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Yoga and Ayurveda: Distinction and Benefits

Ayurveda is an ancient system of healing that has its origins in India and is more than 5000 years old.

In Sanskrit language, “ayur” means life and “veda” means knowledge, so together they form the idea of “knowledge of living” or “knowledge of life”.   In this practise, there are 3 types of life forces (also referred to as “doshas”); Pitta, Vata and Kapha dosha.  It is thought that although we all contain a combination of the 3, there is always a dominant dosha.  If there is an imbalance, ayurveda is one way in which to gain control and rebalance your entire body.

Yoga is an exercise that is mentioned in several ayurvedic texts and is considered an ideal ayurvedic exercise for its ability to rejuvenate the body, soul and mind.  While yoga traditionally focuses on Moksha (a process whereby the mastering of your mind, senses, and body through deep trance and ultimately slipping out of the cycle of death and re birth is attained), ayurveda focuses on all 4 life goals; the other 3 being Dharma (work and career), Kama (perfecting the use of your senses), and Artha (material wealth).

Specific benefits of ayurveda

Reduce signs and chances of illness and disease

The practise of ayurveda will help a patient to stick to a specific diet (each individual’s diet will focus on exactly what it required to regain health), get enough sun exposure, and help the patient to regulate their breathing.  It will also direct the patient to get enough sleep and water; both important factors when considering health and well being.

Maintain and regulate hormonal balance

Especially with regards to women, regulating hormones naturally can aid in reducing negative side effects associated with menstrual cycles or pregnancy.  Among other practices, ayurveda prescribes the use of essential oils to balance hormones without the use of medication.

Cleanse your body

“Panchakama” is the word used to describe the process of eliminating toxins from the body and food from your diet that prohibit your body’s natural functions.  This process might include special diets, essential oils, enemas, and massage therapy to help move toxins from tissues to intestines so that your body may eliminate them.

Reduce bloating

Often the cause of bloating is poor digestion and the build up of waste.  Through the use of several different types of spices, roots and herbs, ayurveda can help cure these issues and relieve pain from cramps.

Specific benefits of yoga

Increase flexibility and range of movement

Many different exercises can help strengthen the body.  Some will increase flexibility or promote cardio and agility.  There aren’t many, however, that will do all of the above in one single practise.  Many people have regained mobility of limbs limited by scar tissue, and yoga is a great way to make a comeback after an injury.

 Increase memory

You may not initially think that an exercise would have anything to do with increasing memory retention but there is some indication that the fluid movements and meditative state that yoga can give you will not only improve memory but also make you able to better process new information and help you to concentrate.

While the ultimate goal of each practise might be different, yoga and ayurveda have many similarities and benefits.

Stress Reduction

Meditation and breathing exercises help to reduce stress and relieve any feelings of anxiety.  As we go about our day we carry a lot of weight from pressures at work, school, with regards to money, or through our relationships.  Yoga and other ayurvedic practises can help reduce our flight or fight responses and help us to be centered and deal with our issues in a more calm and less emotionally charged manner.

Reduce Inflammation

Our diets, lack of good sleep and lack of exercise can all have an effect on the inflammation we suffer.  Regulating your heart and organ function through the use of yoga and ayurveda can alleviate inflammation and help kick start your digestive system.   Eliminating waste from the body helps to lower levels of inflammation and give you more energy.

Enhance good sleep habits

The practise of yoga; giving your entire body a good stretch while focusing on breathing and regrouping, can help you to prepare for bedtime and get a better night’s sleep.  Ayurveda, with its tips of drinking tea before bed, using essential oils to induce sleepiness and calm, and introducing the idea of positive affirmation, can all induce a good rest.

Thank you to Katie Mills who wrote this article. Katie is a guest author from Poshh and is a respected and expert voice in a plethora of health related subjects with over 10 years of writing under her belt.

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