This past weekend we started the 29th semester of Ayurveda Yoga Academy 's Continued Education for Yoga Teachers along with our fellow practitioners all the way in South Korea!
During the first class our teacher asked us the question, "what is yoga?" Some of the answers to which included;
Yoga is healing
Yoga is emptying
Yoga is rest
Yoga is science
Yoga is a way to prayer
Yoga is a tool for life
We went into some of different kinds of yoga;
Hatha Yoga - with includes Asana (physical posture) and Pranayama (breathing)
Raja Yoga - which works more directly on the mind and meditation
Karma Yoga - the practice of playing one's role without expectation of reward
Bhakti Yoga - the yoga of devotion that uses tools like mantra and chanting
Jnana Yoga - the pursuit of knowledge, using the question "who am I?"
Coming finally to talk about Ayurveda Yoga, the topic I'd like to go into a bit more detail on today.
Ayurveda Yoga focuses on healing as a base
Ayurveda - 'Ayur' meaning life and 'veda' meaning wisdom, knowledge, or science - can in this context most easily be understood as being the medical science of yoga concerned primarily with the expansion of life.
Yoga on the other hand, goes beyond health in the pursuit of enlightenment.
To start on the path of yoga towards enlightenment, a certain amount of energy for practice is needed. Before we can start a certain amount of healing is necessary.
So if Yoga is the bridge to enlightenment, Ayurveda can be seen as the bridge to Yoga. First we focus on healing enough and then at that time starting.
To start the healing process and move onto the path of yoga, we use certain therapies, tools and techniques;
Ayurveda Yoga is integral
Because there is no one perfect therapy, Ayurveda Yoga's approach is integral.
Ayurveda Yoga uses Yoga Chikitsa (Yoga Therapies) in the form of physical postures, breathing techniques, meditation techniques, as well as modern day psychology to allow for healing to come up by itself from the inside, out.
Ayurveda Yoga moves in the direction of ultimate happiness
"Happiness is being stopped in the moment..."
~ Nirvikalpa, Wonjangnim / Director at Ayurveda Yoga Academy
Generally people start by looking for happiness on the outside; an expensive handbag, a new car, a beautiful body, friends, lovers, etc. etc.
Rather than happiness that comes from the external world, Yoga works instead on our internal world. Yoga is the pursuit of ultimate happiness. Yoga teaches us that we can choose happiness. When? Right now. Now, in this moment.
At first we need to make conscious effort towards happiness, then repeating until happiness becomes a habit. Through diligent practice we move from unhappiness to happiness - the kind of happiness that existed before we put our own definition of the term.
You can read more about the connection between Yoga and Ayurveda on my blog - which keeps getting edited and updated due to the complexity of the subject!
Also check out our yoga academy's new website to learn more about their teacher training programs, classes and events.
Michellé D'Almeida is a yoga teacher and student of Ayurveda Yoga Academy with 5 years of teaching experience. She is also Founder of Ayurveda Yoga Africa and co-founder of Ayurveda Yoga Africa's Online branch: Yoga Together Online.