Rules and dogma

Rules and dogma

A few times a week I run into a certain prejudice surrounding Ayurveda – usually in conversation with the modern western yogi.  Here is an email from last week (I’ll add bold text for those who skim):

Hi Cate,

I”m leaning towards doing the ALC (Ayurvedic Living Course) and had a question for you.  My understanding of ayurveda is that it is really rigid as a belief system.  While I’m really interested in learning about it and incorporating, at least parts of it, into my life, I don’t want to be bound by rigidity.  So I’m wondering if taking the course with the intention of integrating the aspects that really resonate with me will be effective, or if it really needs to be an all or nothing kind of approach.  I still want to have balance in my life and want to eat the occasional cheeseburger, drink a couple beers after fishing, but I also want to gain more tools and live with more wellness.  Thoughts?  Is the course right for me?   C.G. Yoga Student, Lawyer, WY, USA

Hi C.G.,
I think you’ll find a real lack of rigidity and a distinction between classical and tantric lenses of the texts. Both are all about attuning to nature. Classical gives you rules to transcend; Tantra , (which is non-dual – meaning you are already all that –  if you can just remember and live from the highest in day to day life) attunes you to that which is life enhancing. Beer and burgers have qualities that can serve life and serve a purpose maybe a little different from a nettle juice fast, but can serve the life force none the less.

The ALC is all about deepening attuning to nature (outside and within your body and mind) to ultimately serve the evolutionary process unfolding.  You will gain huge insight into the depth of wellness through conscious choice and your desire to know yourself phsyically, mentally and emotionally from the perspective of energy (life force). The restrictions you encounter will most likely occur when you make choices that you later regret because you knew better, but not due to any rigidity presented by my teachings.

I look forward to the conversation,


Well, I’m sure this will stir up a few classically practicing Ayurvedic Practitioners and Yogis. Cheers, and namaste.

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Cate Stillman
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  • Ashley Dentino
    Posted at 6 August 2010

    I think one of my key interests going into the ALC1 course is the integration of health on all levels….from inside of myself, to my outer physical body, to my family, to my community and all the way out to mother nature. I don’t mean to sound too new agey, but my experience is that I am just a better person and can more fully participate in my family and community when i’m more connected to my own health.

    I’m looking forward to having more choices about maintaing this level of health for myself and my family through what I learn about Ayurveda. To have knowledge at my fingertips about how to maintain and optimize my own health and that of my family seems more empowering (and less expensive in the long run, yeah!) than the western way of dealing with health (going to a doctor and being prescribed medication that I have no clue as to what ingredients are).

    AND I think it’s great to remind oneself that personal health is a practice, just like everything else in life. Although Ayurveda goes much deeper than just what food we put in our bodies, it’s consolation to know that we get about 3 chances everyday to practice eating in such a way that we serve our highest self.

    I say go for it C.G.!

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