Monday, April 8, 2019

Yoga Therapy and its Basis in Ayurveda [with Sanskrit Quotes]

Yoga Therapy and Ayurveda

In this interview, Dr. Ashutosh, the director of an ashram in India, talks about yoga as a tool for mental, physical and spiritual health. With a good sense of humor, and quoting Sanskrit texts, he explains what is yoga therapy, its basis in Ayurveda, and how these two sciences relate to modern medicine.

Inteyoga: ashram in Mysore

In my previous blog post, I wrote a detailed review of their ashram in Mysore, Swami Krishnananda Hatha Yoga Vidyapeeth (Inteyoga).

This is a small ashram where they offer a very popular and affordable yoga teacher training course, with an emphasis on yoga therapy.

Nowadays they are not using the words yoga therapy though, but rather integrative restorative yoga.

This is to avoid any confusion. They don't want you to believe that their trainings have any clinical application.

Their yoga courses instead focus on an integral approach to yoga, and on using the tools this system offers to improve your health.

You can read more about this in my previous blog.

Visiting the ashram

I visited the ashram together with my friend Marie. She became my camera assistant. Lol.

She took some of the photos that I used in my previous article, and also some of the videos that I included in this interview.  Actually, pretty much all the good photos and videos that you see are hers.

We arrived at the ashram around 3 pm, on the very last day of one of their yoga teacher training courses.

First, we met Kadambari, the ashram co-director and asanas teacher.

She welcomed us to the ashram and then she introduced us to Dr. Ashutosh, right after he had finished one of his classes.

We sat together in one of the small huts to get some shelter from the sun, and to have a little chat.

I wanted to explain Kadambari and Dr. Ashutosh what I exactly I was planning to do. It was difficult to talk about it by phone, and I was never able to reach them by email.

I'm not sure I was able to convey my message, but they didn't seem to care much. Dr. Ashutosh was very busy at that moment.

He had just finished a class and he wanted to prepare for his next class. So he decided to meet us again later in the evening, at 6 pm.

While we waited Kadambari told us a bit about her yoga journey, the ashram, their programs and her meeting with Dr. Ashutosh. She has such a sweet and calm vibe.

Well, I already introduced you to Dr. Ashutosh and Kadambari in my previous blog post, where I also talk about the ashram and their yoga programs.  So if you would like to know more about them you can visit that article at any time.

Why I took so long to publish this interview

Finally, at 6 pm we moved into the roof terrace of the main building for the interview.

Dr. Ashutosh didn't like so much the idea of being interviewed, and of being part of this social media world.

We explained to him the positive aspect of it. Many people will probably find this interview helpful, educative and inspiring.

It could also be the door for some to explore the possibility of diving deep into yoga, by doing a yoga training at their ashram.

So in the end, he agreed.

Dr. Ashutosh has a good sense of humor, as you'll be able to see in the video. He was very friendly and welcoming.

I asked him just a few questions and his explanations were very in-depth.  He likes to quote different Sanskrit texts whenever he talks about yoga and Ayurveda.

Actually, he quoted a lot of shlokas from different texts. Ten quotes in total! That's why I took so long to publish this interview. Almost three weeks!

It took me forever to be able to find some of the shlokas he was talking about, especially the ones related to Ayurvedic scriptures.

It's relatively easy to find yoga philosophy scriptures in Sanskrit with English transliteration, but it was not so easy with the Ayurvedic texts.

But I knew it was important to do so.

I had to include those shlokas in the video, and in the transcript below, so that you understand what he is talking about, or at least know what text he is referring to. Also, if you have the interest, you could use them later on to do deeper research.

Yoga and Ayurveda Quotes in Sanskrit

Dr. Ashutosh also used many common yoga and Ayurveda terms in Sanskrit throughout the interview.

But don't let this intimidate you.

He does explain many of the terms in simple English, and I also added translations to some words in case you might not be familiar with them.

I had some technical issues

I have to apologize for the quality of the video though.

Meeting at 6 pm was not a very good idea. It got dark very quickly and I didn't have any lighting equipment.

That's really not ideal, especially when you are recording with an iPhone, but I had no choice.

I had to constantly play with the video exposure because of the changes in the lighting.

On top of that my lavaliere microphone didn't work properly. The sound was all distorted.

Luckily I had an audio recorder as a backup. The only problem was that was my first time using it, so I didn't choose the right settings.

I made the best I could to improve the video and audio while editing it. Considering that I edited everything on my iPhone I think I did a decent job.

So I hope you will still be able to enjoy the interview and perhaps learn something from it.

