An interesting intersection occurred last week as I completed the lecture portion of the course I was taking on the topic of Strī Roga (Women’s Reproductive Health). We were discussing how the Prarabdha Karmas प्रारब्धमखिलं, the sancita karmas (collection of actions) gathered from previous births, come to fruition in this particular incarnation (ie as you, the person reading this email). These are the collection of Karmas we are working through as the Dhārma of this birth to allow us to move toward Mokṣa (self-realization).
More info here on Prarabdha Karmas.
Moment of Intersection
In the course I was taking, we were learning that the month of a baby’s (balaks) first tooth coming in is an indication of their Prarabhda Karmas. Simultaneously in the course I have been teaching, we have been discussing the process of moving Prāṇa in āsana through the bones (asthi) rather than focusing on the muscles.
Teeth (danta) are secondary tissue to bones (upadhātu to asthi). This means, that what presents in the teeth, is also present in the bones. (This is another example of Sat Kārya Vāda that we discussed last week). Since bones (asthi) are made of a combination of Air (Vāyu) and Earth (Priṭhvi), they are ruled by Vāta. Thus, by focusing on how we move Prāṇa through the āsanas, via the 20 guṇas of Āyurveda, we both interact with the possibility of supporting healthy Prāṇa in our bodies and minds, while also accessing the possibility of transforming the Karmas of our current birth – the Prarabdha Karmas.
We have spoken before that Yoga and Āyurveda temporarily intersect and then move in different directions. This is because the goal of Āyurveda is Āyus – happy long life (100 years!) and the goal of Yoga is Mokṣa, which is certainly supported by the goals of Āyurveda but is not a prerequisite.
Here though, is a really beautiful example of how the intentions of these two darśans (sciences) overlap.
Because how we do one thing is how we often do anything, the way we engage with our yoga practice on our mats and meditation cushions is an opportunity to gather and focus our attention on our current lessons. By facing those with honesty, humility, and with as little extra-decoration/distraction as possible, we have the capacity to literally change the structure our of bones, and thus mitigate our suffering overall by breaking apart the Karmas we have been born in this lifetime to face. It is micro-macro Ahimsa in action.
Long Life & Happy Prāṇa
The long and happy life described in the Āyurvedic Samhitas is wholly dependant on the proper flow (gati) of Prāṇa. This is one reason I find this intersection so enthralling. It is our unsupportive (conscious and unconscious) daily habits that cause us to provoke Vāta – like eating without hunger, drinking without thirst, doing too many things at one time, taking the āsanas thoughtlessly or moving too quickly to engage the mind, over-exercising, under-exercising etc. When we do this, we destabilize our own Prāṇa. This aggravates Vāta, who then usually aggravates the other doṣas over time.
However, it is likely our own Prarabdha Karmas acting out here and causing us to make these choices.
Thus, by acknowledging these unsupportive vṛttis (patterns) and re-engaging with them – first beginning on the mat, and then spiraling out into the life in general – we have an opportunity to both achieve the goals of Āyurveda and Yoga simultaneously.
Very very cool.