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The Sister Sciences: How are Yoga and Ayurveda connected?

 

Yoga and Ayurveda both have their origins in Samkhya philosophy, and are both tools for self-inquiry and self-development. They share a common history, language and culture and have been long intertwined as two complementary systems. Whilst they are distinctive disciplines that have different objectives for transformation - Yoga seeks spiritual liberation (moksha) and Ayurveda strives for optimal living - here are some of the ways the Sister Sciences overlap:

  • Good health is the foundation for the Yogi's spiritual pursuit of Yoga. Good health is gained and sustained through following the principles of Ayurvedic seasonal eating and a wholesome lifestyle. 

  • Yoga and Ayurveda both emphasise prana, or life force, flowing well throughout the body. The Yogi uses asana (posture) and pranayama (breath control) to move and increase prana (life force). In Ayurveda, prana is associated with having a strong agni (digestive fire). The agni is responsible for digesting and transforming everything that is taken into the body - food, thoughts, feelings. Anything that isn't digested creates toxicity (ama), will block the free flow of prana, and is considered to be the root cause of all dis-ease. 

  • Ayurveda recognises Yoga as the go-to therapy for balancing the mind when psychological ailments arise in an individual. The vigorous practices of Yoga develop a healthy mind through the fostering self control."Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodha" / "Yoga the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind". (Patanjali, 'The Yoga Sutras', I.2).

  • Both Yoga and Ayurveda reflect the Vedic notion that we should follow our life's purpose, or dharma.

  • Yoga postures, breathwork and meditation are a part of the Yogi's eight limb path to seeking enlightenment. These practices are also part of dinacharya, the daily routines recommended in Ayurveda . Dinacharya follows the cycles of nature and contends that daily and seasonal routines promote health and well-being. 

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