This article is written for Evolving Wellness by Heather Ashare.
Ayurveda is the ancient system of health and healing that began in India over five thousand years ago. Today, it is considered a form of complementary and alternative medicine and it is still practiced extensively in India and throughout the world. It is believed that Tibetan medicine and Traditional Chinese medicine both have their roots in Ayurveda.
Similarly, yoga is just about as old as Ayurveda. The Vedas, one of the oldest and most sacred texts of the world dating back to 1500-500 BCE mentions both yoga and Ayurveda as practices for optimal health. Today, millions of Americans are downward-dogging and swapping in treadmills, for yoga mats and gym memberships for yoga studio passes.
While the reasons for turning to either Ayurveda or yoga vary, devoted practitioners are typically in search of a more holistic approach to their health and additionally, they are interested in exploring the connection between the mind, body and spirit. This trilogy, which reflects the interconnectedness of our thoughts, emotions, instincts and physical self, is a concept that is deeply ingrained in the philosophies of both yoga and Ayurveda.
Ayurveda rests on the theory that our bodies are comprised of three doshas, or constitutions. Illness, either mental or physical, arises when these three doshas, known as vata, pitta and kapha are out of balance. Ayurveda contains a multitude of various treatments and remedies to keep the doshas in balance so that a complete state of health is achieved.
Typically, most Ayurvedic remedies that are practiced today are holistic in nature. Namely, diet, herbs, massage, meditation and of course yoga are recommended in order to keep our health in balance and to keep our body, mind and spirit integrated with our environment.
Both yoga and Ayurveda remind us that as human beings we are part of nature. Whether it is the dry skin we develop during the cold winter months, the anxiety we feel when we are faced with a stressful situation or the way in which our hunger peaks just around noon, yoga and Ayurveda teach us that our individual selves are but a reflection of how we are connected to the external. And through precise practices like adhering to a certain diet, practicing specific yoga postures to circulate energy and using mindfulness to quell an anxious mind, both traditions inspire us to take stock of our complete health and observe how what we do and who we are, are part of something larger than just our physical bodies.
Heather Ashare has been a dedicated practitioner and instructor of Ashtanga yoga for several years. As the yoga expert at DietsInReview.com, she shares simple and effective ways to make yoga a part of your life for greater fitness and wellness. DietsInReview.com also provides healthy recipes, weight loss tools, nutrition and health guidance in the Diet Blog and reviews of more than 475 diet plans. You can find more of Heather’s articles on her column at DietsInReview.com