn’t Yogic.
Sometimes following Ayurvedic theory (like specific Ayurvedic diet advice) can be contradictory to the teachings of Yoga as laid out in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and the Gheranda Samhita.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking it. Ayurveda has a lot to offer. It’s a valuable system of healing that has its strengths and weakness, just like all forms of medicine.
What I’m saying is that many Yoga enthusiasts and even teachers confuse Ayurveda with Yoga. They aren’t synonymous. They’re more like sisters who get mixed up all the time by well-meaning family friends who can’t keep straight which one is older and which one plays the trombone.
Yoga and Ayurveda have the same parents. They’re both descendants of the ancient Indu-Sarasvati culture that birthed them. Both respect their ancestors and refer to common links in scripture. Because they’re from the same family, they have many of the same ideas and values.
Like Ayurveda, Hinduism has its roots in Vedic writings. Yet Hinduism isn’t Yoga. We don’t have to be Hindus to gain immense benefits from practice. We don’t have to believe in Hindu gods or practice Hindu rituals. Yoga can bring us closer to OUR God, whichever manifestation and religion we choose.
Similarly, Ayurveda isn’t Yoga. We don’t have to subscribe to Ayurvedic theories of doshas to successfully practice. There’s no need to eat specific foods for our body type or use special mixtures of herbs to balance energy. Pancha karma is not the same thing as cleansing kriyas.
Why do I say that?
Because it’s in the texts – or rather, it’s not. Patanjali doesn’t refer to Ayurvedic therapy or doshas. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika recommends specific foods and discourages the consumption of others without regard to humors or body types. It doesn’t suggest that only pitta people, or those currently unbalanced towards pitta, shouldn’t eat spicy foods. Rather the Pradipka suggests spicy food isn’t beneficial for any of us. There’s no mention of the onion. Ditto for the Gheranda Samhita and the Siva Samhita. None of them include Ayurveda, although Ayurveda and Yoga share some similar techniques and ideas. They’re from the same family, remember.
Ayurveda is a complicated system of healing. While there are many facets that are fabulous such as its attention to the whole organism rather than simply the disease, it’s global perspective as opposed to a reductionist perspective, and its focus on prevention, there are other things that don’t jive well with what we’ve learned about human physiology over the past few centuries.
We can respect Ayurveda and appreciate its claims to some truths that are universal. That doesn’t mean we need to subscribe to Ayurvedic practices like frequent enemas, laxatives, or therapeutic vomiting. We don’t have to believe in ama, hypothetical toxins stuck forever in the gut. (Not that a therapeutic detox isn’t valuable for other reasons. It’s simply preferably based on how the body works.)
Apples are one of nature’s powerhouses of nutrition. There’s no need to avoid them because someone describes you as vata. It’s hard enough to get good, balanced nutrition without rejecting healthy foods based on Ayurvedic theory.
Traditional Yoga manuals come with their own advice on diet and energy balance. Their methods don’t take into consideration whether someone is vata, pitta, or kapha. Much of our current scientific evidence backs up recommendations provided in these esteemed texts that are the result of several hundred to thousands of years of creating and forming Yoga as a discreet system of practice, separate from Ayurveda and Hinduism.
So Read this………..
Ayurveda and evidence-based medicine are complementary methods of healing that can be integrated for optimal health. Neither is Yoga, which is a system unto itself – and which can be integrated with either form of medicine for maximal effects.