Ayurveda and Yoga

The development of Ayurveda continued alongside the growth of the mystical tantric and yogic traditions, each fulfilling their different roles. While Ayurveda concentrated on the ‘health’ of the body, Yoga was mindful of the state of ‘consciousness’ and tantra with the deification and immortality of the body. Yoga is a tradition of mental and spiritual refinement; the art of joining the individual-self (atman) with the universal-self (Brahman). It rejects the first three goals of Hinduism (wealth, sensual pleasure, and religious duties) in preference of seeking the ultimate goal of life, spiritual emancipation (moksa).

As with many Indian traditions, philosophical differences were often overcome by a broadening of perspective on either side. Hatha yoga, growing out of the tantric yogic tradition, seems to have adopted many ayurvedic principles, notably the ‘purification’ of the body. The Hat hayoga-pradi pika is full of references to the dosha and techniques to remove phlegm, bile or the winds. With that hathayoga becoming filled with ayurvedic practices and Ayurveda adopting yogic attitudes, the two traditions connected. The body became a priority in order to attain the goals of liberation and health. Yoga, after centuries of interest in the mind and self, became fascinated with the body. Hatha yoga adopted an ayurvedic language, as well as similar practices, to facilitate this new focus on the body. There is a very close similarity, in activity and intention, between the cleansing practices of the yogic s at karma and the purification of ayurvedic pa˜ncakarma. This movement from yogic spiritual practice to physical purification of the body has been termed, significantly, ‘corporealisation’ (Mallinson 2002). The body, as it became the terrain of spiritual experience, became the focus of spiritual interest.