The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is the primary Federal agency for conducting and supporting medical research. In May 2008, NIH held its first Yoga Week featuring yoga demonstrations, classes and speakers each day. The event was free and open to the public.
Yogiraj Alan Finger, was the opening speaker for the 2008 NIH Yoga Week. In this series of seven videos, he describes the system of yoga he developed called ISHTA YOGA, an acronym for the Integrated Sciences of Hatha, Tantra, and Ayurveda. Although it was now 5 years ago, this video series has been very popular and the content is timeless, so we thought to share it with our readership.
- The Purpose of Hatha Yoga
- Power of Breath
- Tantra Cosmology
- On Ayurveda (this post)
- On Yoga and Trauma
- Yoga and Modern Science
- Integrating Yogic Sciences
The last section of the sister sciences of yoga is called “Ayurveda.” And, it’s unbelievable. It’s a medicine that’s been around for thousands of years. “Ayurveda” means the science of life, or the science of life force.
Now this is something, which we in our society haven’t yet really looked at, even in science. What is life force itself?
And, it’s pretty obvious. You know where you go to see what life force is? It’s much easier to see in a body that’s freshly died. It’s a bit gloomy at this point, but we’ll make it nicer for you. When a body dies, what goes? How do you know a body is dead?
It’s not breathing.
It’s not moving.
You feel. I think he’s dead!
Then, what happens next?
Look at this body; and its magnetism, its temperature, its electricity is gone. Its color goes grey. If you’ve ever felt a dead body, it’s a weird feeling; there’s no electricity in it. That’s the second thing that goes.
And, the third thing that goes is that force which is actually holding the cells together. The water in the earth. That’s what is keeping me in my bag. That goes. And, when that goes, the elements go back to where they came from. The elements actually belong to earth, and you just rent them to work out your karma.
And so, those three forces;
1. Movement and breath movement, it’s called Vata;
2. Heat and magnetism such as digestive power and thinking power, it’s called Pita;
3. And, that which holds the elements together, it’s called Kapha.
We all have, when we are born, decided by our parents, our own individual stamp of Doshas, the biological life forces. And that stamp is called our Prakriti.
The problem in life is that our Vikriti, how we live, what our condition is, is not matching our constitution. Our Vikriti is not matching our Prakriti. And when that happens, we’re out of sorts. There’s illness, there’s disharmony, and imbalance in our being.
So, the goal of reestablishing homeostasis between the forces of life is very important.
How do we do it? There are many ways of reading this. You can read it in the pulse, how the pulse is working. So you can read them very much in your distal pulse and immediately feel your Doshas by the nature of your pulse. This is a very simple form of reading. If you just feel the pulse, if it’s going like a bullfrog, you know that it is Pita dominance. If it’s going like a snake, that’s Vata dominance – speed. And, if it’s going like a swan, that’s Kapha dominance.
There’s much more to read in the pulse. There’s Vikriti, Prakriti, there’s mind, and there’s every organ that can be read in the pulse. But, that’s a whole other visit to NIH, please, to deal with those subjects.
But all I’m trying to show you is that these sciences of yoga are so deep, and they start with what you saw going on here today with the body, but they go into this incredible science of existence, and how we exist, and how we can actually find the part of us that is not our Karma, but our individual source, our Atman. And, that is the part of us that doesn’t die.
Your physical, your mind, will die. But your consciousness is released. I cannot make that scientifically explainable to you, but there is one way you can recognize that and know it. Sit and learn to do nothing for an extended period of time.
If you can become comfortable and do nothing, that really is the goal of yoga. So, what did they all do in our show earlier on, after they’d finished all that movement? They sat still.
Because, when you’ve worked out all the stress and the imbalances in your being, you can sit still and feel who you really are, without any attributes, without any mind. Your mind changes and all the things that you think you are will constantly be in flux. But when you do nothing, that’s your spirit.
I’m here to share with you my life’s purpose; how to do nothing! And that would be my greatest message to you. In sitting and doing nothing, it’s called Samadhi, is the most incredible state of consciousness, which you can get into. It’s where you transcend this plane, and access that plane which is universal.