Applying the wisdom of Ayurveda can add stride to the steps of any yoga practitioner. Ayurveda is the sister science of yoga, and shares yoga’s defining quality: it exists in the application of theory. Yoga and Ayurveda are known through the practice of self-realization.
‘Ayu’ is a Sanskrit root meaning life. ‘Veda’ means knowledge or science. This science of living, like yoga, is about integration and union of the whole (mind-body-spirit). In modern terms, it is a system of holistic medicine. It is natural medicine, in that it aims to cultivate our natural state of general health and wellness.
Ayurveda, like yoga, strengthens and cleanses the body and the mind so that our lives will have less need for quick-fix medical treatment. It helps us choose wisely what we put into our bodies and minds, and keeps us out of the doc’s office and drugstores.
The perspective of modern medicine aims to and is often quite successful in fixing what’s ailing us as quickly as possible: antibiotics, hip replacement, heart-bypass, chemotherapy, etc. Too many people know all about this kind of thing. Most consumers in the modern medical system also know the reality of taking pills to fix something or other, and experiencing that the medicine that fixes something tends to compromise something else.
Modern medicine is driven by its mission to fix immediate and often highly specialized conditions by using high-tech innovations and specialized knowledge. But we also need to be asking ourselves, how is it that we become susceptible to all these problems in the first place?
Our everyday choices are the foundation of our natural health. And it is my job to do what I can not to have to use my health insurance. My daily yoga practice, eating, sleeping, socializing, entertainment, etc. are important choices that ayurveda can help me with.
Otherwise, by overlooking the power of making better lifestyle and diet choices, we may be contributing to our own chronic conditions. Unfortunately, our society is persistent in its messages that we need something other than we’ve already got to be happy.
Marketing media is still heralding the paradoxical message that women in particular are to be unnaturally thin and we all should eat more mass-produced cookies and chocolate, even fast food (pizza, hamburgers, etc.) which has established itself as a staple diet even here in Turkey whose kitchen is one of the most naturally rich in the world.
The truth is that ashtanga yoga starts with commitment to daily asana practice and priority to health and well-being. So those of you out there who are teetering between going to a yoga class or take some tea and smokes, please come join us! A grave disservice has been done to those who have come to think that they are knowing yoga, while smoking and stuffing instead of actually practicing.
There are yogis in Istanbul who are choosing to stop fooling ourselves into accepting these messages. We are choosing yoga and natural health instead of the dominant paradigm of smoking and stuffing. We are moving beyond the local yoga culture of the past by which we were told to sign up for that workshop, training or retreat but not called on unroll our mat and take our daily practice.
And we are supported by other yoga practitioners all over the world.