This article discusses Ayurveda and Yoga. I start by explaining both systems and the way they view the world, and then I give some tips on how to implement both systems in daily life.
Ayurveda came down to earth with Lord Brahma. It is first mentioned in the Rig Veda (the earliest Veda 1500-1100 BC) in the form of Agni (one of the most important aspects in Ayurveda). Lord Brahma taught it to Prajapati, who in turn taught it to Ashwini Kumaras (the twin doctors of the Devas). It continued to be passed down until Lord Dhanvantari emerged with it in the churning of the ocean of milk. It finally reached humanity through Charaka and Sushruta, who wrote two very important treatises: the Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita respectively. Ashtanga Hridayam, written by Vagbhat came next. Together, the three texts are known as Brihat Trayi (the three grands).
Ayurveda looks at the world as composed of five elements: Space, Air, Water, Fire, and Earth. Everything in the universe is made of these five elements. There are three pairs of these elements which compose the doshas. Dosha is a force which can go out of balance.
There are three doshas, Tridosha: Vata (Space+Air), Pitta (Fire+Water), Kapha (Water+Earth). Vata governs movement in the body, Pitta, transformation and Kapha, stability and strength. These three doshas are always working simultaneously in order to make our body fit and free of disease.
In Ayurveda, we look at ‘taste’ as composed of the elements as well. Shat-Rasa, the six tastes are: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent. Each of the tastes affects the doshas.
According to Ayurveda, we look to keep the doshas in balance in order to achieve good health.
Yoga came to the world through Lord Shiva, Adi Yogi, the first Yogi. The legend says that when Lord Shiva taught it to his consort Parvati, the snake (Vasuki) around His neck heard it, and from him emerged Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Matsyendranath learnt it while Lord Shiva was teaching it, and so is considered to be the one who brought Hatha Yoga into the world.
There are few books and treatises on Yoga – Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras being one of the most important. Shiva Samhita, Hatha Yoga Pradipika and Gheranda Samhita are more concerned with asanas and pranayama and how to perform them correctly.
As per the Yogic tradition, Yogis are doing all these practices in order to have control over the body, breath, and reach the ultimate goal of Self-Realisation.
Yoga sees the world with the same eyes as Ayurveda, as they both arose from the Samkhya philosophy of creation. This is why they are called sister sciences. The difference between them is that Ayurveda is more inclined towards the body and its health, while Yoga deals more with realisation of the Self.
Using Ayurveda and Yoga in daily life for better health
- Wake up before sunrise, and go to sleep by 10 PM.
- Eat at specific times every day. That way Agni will be balanced.
- Do not suppress the natural urges of the body, like flatus, belching etc.
- Practice asana and pranayama in the morning after evacuation.
- Do not drink anything an hour after food, and an hour before food.
- Eat food which is compatible with you. Experiment with food and observe your digestion to know what is beneficial for you and what is not.
- Avoid ice cold drinks and food. Occasionally it’s OK, however, do not make it a routine.
- Eat hot fresh food. Avoid eating stale and overcooked food.
- Drink when you are thirsty. Don’t just drink water because you think it is needed. The body will send you signs when it needs water.
Just by following most of these tips, one can experience digestion improving, and overall health reaching the optimum state.