Yoga with an Ayurvedic approach is considered to be a niche market in the Yoga world but as awareness of the classical texts grows, there is also a slow realization that not only are the origins of Hatha Yoga linked to Ayurveda but also to what extent Ayurveda can enrich the lives of Yoga practitioners.
There is a key concept at the heart of Ayurveda. This is the concept of Svasthya. You may already recognize at least a part of the word. Sva means Self (think of Svasdisthana Chakra or Svadhyaya in the Yoga Sutras.) Svasthya in general terms simply means positive health but not in the usual sense. Ayurveda is profound.
Here is a fuller explanation:
SVASTHYA ( Sanskrit : स्वास्थ्यSvasthya n. ) The literal definition of Svasthya is ‘a state of health and wellness’. But the expression Svasthya connotes a state of well being of the body and mind. A condition in which one is not dependent on other human beings or on any drug for his own physical and mental welfare. It is defined as the state of body and mind, which provides the foundation for vigor and strength. Expressed in wholesome living involving pursuit of the values of life.
– Vidyalankara Prof. S. K. Ramachandra Rao
Encyclopaedia of Indian Medicine
Someone who has achieved this state of health is called a Svastha. But how is that state of health to be achieved? It happens by adhering to the most relevant routines that can sustain our Prakruti or Personal Constitution. In other words Know Thy Selfand all will be well.
Ayurveda suggests that we are all inherently healthy. If we ensure that we follow appropriate habits to maintain our physical (Saririka), mental (Manasika) and spiritual (Adhyatmika) wellbeing then this creates an appropriate relationship between our natural constitutional type (Prakruti) and the life we live.
Our Prakruti is made up of a combination of the three Doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vata means Wind and is controlled by the elements of Air and Space. Pitta means, “that which cooks” and is controlled by Water and Fire and Kapha means “that which sticks” and is controlled by Earth and Water. We all identify more with one particular Dosha but with closer analysis we find that we are usually dominant in two.
By following Ayurvedic principles in all things that we do, we maximize our chances of remaining Svasthya or positively healthy.
Ayurveda focuses on the following key areas:
Dinacharya: Daily routines. This includes what kind of Yoga we might practice and what techniques we might use to help us:
To sustain a proper flow of Vata through the body
To manage digestion (Pitta)
To minimize the over production of mucus (Kapha)
To maintain overall metabolic strength and efficiency (Agni)
Ritucharya: Seasonal regimens: As the seasons change, we should adapt according to our Constitutional needs. A Vata person for example gets cold easily so needs to keep warm. A Pitta person would over heat in the summer. This also includes Panchakarma, which might loosely be called an Ayurvedic detox regimen but more accurately means bringing the Doshas back into balance by working with five cleansing techniques.
Ahara Vihara: Our diet and lifestyle habits should support our health not impede it. Ayurveda provides a great deal of advice on this.
Indriyartha samyoga: Finding balance in the relationship between the senses and the environment. Deprivation or over-stimulation are both damaging according to Ayurveda.
Ayurveda provides the perfect practical foundations for building a strong platform for living a healthy lifestyle that includes appropriate Yoga practice and ethics.
Sanskrit dictionary: http:// wiki.yoga-vidya.de/Sanskrit (Accessed 14.9.17)
Sudarshan S.R. (2005) Encyclopaedia of Indian Medicine. Popular Prakashan Ltd. India.