Yoga & Ayurveda: Sister Sciences

Ayurveda and yoga are often called sister sciences; Ayurveda is considered the healing side of yoga, and yoga the spiritual side of Ayurveda. Together they encompass a complete approach to the well-being of the body, the mind, and the spirit.   They are integral parts of the great system of Vedic knowledge stating that all the Universe is One Self and that the key to cosmic knowledge lies within our own minds and hearts.


The meaning of Yoga is to combine, unite, coordinate or harmonize; interestingly “yug” means either to unite or to separate:  to unite with the real and separate from the unreal.  Another word would be to discriminate, or discernment. The meaning of Ayurveda is “knowledge of life”, embracing Nature/biology/medicine.  Yoga and Ayurveda are often recognized as two sides of a coin.


Yoga is the fruit of the teachings of the Himalayan sages, going back to our particular cycle of civilization some 10,000 years ago.  It is first and foremost a science of Self-realization.  Its concern is spiritual practice to take us beyond the sorrow and ignorance of the world.


Yoga methods cover the entire field of our existence – from the physical, sensory, emotional, mental and spiritual to the highest Self-realization.  It includes physical postures, ethical disciplines, breath control, sensory methods, affirmations and visualizations, prayer and mantra, and complex meditative disciplines.


Ayurveda is primarily a science of Self-healing, viewing health and disease as the end result of how we interact with our environment and Nature in general.  Harmonious interactions lead to health while non-harmonious interactions cause diseases.  Our state of well-being is created and recreated each day based on how we interact with the world, in terms of our beliefs, perceptions, thoughts and feelings, which ultimately determine our actions.  And again, harmonious actions bring health and dis-harmonious actions lead to diseases. Ayurveda offers optimal health and development for all creatures by its profound understanding of natural law (common sense).


Harmony is maintained through a proper diet, herbs, a healthy daily/seasonal routine, yogic practices (exercises), meditation, and a lifestyle that is in balance with the person, his/her own constitution (prakruti).


There are many links between Yoga and Ayurveda, as for example:


• Prana is the life force supporting vitality and creativity for transformation and healing. Both approaches cultivate pranayama (breathing techniques) to balance, purify and bring awareness to body and mind.


• The three traditional paths in yoga:  Jnana (head), Bhakti (heart) and Karma (gut).  These three paths represent the most vital areas of life.  The ultimate goal of yoga is to experience oneness or communion with the eternal energy.


• Now through the eyes of Ayurveda’s energetic perspective, Head is Vata, Heart is Kapha and Gut is Pitta.  The head is the path of intellect seeking Spirit as wisdom and Truth.  The heart is the path of devotion and higher emotions expressed as love, faith, perseverance and the gut is the path of service through acts of selfless service and doing one’s duty for the benefit of humanity.


Bringing Yoga and Ayurveda together to experience a balanced sadhana (yogic practice) will result in peace for Vata, enthusiasm & love of life for Pitta and love and understanding of others for Kapha.


Enjoy an outside Summer sadhana to fill your heart and connect with the energy of Nature!


REF:  Frawley, D. 1999.  Yoga & Ayurveda, Lotus Press

Stiles, M. 2007.  Ayurveda Yoga Therapy, Lotus press.

CCA, 2010.  What is Ayurveda?