Blue Lotus Ayurveda Newsletter

Hatha Yoga and Meditation

September 2004

Ayurveda is a sister science of yoga and it is grounded in the rich philosophical and spiritual traditions of India. Therefore, health and disease in Ayurveda must be understood in the light of all aspects of life --from the physical to the mental and emotional, as well as the spiritual realms. It is thus a truly holistic system, founded on the concept that each and every part of the body/mind complex can only be perceived within its intimate relationship with the whole. This is true on a planetary and universal level as well.

Samkhya is one of the main philosophical systems that serve as the foundation for both Ayurveda and the Ashtanga (Eight Limb) yoga system. According to Samkhya philosophy, this entire creation evolved out of the interaction of Purusha, or pure consciousness, and Prakruti, or primordial matter. Purusha is beyond all attributes such as name, form or quality, and is the witness of creation. It is the inner self in all. Prakruti is the creative potential, the one that manifests as the many and has color, form, and attributes, but requires the influence of Purusha to animate it.

It is from this conceptual frame that Ayurveda understands and views hatha yoga and meditation. In other words, yoga asanas and meditation are an essential practice (or sadhana) in the quest to connect the rhythm of our individual prakruti with the cosmic, universal Prakruti. In this sense, regular hatha yoga and meditation practice can be considered the ultimate rasayana (rejuvenation), one that takes the concept of health beyond our body/mind complex into the spiritual realm of self-knowledge and inner peace.

Pain Is Avoidable...

One of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras states that, "Pain that has not yet come is avoidable." This brings to mind two things: One, that regularity and perseverance in hatha yoga practice will remove any of the discomfort we may feel when we first start on the path of yoga. And two, that yoga has a therapeutic and healing effect on the body and mind.

From an Ayurvedic perspective, hatha yoga is even more therapeutic when integrated into an Ayurvedic lifestyle and practiced with a constitutional or doshic approach. Regular meditation practice adds to and enhances the healing process, bringing it beyond the body/mind complex.

Balanced and Tridoshic: Vata...

Hatha yoga practice should be adjusted according to our constitution, or at least be tridoshic. This is an important consideration when we practice yoga and meditation on a regular basis. The following guidelines are just an example of how Ayurveda approaches yoga and meditation practice.

Vata people should do calming, strengthening balancing (slow and sustained) poses. Some examples are warrior, cobra, and child poses. Also sun salutations done slowly, abdominal exercises to support the back and tone the colon, head and shoulder stands, twists, and gentle forward bends to nourish the kidneys and adrenal glands, and improve digestion.

Vata people do best with a structured meditation method (kriya yoga) to help them concentrate and stay focused. Mantra repetition is also very beneficial for vata. A good pranayama (breath control technique) is alternate nostril breathing to balance and purify the mind and nervous system.

Pitta...

Pitta people should try to maintain a cooling, calming and relaxing intention while doing poses. Their attitude should be that of forgiveness, and of mentally offering up the fruits of their practice. The moon salutation is a good asana practice for pitta. Also, inversions that bend the neck, such as shoulder stand, to prevent much heat in the head; back bends and chest opening poses to release heat in the body; and twists to relieve pitta in the liver and spleen. Headstands should be avoided in hot weather and shouldn't be held for more than a minute or two. For pitta, asanas should be done just until one breaks a good healthy sweat, overexertion should be avoided. The best times for pitta are the cool times of day (dawn or dusk).

Jnana yoga (yoga of knowledge) is a good practice for pitta people because of their sharp intellect. Also, they should favor meditation that diffuses the energy, such as spacious, unstructured methods, and bhakti yoga (yoga of devotion) to soften the heart. Because many pranayama techniques tend to create heat in the body they should always be balanced with cooling pranayama such as sheetali or sitkari.

And Kapha...

For kapha, asanas should be vigorous and energetic to promote the reduction of fat and lethargy. Good methods for kapha people are vinyasa or flow style, bikram yoga, and kundalini yoga, if they can do them. At first, kapha people shouldn't be too concerned about what poses to do, they just need to do them since they tend to be very sedentary.

