How Ayurveda Inspires My Yoga Practice
By Vedika Global 2-Month Living Ayurveda Course Graduate Kate Aughenbaugh
In 2011, I experienced a Yoga class that incorporated Ayurveda and it rocked my world because I felt so amazing afterwards. Once I was introduced to this, I started narrowing down most of my classes to ones that weaved in Ayurveda because I could feel the sophistication of the practice in comparison to other classes. Now that I am an aspiring Yoga teacher, I feel an obligation to build a fundamental understanding of Ayurveda so that I can eventually create customized practices for students. This drive helped land me at Vedika Global, where I have secured an Ayurvedic framework for my personal practice and lifestyle.
Although I intuited many Ayurvedic principles through my yoga practice, Vedika expanded this knowledge by putting it into a clear framework and laid out ways of how the Ayurvedic lifestyle supports the yoga practice and vice versa. My two favorite takeaways are:
Practicing Yoga and meditating during Brahmamuhurta.
Brahmamuhurta runs from 3 am to 6 am, and it is the time of day that is considered to be most sattvic. Sattva is a quality of the mind that corresponds with clarity, peace, balance, and connectedness. Think about it this way, when you wake up before 6 am, it is usually very still out, almost as if there is a thinness to the air. Your head is relatively clear in comparison to midday, when you might be reflecting on things that happened throughout the morning or things that you need to do in the afternoon. It is also a time when other critters who are ruled by the natural cycles of the sun are generally waking (i.e. the birds). I can confidently say that the fruits of my yoga and meditation practice are ten-fold during this time of day.
Pausing Yoga asana practice during menstruation.
This one was tough for me, and I had my doubts about it. I always like stretching myself out to help with my cramps. But, in the spirit of giving the course my all, I stopped my physical Yoga asana practice during two menstrual cycles.
Counterintuitive to most western beliefs, the theory behind this is that the body needs as much rest as possible and that exercise aggravates PMS. So, I made myself sit still and practiced meditation in place of Yoga. My report back is that my cramps subsided and my meditation was deeper than normal.
Now, I believe that menstruation can be something to look forward to as a time to slow down and internalize; it’s a great break! And, when I returned to my practice after my little vacation, I was strong and enthusiastic, rather than exhausted and weak.
Ayurveda is a gentle science. It always takes the middle path and points one back to the natural cycles of nature to bring balance. I think of it as maternal, in the sense that it’s looking out for one’s best interest in the least invasive way possible. In a fast-paced world, with chain Yoga studios and a drive to consume and achieve, I find this approach refreshing, relieving, comforting, and nourishing.
About Kate Aughenbaugh
Having lived in Russia for three years and traveled to over 20 other countries, Kate is an adventurer at heart. She hold a B.A. in Russian from Grinnell College and is currently on sabbatical from a 13 year career of running HR departments for tech and gaming companies in order to explore philosophical and experiential sciences, including Yoga, Ayurveda, and Tantra. She will complete a 200-hour yoga teacher training program in the tantric Sri Vidya tradition through the Himalayan Institute this summer. Kate intends to launch a new journey as a teacher and healer while she adheres to her dharma of exploring and inspiring. Her blog detailing tidbits from my (mis)adventures can be found at miss-perception.com.