Similarities between ayurveda and yoga

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Similarities between ayurveda and yoga and evidences to show that they are sister sciences

From time immemorial, people have been fascinated by the ways in which the human body functions. Right from the beginning of the human civilization, there have been agents that dislodge the normal functioning of the body. In those times, the causative agents held responsible for all these diseases and anomalous body conditions were very different from the ones that we know today. Evil spirits and planetary movements were thought be the doomed causes of these conditions. No matter what the reasons were, it was during the mid-second century that the first form of medical practice in the form of Ayurveda started. It marked the beginning of an ongoing saga of developments in the field and today we are at a stage where the average life of a man has been increased substantially.

Meaning of the term ayurveda

Ayurveda is a term that has roots as deep and profound as the entire Indus Valley civilization itself. It is derived from two word roots, ayus and ved meaning long life and knowledge respectively. When combined together, the meaning of the word ayurveda becomes clear. Literally, ayurveda refers to the practice of leading a healthy lifestyle to increase the life span of an individual. The word has a Sanskrit origin and like most other things of the ancient Indian origin, the language Sanskrit and this ancient practice of Ayurveda is regarded to be divine. Godly or not, ayurveda certainly is one of the oldest medical practices and is the cradle for all modern western practices.

Meaning of the term Yoga

This is a term that has gained a lot of popularity of lately and is yet another Indian trait that seems to have infected the western world. In a situation like this, when the entire world is going gaga for this ancient mystical practice, it is important to know what exactly is the meaning of the term.
First and foremost, it is very important to note that to understand yoga in a short time is like drinking the Pacific Ocean all at once. There is so much to the craft that is better absorbed in parts. The term ‘Yoga’ is of the Sanskrit origin and traces back its roots to the as early as the second millennium BC. It is derived from the word root, yuj meaning to unite. So, what is that yoga unites? Well, in the religious ethics, the meaning of the term is the process of unification of the body and the soul with the ultimate soul, the almighty. This process of surrendering one’s body and merge it with the supreme power is what yoga teaches through all its branches and asanas.

Historical account of the two sciences

As stated earlier, ayurveda and yogic practices are both very ancient practices and date back to the pre historic and historic eras. Early cave paintings mention positions of the body in what we now call yogic asanas and meditation. However, the first written records of the ayurvedic methods were found only in the Vedic period. This was also the case with yoga and the earliest ventures are found on velum that date back to the Vedic period. Out of all the Vedas, the Atharva Veda gets a special mention as the fore-bearer of all the ancient ayurvedic theories and principles. Like all other writings in the Vedas, the entire concept of Ayurveda comes from 114 hymns that are written in the Atharva Veda. Later, over the years when more and more study and research in the field started, ancient saints and philosophers like Sushruta and Charaka became intensely involved and compiled huge volumes in the forms of Samhitas defining and redefining all the ayurvedic techniques. The volume that Maharishi Sushruta compiled came to be known as the Sushruta Samhita and is now considered as the ultimate encyclopedia for all ayurvedic practitioners. The person thought responsible for bringing this on the Earth was Dhanvantari, who was also regarded as the first doctor. Although the practice started from the ashrams of the Indian peninsula, soon this practice travelled everywhere and became an active part of all western medicines. Even in those days ayurvedic practitioners had a mammoth knowledge of the ways to treat complex medical conditions like cataract, anal fistulas, piles, tumors in the gut etc. the technique of Rhinoplasty was so precise that it is still used in the modern day medicine without slight modifications.
Yoga has a more or less similar growth tree and just like ayurveda had modest beginnings in the ashrams across India by seers and sages as a way to salvation or nirvana. It was only during the Vedic period that an attempt to actually write down the various components of yoga and their implications in the real life were made. The Yajur Veda is the religious volume that is regarded as the ultimate book of yoga and in the form of hymns, covers all important aspects of the subject. It was later, after decades probably; Patanjali wrote the first authentic ‘all-yoga’ scripture or book. It was called the Yoga Sutras and defines and redefines all yogic practices, with more emphasis on the practical uses of these yogic concepts to improve the health status and our day-to-day lives. The Patanjali yoga, as we call it today, has several branches and is a long drawn process as against popular belief that presumes yoga to be just Asanas. You should remember that asanas are just stepping-stones to the bigger goal of yoga, the ultimate destination; moksha.

