Sacred Union: When Yoga & Ayurveda Meet
When Yoga and Ayurveda meet, there is a magic that happens. They are sisters, inseparable and incomplete without the other.
But in the Western world, Yoga has been given all the attention, leaving Ayurveda to dwell in the nooks and crannies of the Yoga community.
Luckily, Ayurveda is making a comeback, and more practitioners are waking up to the insights of this ancient science. When brought together, Yoga and Ayurveda show us the way back to greater health, harmony, and well-being for all.
As we dive in, I will often be referencing Dr. David Frawley’s ‘Yoga & Ayurveda: Self-Healing and Self-Realization,’ a great resource for deepening your understanding of both traditions.
Let’s start at the beginning, the birthplace of these two powerful practices.
Two Sisters Yoga & Ayurveda
Both Yoga and Ayurveda stem from the Samkhya school of Vedic philosophy, as taught by the Sage Kapila. These sacred sciences came up together in South Asia about 5,000 years ago, and have always been used in conjunction to create a holistic physiological, psychological, and spiritual system of well-being.
Ayurveda is recognized as the science of self-healing, and is the practice of restoring wholeness to body and mind through diet, movement, mindfulness, and other lifestyle practices.
Yoga is the science of self-realization, the remembrance of one’s true nature. The journey towards self-realization depends upon the wellness of your body and mind; so, Ayurveda harmonizes the outer, and also inner, aspects of your being so that you may pursue greater spiritual depths and, eventually, realize your true nature as Spirit.
When you try to separate one from the other, you are left with an incomplete system. Ayurveda alone still offers many benefits to your physical and mental health, but without Yoga, you lose the concepts that are so often included in Ayurvedic treatment plans like asana (postures) or svadhyaya (self-study).
The Sacred Union: Yoga & Ayurveda
Yoga alone provides the practitioner with ethical guidelines, movement and mindfulness practices, and devotional rituals. But it lacks the personalized insight of Ayurveda to recommend proper diet, digestive remedies, self-care practices, and daily routine.
One clear example of these sisters working in unison is through the doshas. The doshas, or biological humors, help you to identify your natural state of health, as well as any current imbalances you may be experiencing. Understanding your own dosha is exceedingly useful when creating a lifestyle that supports your mind and body. This is how our practices become personalized as you craft routines and shift habits in favor of greater health and harmony.
This personalization provided by the doshas is what makes these two traditions truly unique. Yogic practices such as asana and pranayama are commonly used in Ayurvedic treatment plans; the style of practice will be dependent upon the student’s dosha. In turn, the wisdom of your dosha can help steer you towards the right practices for your unique mind-body make-up. You’ll remember how to translate your body’s messages, observe your mental chatter, and make adjustments based on your constitution.
So, let’s put these theories into practice. Here’s a Tridoshic (meaning all 3 doshas in balance) sequence for you to try at home:
Tridoshic Balancing Yoga Practice
Hold each pose for 5 to 10 breaths; allow yourself at least 10 minutes for Savasana to finish out your practice.
- Tadasana Mountain Pose
- Surya Namaskar A Sun Salutations
- Virabhadrasana 1 Warrior 1
- Virabhadrasana 2 Warrior 2
- Viparita Virabhadrasana Reverse Warrior
- Balasana Child’s Pose
- Dandasana Staff Pose
- Janusirsasana Head to Knee Pose
- Jathara Parivartanasana Supine Spinal Twist
- Savasana Corpse Pose
When Yoga and Ayurveda meet, there is a remembrance of an old way of being. This sacred union reminds us of our interconnectedness, our power to heal, and the truth of who we are. I hope you feel inspired to explore how Ayurveda and Yoga together can change your life; maybe it starts with improving your digestion or adopting seasonal practices.
However your path unfolds, may it lead you home.
~ Lydia Willig
Owner & Director of Earth Walker Yoga, and SPY graduate