Yoga Therapy and Ayurveda: Interview with Dr Ashutosh

The video includes subtitles. You need to activate them by clicking/tapping on the "cc" on your YouTube video player. Below you can find the video transcript.

01:35 Interview begins
02:34 What is yoga therapy
08:33 What is the relationship between yoga therapy and Ayurveda?
16:14 Is there any conflict between allopathic medicine and Ayurveda?
19:55 Why do you teach integrative restorative yoga or yoga therapy?

What is yoga therapy?

You are giving me the authority to define yoga therapy? Well, I am not an authority on yoga therapy or yoga as such.

Using the tools of yoga; when we say yoga we are talking about yoga in whole, not just hatha yoga or raja yoga.

From bhakti yoga, karma yoga, jñana yoga, raja yoga; and then auxiliaries of yoga like mantra yoga; or the other forms of yoga like laya yoga and nada yoga.

Using the tools of yoga to effectively manage the lifestyle disorders should be put into the category of yoga therapy.

It's like an ocean.

You can use the ocean for anything. Take some water out of it. To bath into it. Swim into it. Dive into it. Sail onto it. Move to some other place through it.

Same is for yoga.

You can use it. You can use it for anything, and therapy also is a part of it. Even for that.

When I say yoga in whole it includes raja yoga.  Raja yoga itself is not just physical therapy. It has been projected that way because of the demand.

The demand was, "Ok, we want to use it for physical fitness," and the demand was fulfilled, by some other styles.

Now, those who were making that demand, they themselves are saying, "Oh this is not yoga."

Like with modern medicine.

There was a demand for quick relief. Nothing to do with pathya apathya, what to eat, what not to eat (wholesome or unwholesome). Nothing to do with a disciplined lifestyle.

So modern medicine came into being.

Now we are against modern medicine? We created that demand. We said we do not follow, we do not want to follow any discipline. No?

That is why yoga has come into the category of, ok yoga means, for some, only physical therapy or physical fitness.

That is just the tip of the iceberg.

Rather, if you say yoga is something which you cannot even redefine that way, that would be better.

Those who are into diving, can they think that diving again will give them the same fish inside? Does it give?

If you dive once and come out, and then you dive again, the same fish will not be there.

Same is for yoga.

You dive once. You come out. Whenever you dive again you will not have the same kind of experience. It will be different. It's an ocean.

The physical part is just a part of it, but you cannot ignore it.

Why? Ask me, Why?

Because yoga, the one we are doing, the hatha yoga path or the raja yoga path, you try to understand that it is basically a very systematic and scientific attempt or scientific successful attempt I should be saying, to deepen your awareness from the grossest level to the subtlest level.

What is the grossest level of awareness?

Our actions. Whatever we are creating outside. That is gross. You can see that. They've been divided into yamas and niyamas (ethical principles, do's and don'ts).

Then, what is the gross thing? Our body.

The awareness of the body is by? Asanas (body postures)

After that, a bit subtler than the body is the breath.

So awareness of the breath by? Pranayama (control of breath and prana)

Then comes your sense organs. Pratyahara, sense withdrawal.

Then the thoughts. Everything put together at one place: dharana (concentration)

Deśabandhaśchittasya dhāraṇā
Yoga Sutras III.1

Then they say, "Oh now you can go for ego also."

Because to make out, ego is so subtle, to make out its edges, its weight, its manipulative ways, you need to have something, something very big and something very subtle.

Dhyana (meditation).

Got it?

So it is all a game of very scientific, very systematic, very successful and sure way of moving from the grossest to the subtlest.

Because gross is finite and subtle is infinite.

The more gross you become the more finite you become. The more subtle you become the more infinite you become.

The game is moving from small things to the bigger things. This much of happiness, this much happiness, this much happiness. Infinite happiness!

Now, to have infinite happiness you have to have the awareness of the subtlest. You have to BECOME the subtlest.

What is the relationship between yoga therapy and Ayurveda?

The entire path of yoga therapy, if I say is based upon the fundamental principles of Ayurveda, then I'm sure I'm on the right foot.

You start with the basic principles or basic cause of disease according to Ayurveda.

You then go for the definition of health according to Ayurveda, when they say:

sama doṣaḥ sama agniśca sama dhātuḥ malaṃ kriyāḥ ।
prasanna ātma indriya manaḥ svasthaḥ iti abhidhīyate ॥
Suśruta Samhita 15:38

That is the basic definition of health according to Ayurveda in which they talk about:
  • optimal and balanced doshas (three metabolic types),
  • proper adequate dhatus (seven body tissues or elements),
  • proper elimination of the malas (waste products)
  • optimal agni in you (digestive fire),
  • and you should be having at peace your mental state.

