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The Basics of Ayurveda and Yoga in India

by Miriam Cihodariu

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Ayurveda has been developed over 4000+ years and is the oldest system of natural medicine in the world. In combination with yoga, Ayurveda is a powerful remedy. 

Both originating from the Indian culture, Yoga and Ayurveda are both traditional disciplines but target different wellness dimensions. Ayurveda is a science of life (Ayur = life, veda = science or knowledge) with its origins in the Indian subcontinent. Ayurveda views the human in a holistic sense and prescribes health remedies, practices and procedures primarily in relation to sustainable lifestyle changes. Ayurveda and yoga go hand in hand. Therapies are typically based on dietary changes, herbal compounds, and techniques of purification, including massage, herbal steams and body wraps, colonic cleanses and deep rest.

While both yoga and Ayurveda focus on improving both the mental and the physical aspects of their practitioners, Ayurveda is leaning more towards the physical while yoga leans towards the mental and spiritual. This is true especially of the more authentic yoga forms taught by Eastern practitioners and less true for the Westernized forms of yoga which focus more on movement. Learn more from these two main disciplines on an Ayurveda and yoga retreat in India

What is the Ayurveda approach?

what is ayurveda plates of spices

Ayurveda is a science of folk medicine founded millennia ago. According to historical sources, its roots can be traced on the Indian subcontinent to over 5,000 years ago. Ayurveda retreats and resorts are plentiful across India, particularly in Kerala, where the practice is well developed and many top practitioners are based. An Ayurveda retreat will typically begin with a careful evaluation of your body type based on the system of Three Doshas. This will determine the diet you’ll be prescribed to follow, as well as the treatments you are advised to take. Many of these treatments are most pleasurable, particularly the Shirodhara massage therapy whereby a massage session ends with warm aromatic oils being gently poured over your forehead as you recline in complete relaxation.

Traditionally, Ayurveda has been used especially for crafting herbal remedies and administering folk medicine practices. A healthy diet was also among the teachings developed and offered by Ayurveda, together with the preference for vegetarian options.

There is also a strong emphasis on philosophic principles such as the 5 elements and the human energies that correspond to each of them. Illness or disease is usually viewed as an imbalance between the elements, which can be remedied by encouraging the type of energy that is under-represented, so balance can be restored.

In time, of course, Ayurveda blended with other traditional practices from the subcontinent, especially with yoga. Nowadays, Ayurveda is more about the use of teas, spices, a few recipe ideas for snacks or natural supplements, and the use of essential oils and fragrances. Turmeric and frankincense are two of the most popular Ayurvedic remedies known far and wide.

How is the yoga approach different?

woman hands unrolling a yoga mat

Yoga evolved to address the realm of natural remedies less, but to focus more on self-work towards a healthy body and mind. Yoga does not rely on natural remedies, but on movement (asanas) and meditation instead. While there are lots of different types of yoga being practiced, some very old and some of the newer variety, there are proven benefits to practicing yoga, regardless of the style.

The two main pillars of the practice of yoga are asanas (practicing yoga poses) and meditation (for stilling the mind and teaching the body better breathing techniques). The theory of yoga also teaches philosophical principles on how to lead a good life and how to better yourself. In this regard (life principles and advice), yoga and Ayurveda blend even more tightly together.

How do Ayurveda and yoga mix?

ayurveda yoga retreat in sri lanka

The popularity that yoga gained in the Western world is well-known since many Westerners choose it as their form of preferred exercise. Ayurveda enjoys some popularity as well, especially among people with a penchant for alternative medicine. While yoga is regarded as something you do, Ayurveda is considered a complement to it in regards to dietary supplements, aromatherapy, and teas.

As for how effective these two practices are when mixed, there isn’t a lot of research yet to prove or disprove their health claims. Still, there is one ground-breaking study that shows how the combination of yoga and Ayurveda can stave off cardiovascular disease.

The blend of these two traditional disciplines is, of course, not meant to treat diseases, but to preserve your health. It’s like a preventative therapeutic life regime that allows you to be in your best shape for longer.

Also, one of the modern perks of Ayurveda is the fact that it includes massages, especially as part of a specialized retreat. You shouldn’t be surprised to see Ayurveda mentioned in some of the world’s most luxurious spa centers. All the more reason to indulge in a fantastic yoga and Ayurveda journey away from the world!

The top 5 Ayurveda yoga retreats in India to indulge in

woman receiving ayurvedic massage

If you’d like to learn more about how you can combine yoga and Ayurveda in your everyday life, and also indulge in a pampering experience, it’s never been easier. A specialized yoga and Ayurveda vacation is just what you need.

While we can facilitate your access to hundreds such havens, here are our favorite 5 picks:

#1. 20 Days Ayurveda, Meditation, and Yoga Retreat in Kerala, India

20 days ayurveda meditation and yoga retreat in kerala

 

Mindful activities, a light yoga class and a meditation session every day, delicious food and all the pampering you can dream of for your body and mind. During this twenty-day period, you will enjoy ayurvedic cooking classes, a 4 days Sivananda Ashram immersion, and cultural excursions in the surroundings. You’ll experience the beauty of Ayurvedic culture while also feeling healthier than ever.

#2. 4 Days Relaxing Yoga and Ayurveda Retreat in Kerala, India

4 days relaxing yoga and ayurveda retreat in kerala

 

Are you looking for a shorter stay, just to relax a bit and dip your feet in all the goodness of Ayurvedic yoga? This 4-day retreat in Kerala is the ideal place to start. Mouthwatering food, the ocean views, and the infinity pool will make for the best 4 vacation days you’ll ever spend. You’ll also get to practice a bit of yoga in the morning, and explore the surroundings in a tour of the oldest colonial architecture in the country.

#3. 7 Days Ayurveda and Yoga Retreat in Rishikesh, India

ayurveda yoga retreat in rishikesh india

Rishikesh is somewhat of a holy land for most dedicated yogis. According to historical investigation, it is the place where yoga first originated, so a retreat in Rishikesh is a must for any yogi’s bucket list. With this yoga and Ayurveda vacation, you’ll get to explore the two disciplines in the very place where the roots of yoga have been laid. Some of the extra perks of this retreat include crystal therapy, massages, aromatherapy, Reiki and sound healing. Enjoy the rest and nourish your soul!

#4. 7 Days Ayurveda Yoga Retreat Kerala, India

7 days ayurveda yoga retreat in kerala

 

With daily yoga and breathing exercises, this relaxation yoga retreat in India has a strong focus on Ayurveda as well. The retreat includes Ayurveda herbal treatments, messages, medicines, and daily doctor consultations. During your stay, you’ll be served Ayurveda organic vegetarian food according to your body and mental constitution. 

#5. 5 Days Yoga, Meditation and Ayurveda Retreat in Kerala, India

5 days yoga meditation and ayurveda retreat in kerala

In this yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda retreat in Kerala, Dr. Chakkalakkal will teach you more about relaxation and help you to deepen your Ayurvedic knowledge and skills during a 5-day program. The retreat includes an analysis of your body constitution, a yoga nidra session, Ayurvedic massages for head and body, daily yoga classes, and a cooking class. The Namaste Ayurvedic Wellness Centre will make sure you’ll have everything for a relaxing and insightful stay. 


Want to see more places where you can indulge in combining yoga and Ayurveda? Browse through hundreds of lush options!

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