Yoga Therapy and Samkhya Philosophy
Introduction of Purusha, Prakritti & the Gunas
There are many techniques used in the practice of Yoga Therapy. The more common ones are divided under two sciences: Yoga and Ayurvedic Medicine. Yoga has three main components: Asana (postures), Pranayama (breath control), and Dhyana (meditation). Ayurvedic Medicine is a broad based, ancient science that shares with Yoga a common philosophical background: Samkhya Philosophy.
Samkhya Philosophy, upon which both Yoga and Aryurveda are based, sees the entire world based upon two universal principles: Purusha and Prakritti. Purusha is the realm of consciousness, spirit and the 'higher Self'. Prakritti is the realm of Nature, all that is in the physical world, all beings, all thoughts, all situations. Prakritti, therefore, is everything that is not Pure Consciousness and includes your body, thoughts and nature.
Samkhya Philosophy believes the goal of human life is to connect with your true organic Self so that all suffering and pain can cease, leading to freedom from the cycle of birth and death. Realizing this higher self is the aim of Yoga and Ayurveda. Purusha is a homogeneous state of Pure Concsiousness. It can't be explained, divided, quantified, or characterized. IT JUST IS. Prakritt is a heterogeneous state that governs our body, our mind and everything earthly. It is all of nature: everything seen, tasted, touched, heard, imagined and everything that is smelled. Before you can realize your higher Self, you must first come into balance with this universe in which we live ...reconcile and make peace with your world (Prakritti). .Your body is a temple thru which you can realize your higher consciousness. Yoga is a way to purify the temple and to clarify the mind .Practicing the three Yoga science components, one can begin to heal body and mind. Thru the addition of Ayurveda to Yoga practice, one can begin to balance one's existence here and now in nature (Prakritti), and thus start to close the gap on the goal of becoming closer to Purusha( pure consciousness).
We've touched on the two great principles of Purusha and Prakritti. Purusha can't be divided as it is homogeneous. Prakritti, however, is heterogeneous and is governed by three cosmic forces called the Gunas( ropes of existence).. These ropes are intertwined, interchangeable, constantly vying for the upper hand; always and everywhere upsetting the status quo, stability. Yes, our existence on Earth is based on constantly changing parameters and, like the Gunas, the only permanent thing in life is the impermanence of our existence. Everything is constantly changing. The Gunas are: Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Sattva is the highest of these as it relates to clarity of mind and is the closest of the gunas to Purusha. Rajas guna is related to life and has as its qualities motion and activity. Tamas guna is related to the earth. Its qualities are related to heaviness, inertia and dullness of existence. Tamas has been described as the root cause of hunger, thirst, grief, fear and confusion... .mind/emotional disturbance... Gunas describe your mental state of being, minute to minute. The Gunas influence our mind and bodies constantly. They permeate our Koshas and lead us through all of the emotional and physical changes we experience minute to minute. This brief introduction to Samkhya Philosophy begins to set the stage for a discussion of the techniques of Yoga Therapy and to differentiate Ayurvedic principles and philosophy from those that govern the Western Medical Model. The concept of treating every person as a unique stems from the basic Ayurvedic principle that everything you need to become all that you can be is already inside you. All you need to do is discover and uncover these talents. You're already totally complete and self sufficient. Before we begin a discussion of the techniques used in Yoga Therapy, one last philosophical concept needs to be introduced.