Basic Elements Of Ayurveda, Ayurvedic Medicine And Yoga Practice And Their Similarity In Theory And Practice
Ayurveda and Yoga are the two disciplines that are based on the ancient tradition of Vedic wisdom. Vedas are the ancient scriptures of Hinduism. The word ‘Veda’ literally means ‘the science or the wisdom, the light, and to know’ and the word ‘Hinduism’ is defined by Supreme Court Of India as ‘the lifestyle, a method of living’ and not as a religion.
Holistic ayurvedic medicine is the Sub-Veda of Atharvaveda, one of the four textbooks of Vedas. Ayurvedic wisdom is also reputed as ‘the fifth Veda’ by some scholars emphasizing its role in health and disease.
Yoga is one of the six basic tools of Vedic literature that are meant for the unleashing human potential and guiding human development in all possible avenues in a holistic and comprehensive manner.
By: Arjun (Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine & Surgery With Modern Medicine)
What Is Yoga?
The word ‘Yoga’ means ‘the union’. This union is completed in two phases – first, by being aware of one’s soul or one’s own pure consciousness and secondly, by uniting one’s pure consciousness or soul with Supreme Soul or God or Cosmic or Universal Consciousness.
Yoga is not limited by some specific practices like some Asanas or postures, Pranayamas or breathing techniques or meditation techniques. These techniques merely serves as tools of yoga. These are means to an end.
This union is a universal goal of all of us, rather the fundamental purpose of every human being. It is the pinnacle of human consciousness, the climax of human evolution.
Along the stream of time, many tools and techniques of yoga practice have been developed that are suitable for various needs and temperaments. If we analyze them, we can easily classify them among the chief forms of yoga practice.
Basic Forms Of Yoga:
Ashtanga Yoga Or Eight Limbed Yoga:
Ashtanga yoga or eight limbed yoga is the most ancient form of yogic practice. Great sage Patanjali compiled the theory and practice of this yoga in his famous work ‘Patanjali Yoga Sutras or Yoga Aphroisms of Patanjali’.
The eight steps are – Five universal principles of human conduct, five universal practices and attributes for unleashing human potential, yogic postures, yogic breathing techniques, interiorization, concentration of mind and energy, meditation and attaining cosmic consciousness.
Others forms of yogic practices are extensions of some principle or approaches of Ashtanga Yoga.
Knowledge or Wisdom or Jnana Yoga:
This form of yogic practice is for those persons who are already evolved practitioners and who have disciplined their body and mind in the science of yoga. Their powers of concentration and meditation are already developed enough to grasp the subtler subjects of yogic discipline.
Karma Yoga or Yoga of Action:
The yoga of action is for those persons who need to balance their active life in society, organization and family with their spiritual life. After devoting a few hours to deep and focused yoga practice, the rest of the time is devoted to one’s duties in a conducive environment.
The follower of yoga of action endeavors to maintain his focus and spiritual balance during working hours, family life and social activities. This form of yoga is great for all of us to remain focused and to be productive in a balanced and holistic manner. Most of the highly valued management and leadership theories and practices are finding new insights and implementations in the principles and practices of yoga of action.
Bhakti Yoga or Yoga of Devotion:
The yoga of devotion is more suitable for persons with devotional temperaments, who have developed great passion and ardent desire for yoga practice. On another side, yoga of devotion is also used an approach to induce the externally diverted mind to focus and realign it to deeper practices. Women have great passion and feeling and emotions so they are more devotional in their temperament and are naturally fit for yoga of devotion.
Hatha yoga is based on yoga postues, breathing techniques and yoga mudra or yogic gestures. One of the famous Hatha Yoga textbook, Hatha Yoga Pradipika illustrates its original purpose clearly in the very first verse as, “The basic purpose of Hatha Yoga is to prepare and purify human body and mind so that they become fit for higher forms of yogic practice.”
