Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Ayurvedic Principles in My Personal Practice and Teaching

This chapter outlines principles of Ayurvedic Yoga. In what ways can you implement
these principles in your Yoga practice and/or Yoga teaching?

1. "Ayurveda holds the view that illness begins at subtle levels and gradually becomes more apparent until it manifests as what we call disease. This understanding of health is closely related to the model of the five koshas. From this perspective, dis-ease originates at the most subtle koshas and, if
not detected, will gain momentum and eventually appear in the physical body."


"If our physical body is actually a manifestation of energies that arise at more subtle levels,
then treating only the symptoms of illness can never address the deeper roots of the
problem. These deeper roots need to be brought to awareness through an exploration
of each of the five koshas. From this perspective, an illness that manifests in the
physical body has an underlying cause at the energetic, psycho-emotional, and spiritual

- In my therapeutic and group practices I will stress that the physical body is last place the disease manifests so we can not just work with the physical body.

2. "All of the Vedas or ancient books of knowledge were written by rishis or “seers,”
those who could look deeply into the universe and fathom its mysteries through intuition and
meditation. We can imagine the earliest Ayurvedic practitioners as wandering yogis who were able to commune deeply with nature and bring their minds, emotions, and bodies into harmony with the universe through this deep level of communion."


"Both yoga and Ayurveda arose from the intuitive observations of the ancient rishis through meditation, observation of nature, and observation of human beings in relation
to the natural rhythms of life. These ancient holy men and healers spent their lives with a
primary focus on their own practice and spiritual transformation while assisting others
along the way as guides and mentors for the body, mind, and spirit. This is the mentor role
embodied by the IYT vision of the yoga therapist."

- For myself and my students it is of out most importance to have a connection with nature
- intuition and meditation are key to personal and global understanding
- As the therapist and the student or client, we all have to have a personal practice

3. "The life of these sages in harmony with nature and the universe would naturally include
meditation practices, breathing practices, asana and physical exercises, dietary regimen
including times of fasting, orientation to the times of day and the seasons, and the use of
herbs, both as tonics and as purification. What is key here is that the Ayurvedic vision arose
out of the practice of a kind of primordial yoga, not as a separate medical therapy for
the treatment of the body, but as a holistic vision of life and health."

- to be in harmony with nature we need to include in our routines meditation, pranayama, asana, physical exercise, dietary regime including fasting, orientation to times of day and seasons, use of herbs.

4. "It is only nature that cures. Healers are simply guides that help patients work through their problems and discover harmony with nature at all levels"
- I can't heal you, I can give you techniques and tools

5. "We see sattva at work even in illness, because dis-ease is actually a deep call to change and balance within the person and in the environment."

- Remind myself and students/clients that disease is a deep call to change and balance
- The body is seeking sattva so it is our partner not our enemy

6. "It is our awareness that makes the difference, and for this reason, we can say
that awareness is the foundation of Ayurvedic healing. While herbs, massage, and other
treatments can support our level of awareness, they cannot exist as a healing modality
separate from awareness."
- Use this to talk about the importance of the body scan or being aware in a yoga pose

7. "As in the macrocosm, so in the microcosm – what exists at the most minute level of
functioning within the body also exists at more complex and wider levels, and in the
universe as a whole...  For the microcosm to be in balance, it must be in harmony with the macrocosm, which includes all interactions of the individual with the external world,
including environment and relationships."
- Microcosm is the same as the microcosm is important concept to me in my whole practice.  I think of this especially when I am working with the mantra so-hum and Aum

8. "Understanding who we are begins with an exploration of the five elements – earth,
water, fire, air, and space – within our own being. These elements are the building
blocks of life and matter and are, therefore, fundamental to life and health.The five elements form the basis of the Ayurvedic constitutional types, called doshas, which means “principles.” The doshas allow us to take into account human differences and individuality in health and healing. Each human being has different quantities of each element and so each person’s relationship with the cosmos,
which is formed from the five elements, will be different. . . Understanding our Ayurvedic constitution gives our lives a sense of ease, safety, and belonging, because we know who we are
and what our potential is. We also develop greater compassion and understanding for
others since we see that life is a garden of flowers with all the colors and scents
imaginable, which together create the treasure that is life."

