Like anything macrobiotic, “feel good” or crystal related, yoga has kinda been ruined by the temple of “wellness” that is GOOP. With regards to yoga, have a think about it.
You’re probably spending a startling amount of time sitting whether be it hunching over a desk or reclining on a sofa. And that our friends, is hell on your spine.
It’s even more debilitating if you love using the hashtag #SwoleAF on the ‘gram. Squats, deadlifts and even rowing aren’t going to give you the chance to stretch your lower back in the opposite direction to well, stretch it out.
Ok, let’s get back to the topic. Here, Mark Seeto, global head of Yoga and Reformer Pilates, Virgin Active talks about the benefits of Ayurveda Yoga.
And yes, Mark Seeto is pretty convincing if we say so ourselves.
Hi Mark, we’re not going to lie — Ayurveda Yoga seems like the stuff of GOOP fanatics and Los Angeles Wasps — can you pitch the benefits of Ayurveda Yoga to us non-believers?
Of course, I can. Thanks for asking!
Firstly, I’ve also spent most of my life being a non-believer too. So, I know where you’re at.
Secondly, Yoga is Yoga and Ayurveda is Ayurveda. They are more like sisters, that support and guide each other in order to create deeper self-understanding as well as physical, mental and emotional harmony.
We must ask the question as to why we wouldn’t want the these two ancient systems to come together.
Now the pitch — wouldn’t it be wonderful no matter what time, day or state you’re in, to intuitively know what you need, in order to bring your whole self back to balance? This is what Yoga at Virgin Active teaches us.
Apparently, this holistic science dates back 5,000 years — what exactly is this science?
You’re right, Ayurveda — translated as the “Science of Life” — is a holistic healing system and sometimes known as the “Mother of all Healing”. It’s in fact the oldest healing system in the world and has its roots stemming from India, just like Yoga.
Ayurveda is all about maintaining wellness with an emphasis on prevention. It is based on the belief that health is maintained through a delicate balance of body, mind and consciousness (soul).
Everything we can see, hear, touch, taste and smell, including our own selves are made up of the give elements — Fire, Water, Earth, Air and Space. The balance or imbalance of these elements within us is what is known as our “Dosha” or constitution.
Very simply, Ayurveda teaches us how to maintain constitutional balance via our diet, herbal treatments, massage, breathing techniques, meditation, mantras, panchakarma and of course Yoga.
Yoga, meditation, breathing and mantras are the Ayurvedic techniques we are masters at, at Virgin Active.
View this post on Instagram
Ayurveda Yoga is apparently for everybody, how so? What if just getting out of bed makes us break out in cold sweat?
Cold sweats just getting out of bed? You might need a lot more than Yoga! Maybe a new coffee machine?
But this is the beauty about looking at Yoga through the lens of Ayurveda and the understanding of your Dosha. Gone are the days of just doing Yoga because you think you should, or practicing a style of Yoga that just doesn’t feel right.
No matter how you’ve woken up that day, no matter your mood or energy level, no matter your constitutional make up in that moment, we teach you how to intelligently choose the right practice for you, and offer you the greatest amount of opportunity to do it.
Whether that’s in one of our clubs alongside like-minded (or like-doshed) students, or at home with our Live and On Demand Yoga series. This way you can practice what is right for you, when and where you need to, with the teacher you love and adore.
The benefits of Ayurveda Yoga is also that it’s purported to be customised according to the Doshas of the body — can you simplify this concept for us? What are Doshas anyway?
There are three Doshas that we are made of in varying degrees and each of us are unique in the way we are made up.
Vata is air and space, and is my predominate Dosha. We tend to have a light frame, we’re creative and artistic, light hearted but at times anxious and we love our Yoga Flow.
Pitta is made from fire, with a small amount of water. Pitta’s are muscular, they are direct and organised, they are charismatic, but can be controlling. Yoga Align would be ideal for them.
Kapha comes from water and earth. Kapha’s tend to be larger framed. They are slow, steady, relaxed, but find it really hard to let go and surrender. Kapha is suited for Yoga Calm.
Now we must remember that we are made up of all three, but usually tend towards one or two. For me, I’m very high Vata, with lesser amounts of Pitta and even less Kapha, therefore, naturally I love to move dynamically in Yoga Flow, but to help bring me closer to balance, I need to lift my Pitta and especially my Kapha, so I best practice Yoga Calm and Yoga Align as well.
How good does one feel after doing Ayurveda Yoga? How often does he or she have to do it?
“I really regret that yoga class,” said no one ever!
We all feel good after Yoga, despite the fear and anxiety we have before trying a new style, trying out a new teacher or before our very first practice. So really, any Yoga is good Yoga.
But after discovering your Dosha, and more specifically your imbalances, and then practicing the style of Yoga that will give you the greatest opportunity to move back toward balance, this is when we truly feel the benefits of Yoga and Ayurveda.
Your entire system moves closer to equanimity and you feel the “buzz” of absolute harmony, body, mind and soul.
View this post on Instagram
Fyi, we stalked your Instagram profile while doing the questions up and you seem to really like animals!
Haha, you’ll see my Instagram has nothing to do with Yoga and a lot more to do with my other and equal love, the Aussie bush. I adore animals, I always have. Especially birds.
And I don’t think that’s unique to me, I think we all have an affection for animals to some degree. I was very lucky to grow up in the Aussie bush, so I lived with animal interaction on a daily basis, whether they were farm animals or wild Australian native animals.
One of the most incredible and incredibly scary moments I remember, was on a night fishing trip with my brother and sister on the Adelaide river in the Northern Territory. It’s already scary enough being out on a boat in the middle of the night, but then to see the eyes of salt water crocodiles reflecting in the lights of our torches just adds a whole other level of humility.
Being in the domain of and at eye level with a living dinosaur really helps to pull you back into the reality of our existence. I don’t recommend trying this one at home, it might not be the right humility practice for you.
The most important question is: do we have to adjust our eating habits to reap the full benefits of Ayurveda Yoga? How do we even live the “Ayurvedic” way?
Short answer is no.
But once you start to understand Ayurveda, your Dosha and imbalances and yoga, you tend to start watching what you eat as a result anyway. It is like when you start to understand the mechanics of your car, you want to use higher quality fuel so the engine lasts longer. Or you’ve planted a fruit tree or veggie patch, and want the best fruit and vegetable to eat, so you use good fertiliser and water the plants regularly.
Knowledge and understanding helps us to care, maintain and sustain. It gives us the motivation to do good. My recommendation would be to start small. Meditation might be the Ayurvedic technique that speaks to you most. Or learning a mantra that you repeat to yourself three times in the morning to start your day.
Or doing a 60-sec breathing practice before eating lunch, or of course, doing one of our three Yoga styles (Align, Flow or Calm) at Virgin Active to give you the greatest opportunity for balance and harmony.
View this post on Instagram
Fill in the blank — Yogis do ____ better.
Yogi’s do everything better! [Laughs] No, we don’t actually, far from it. And that’s often the reason why we do Yoga, is because we are batsh*t crazy!
Yogi’s do crazy better. But we are better at balancing it out due to our practice.
If you’ve finished reading this story on the benefits of Ayurveda Yoga by Mark Seeto and are bored, listless or sick of doing your job, click here to catch up with our September 2020 issue!