In this month’s newsletter I will be talking about the relationship between Ayurveda with Yoga. Medical doctor, ayurvedic therapist and teacher of the Kaiut Yoga method, Luciana Costa and I put together a written article to exploit the fact that Ayurveda is considered the science of life and Yoga, is the practice of said science.
First, Luciana Costa will share her story of what led her to combine yoga and ayurveda both in her personal life and in her patient care. I then look at the relationship that the element Ether has with the joints.
I hope you enjoy this month’s newsletter that I have prepared for you with love.
The Science Of Life
By Francisco Kaiut* and Luciana Costa**
Yoga is the practice of the science of life. What part of this simple set of statements and definitions do we not understand? The Practice! Yoga is the practice of this science. Every day you open the mat and practice the science of life. You literally take on the role of a scientist in an exclusive laboratory, with your own body. This is yoga.
Incredible, isn’t it?
Knowing that doing yoga is beyond muscles, fitness, strength, flexibility there is an entire universe known as science. Yoga is the practice of the science of life, the discovery of life itself.
Doing yoga is putting into practice what is now considered art and the science of life itself. We are not the ones who are saying this. This is simply our interpretation of ancient ayurvedic texts.
In recent decades, the lack of understanding of the depth of these words has led legions of yogis to fail to implement this fundamental logic.
They succumbed to seductive, however, unsustainable influences from the fitness world, from health magazines with zero depth and only interested in selling copies and the fads of the health world. They lost their classic roots. They thought that mantras would suffice. No, mantras are something of the past, breathing techniques and colorful clothes too.
Yoga is something else.
Yoga has evolved.
Yoga renews itself.
Yoga reinvents itself.
Yoga today is not what it was yesterday and tomorrow it will be something else.
Yogi breathing is not what it was yesterday.
Yoga changes because it is the practice of the science of life. And life’s changes are influenced by social changes and our own evolution as a species and as a society. These factors are rarely considered.
* Francisco Kaiut is the creator of the Kaiut Yoga method
** Luciana Costa is a doctor, Ayurvedic therapist and teacher of the Kaiut Yoga method
Yoga and Ayurveda: the practice and science of life
In 2010 I started doing yoga because of severe joint pain, anxiety and degenerative neurological symptoms that affected me. I was 41 at the time. I am a scientist and, since I entered med school, I tried to understand the origin of several practices. Yoga was no different.
I tried to learn where that practice had come from, which at first brought me a calm feeling and made me see the possibility of rescuing my natural state of health. I remember reading a book that was in the bookcase of the yoga space I used to go to.
Incredible as it may seem, the book is called Perfect Health and was written by an American endocrinologist of Indian descent, Deepak Chopra. In the book he described the science of self-care with a lot of evidence from thousands of years of observation and did so with obvious correlations with modern literature on physiology, pathology, anatomy. Since then I have studied, lived, practiced and integrated modern medicine with ayurveda and yoga in my personal life and those I care for.
Yoga and ayurveda are referred to as Vedic philosophy. The Vedas are the knowledge that came as a result from thousands of years acquired by the Hindu religion through meditation, experience and observation. The Vedic or Upa-vedas texts are divided into four books: Rig Vedas, Sama Vedas, Yajur Vedas and Atharva Vedas.
There are references to yoga in Yajur Veda, which reports the possibility of practices for healing and harmony of body and mind. While on Ayurveda it appears in Atharva Veda with the description of the use of plants, herbs and stones for health maintenance and in Rig Veda, mentioned by usually doctors of the ancestral Hindu people.
The balance of the five elements
Ayurveda, like yoga, is based on a basic law of modern physics – the relationship between energy and matter – and, based on this principle, how the vital energy of the five primordial elements of planet earth are balanced.
The five basic elements are Ether, Air, Fire, Water and Earth and are manifested in all matters of the planet. In the human body, they are represented as three constitutional types called doshas, each with its potentialities and imbalances. The balance between them is the key to maintaining health and treating diseases.
Modern science has already identified that a solid substance seen under a microscope is seen as atoms and those atoms are actually much more spaces than actually a substance. Thus, the entire universe has its origin from a large space that physics identifies as a large mass of hydrogen.
Space is considered the first element, Ether, and has the potential to form the other 4 elements. It is manifested in the human body in different areas, such as the nostrils, the oral cavity, the visceras such as stomach and intestines and the joints.
The Ether then moves and this leads to the production of Air, which is the Ether in activity. In the human body, Air is present in the movement of muscles, in the heartbeat, in the expansion and contraction of the lungs, in the movements and contractions of the stomach, intestines and in the activities of the central nervous system, with regard to the movements of nerve cells.
Again there is movement, which causes friction and heat is generated. Particles of heat-energy form an intense light that generates the element of Fire. In the human body it is present in the digestive system and represents the metabolism, which is a source of heat. In brain activities it manifests itself as intelligence. It is also responsible for vision.
