How can Ayurveda help my yoga practice?

Q:

How can Ayurveda help my yoga practice?

A:

Ayurveda and yoga are sister sciences. Traditionally, an Ayurvedic physician, or vaidya, would suggest hatha yoga asanas as part of the treatment protocol. Ayurveda and yoga asanas have been used together as complimentary systems of our evolution and development.

The utility of hatha yoga asanas becomes greater when they are combined with an Ayurvedic understanding of your own unique inborn constitution (prakruti), your current condition of imbalance (vikruti), as well as the seasons.

Ayurveda addresses the individual in each case, and does not think that each asana should be practiced the exact same way by each person.

When structuring a yoga practice according to vikruti, you can consider whether it's important to heat the body or to cool it. You can evaluate what tissues and organs need to be strengthened as well.

As an Ayurvedic healing modality, hatha yoga asanas help the doshas be properly aligned in both body and mind. Asanas promote movement so that toxins do not get lodged in the site of each dosha.

Asanas can also be altered to pacify the dosha that is out of balance. Restorative yoga poses can help ground and stabilize Vata. Tree pose (vrksasana) helps give Vata the focus it finds hard to achieve.

Pitta overheats easily, so cooling sequences, such as Moon salutation (Chandra Namaskar) or extended triangle (Utthita Trikonasana), can help.

Kapha stagnates and accumulates. Doing asanas like as fish pose (Matsyasana) or boat pose (Dhanurasana) can facilitate flow.

Vata people will enjoy doing yoga in a room that is well heated. They will want a lot of blankets for support, as well as when practicing savasana. Pitta and Kapha people will want to practice in a cooler room. Pitta people don’t mind hard surfaces. However, Kapha people prefer environments and props where they can move slowly, with comfort, and ease.

If you know your Ayurvedic imbalance or vikruti, you can also use this information to practice pranayama that is beneficial for you. People with Vata imbalances benefit from grounding, calming pranayama, such as Ujjayi. People with Pitta imbalances will enjoy the cooling effect of Sitali pranayama. People with Kapha imbalances will do well by practicing Bhastrika pranayama to stimulate their digestive fire.

Ayurveda also discusses the medical benefits of each asana. If you have certain health concerns, then knowing the asanas that can promote healing for you is also beneficial.

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Written by Madhavi Rathod
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Madhavi Rathod is native of India who has spent the majority of her life in the U.S., while still retaining close ties to her culture. She is well versed in the sister sciences of Hatha Yoga: Ayurveda, Jyotish (Vedic astrology), Hasta Samudrika Shastra (hand analysis), and Vaastu Shastra.

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