Frequently Asked Questions
What is Ayurveda and where did it come from?
Ayurveda (Ayurvedic Medicine) is a traditional system of medicine that can be both preventative and curative. The origins of Ayurveda can be dated back to more than 5,000 years ago.
The Charaka Samhita is a Sanskrit text written on Ayurveda. The information was compiled and codified by many and revised by Charaka, known as the 'Father of Ayurveda'. Ayurveda is attributed to Dhanvantari, who was the physician to the Gods in Hindu mythology, who received this information from Brahma (God of creation/ God of the Universe). Concepts of Ayurveda were first seen in the Atharvaveda - one of the four Vedas.
How does Ayurveda work?
Ayurveda has both preventative and curative aspects. The preventative components include strict personal and social discipline. Exercise, a sattvic diet, yoga and meditation are remedial aspects of Ayurveda. Curative aspects of Ayurveda include herbal medicines, external preparations, physiotherapy and diet. These preventative and curative aspects of Ayurveda are adapted to the personal requirements of each person.
What is Ashtanga Yoga?
A style of yoga popularised by Shri K. Pattabhi Jois, who learnt the system from his teacher T. Krishnamacharya. It is a dynamic and energetic style of yoga in which you synchronise breath with movements. The word ashtanga has two roots - ‘ashta’ and ‘anga’. Ashta refers to the number 8 and anga means limb. Therefore, ashtanga refers to the union of the 8 limbs of yoga into one complete holistic system. This system was conceived specially for house-holders (grihasta). A householder is somebody who has a job, a family and lives and works in society, as opposed to a monk, hermit or sannyasi, who have no social responsibility and can therefore engage in these techniques all day long.
The Bhagavad Gita explains:
"One who outwardly performs his social duties but inwardly stays free as a yogi"
These 8 limbs in yoga philosophy are Yamas (ethical precepts), Niyamas (observances of the body and mind), Asana (body posture/ condition), pranayama (breath control/ extension), pratyahara (sense withdrawal), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation) and samadhi (state of pure being).
In the Ashtanga Yoga sequence we can see these 8 limbs being practiced. Here is a very brief explanation on each.
The Yamas and Niyamas are initially implemented from the outside. Once yoga practice is established, they become our second nature; they will arise naturally.
Through the practice of asanas the body is made "strong and light like the body of a lion", as stated by Shri K. Pattabhi Jois.
Pranayama is practiced through applying Ujjayi Pranayama.
Pratyahara is practiced through drishti.
Dharana can be practiced in many ways through the ashtanga system. Firstly, it can apply when learning the sequence. Then it can be applied by focusing on Ujjayi pranayama, drishti and bandhas.
Dhyana happens when we shift from a position of 'doing' the practice, to a point where we are 'being done' or 'moved'. It can become a moving meditation as we meditate on the flowing and ever changing forms of the practice.
In the physical disciplines of this practice, samadhi can be reached by suspending the extremes of the solar and lunar mind.