The word yoga means union. When we typically use the word we mean yoga asanas, or poses. Asana is one of the limbs of Ashtanga (ashta = eight and anga = limbs) Yoga as described in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. The word sutra means thread, that which ties everything together. We know that everything in the universe is interconnected. The ancient seers (rishis) of India cognized the Vedas, the world’s oldest recorded texts: the Yajur Veda, Sama Veda, Rg Veda, and Atharva Veda. Then there are the Upavedas, which expound on the information found in the Vedas, which includes Ayurveda. Then there are the Vedangas – the limbs of the Vedas, and this includes Jyotish (Vedic astrology).
The ocean of information from the Vedic sciences is vast, but closely woven together. Just as we cannot separate our physical and mental bodies from each other, we cannot separate the inter-connected aspects of our lives. Our health is linked to our home lives. Both are part of the karmic pattern indicated in our astrological charts. Furthermore, our health is connected to how we take our seat (or asana) in the world. Do we hold a steady pose or do we waver? Can we get back into position if we lose our balance? Can we truly surrender in child’s pose or do we hold back a part of ourselves?
Ayurveda is the sister science or healing modality that is most closely used with yoga in the East. It is widely accepted in India that an adept Ayurvedic physician is knowledgeable of Sanskrit (in which the ancient texts are written), Yoga, Jyotish, Hasta Samudrika Shāstra (Palmistry), and Vāstu Shastra (the ancient art of harmonious placement of objects or Vedic architecture). Feng Shui is the Chinese outgrowth of Vāstu Shāstra. A skilled Ayurvedic practitioner uses pulse diagnosis to assess an individual’s health and then recommends dietary changes, prescribes a mixture of herbs specific to the individual’s condition, suggests healing yoga poses for the person’s constitution or doshic imbalance, and counsels the individual based on what their astrological chart and palm indicates.
An astrological chart is a road map of a person’s karma. The word karma means action. Every action, past, present or future leaves leaves an imprint and creates an impact. For example, we can take action by going to a yoga studio and engage in regular practices with a qualified instructor and that can lead to good health and increased vitality. Alternately, we can push ourselves into holing asanas beyond our capacity and for extended periods where we exhaust ourselves; these actions may adversely impact our health. Karma is not something that we are the passive recipient of; it is a two way street.
There are indications of health in our chart. The ascendant or first house gives a description of the person’s overall vitality and personality. There are also houses that are correlated to health in one’s chart. The chart describes one’s regimens, routines, exercise patterns, chronic health ailments, and acute health issues.
In Jyotish, we run planetary cycles from birth to death. Each of us run the same set of cycles, but what we run and when depends on where our Moon is placed natally. There are also harmonic or divisional charts that relate to health and vitality. Using these all in combination with an Ayurvedic diagnosis and person’s health history can be the guide posts to a healthy life.
There are the static indications of health in a person’s life, shown by the natal placement of the planets in a chart. Then we also have the dynamic indications, which is an interplay of the planetary cycles that a person runs and transit of the planets through the 12 houses of the zodiac. For instance, if we are running a Saturn period, then we want to see where Saturn is transiting as well as where it is placed natally in a chart and what it would indicate for such an individual.
Then, recommendations could be made accordingly for diet, herbs, yoga asanas as well as astrological remedies. Remedies may take the form of Sanskrit mantras. Mantras have healing effects on the organs as well as on the subtle bodies. Because each sound in Sanskrit has a particular vibration, it is crucial that the mantra be pronounced correctly. Incorrectly pronounced syllables or words will produce another outcome. Many sounds in Sanskrit are not part of the English dialect, so it is best to learn from a native speaker whenever possible. Even the word mantra is often mispronounced. It is man (as in Monday or mundane) –tra (as in truck).
Other astrological remedies may include the recommendation of gemstones, as well as when to start and stop wearing them. There may be suggestions of other karmas, such as charitable acts, fasting on certain days, eating specific foods, mantras, the wearing of auspicious colors on a particular day, reading a particular scriptural text, etc.
Remedies are often prescribed for periods when there may be challenging indications found in a chart. There are also indications in an astrological chart which signify a good time to commence certain health-promoting activities.
Health-promoting activities include diet and daily regimens. Both the chart and the lines and shape of the palm indicate dietary preferences. The Ayurvedic practitioner knows rules of food combining, eating for your constitution as well as for the season, and how to cook a variety of meals using healing spices.
We look not only at what is our bodies ingest, but also at the environment in which we live. Incorrect placements of doorways, windows, furniture, and objects in and around our homes can have disharmonious results. This can create conflict in our relationships, diminished prosperity, or ill health. Yet, these pheomenona are so subtle that we may be completely unaware of their impact. This is another feature which the counselor needs to take into consideration.
The links are connected, like pieces of a puzzle. Seeing where all the parts fit into the whole helps us keep perspective in our lives. It helps us maintain that state of union that we all seek. This is yoga.