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Ayurveda and Jyotish

for Holistic Health

by Swami Sitaramananda

Swami Sitaramananda

Swami Sitaramananda

Yoga Farm Director

Swami Sitaramananda is a senior disciple of Swami Vishnudevananda and acharya of the US West Coast centers and Ashram.  Swamiji is also the acharya of the Sivananda mission in Asia, especially in Vietnam, where she hails from.

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What is holistic health? Holistic healing implies healing the root cause of a problem, rather than simply treating or masking a symptom. Furthermore, it calls for healing the whole person. That means not only the physical body, but also the mind and connection with spirit.

In this article, you will learn more about Ayurveda and Jyotish ( Vedic Astrology ) as they relate to Yoga and health. To give some clarification, this article is not meant to explain the basics of Ayurveda or Jyotish, but to provide context to their proper use in conjunction with Yoga

Ayurveda and Holistic Health

It helps to understand that Yoga and Ayurveda are both Vedic sciences. Put another way, they both originate from ancient scripture known as the Vedas. They have the same kind of premise. According to both sciences, the material universe is composed of the five elements.

The Elements and Doshas

Ayurveda is based on the theory of the five elements:

  • Earth
  • Water
  • Fire
  • Air
  • Ether 

From the five elements, the three doshas and their qualities are composed. 

  • Vata – Air and Ether
    • Pitta – Fire and Water
      • Kapha – Earth and Water

      There is obviously lot more to it. The main thing to understand for this case is that Doshas are easily imbalanced through improper diet and lifestyle. In this way they are the faults, imperfections, the three distortions, commonly referred to as your constitution. 

      Graphic on the Elements and qualities of a person who is Vata
      Graphic on the Elements and qualities of a person who is Pitta
      Graphic on the Elements and qualities of a person who is Kapha

      Balancing the Doshas

      You will be healthy if you live according to your constitutional dosha that you were born into by balancing the qualities and elements with their opposites. How you currently eat, act and change your thoughts affect how you develop your Vikruti, or your changing constitution.  

      So by using these two factors, the original constitution (Dosha), and your present constitution (Vikruti), you change how to regulate your thoughts and actions to bring it back to a balanced state. Therefore, through this regulation you bring about a certain state of health.

      Ayurveda is very much a practice of herbs and nutrition that are important and cleansing to the body and mental process. Ayurvedic practitioners use herbs and diet to bring you back to that state of health and calm.

      Ayurvedic and Yogic Diets

      The whole ayurvedic is a complex science. You need to learn more about your constitution to be able balance it effectively. There are certain diets and lifestyle changes prescribed for each dosha.

      For instance, when you see a person that is completely red from top to bottom, you say something is wrong with your pitta dosha. You have to say that and you have to somehow not aggravate them and calm them down.  

      If an Ayurvedic practitioner prescribes a Yogi to eat meat, the Yogi says no. That is because a Yogi follows the spiritual ethic of Ahimsa – non-violence. In this manner, a practitioner of Yoga may choose to follow an ayurvedic diet or lifestyle to the extent that it fits in with Yoga life.

      The ayurvedic diet is simple, you have to learn the basics and add it on to the yogic diet. A yogic diet is a sattvic diet. Sattva, or purity, brings a calm, contented and aware state of mind that will allow one to bring about the capacity to review the Self.

      Groups of people at 2 picnic tables laughing and enjoying an organic ayurvedic lunch

      Eating a balanced, wholesome diet is part of the yogic and ayurvedic lifestyle.

      The 3 Causes of Disease

      In addition to the doshas, there are three causes of disease in Ayurveda. The first cuase is misuse of the intellect, Also known as “crimes against wisdom,” it includes any careless action that goes against health and well-being. Examples include eating the wrong food or overexerting the body.

      The second cause is the misuse of the senses. It involves overstimulation or deprivation of the five senses, which leads to imbalances in the body and mind. For instance, excessive bright lights and loud noises can upset the nervous system, and if prolonged can lead to disease.

      The third cause is seasonal variations. In order for optimal health, it is important to follow the rhythms of nature. This involves waking up at the right time, experiencing suitable temperatures in each season, or adapting lifestyle to fit one’s age. 

      Finally, both Ayurveda and Yoga profess that forgetting your true nature as spirit is the chief underlying cause of all disease. You were born into your body because of this fundamental ignorance of the Self.

      When you attain Self-realization, there is no more disease. That’s because there is no more false identification or attachment with the body, mind or senses.

      Student smiling while laying on a blanket on the grass

      Ayurveda offers diet, lifestyle and herbal medicine for a happy, healthy life.

      Ayurveda Supports Yoga

      According to Ayurveda and Yoga, spiritual ignorance is a root cause of all disease. When you forget that you are a divine being Who is already whole, pefect and complete, the mind begins to reach out to external things for satisfaction.

