Make Ayurveda and Yoga a Way of Life - The New Indian Express

Make Ayurveda and Yoga a Way of Life

Published: 18th May 2014 06:00 AM

Last Updated: 17th May 2014 10:40 AM

I just discovered that this was going to be my 100th article. I was thinking that I need to do something to somehow celebrate this event and hence this piece. Apart from ayurveda, the thing that has influenced me the most is yoga. I read the old texts and I am as amazed about the yogi’s description of various asanas and pranayamas as I am about our siddhar’s knowledge of plants and herbs. If an individual wants to keep healthy and minimise the effects of aging, she needs both tools—ayurveda and yoga.

Patanajali’s Yoga Sutra, Svatmarama’s Hatha Yoga Pradipika and many other ancient texts have delved deep into the subject of human existence and philosophy. Most of these texts would like you to turn inwards to find the answer by a systematic process they have outlined. Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra talks of yoga as “Citta Vritti Nirodah”. Yoga, according to him, is control over the mind, which one can loosely interpret as “peace of mind”. The mind-body connection must be understood if one needs to keep healthy. Of course our siddhars do not underplay the need for a healthy body. When listing the obstacles to realising the supreme consciousness, “Vyadhi” or sickness is listed as the first obstacle. So in order to achieve anything in life one needs to be healthy.

In ayurveda, great emphasis is laid on preventing diseases. This would mean that one actively manages one’s healthcare and not leave it to allopaths whose learning focus has been on curing diseases rather than on preventing them. Both yoga and ayurveda, if deployed intensively, can change the health profile of our nation. If every village, ward and community has a vaidyar and a yoga therapist at their disposal we would be revolutionising so many lives.

I know I sound like a demagogue, but it is possible. While computers have revolutionised our lives, in the ultimate analysis it has not made most of us healthier. I think we need to reevaluate lifestyles. A good trend however is that many youngsters are pursuing yoga as their occupation.

I cannot think of a better occupation. You keep healthy while at your job. You don’t have to go to the gym after a long grinding day at office, spent making money for investment in banks by quibbling over the rate of exchange. Do I really need to spend the better part of my life making money and then spend the remainder of it trying to mitigate the disastrous consequences such a life? If you have a choice, choose occupations which are mind- and body- friendly. I can think of quite a few—teaching yoga, running old age homes, crèches, practising ayurveda, being a panchakarma therapist, making ayurvedic preparations, preparing healthy foods for marketing, organic agriculture etc.

Ayurvedists place emphasis on one’s goal in life as being important in preventing disease. With the West appropriating our heritage of yoga and a less than proper understanding of it here in India, we need leaders who can mainstream both yoga and ayurveda.Ayurveda has given much thought to this business of keeping healthy and has given the following five guidelines among others to keep healthy:

1. Jivitodesa—clarity about one’s goal in life.

2. Jivitacarya—disciplined life style.

3. Hitahitiyam—do’s and don’ts in life.

4. Aharavivecana—knowledge about food.

5. Rogapratirodhopya—knowledge regarding prevention of diseases.

Implement the above tenets and keep healthy.

The writer was earlier Health Secretary, Tamil Nadu, and is currently Additional Chief Secretary, and Chairman and MD, Tamil Nadu Handicrafts Development Corporation. She can be reached at

Earlier articles can be accessed at

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