Kapha people have much love, compassion and devotion, and they like to chant (bhakti yoga). They are great meditators with any method because of the stable quality of their nature. Pranayama should be heating, such as bhastrika (fire breath) or ujjayi.

Pratipaksha Bhavana

We all experience some form of pain at some point in our lives, whether physical, mental, or spiritual. Self-inquiry, meditation, and pranayama (breathing techniques) can take us beyond the pain, not only because they restore the flow of prana (life force) and energy throughout the body, but also because they quiet the mind and bring us back to our center.

Another yogic practice not mentioned often enough is that of pratipaksha bhavana, which consists of consciously thinking positive thoughts when the mind is disturbed by negative ones. In other words, this practice deals with training our mind not to pay attention to the tamasic quality of our thought waves. This should not be confused with a form of denial, since yoga and Ayurveda understand that emotions that have not been processed become mental ama (toxins) and can be as toxic as bad food combining, or worse. This practice is more like making a conscious choice within our mind.

Self-inquiry is needed to process emotions, and then we must decide to learn from them, leave them behind and move on. Practicing asanas that make you feel good, resting in restoring poses, doing pranayama and meditation can definitely lessen painful or trying times. During those times, we must make the conscious choice to look for the positive both within ourselves and outside. If hatha yoga and meditation don't seem to suffice, then Ayurveda can provide herbal therapies to help us move beyond the pain, and even deeply rooted states of depression.

More Specific Imbalances

Ayurveda uses yogic practices, including hatha yoga, meditation, pranayama and yoga therapy, to treat a variety of disorders. Individual or more specific guidance in these practices can be given by an Ayurvedic practitioner according to individual needs and imbalances. Yogic practices and Ayurvedic herbal nutrition, along with certain daily routines, can certainly make a difference in how we feel on a regular basis, both physically and emotionally, and how we perceive life as a whole, as well as how we grow old. No wonder why Ayurveda is the "Science of Life." Visit our web site for more information on yoga and meditation.

 

Ayurvedic Lecture & Light Dinner

September 1st, 2004 6:30 PM
Blue Lotus Ayurveda Center @ Family to Family 207 Charlotte St. - Asheville, NC 28801

Enjoy a light Ayurvedic dinner while you learn about the principles of Ayurveda and our educational programs! Space is limited, so please reserve. (This event is free, donations appreciated.)

Contact us

Educational Programs

Fall Course 2004 - Level I Sept. 22-Dec. 15

Learn Ayurvedic principles and philosophy, as well as Ayurvedic approaches to nutrition, yoga, cooking, bodywork, herbology, and self-healing techniques. Payment Plans Available. Visa & MasterCard accepted.

Padmasana

The ultimate yoga pose, Padmasana (or lotus pose) requires open hips and consistent practice.

Benefits:

* Calms the brain
* Stimulates the pelvis, spine, abdomen, and bladder
* Stretches the ankles and knees
* Eases menstrual discomfort and sciatica
* Consistent practice of this pose until late into pregnancy is said to help ease childbirth.
* Traditional texts say that Padmasana destroys all disease and awakens kundalini.

Contraindications/Cautions:

* Ankle injury
* Knee injury
* Padmasana is considered to be an intermediate to advanced pose. Do not perform this pose without sufficient prior experience or unless you have the supervision of an experienced teacher.

An Ayurvedic Approach
to Asana & Pranayama

2-Day Workshop with Vishnu Dass

Join Vishnu Dass and learn Ayurvedic principles, along with a variety of poses for calming vata, releasing excess pitta and stimulating kapha.

Oct. 23, 2004 - 2-6 PM
and Oct. 24, 9 AM-12 PM.
Asheville Yoga Center
239 S. Liberty St.
Asheville, NC 28804
828-254-0380
$75 by Sept. 30 $85 after Sept. 30

More Information

Rejuvenating Therapies

We offer Gift Certificates. Give the gift of health and rejuvenation with Ayurveda or therapeutic massage! Visit our web site for more information on our sevices, therapies and fees.

Experience what the 5000-Year Old Science of Ayurveda
Can Do for You!

Contact Information

Blue Lotus Ayurveda
(828) 713-4266
or via e-mail through our web site
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