That is the definition they give in Ayurveda.

Now from there, you come to how to have balanced doshas.

To have balanced doshas, to have this agni in a balanced way, to have proper elimination of the malas, they say you should be going for what?

They say you should be going for preventing approach.

Means you are 100% ok at present, you are in balance, but Ayurveda says that life is a dynamic process. It is not static at all.

Today you are into health. Tomorrow you'll be into health? There is no guarantee.

Because you are exposed to many things.

On the mental level and on the physical level, including your diet, your lifestyle, people you meet, your age, your profession, the time of the day, the season. Everything is going on.

So doshas, they are always in a dynamic equilibrium.

How to maintain health, if you are in health, that also can be done by yoga.

Now, if you have a disease means your doshas are imbalanced.

Your agni, which is one of the criteria of health, is out of balance.  Your dhatus, they are not adequate. Your eliminatory processes, they are not perfect, in proper functioning.

Either these things are giving rise to an imbalanced mental state, or your imbalanced mental state can give rise to these things.

When they say

rajastamaśca manaso dvauca doṣāvudāhṛtau ॥
Ashtanga Hridaya 1:21

That, the psychosomatic disease can be because of tamas, ignorance in you, or rajas, desire or passion in you.

They are the cause of psychosomatic diseases which start from the mind and show upon the body. Or you have imbalanced doshas.

Both, according to yoga, can be cured or balanced using the principles of Ayurveda itself.

When they talk about shatkarmas (purification techniques). One of the greatest gifts of hatha yoga is shatkarmas, the six cleansing acts they have given.

If you go to shloka number 21, chapter 2, Hatha Yoga Pradipika it says:

meda-śleṣhmādhikaḥ pūrvaṃ ṣhaṭ-karmāṇi samācharet |
anyastu nācharettāni doṣhāṇāṃ samabhāvataḥ || 21 ||
Hatha Yoga Pradipika II.21

Means, people in whom the three doshas are not in proper balance they should be doing shatkarmas in the form of:

  • Neti
  • Dhauti
  • Basti
  • Nauli
  • Trataka
  • Kapalabhati

They go to the extent of saying, if you do not want to do or if you are not able to do shatkarmas then also by pranayama you can balance the three doshas.

In shloka number 43, Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Chapter 2, before starting introducing mankind to eight kinds of kumbhakas in shloka 44, when he talks about:

  • Suryabhedana
  • Ujjayi
  • Bhastrika
  • Brahmari
  • Shitali
  • Shitkari
  • Murccha
  • Plavini

Before that, he also says the same thing. That you can balance the doshas by pranayama.

Look at the beauty.

Not only that, but they also say that the two main principles of therapy, shaman or shodanam, suppression of a disease or cleansing of a disease, can be taken care of by the yogic tools.

Basti, vāman, virecchana.

What is basti (enema)?

It is basti in panchakarma of Ayurveda. It is basti in shatkarma of yoga.

Vāman (vomiting). Kunjal, dhauti.

It is as panchakarma in Ayurveda. In yoga ( kunjal, dhauti ) you do not need of Ayurvedic physician. You do not need those herbs.

Laghoo Shankhaprakshalana (purgation). In shatkarmas it is one of the dhautis, and in Ayurveda, in panchakarma, you have vireka itselt, virecchana.

The physical level I'm telling you. Three doshas.

Now come over to the mental level.

rajastamaśca manaso dvauca doṣāvudāhṛtau ॥
Ashtanga Hridaya 1:21

That rajas and tamas are the cause of psychosomatic diseases according to Ayurveda.

Charaka gives the treatment in Ayurveda. He says:

dhī dhairya atmādividjñānam manodoṣauṣadham param ॥
Charaka Samhita

  • Dhī: wisdom, discriminating knowledge
  • Dhairya: patience
  • Atmādividjñānam: the knowledge of the self.

They are the three tools you can use for any of the psychosomatic diseases. This is what Ayurveda is saying.

And look at yoga.

They give you dhī, hānopāya.

Vivekakhyātiraviplavā hānopāyaḥ
Yoga Sutra II.26

Discriminating knowledge unperturbed is the means to kaivalyam, hānam, mokṣa, FREEDOM.

Dhairya: pratyahara.

athātaḥ sampravakṣyāmi pratyāhāra kamuttamam ।
yasya vijñānamātreṇa kāmādiripunāśanam ॥
Geranda Samhita IV.1

Gheranda Samhita.

