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Ayurveda- the science of life is a 5000 year old holistic medicinal system available on the planet today.
The word Ayurveda is composed of two Sanskrit terms - Ayu meaning life and Veda meaning knowledge. Therefore, Ayurveda means the knowledge of life or science of life - "the science of life and longevity". It is defined as the science, through which one can obtain knowledge about ways to lead a useful life. Although it is considered a science of medicine, Ayurveda is different since the basic principle of this ancient Indian medical system describes that treatment is not merely curing of disease. Being extraordinary from the modern medical science it has a holistic approach towards diseases. Ayurveda deals with the mental, spiritual and physical body complex. More than the specific sickness it is the patient who is sought to be treated.
According to Ayurveda the entire universe, as well as the body is made up of five basic elements - Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space.
This theory has been a part of history for the last 5000 years. The knowledge of Ayurveda was originally passed on from Guru (teacher) to disciple in the form of one to one lessons without the use of any written books. This eternal science has a deep rooted connection with Indian philosophies such as Sankhya, Nyaya, Vaishaeshika, Vyakaranam, Yoga, Meemamsa and Vedanta. Here the great connection has been depicted and elaborated as the co-relation between the man and the universe.
Ayurvedic system teaches that, human body consists of three primary life forces or biological humors, which are Vatha, Pitha and Kapha. These three are called the Tridoshas. A balance among these life forces is essential for proper health.
According to Ayurveda, good health is a state where mind, body, spirit, emotions and senses are in perfect balance - the way nature designed them to be. Ayurveda offers rich, cumulative benefits that can help you enjoy a long, healthy, blissful life.
"Yoga" the word derived from Sanskrit means union of atma or individual soul with the paramatma or the universal force. A yogi's ultimate aim is to be able to attain this 'union' with the help of certain mental and physical exercises…… Yoga is a way of life, based on ancient Indian wisdom and culture. It is an art of living a healthy, balanced, peaceful and contented life.
Since the days of Indus Civilization, for more than 5000 years, Yoga has been practiced in India. There are various types of Yoga, all of which lead ultimately to the same goal - unification with the Divine.
The Bhagavad-Gita talks of four branches that are considered the four main paths of Yoga: Karma Yoga (yoga of Action), Jnana Yoga (yoga of Knowledge), Bhakti Yoga (yoga of Devotion), and Raja Yoga (yoga of Meditation).
The credit for encapsulating the various yogic practices and tradition goes to Maharishi Patanjali (known as the father of Yoga) who in his works "Yoga Sutra" has outlined 8 steps or methods (known as Ashtanga Yoga). He emphasizes that the aim of Yoga is knowledge of self.
The eight stages of Yogic practices in Ashtanga Yoga are Yama = Disciplined Behavior
Niyama= Self Purification
Padmasana= Bodily posture in lotus position
Pranayama= Breath Control
Pratyahara = Control of Senses
Dharana= Concentration
Dhyana= Meditation
Samadhi= Absolute state of tranquility and eternity
Hatha Yoga in its many modern variations is the style that most people actually associate with the word "Yoga" today. It attaches a lot of importance to the perfect physical form, attained through the practice of various asanas, mudras and pranayama (control of breath). It is believed that spiritual perfection and self-realization can be attained by this practice.