The practice of Hatha Yoga evolved in those times when people got sick due to unhealthy lifestyles, fall in conduct, unnatural diet. These practices help in getting rid of diseases and disorders, enhances health and well being and purifies the subtle channels of vital force so that one can easily practice higher forms of yogic practices.
Nada Yoga, Bindu Yoga, Dhyana Yoga, Samadhi Yoga etc.:
Many times the word yoga is attached to several prominent practices of different kinds of yoga. So they are not actually some individual forms of yoga. This practice has been used to emphasize their practice and their relevance.
Synthesis Of Yoga And The Balance And Synergy Of Our Life:
Each kind of yoga practice emphasizes one or more aspect of our life. That is why Shri Aurobindo has aptly said that All Life Is Yoga. We can adopt the various principles and practices in our life and get benefit from them. No man or woman is purely rational or emotional, we are a mix of all – wisdom, action and devotion and our holistic nature is integral and have innate seeds of all the dimensions.
The Basic Forms Of Ayurveda Practice:
Like yoga, ayurveda has its own history and its development spans over a period of at least thousands of years. The principles of ayurveda as well as its practice have evolved with time. The basic principles have never been negated or neglected. They are made more clearer with newer ramifications and practical applications.
There had been three basic dimensions of ayurvedic management of health and disorders.
Daivyapasharaya Approach of Ayurvedic Medicine:
In this approach, the emphasis is given on natural and external elements like air, water, sun, fire and various ceremonial rituals are also described. Many of them range between rational tools to superstitions. The word ‘Deva’ is used for gods and elements of nature.
Most of them are not used now. Some of them should be use taken care of in present time like a thankful prayer to Sun to provide life and energy. This is a morning ritual practiced by some of Hindus. They offer prayer and water to Sun in the morning after meditation or prayer. It is a nice act of saying ‘Thanks’ to Sun who is the sole provider of life on earth as far as science recognizes! Every religion stress on expressing gratitude for nature.
Yuktivyapasharaya Approach of Ayurvedic Medicine:
This is the rational or scientific approach of ayurvedic medicine that is based on logic, common sense, evidences, observation, experimentation and follows the law of cause and effect with same devotion as modern science.
Here starts the practical use of various tools of ayurvedic medicine and the endless journey of medical developments and achievements that is going on still with ever increasing pace. Several approaches and substances have been used under this approach of ayurveda.
- Herbal Remedies And Formulations
- The different pharmaceutical methods to prepare remedies.
- Vegetables, fruits, cereals and beans, milk and its derivatives, meat and its derivatives and the culinary and dietetics part of ayurveda.
- Natural minerals had been used after their purification and after making them medicinally potent, safe and biologically acceptable.
- The modification of lifestyle measures.
- The moral code of conduct and the underlying universally applicable principles of human conduct.
- Specialization in medical fields like eight ancient specialties of ayurvedic medicine.
- Development of ayurvedic panchakarma therapy procedures and their use for purification.
- Prescribing individually customized daily and seasonal regime based one’s condition and doshas.
- Suggestion of higher tools of yoga and meditation.
Satvavajaya Approach of Ayurvedic Medicine:
This is the highly developed approach of ayurveda that is based on yoga and its practice. It is truly the beginning of body-mind-soul medicine. Here starts the acceptance and dominance of consciousness over all the elements of nature and human body.
Ayurveda has used and recognized this higher and advanced practice of yoga as ‘the ultimate medicine’. True understanding of these fields is still in nascent phase, for advancement in this approach is not based on scientific equipments and laboratory. All the equipments and lab is available already within human body! But we as a composite of humanity are happily progressing toward larger acceptance of this approach. It will take its own time because it will be revealed gradually as we evolve.
This article can be long enough to cover several pages but the most wonderful facet of all this development and advancement in ayurveda and yoga is its integrity with basic principles. This integrity with basic principles is a hallmark of ayurveda as well as yoga. So we can appreciate now the congruity of principles and practices of both Indian systems.