The mention of yoga brings to mind a set of physicalexercises with a flavor of India. However, yoga can be much more than a regular workout routine. Yoga mayalso involve mental and spiritual disciplines to encourage an overall sense ofwellbeing.
Yoga is often practiced hand in hand with Ayurveda, the ancientIndian science of health that deals with physical and mental health as theyrelate to one’s spiritual wellness. Each of these holistic approaches offersunique views on personal health and wholeness:
Ayurveda is a system that makes use of certain inherentprinciples of nature to ensure good health. The basic surmise is that all human beings contain the same fiveelements that the universe is made of – air,fire, water, earth and ether.
These elements are evident in the human body in the form oflife-forces or doshas, classified as vata,pitta and kapha. The body remainshealthy as long as the three remain in balance. Ill health of any kind iscaused by an imbalance in these doshas and the treatment aims to correct thebalance.
Yoga is widely recognized as an effective method ofenhancing physical, mental and emotional health, rendering a personholistically fit. The science of yoga treatment is based on five core principlesmeant to keep the balance that is so essential in Ayurveda. These principlesare:
- Proper relaxation, Proper exercise, Proper breathing, Suitable diet, Positivethinking
Both Ayurveda and yoga emphasize that exercise, breathingand diet can affect the life-forces or dosha that impact overall health.Depending upon the age and physical condition of a person, the dosha orlife-force balance varies. Appropriate exercises or asana as they are called inyoga, suitable pranayama –breathing exercises, and a proper diet differsaccording to the dosha balance in a person. It is possible that an asana orbreathing technique that benefits someone else might actually cause youdiscomfort.
As holistic medicine increases its hold in the Westernworld, Yoga therapy (with ayurveda as a key component) as well as ayurvedictreatment (that prescribes yoga) are now recognized as complete systems ofmedicine for a variety of conditions and illness.