By providing heat, Fire dissolves etheric elements (Ether) that become liquid and forms Water. In turn, this, when solidified, gives rise to the element of Earth. From Earth all organic and inorganic bodies were created.
The element Water is manifested in secretions, digestive juices, salivary glands, in mucous membranes, in the liquid part of the blood (plasma) and cytoplasm. Water is vital for the proper functioning of the human body. While the Earth element represents the solid structures of the body such as bones, muscles, tendons, cartilage, nails, skin, hair and tissues.
Thus, the Ether reveals itself in the other four elements: Air, Fire, Water and Earth. This happens because of energy, after all, as Einstein’s physics explains, energy is the ability to move and cause the transformation of matter. Thus, all five elements will be present in all matters of the universe, remembering that matter is anything that has mass and occupies space.
Combined, the five elements form the doshas
Understanding the five elements makes it easier to understand that, in ayurveda, all human beings are constituted by the combination of these elements. In addition, ayurveda classifies the combinations of the elements as doshas – referring to the biological profile – giving rise to three doshas that manifest themselves from the combination of two of the five elements.
The dosha Vata is characterized by the junction of Ether and Air and is linked to excretory, nervous and movement functions; Pitta dosha is the presence of Fire and Water, linked to metabolic and digestive functions; and the Kapha dosha for Water and Earth, being responsible for structural and lubrication functions.
As I said, we all carry the five elements and therefore we have the three doshas. However, each of us has a different manifestation of them, defined in our genetic heritage and, the same way that modern science, proves we are unique beings.
From the moment of our conception, we are influenced by several factors that can act to balance our health – our initial constitution – or cause imbalances in the five elements causing illness. Current civilization has moved away from this concept of health, disconnecting from basic care such as sleep, food, movements, etc.
We did this despite the fact that, in 1986, the World Health Organization (WHO) defined health not only with the absence of disease, but as a complete state of well-being at different levels of the human being, from the physical to the emotional. In the same way for ayurveda health is the three doshas, and the five elements balanced as we inherited them.
The Vata, Pitta and Kapha doshas work together dynamically to ensure the maintenance of our health. The imbalance can have any of the three natures, while the signs and symptoms observed and described by the individuals will be guides for management. In the pathophysiology of ayurveda every disorder begins with the accumulation of a dosha at its original site.
For example, I can mention excess air accumulating in the large intestine causing abdominal distension and constipation, characterizing Vata imbalance; accumulation of the element Fire in the duodenum leading to a burning sensation, signaling and inflammation, very typical of Pitta and, finally, the accumulation of the elements Water and Earth in the stomach, in the aggravation of Kapha, leading to symptoms such as nausea, lethargy and digestive changes.
Ayurvedic therapy identifies and understands what are the causes and obstacles to maintaining the correct balance of the doshas and, therefore, of the five elements to then act.
Ether and its direct connection in our joints:
Yoga started to be a part of my life when I was between 16 and 17 years old. I had much more of my life exposed to the idea and influence of “elements” and doshas – as concepts or even strong inspirations in my daily choices – than by Western values of health and our traditional medicine.
Born in a house that cultivated health in many ways and, even in the 70s and 80s, it was practically sugar-free territory, when I was introduced to an oriental idea of health through balance this made a lot of sense to me.
Then came years and years of yoga practice. During this time, I saw many fads go by. There were fads of diet, medicine, natural health and even yoga. I also saw trends appearing in the United States and then being bought in Brazil without any thought. There were so many that I learned to identify those that would last and those that would pass like comets, but I didn’t feel an aroma like that of Ayurveda itself, an aroma that remains.
Even being a fan and recognizing the concept and the natural value of it, I had my questions. I believe that the element Ether, for example, can be very well presented as a nest. Yes, a nest, a space of comfort, security and potential. Space that provides conditions for the birth of all elements and, thus, life itself.
Assuming that there was truth in both doctrines, I disagree with the classic view. Ether – the space, the nest – does not have its main home in areas such as the nasal cavities and other areas usually connected to it. I see the elements primarily home in our joints.
Not only that. Ether lives, and it is there where it can be accessed and positively expanded or organized. Ether is in all of our joints and, from them, we can manage to reorganize the nest.
For me, working with our joints is having direct access to the essence of life. With this reorganization the other elements will come into harmony as a chain reaction.
Yoga is, without a doubt, the center of my life. Still, I spend my day being careful to not be biased. I think it is important to test everything and the more I test the more I am surprised by the positive results yoga has to offer.
I do believe that yoga positions have many faces and nuances, but in essence they are joint work. This is the starting point for the reorganization of our physical body, at the same time that we reorganized our energetic essence, triggering a positive systemic reaction of self regulation and functional optimization.
From the nest to life. From articulation to full regulation.
Practice with passionate inspiration,