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Vaccination in Ayurveda & Yoga


Namaste. We hope that this article will inspire readers to consider how vaccination can be viewed from an Ayurvedic and yogic perspective.


Ayurveda is a holistic system of medicine that is indigenous to and widely practiced in India for over 5000 years. It is the precursor of all medicines, including allopathic, naturopathic, herbal, food based, conscious-lifestyle based, preventative, rehabilitative, and restorative. There are even entire ancient Ayurvedic texts devoted to surgery and other complicated matters.


Ancient Ayurvedic doctors were cutting-edge scientists, doctors, and healers of their time. They studied and experimented, noting results on both their failures and successes. They had great commitment to the alleviation of suffering from disease, which is a core ethic in Ayurveda and yoga. Modern researchers and doctors continue to be motivated by this intention.


Strength


Ayurveda and yoga teach that our body’s natural tendency is to foster ease and harmony. This is called homeostasis in the west. We lean into this intelligence first and foremost when we apply any medicine to heal ourselves. Homeostasis is the guiding principle of the inner self (Self). Because of this and other core spiritual principles contained in the wisdom of Ayurveda, we can cultivate faith in ourselves to:

  1. Adhere to the laws of nature.

  2. Heal the best we can given environmental influences and internal beliefs and dialogue.

Ayurveda has always taught (and science confirms), that when faith is disrupted and negative influences outweigh positive ones, disease can occur. Disease is considered evidence of imbalance, weakness and vulnerability in the individual. Therefore, cultivating strength is one approach to countering the presence and impact of disease.


The creation of strength to fight disease is clearly discussed in the ancient Ayurvedic text called the Charaka Samhita. Bala (strength) refers to the development of our body's resistance against diseases. Balas include: intake of nutritious food, physical exercise, rest, seasonal rejuvenation therapies, herbs, and medicines. Bala increases our sustainable energy (ojas), consciousness, immunity, and creativity. It enhances the quality of the plasma, lymph, and mucus/waters in the body (rasa dhatu).


There are three types of bala (strength): sahaj, kalaj, and yuktikrit. Sahaj bala is passed down from mother to child, kalaj bala is strength that develops over time, and yuktikrit bala is gained by specific measures like food, exercise and medicines. The "medicines" ancient Ayurveda texts recommend for yuktikrit bala may use non-plant-based ingredients made from minerals, soils, metals, gems, and ash during critical times of disease. The concept of vaccination is rooted in the yuktikrit bala,


Yoga & Right Conduct


There are many texts in yoga, and many interpretations of those texts. The Yoga Sutras, written by Patanjali, details the ethics of the yogic path in great depth. In the Yoga Sutra, the yamas and niyamas are described. They are the ten precepts of right conduct, and are the foundational practices in cultivating peace, self-awareness, and spiritual awakening. Right conduct is enacted by our willingness to support beings who are suffering, no matter what the cause. Right conduct is evidenced by our actions- particularly the ones that cause no harm, are truthful, and based in awareness.


The first yama is non-harm (ahimsa). It is the soil of all yogic lifestyle. Ahimsa a vow to do no harm to self or others. Not only do yogis take a vow of non-harm, doctors do too. "First do no harm" (Latin: Primum non nocere) is a part of the original Hippocratic oath. Every religion and spiritual tradition in the world has a tenet that can be described as non-harming and that is viewed as a necessary quality to cultivate for health and wholeness.


In addition to the yamas and niyamas, Patanjali Yoga Sutra 2:16 states Heyam-Dukham-Anagatam, which translates as: “The pain that is yet to come can be avoided.” This sutra suggests to us that we have responsibility to be responsive and preventative to dire situations. This is what vaccinations do. They intend to protect us from the future suffering associated with major diseases and difficult illnesses.


Truth, Faith and Understanding