      Often times these external things are not conducive to our health, such as ice cream or excess television. Excessive desires and sensual indulgences speed up the mind and bring unrest. Consequently, a fast mind will never have peace and will experience mental and physiological stress.

      Furthermore, the more your mind is rajasic and tamasic the more you churn. Eventually it will cause you to get old and die early. In contrast, you will experience health when you are detached, calm, quiet and dwelling on yourself.

      Swami Sitaramananda meditating on rocks beside flowing river through tree covered mountains

      Yoga meditation and Yoga asanas (poses) are both integral aspects of Ayurvedic medicine.

      Likewise, the more you are peaceful, knowing yourself, not getting too upset or uptight about things, the more you slow down the process of disease. Classical Yoga, in conjunction with Ayurveda, would prescribe only sattvic techniques in order to slow down disease.

      Yoga seeks to calm down rajas and eradicate tamas. In tamas, the mind is veiled and we fail to see the true Self. On the other hand, rajas makes the mind restless and desirous, constantly projecting outwards and creating distortions.

      The main aim in Ayurveda is physical and mental health, while Yoga is for healing of the spirit. Healing of the spirit means recovering your true self. Only when you nurture sattva, by purificatory practices, we can heal our spirit, and see clearly ourselves as immortal spirit. 

      Healing the body alone is not the primary goal of yoga; the primary goal is Self-Realization. According to Yoga, the body is only a vehicle or instrument. Ayurveda is a sister science of Yoga that helps with healing the body, which prepares the instrument for its highest duty towards Self-Realization.

      4 cups of assorted herbs and spices

      Jyotish for Holistic Healing

      For many spiritual aspirants, Jyotish is completely new, however it is another Vedic science that is thousands of years old. Jyotish, the vedic science of astrology, was and still is even more so on the margins than Ayurveda.

      The Sivananda Yoga Farm has become one of the institutions that teaches Vedic Astrology in North America.

      Jyotish and Ayurveda

      What does Jyotish have to do with Yoga and healing? As is the same in Ayurveda, in Jyotish you have the three constitutions: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vata is ruled by the planets Saturn, Moon and Rahu. Pitta is ruled by the Sun, Mars and Ketu. Kapha is ruled by Jupiter and Venus.

       

      Vedic Astrologer looking at a birth chart and looking up at diagram of constellations and planets - Jyotish

      Vedic Astrology is the study of planets in our solar system and their effects on the individual.

      Jyotish and Karma

      In yogic terms you have to work out your karma to be healthy. When you are born you have the karma with the physical body, and through the process of working that karma out, you come back to that original reason why you were born.

      Furthermore the planets can show your constitution, they show your karma with your own body, your health, what you gain or lose in life, and your destiny. They rule over your relationships with your family, your partner, your enemies, your community, and your profession. 

      Similarly, the planets determine your education, your psyche, and your contribution to this world. They show your communication with your heart, your relationship with your religion, your guru, or your teachers. Likewise, they rule over your virtues and vices, the ways in which you either remove the ego or make it bigger.  

      Jyotish for the Spiritual Path

      The planets cause all situations and conditions in life. In this way, Jyotish helps the spiritual aspirant to learn their strengths and weaknesses, the tendencies and faults of the mind.

      After you learn about Jyotish, you can use the knowledge and adapt it to your Yoga practice. You learn to balance out any negative qualities or situations through yogic sadhana. You can learn how to compensate for certain health conditions and life circumstances.

      Tree lined landscape with beautiful view of a starry sky

      Jyotish or Vedic Astrology can be a useful tool on the spiritual path towards unity.

      Yoga is Primary

      The 12 yoga asanas (postures), pranayama, meditation, sattvic diet and yogic lifestyle already work on balancing the Ayurvedic doshas. Even if you don’t know what planets are in your vedic astrology birth chart, it doesn’t matter.

      That’s because if you practice the five points and the four paths of Yoga, it balances all the effects of the planets anyway. Your Karma will be alleviated by itself!

      With that being said, it’s not completely necessary to be an expert in ayurveda or jyotish. Just keep practicing Yoga and it will help others and yourself. If you want to have more tools than you can learn a little bit more about the vedic sciences of ayurveda and jyotish.

      Then you will have a little bit more language, which will help you navigate the complimentary vedic sciences. But the primary thing is to continue with your sadhana. For the path of spiritual healing, Yoga is primary.

      Women sitting on an outdoor deck meditating

      The ultimate goal of Yoga is Self-realization.

      There is no doubt that spreading peace and Yoga is the main mission of the Sivananda organization, and that Jyotish and Ayurveda, together, are means to help with that mission.

      Yoga is the primary thing, due to the fact that it leads to liberation and the understanding of the Self. Also it provides all the methods to remove the veils of illusion.

      Furthermore, Yoga offers health and healing; healing of the spirit, mind and body. Likewise, Yoga helps people go through life with more resilience to stress and adversity.

      © Swami Sitaramananda 2018 – No part of this article may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the author.

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