Rishi Gheranda is telling king Chandakapali, "Now I tell you something about pratyahara by which you can take care of, you can withdraw from any kind of sense object, distraction."

Atmādividjñānam. What is atmādividjñānam? Dhyānam.

dhyānam nāma svarupasya sahajam bhāvanamucyate ।
naitatkarmaviśeṣam vā saguṇopāsanam japaḥ ॥
10 verses by Swami Tejomayananda

Ayurveda talks about dhyān, or the knowledge of true self, which will take care of your rajas and tamas, and yoga gives that tool.

Ayurveda says:

rāgādi rogān satatānuṣaktānaśeṣa kāya prasṛtānaśeṣan
autsukya moha aratidāñjaghāna yo’purva vaidhyāya namo’stu tasmai
Ashtanga Hridaya Sutrasthana 1.1

That all the mental diseases, psychosomatic diseases, start from attachment.

Yoga says take care of attachment by pratyahara. Withdraw, withdraw, and withdraw.

Without following the basic principles of Ayurveda, you cannot move into yoga therapy.

If you are doing that then you are on the, I say, two boats at the same time.

Is it ok? How many marks did I get? [laughing] Every time you ask a question I get that nervous. I'm praying to everyone. I got Chamundi Devi over there [pointing at Chamundi Hills]. She is looking at me.

Is there any conflict between allopathic medicine and Ayurveda?

Absolutely not. No conflict at all.

I'll just say, modern medicine is the first page of medical science. Ayurveda the middle part of it, the middle section of it, and yoga the last part of it, the end, the culmination of the medical science.

Leave apart modern medicine. The health sciences. The life sciences I would say.
In the life sciences, modern medicine is the first section, Ayurveda the middle section and yoga the ultimate section.

There is no contradiction. It's absolutely parallel.

One thing is leading to another, to another.

Just, the unfortunate part of it is that we have come to the first one, the first section in the last.

When we had reached the state of yoga and Ayurveda, 5000 years earlier, there was no need to come back to the first section.

We could have gone far deeper into it. That is unfortunate.

It is very unfortunate that for some reason we came back to the first section, after going through the whole book.

It is only a matter of time though.

Within a decade from now, it will become imperative and mandatory for each and every medical school to have yoga and Ayurveda in their curriculum.

They will not be able to do without it. It has to be.

You cannot ignore a 5000-year-old science which is holding its ground, even today, and with the same force.

Truth cannot be washed away. You can irritate it, but you cannot wash it away. Truth is, yoga is the ultimate science. Yoga is the last page, the last section of life sciences.

Modern medicine is only on the annamaya kosha (food sheath, material body).

Yoga is right up to the anandamaya kosha (bliss sheath, bliss body)

Modern medicine takes only the first kosha but we have five sheaths.

Modern medicine doesn't talk about the planes of existence, the six or seven planes of existence.

Modern medicine doesn't talk about the tamasic lifestyle, the rajasic lifestyle, the sattvic lifestyle.

If after so much of the limitations of modern medicine, now being acknowledged, if after that we have to move into these things, it is as if, I don't know what to call it, but I'll put it more like atavism, not evolution.

If you do not know the reason for something it doesn't mean that you will just put it somewhere, where you cannot even think of what it is.

And see, the greatest part of it, the greatest deepest humility of the science, this science says it is an experiential science.

You experience it and then decide what is good for you, what is bad for you.

It is not any postulate. No hypothesis. No theories.

If after a science saying, "Look, have this, drink this, taste this, then decide whether it is good for you or bad for you."

If after that we are saying we will not do it, and we will do something that it is just based on hypothesis, then who to blame?

Our own minds

Because yoga is a discipline. Because yoga wants that you should be having some lines drawn. That is the only reason we don't want to follow it.

Why do you teach integrative restorative yoga or yoga therapy?

Well, for us, the motive is to let them taste yoga in whole.

Let them be into a position where they can challenge their own habitual thinking patterns, their own beliefs.

Where they are able to challenge their limits.

Where they are able to taste the benefits of yoga as such, all the four streams included, on themselves.

Once they are able to do that, then there is no going back. Then for them, there is no going back. They are already transformed.

They'll be helping others. Even if they help one person in their lifetime, it is ok. Just one person.

It's like this small story.

A young lady is sleeping with her five-year-old kid on the sea beach.

Early morning the kid wakes her up saying, "Mama, look. So many fishes in pain on the beach."