Direct relations between ayurveda and yogic practices

While drawing lines of similarity between ayurveda and yoga, there are few direct similarities that one finds in the two. These obvious facts are so factual that you are compelled to correlate the two sciences. While some of these are well known facts, there are few that you would be surprised to know. These two branches of health studies are not only interrelated but can be safely called complementary to each other because it is impossible to perform one without involving the other. Some of the most interesting facts about the ayurveda and yogic practices that kind of bind them together and prove that these are sister studies are mentioned as under.

  • Vedic origin: -  as we already discussed, both these forms of practices date back to the Vedic period and written records of the ancient practices are evidences to show that ayurveda and yoga developed pretty much on parallel grounds. Ayurveda has its literary origin from the Atharva Veda and Rig Veda, whereas the tenants of yogic practices can be traced into the Yajur Veda. Coming from a similar time of origin, there is certainly a similarity between the two forms as they represent a similar social setup.
  • Consider the same goals for the soul: - another stark similarity between the two ancient health practices is based on one of the most important principles of Hinduism. Although Yoga does not have a strictly Indian origin, forget alone Hinduism, most of its development process is in India and over the years there are some concepts of Hinduism that both yoga and ayurveda have adopted. Both these subjects believe that a mortal has a set of goals to fulfill before he or she can retire for the life. These are the four basic Karmas namely, Dharma, Artha, Kaam and Moksha. These four duties correspond to a full life cycle and include virtues like duty, amassing wealth, having and fulfilling one’s desires and after completion of the three, surrendering the self to the superior power.
  • Treat based on the rule of balance between elements: - a very important working concept in ayurveda says that the human body is made up of certain energy spheres or humors called doshas. In addition, the body has srotas for the conductance of fluids and seven elements called the sapta dhatu present in various amounts depending upon the individual. It is believed that in the normal condition of the body, there is a cordial balance between these humors, dhatus or the waste products, mala. However, when the balance stutters, there occur diseases. Both Ayurveda and yogic practices preach to maintain a balance between these elements and all other concepts in the subject follow this core principle.
  • Similar lines of human anatomy studies: - as clear from the previous discussion, ayurveda and yoga both originated in the same frame of time and thus represent a similar social thinking. In the Vedic period and the years that followed, extensive studies were made and deeper insights about the anatomy and physiological constitution of the human body were made. Most of the time, ayurvedic practitioners were also yoga gurus and thus the basic human anatomy and the physiological constitution of the body is seen the same in both the sciences. The human body is made up of 7200 nadis or channels for transportation, seven chakras or energy circles, seven body covers that surround the immortal soul, one central kundalini Shakti. Because of this similar constitution, there is a trail of similarities between the methods of treating an ailment or attaining salvation, whatever is the purpose.
  • Methods of treatment: - this is one of the most common similarities, between ayurveda and yoga and almost all of us know about this. In addition, this point of coherence is so profound and accurate that it is enough to establish relations between the two health forms. Both ayurveda and yoga deal with health issues and address the problems of the mind. The way they treat ailments is also alike. There is an extensive use of plant products like roots, leaves, bark etc. or special herbs like thyme, sacred basil, rosemary etc. that have medicinal properties. Not only drugs, both these forms employ other body and mind healing techniques like meditation, Pranayama or the control of the breathing cycle, different postures or Asanas, astrology and holy prayers to treat an anomalous condition of the body or general well-being. This is one of the main reasons for the strong co relation between the two branches and it is not possible to separate one from the other.
  • Philosophies and avocations are alike: - yoga, as know is not just about postures. There is lot more to this ancient art and it is a very complex and hard process to attain the ultimate goal of yoga. The main concept is to reach salvation or unite ones soul with the alma mater. In the process of doing so, one must build a healthy body so that it houses a perfectly sound and immensely strong mind. If you have ever tried your hand in any sort of meditation, you must have felt how tough it is to even sit for more and a few hours, forget alone doing it for months together. In the same time, ayurveda is all about having a longer life by leading a healthier lifestyle to keep the body physically fit and mentally sound. Therefore, there is a lie of similarity even in this aspect.
  • Similar techniques of cleaning and purifying the body: - another similarity between the two forms is in the way the two emphasizes on cleaning and detoxifying the body. In ayurveda, there is the five-fold routine or the Panchakarma while there is the Shat karma in yoga. Both these routines involve more or less similar steps that help to eliminate wastes from their normal exit routes.

Importance of ayurveda and yoga in the present time

Some of the advantages that it has over the allopathic treatment methodologies are cheap and easily available drugs as they are derived from plant and animal products. Next is the fact that most of these ayurvedic medicines do not have any side effects on the body, except a few rare cases where a person can be allergic to certain plant products. Yogic practices on the other hand have several benefits for the body some of which are indispensible for a good health.

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