Why Yoga teachers must learn basics of Ayurveda

  • This article examines the human body and mind from the perspective of understanding the similarities and differences between two distinct sciences so that yoga teachers can fill the gaps by learning Ayurveda.

The science, art, and philosophy of living are taught through Ayurveda and yoga.  Both these scientific practices believe in expanding consciousness to fulfil our dharma, or duties, in order to improve our quality of our life. The goal of yoga teachers is to create awareness and allow their students to live healthily and fully in life. Hence, it is imperative for them to comprehend the science of life known as Ayurveda.


Also read Yoga and Human Biology


This article examines the human body and mind from the perspective of understanding the similarities and differences between two distinct sciences so that yoga teachers can fill the gaps by learning Ayurveda. Unless yoga teachers understand the connection between the five elements and tridosha, the service they provide is incomplete.


Also hear Dr Hansaji Yogendra of Yoga Institute Mumbai on Best Beverages for you as per Ayurveda


1. A philosophical perspective

Both Ayurveda and Yoga adhere to the philosophy of Samkhya. They believe that all human existence is composed of 25 elements, divided into Purusha and Prakriti, where Purusha is considered as the soul. Prakriti includes Mann (connection to the outside world through senses), Buddha (discriminator), Ahankara (ego), Panch Mahabutta (five elements of nature), Panch Gyanendriya (5 sense organs), Panch Karmendriya (5 action organs), and the Pancha Tanmatra (five subtle elements). In addition to these 25 elements, yoga also believes in Ishwara.  What is Ishwara? Briefly -


Klesh karmvipak Ashayeh Aparamrushth purush vishesh ishwar PYS 1:24

Ishwar in yoga is the special consciousness unaffected by klesha, fruits of actions and latent impressions. 

Prof Gyan Shankar Sahay, retired after 34 years of teaching says, “Ishwara is the third reality. Other two are purusha and prakriti. Ishwara has been presented as purusha vishesha. Ishwara is neither creator nor sustainer or destroyer. It has been conceived as omnipresent and omniscient but not omnipotent. Recitation of Pranava i.e. Om gives realization of inner self.”

2. Body and mind constitution

The body exists in three forms, according to Ayurveda and Yoga.


Ayurved uses the principle of tridosha i.e. Vata, Pitta and Kapha, whereas Yog uses the principle of triguna, i.e. Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. It is important to note that tridosha and triguna interact with each other. If, for example, one has aggravated Kapha, the person may also have more tamas guna.


3. Five Elements

Yatha pinde tatha bhramande, yatha bhramande tatha pinde” means We possess what exists in the universe and what exists in the universe exists in the body as well. The human body is made up of five elements i.e. space, air, fire, water, and earth.


Ayurved and Yog adhere to this principle. The five elements constitute the tridosha in Ayurveda.


Vata dosha = Space + Air

Pitta dosha = Fire + Water

Kapha dosha= Water + Earth

As a result, every element influences a triad in our body.


4. Branches

Ayurveda has eight branches and Yoga (Ashtanga) has eight limbs. While eight branches aim to prevent and cure imbalances of tridosha in the body, Maharshi Patanjali introduced eight limbs of yoga that aim to stop mental fluctuations referred to as chitta vritti nirodha. By reducing mental fluctuation, an individual is closer to achieving his or her ultimate goal of existence, which is moksha. In order to attain moksha, a healthy body is necessary, which can be achieved through Ayurvedic principles.


Yog and Ayurved complement each other.


For example, Kaya Chitiksa and Asana treat physical aspects of the body. Graha Chitiksa and Pranayama treat psychological difficulties.


The eight branches of Ayurveda are-


Kaaya Chikitsa (Internal Medicine).

Kumabhritya (Treatment of Children / Paediatrics).

Graha Chikitsa (Demonology / Psychology).

Shakalya Tantra (Treatment of disease above the clavicle or ENT).

Shalya Tantra (Surgery).

Agad Tantra (Toxicology).

Rasayan (Geriatrics, Rejuvenation).

Vajikarana (Sexology including Aphrodisiac therapy).


The eight limbs of Yoga are-

Yama (Social Conduct).

Niyama (Personal Conduct).

Asana (Postures).

Pranayama (Yogic Breathing).

Pratyahara (the withdrawal of senses from external objects).

Dharana (concentration on a single point).

Dhyana (meditation and spiritual awareness).

Samadhi (Blissful state).


Also read Vedas and Upanishads a Structural Profile


5. Get to the bottom of yoga's secrets 

For centuries, yogic texts have talked about tridosha and its necessity to regulate wind. If you cannot fully comprehend tridosha, you may not be able to understand yoga's secrets. Yoga is a part of Ayurveda's health guidelines on daily routines.


A daily routine (i.e. dincharya) comprising both the sciences like the regular practice of asana, pranayama, meditation, and abhyanga, a diet based on your body type (vata, pitta, or kapha) and taking Desha (place), Kaal (time) into account will bring you more success and prosperity.


According to Ayurvedic and Yoga theories it is believed that physical and psychological health are directly related.


Ayurveda provides a deep understanding of physiology; yoga offers a deeper understanding of psychology and spiritual well-being. Together, their knowledge helps us lead a healthy life.


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Author Dr Nutan is B.A.M.S, MSc in Yoga, Qualified Assistant Professor & Counsellor. She is Founder and director of Dr. Nutan’s Ayurveda Yoga Garbhasanskar Academy, Mumbai. She has designed and conducts teachers training course on Prenatal Postnatal Yoga and Garbhasanskar.


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