And the mama says,

"Look kid, there are more than thousands and thousands of fishes on the beach. We cannot help them. Let us sleep."

And she sleeps again.

After half an hour she gets up and looks around. The kid is not there.
Worried she looks around.

The kid is right there on the beach. With tiny steps he is picking up one fish at a time, mumbling something and then putting the fish into the sea.

Thrusting, the mother goes to see what is this kid doing, and what is he saying.

The kid is picking up one fish and walking towards the sea, saying, "No mama, my effort will make a difference to this fish," and then drops the fish into the ocean.

It is really that way. Just change one life in your lifetime, by giving yoga to that person.

And like I said.

When their low self-esteem is done with. When they have their sense of security in themselves.

When they feel that the whole of existence, the essence of existence, is security.

When they are able to realize that yes, bliss is inside. The pleasure is not out there. It is in here.

When they are able to think beyond forgiveness; that it is only love. There is no question of forgiving anyone because nobody is doing anything wrong.

Whatever has happened to him or her is on the path to evolution. It was just an experience so that the person can transcend it. Life is an experience.

When the person is in communion with oneself, and the entire surroundings.

When the person is on the path of truthfulness.

That is all. If you can do that for others. One person...

Like, I know, I revere my master because he gave something to me and then my life changed.  If I can give that to someone, that is my duty rather now.

Because I got that thing from my master, from existence, I have to pay it back.

If I just take all those things with me, not paying it back, that is like committing a crime.

So I have to keep the things in balance. Whatever you get, at least pay it back, if not more.

That is the aim.

Om Namah Shivaya

Dinner ashram style

Right after we concluded the interview, around 7 pm, they offered us dinner.

Dr. Ashutosh, Kadambari, Marie and I sat together for dinner in the typical ashram style. In silence.

After dinner, they helped us find a rickshaw driver to bring us back to the city.

I'm very grateful they gave us the time for this interview, for their warm welcome and for making sure we find our ride back home.

How to contact Inteyoga

If you'd like more information about their ashram in Mysore, or their yoga teacher training courses, you can visit my previous blog, Best Yoga Therapy Training in India.

You can also contact them directly via their bookyogaretreats page. You'll need to select one of their programs to be able to send an inquiry.

Experience the benefits of yoga and Ayurveda

If you are rather interested in experiencing the health benefits of yoga and Ayurveda, without going for a Yoga TTC, then you can visit my curated list of the best yoga and Ayurveda retreats in Kerala.

You could do a one week retreat in a beautiful location, eat healthy food, practice yoga and receive tailored Ayurvedic therapies and massages, according to your needs and body constitution.

What do you think?

I hope you enjoyed this interview. If you did, please don't hesitate to give it a like and to share it with friends that might be interested in yoga therapy and Ayurveda.

Let me know what you think. What is your favorite part? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below.

And, one last thing.

If you would like to be notified whenever I publish a new blog update, you can subscribe to my mailing list here. Once you subscribe you'll be able to download my free meditation ebook. Thank you!


  1. Great job Marco for being able to interview Dr Ashutosh and with the hard work researching the shlokas, writing the transcript, editing and all. Very instructive as always! I have a feeling you'll go back there to take on one of their trainings:)!
    Om Namah Sivayah

    1. Nathalie! Thank you! Yes, it was a lot of work but I really enjoyed it. And yes, I'm definitely planning to do a course there in the near future, all thanks to you and Trev 😊🙏

  2. Gracias por este lindo trabajo! Namastê

    1. Gracias a ti Luciana por tu mensaje, por visitar mi blog y por tomarte el tiempo de leerlo 😊🙏

  3. Beautiful interview!!
    Certainly one that have inspired me to do a course with them.
    Your blog is gold for seekers on the path of Yoga.
    Many thanks Marco 🙏🏻

    1. Thank you for the positive and encouraging comment Dune. I'm so happy to heart that you've found this interview inspiring. Pls, whenever you go their ashram give my greetings to Dr. Ashutosh and Kadambari, they are such wonderful teachers. Thanks again Dune 😊🙏

  4. Many thanks Marco. I am enjoying and learning from you. I decided to do 30 days yoga nidra chakra sadhana in February 2020. Thank you very much for all the informations and experiences you are sharing whit us. Keep walking on your path. You are doing great job. God bless you.

    1. Hello Helena, thank you so much for your encouraging and positive feedback. Yes, I will keep sharing as much as I can that's for sure :-) Oh so cool that you gonna do that course, it sounds really interesting. Let us know how it goes! All the best