Yoga and Ayurveda: Bringing Mindfulness to (Your) Life
“The foundation of yoga should be Ayurveda and the fruits of Ayurveda, yoga.”
David Frawley, Founder of American Institute of Vedic Studies.
Today, most of us have heard of Yoga, Ayurveda and Mindfulness. We’ve probably all attended a Yoga class (or meant to!), taken an ayurvedic quiz to discover our dosha (are you vata, pitta or kapha?) or perhaps you’ve taken 5 minutes in the day to sit and meditate. In the last 10 years, Yoga, Ayurvedic medicine and Mindfulness meditation have exploded in the western world, with up to 460,000 Brits attending a yoga class every week, I’d bet you know one of them!
Whilst these ancient practices are sometimes undertaken separately, and in isolated forms, they are branches of the same tree, woven together and intertwined over thousands of years.
The secret links of Yoga, Ayurveda and Mindfulness
Mindfulness and Yoga are inseparable, with Yoga often described as a guide for arriving in the present moment, which we’re all aiming for in our practices of mindful living. Similarly, Ayurveda and Yoga are two sides of the same coin. The roots of Yoga and Ayurveda can be traced back thousands of years to the oldest known sacred texts: the Vedas. Written in Sanskrit, these texts were the first to mention both spiritual practices, working in harmony with each other. There are wonderfully accessible translated versions available too. Other ancient texts such as the Mahabharata Epic and the writings of Patanjali explore the extensive connection between Ayurveda and Yoga. In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, he details the eight limbs of yoga with the final four limbs, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi aimed to still the mind through meditation and mindfulness. Samadhi is the ultimate goal, nirvana, enlightenment… overcoming that binge-watching habit!
Another subtle parallel between Ayurveda and Yoga can be found within the Doshas (mind-body types) and the ever-shifting Gunas (energies), in which both philosophies complement each other to further our deeper understanding of the mind, body and spirit.
Living a mindful life
So, next time you go to a Yoga class, remember how intrinsically connected your practice is to mindfulness and the classical system of Ayurveda. These ancient practices bring balance, calm and help us work towards contentment and wholeness in ourselves. Whilst all three techniques add much value to our lives separately, their interconnected power, grounded in the same philosophy, language and culture, is incomparable.
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