Ayurveda and yoga are sister sciences, each one a part of the other. Why then, even if we practice yoga, have we rarely heard of Ayurveda?
Although Ayurveda’s popularity is slowly spreading in the West, this beautiful and all-encompassing system of natural medicine has been used for thousands of years in India, where it was never separate from yoga. The two go hand in hand, and when used together yoga and Ayurveda have the power to heal body, mind, and spirit.
A simple breakdown of yoga is important for understanding how it applies to Ayurveda. When the term “yoga” is used in the West, it is usually strictly referring to the physical. While classical yoga certainly benefits the physical body, it is actually a spiritual science that includes the practices of asana (yoga postures), ritual, pranayama (breathing exercises), meditation, chanting, and contemplation. Yogic practices are used to overcome the spiritual suffering caused by forgetting our true nature and believing that we are no more than our physical bodies.
Ayurveda is the “science of life” and one of the world’s oldest systems of medicine, still relevant and widely practiced in India today. It is a means for preventing and curing diseases of the body and mind. It prescribes treatment not only through diet, herbs, and bodywork; always alongside yogic practices such as asana, pranayama, and meditation.
While yoga primarily addresses diseases of the spirit, Ayurveda primarily addresses diseases of the body and mind. A yogi uses the principles of Ayurveda to keep the body and mind in optimal health so that the spirit may evolve, and an Ayurvedic doctor prescribes yogic practices because the body and mind can’t truly heal without addressing the spirit.
Frawley, David. Yoga: The Greater Tradition. San Rafael: Mandala Publishing, 2008. Print.