Yoga is a holistic practice for our physical and mental wellbeing which includes Asana, Pranayama and Meditation. Ayurveda is one of the most magnificent systems of natural medicine and healing; its cornerstone is the identification of individual personality types and one’s dominant forces of nature (doshas)–whether Vata (Air & Space), Pitta (Fire and Water), or Kapha (Water and Earth). Both are sister sciences that complement each other by enhancing their benefits and Ayurveda, in particular, can help customize your yoga practise to your unique needs, health conditions, and environment. Here are a few ways to incorporate Ayurveda to supercharge your yoga practice.
This is a type of Ayurvedic detox that includes five purification practices, including enema and purgatives. This is a great way to bring the whole body and system in balance, which brings vitality in the physical body and our mind. These therapies effectively remove imbalances in our doshas and give us an excellent foundation to begin our yoga practices.
Ayurveda recommends a sattvic diet for yogis which includes fruits, fasting, minimal spices & processing, raw foods and whole grains. Those who do very intense yoga practices benefit from it as it is cooling by nature and helps balance the increase in digestive fire (Agni). Those who practice Yoga in moderation can also benefit from a moderate wholesome the vegetarian diet that includes, fruits, vegetables, nuts, sweet spices, herbal teas, natural sugars etc.
Just as Ayurveda recommends a specific diet for each dosha, it suggests a blend of postures that are suitable for your particular Prakriti. For instance, single-leg balances are very good for Vata as they have a grounding effect on the air element. Side bends are right for Pitta as they are cooling and calm the fire element, and dynamic flows like Surya Namaskara are recommended for Kapha dosha which struggles with inertia. In this manner, asanas become conducive, not only for physical health but also for our spiritual progress.
Massage is an integral aspect of Ayurvedic treatments. Regular oil massage can help reduce rigidity in the body, making it easier to move into yoga postures. Massage done with herbs cooked in sesame oil is particularly recommended for yogis as it helps reduce stiffness in joints and muscles.
Herbs & Incense
Herbs have been traditionally used by yogis, both as food and aromatic fragrances, to enhance their yogic experiences. Ashwagandha helps increase overall energy levels and is suitable for Kapha. Turmeric and Guggul are said to help improve flexibility and prevent arthritis; these are good for Vata. Brahmi can help promote awareness levels and mental clarity and is suitable for Pitta. When it comes to incense, herbs like camphor and eucalyptus have a clarifying effect on the sinuses and can aid pranayama practice.
Conclusion: As you can see, Ayurveda re-emphasizes, in multiple ways, that Yoga is not just asana practice, but includes Pranayama and Meditation, and it helps enhance all these practices. Furthermore, it can be customized to one’s unique temperament and personality type, thereby assisting in developing a complete yoga practice and lifestyle.
(Inputs provided by Ms Namita Piparaiya, Yoga, and Ayurveda Lifestyle Specialist, Founder – Yoganama)
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