What is Vedic Astrology and how can it benefit my yoga practice?

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Q:

How does Vedic astrology tie in with my yoga practice? What is Vedic astrology? How can the two support each other?

A:

Thousands of years ago in India, people had a Vedic astrologer or a Jyotishi, who cast the charts for the entire family. This person (typically a male) was a trusted advisor. He helped guide the lives of family members from infancy to adulthood.

The Jyotishi was also skilled as a Vaidya, or an Ayurvedic physician. Vedic astrology or Jyotish (phonetically joe-tish) is the sister science of the ancient healing system of Ayurveda. Vedic astrology analyzes planetary influences on all aspects of an individual’s life, including health. The astrological chart reveals key information about health challenges and timing. These findings can also be confirmed with Ayurvedic pulse assessment. Other than giving Ayurvedic herbs, the Vaidya would also suggest specific hatha yoga asanas for healing.

In modern day, it is rare to find someone who is trained in all these subjects. They all require extensive years of study and a deep commitment to learning the knowledge in accordance with the true tradition.

The word yoga translates as “union.” Hatha yoga was originally meant as a vehicle to connect one with the divine. It was never meant to be performed merely as a form of exercise. In the Yoga Sutras, the sage Patanjali describes ashtanga yoga, or the eight limbs of yoga. Included in these are asana, dhyana (meditation), and pranayama Let’s examine these individually. (Learn more in A Journey Through The 8 Limbs of Yoga.)

Asana and Vedic Astrology

There are twelve houses in an astrology chart, one for each sign of the zodiac. In Vedic astrology, there are two houses that relate to health, one for acute health and the other for chronic health. By examining these houses, a Jyotishi can see your innate predisposition to powerful health, or the absence thereof. Planetary cycles also reveal the timing of positive health or wellness, as well as disease.

Additionally, seven of the planets relate to one of the seven tissue systems (sapta dhatu) used in Ayurveda. The Jyotishi can view the chart from a medical perspective and then determine which may be the most prone to imbalance.

Imagine knowing this information well in advance, and how it could empower your health choices. You would know when you could benefit from doing a more rigorous practice as well as when a more gentle flow would be appropriate.

The Jyotishi can also identify which organs may be prone to weakness and then suggest specific asanas to strengthen those. If they were skilled in Ayurveda, then they could also suggest Ayurvedic remedies.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras state that “Pain that is not yet manifested is to be avoided.” It could make a huge difference in your practice, if not your life, if you were able to alleviate physical pain and any accompanying mental suffering. (Learn more in Ayurveda's Top 5 Medicinal Plants for Restoring Balance to the Body.)

Dhyana and Vedic astrology

Dhyana (or meditation) is one of the limbs of yoga, as well as a core component to practically every spiritual path.

By quieting our mind and spending time in stillness, we can achieve greater focus. This focus allows for a smoother flow of activity, both on and off the mat.

In Vedic astrology, there is a zodiacal house linked to spirituality. Additionally, there are two sub-charts that relate to spirituality. One chart pertains to a person’s inner spiritual inclinations. It can reveal the type of meditation for which you may be best suited. The other chart shows spiritual practices that an individual most gravitates towards during certain phases of life.

Some people want to do a meditation before or after their asana practice. Vedic astrology can help answer questions about the type of meditation to do (i.e. mantra, guided, walking, third eye, etc.). The Jyotishi may also suggest a particular point of focus, such as a yantra. As you align with the type of meditation best suited for yourself, then your body can better align during poses. (Learn more in 7 Steps to Take Your Meditation Practice to the Next Level.)

Pranayama and Vedic astrology

Pranayama is the control of the breath. The ancient yogis said that we are each given a certain number of breaths in this lifetime. The more adeptly we harness our breath and moderate it, the longer our life span. (Learn more in Q&A with Pranayama Expert Richard Rosen.)

Since Vedic astrology shows health indications in the chart, it also reveals the timing of health crises, which could lessen our recuperative ability and make us use more of our vital life force.

Pranayama is often loosely translated as “breathing exercises.” Each of these exercises has particular benefits. Some are heating or cooling. They can be gentle and slow, while others are quick and forceful. The various types of pranayama also will benefit specific organs and ailments.

Your astrology chart reveals information about your lung capacity, such as if you are a shallow breather. The trained astrologer can recommend specific yogic breathing exercises to have healthier lungs. There are also medical benefits to each of the different types of pranayama. They also work on strengthening specific organs and help us lead more vital lives.

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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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