In yoga, we often talk about taking our practice “off the mat”. One of the most effective ways to do this is through understanding Ayurveda, what I like to call the lifestyle of yoga. While both are healing modalities, yoga is concerned with self-actualization, and Ayurveda is concerned with supporting and stabilizing you on your path to get there.
Ayurveda is considered the first known medical system in the world, its origins dating back over 5,000 years. It takes a comprehensive approach to health and wholeness on an individual level by exploring and addressing the root cause of our experiences. Its ability to dig deep and go beyond the surface makes it both long-lasting and adaptable. The ancient texts of Ayurveda tell us it is meant to be adjusted for the time, place, space, and people it serves. Although it is an ancient modality, its modern-day applications and benefits are vast.
Literally translating as “the science or truth of life”, Ayurveda is the practice of living with truth and integrity; both within yourself and the world around you. A holistic science, Ayurveda aims to create a sense of swastha, or balance with and of the self, through honoring the qualities and rhythms of nature. Ayurveda believes in cultivating an intimate, harmonious relationship with nature, and in doing so, cultivating an intimate, harmonious relationship with ourselves. Through honoring the rhythms of nature, we are better able to understand our personal qualities and life rhythms.
This cultivates a deeper sense of veda, knowledge, allowing us to make choices moment to moment and day to day that can either neutralize, balance, or aggravate our experience.
In this system, we understand that the macrocosm (Mother Nature) is reflected in the microcosm (you!) — that each person holds a unique combination of each of the five elements (ether, air, fire, water, and earth). These elements make up our Ayurvedic mind/body personality, or prakruti, which gives insight into the ways we think, act, feel, and move. When we can understand the nature of our prakruti, we can begin to address areas of imbalance or unnecessary suffering. These imbalances are known as vikruti: the things that are constantly changing. Vikruti takes us away from our prakriti, thus, Ayurveda is a journey home, a practice, and a process of returning to yourself.
We utilize a comprehensive array of tools to create greater balance, ease, and clarity in the body, mind, senses, and soul. Therefore, Ayurveda promotes practices to address harmony in each one of these areas through lifestyle and daily routine, self-care, food, herbal support, movement, ritual, and spiritual practice.
Curious about implementing Ayurveda into your yoga practice and life? Stay tuned for more information and content in this continuing series. Next up: the elements and the doshas!
Marissa Angeletti is a Kindness Yoga teacher, somatic therapist, Ayurvedic practitioner, movement-based trauma specialist, and therapeutic movement educator and practitioner. She is inspired to close the perceived gap between the body and the mind, and help you see the ways in which the two are inextricably connected. Whether in a group class or one-on-one session, Marissa is interested in empowering her students and clients to access deeper, more holistic levels of personal insight and growth in order to create a greater sense of wholeness, health, and fulfillment.