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Yoga and Ayurveda: The Mind/Body Connection

For over five thousand of years, Ayurveda and Yoga have been evolving together side by side. These sister sciences are two branches of the same tree that is rooted in India, and are so intermingled that one cannot exist without the other. Their ancient roots branch out from India and are growing stronger in the West. While Yoga has been gaining popularity in America, many people have never heard of Ayurveda. However, their interdependence on each other often lead yogis to a lifestyle that is similar to that of Ayurveda. Both classical Yoga and Ayurveda look at the human experience as a whole, taking into account the spiritual, emotional, and physical states of well-being. While Ayurveda focuses on the health of the body, Yoga is the mindful of the consciousness which dwells within the bodily vessel. Today, Yoga and Ayurveda are practically synonymous in the pursuit of good health and a calm mind. While Ayurveda is the science, yoga is the practice of that science.

When the body is fueled with wholesome, healthy foods that bring balance and vitality, it is able to function at peak performance. Yoga generally promotes a sattvic diet that is light and pure in nature, and Ayurveda goes into great detail in looking into which foods balance one’s constitution. By eating the right foods, maintaining a daily routine, and practicing mindfulness, the doshas (vata, pitta, kapha) are balanced and harmony is brought to the body. When the body is in harmony, the mind is able to also find liberation and health. In modern day Yoga Therapy, a sequence of asanas (poses) are stringed together to treat physical problems, injuries, and even diseases. While Yoga is becoming more popular than ever in the West, there is less common knowledge of Ayurveda. However, the two are so intertwined in their holistic approach to addressing all of one’s needs. This goes from physical well-being, to emotional understanding and the unfoldment of higher consciousness. When one dives deep into their practice, a right way of living follows it naturally. The Yogi easily becomes interested in keeping their body light and pure, and Ayurveda is the sister to Yoga that allows this space to cultivate health and consciousness. Here are some easy ways to honor the mind/body connection through these sister branches of vedic philosophy:

  1. Wake up before the sun rises and drink a glass of warm water. This will activate your digestive system and sets the mood for the rest of the day.

  2. Rinse the face with water and wash the mouth and eyes. If you care to, try out a self massage with some warm oil. This will be a wonderful way to start the day by stimulating energy channels throughout the body!

  3. Practice 15 minutes of yoga every morning. Some simple sun salutations are wonderful for getting the blood circulating, and will cleanse the body of any residual stagnation that might have accumulated from the night.

  4. Eat a wholesome balanced breakfast. Here at Santa Cruz Ayurveda, we recommend oatmeal with turmeric, fresh ginger and ghee as it will soak your Agni (digestive fire) and keep you sustained until lunch.

  5. Throughout the day, maintain a calm mind and be conscious of your breathing.

  6. Have your largest meal of the day be lunchtime, somewhere between noon and 3.

  7. After your day, take the time to check back in with your body and take a yoga class. If a class isn’t in your flow, try a home practice for 45 minutes to an hour. There are tons of videos on YouTube that can help guide you for extra inspiration!

  8. Follow your practice with a mindful meditation. Sit cross legged with the spine straight and focus on the breath. At first, it might be helpful to match the count of your inhale to the count of your exhale. Take the time to recenter from your day and do nothing.

  9. After your practice, finish your day by cooking up a balanced dinner that is light, nutritious, and balancing for your current constitution.

We must remember that the mind and the body are one. The connection between the two is that they are existing within each other, and would not be able to exist as a separate entity. Yoga is one of the most remarkable ways of exploring this connection. Through this ancient spiritual science, one can achieve their greatest potential with the practice of breath, postures, visualization, meditation, and prayer both on the mat and off of it. Like Yoga, the science of Ayurveda is one of mankind most incredible holistic medical systems. Covering the mind, body, and spirit, Ayurveda provides the insight for us to live in harmony with both the natural world and our higher Self. When the two are combined, a roadmap is revealed to a way of living not only for our own benefit, but the benefit of all the other people and creatures which surround us. By honoring the mind/body connection, we are able to be at our best which in turn uplifts the rest of humanity.

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