It seems as if I have been having more conversations with students about the benefits of traditional yoga and Ayurveda than ever before. As these ancient practices become mainstream, I guess there is more opportunity for misuse and misunderstanding.
I’m going to go on a tangent and then I will come back to my point shortly. There has been a big uproar about the misappropriation of yoga in the last year or so. This is NOT what I’m talking about; nor do I really believe in the whole misappropriation theory. My philosophy is that the more people who are exposed to, and utilizing, yoga and Ayurveda as wholistic tools, the better.
Back to the topic. I would like to take this opportunity to discuss how to have the most efficacious yoga and Ayurveda practices. As the West adopts these E
astern practices, they often forget that there are safeguards built into the system and when you dismantle it, or pick it apart, you can do more harm than good.
I’m going to begin with yoga. The West has distilled a complex system to one thing—physical movements. When this happens, you are bound to have imbalance show up along with injuries. And, lo and behold, that’s what is happening. To the point that many people will not come near a yoga practice because they say it caused them injury and chronic pain. My response? Yoga is a wholistic system incorporating breath, mantra, movement, gr
oss body, subtle body, etc. When you pick and choose what you want to follow, you open yourself up to imbalance and, possibly, injury.
This is true for Ayurveda as well. I will use turmeric and kitchari as my examples. Turmeric is the darling of the health industry. It is touted as the panacea for almost all that ails you. It is a very potent spice and has wonderful medicinal properties, but, as with everything, you have to respect its potency. Turmeric, in the Indian culture, is always used in cooking. It MUST be cooked in a fat and a little goes a long way. In the West we have started popping it as a pill, sprinkling it in smoothies, adding it to our tea, and so on. Since neither of these applications follows the rules of heating in a fat, you open yourself up to stoma
ch issues. Turmeric is a heating spice and can start to eat away at the stomach lining if not used properly.
Kitchari is the next one I’m going to address. In India, kitchari is used as an opportunity to balance the gut biome. We use it as an occasional meal, as needed, when things seem to be imbalanced. But the West has decided if a little is good, a lot is better. We now have kitchari cleanses, monodiets, etc. This is not how we use it in Ayurveda.
Remember, these are ancient traditions and, as such, there are parameters that need to be followed. Allow someone who is versed in the tradition of the culture and the practice guide you. Hmm, I wonder who that could be? 😊
I am now done with my rant and you may carry on with your day.