- When I teach trance dance or a five element yin class or yoga nidra I think it is really important to explain why the elements are relevant.  This gives the answer - the elements help us understand who we are.
- Five element names are prithivi, jala, tejas, vayu and akasha

9. Each time of day has its different dosha:
 10 am to 2 pm – pitta. This is when our digestive powers are strongest and this is why lunchtime should be our biggest meal.
 2 pm to 6 pm – vata. This is the time of day when we can benefit from avoiding
stimulants and choosing restorative, meditative
ways to balance our energies.
 6 pm to 10 pm – kapha. It is a good idea to have a light dinner in a soothing environment
and to go to bed before 10 pm without heavy desserts or snacking.
 10 pm to 2 am – pitta. You will often find pittas still working until late at night. When
pitta is imbalanced, this is exactly what they should avoid.
 2 am to 6 am – vata. This quiet time of the day is ideal for prayer and meditation, which
are very helpful for integrating our mind/ body and inspiring ourselves with reverence
for life and our day ahead.
 6 am to 10 am – kapha. A good time for exercise.
- My yoga classes and personal practice should take the time of day into consideration
- During the winter and when it is cold and damp I should do my physical practice in the morning

10. AGNI
"From the Ayurvedic perspective, all health problems at a physical level are problems of
digestion. Problems at a psychological and emotional level are also problems of digestion
at a different level. Therefore, the power of digestion and metabolism are keys to health.
The digestive fire which fuels metabolism and burns away impurities is called agni."

11. AMA
"When we experience or consume things we cannot assimilate or completely “digest,” the
outcome is what is known in Ayurveda as ama. Ama is a product of negativity at the
physical, psychological, or spiritual levels. Ama builds up over time as a toxic residue
that influences every part of our being. Over time, ama can obstruct the functioning of all
the physiological systems as well as the currents of subtle energy in the body. Ama
normally accumulates first in the colon and intestines. It is for this reason that Ayurveda
places so much importance on diet and gastrointestinal health. Cleansing the
digestive tract is a central feature of  Ayurvedic healing."


1. Samchaya is accumulation of one or more of the doshas and the resulting ama that
occurs due to disturbance of the digestive fire by the doshas. At this point, the
doshas usually accumulate in the sites that they have a natural affinity for, such as
kapha in the stomach or lungs, pitta in the liver, and vata in the colon. Symptoms are
usually noticeable but mild, such as fatigue, heaviness, or burning sensations.

2. Prakopa is the concentration or aggravation of the accumulated doshas. At
this stage, the doshas are still in their own locations but begin to put pressure on
them. Symptoms intensify. It is still relatively easy to treat the imbalance at
this stage.

3. Prasara is dissemination of aggravated doshas throughout the body. These toxic
influences will move toward points of weakness anywhere in the body.

4. Sthana samshraya is the localization of the doshas into tissues which are susceptible
to disease; the first signs of true disease begin to manifest.

5. Vyakta is the manifestation of full-blown disease.

6. Bheda is the spread,complication, and metastasis of disease.

13. Five Element Practices
- I love the 5 element practices I have taught classes and done my own personal practices with the Taoist and Yogic 5 Elements.
- I have done element meditations with Chris Chapple from the Visuddhmagga which he now teaches as a class mindful nature
- I will continue to use these practices and remind people as they do these practices be aware of what elements they are relating to and which are not resonating for them to help understand their nature

14. I think it is a very interesting concept to think about in yoga your true nature prakruti (maybe that includes you natural range of motion) and where you are now vikruti because of life style, stress, trauma.  And through yoga we try to get back to our true self our prakruti.

15. As yoga teachers we provide a safe space where students can explore and become themselves.

16. Time of day, year and life influence and effect what our yoga practice should look like.

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