The Gerson Institute of Ayurvedic Medicine

Scott Gerson, M.D., Ph.D. (Ayurveda) Medical Director, Jupiter Medical Center Dept. of Integrative Medicine Division of Education and Research

Jupiter Medical Center at The Calcagnini Center for Mindfulness
1210 S. Old Dixie Highway, Jupiter, Florida 33458, Suite M-117.2


 


 (561) 263-MIND (6463); option #2 or (561) 510-3833
 
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The Yoga – Ayurveda Connection

Yoga and Ayurveda arise from the same source and can no more be separated than the light and heat which both emanate from the flame of a candle. All vaidyas (wise physicians) are intimately familiar with the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and especially the Second Chapter, sutra I. Within this simple sutra lies hidden the key to utilizing the Yoga system to promote healing at the causal level:

Tapah svadhyaya Isvara pranidhanani kriya yoga

“The means for attaining full consciousness is threefold:
deep reflection on the Self, discipline and purification, and total surrender to the Lord”

Written by Patanjali to indicate to the student of Yoga how to prepare and cleanse the mind from impurities which obstruct one’s total immersion in the Self, this chapter is cherished in Ayurvedic circles and seen from a slightly different perspective. According to Ayurvedic doctrine, the most important root cause of disease is the “distortion of the mind” (prajnaparada). A distorted mind will lead to unhealthy decisions regarding a myriad of life issues from what to eat, to when to sleep, to who to marry, to how to interpret world events. These unhealthy decisions will lead to the disharmony of the three fundamental bioenergies known as the doshas. The doshas are created on the gross and subtle levels from the quintessential (i.e. five element) combinations of space/air, fire/water, and water/earth as they manifest within a living physiology. The three doshas are called vata, pitta, and kapha.

The above Sutra has a direct connection to the three doshas. Deep reflection on the Self (swadhyaya) promotes the evolution of the gross form of the Vata dosha into its higher, subtle form known as prana. Prana creates intuitive intelligence and full understanding.

The yogic practice of discipline and purification (tapah) transforms the gross form of Pitta dosha into its subtle form called tejas. Tejas is what creates discrimination, courage, and intensity and destroys ignorance of all kinds.

Total surrender of the ego to the Lord and sincere devotion to him (Isvara-pranidhanani) not only frees us from selfishness and attachment and develops true compassion and empathy, but also evolves the gross form of Kapha dosha into its subtle form known as ojas. Ojas is the very essence of our vitality, creativity, higher experiences of sexuality, and immunity.

Thus in Ayurveda we aim not only to balance the tridosha, but also to evolve them into their higher more subtle forms which ultimately leads to our transformation into spiritual beings.

It has always been clear to the yogis that classical Yoga and Ayurveda are meant to be studied together. Yoga as described by Patanjali is nothing less than a strategy for accelerating one’s spiritual evolution. The combination of the Ayurvedic guidelines for optimal health and daily living and the spiritual principles of Patanjali’s system of Yoga can greatly help one develop a personality and inner spirit which will bring both personal joy and be a benefit to the whole of society.

Glossary of Sanskrit terms:

tapah (from tap, to heat) – self-discipline, self-purification, austerity
svadhyaya (from sva, Self; dhi, understand, perceive) – Self-reflection
Isvara – Lord
pranidhanani (from pra, full; ni, within, under; dha, established) – total surrender to the Lord
kriya yoga (from kri- to make, to do) - actions to purify for the purpose of attaining full consciousness

(Excerpt from Dr. Scott Gerson’s upcoming book: The Yoga Diet
All rights reserved. © 2011 Scott Gerson)