Sample from the Summer 2005 Issue of Integral Yoga Magazine

An Interview with Dr. David Frawley by Sivani Marlene Alderman

Dr. David Frawley (Pandit Vamadeva Shastri) is regarded as one of the world’s foremost experts on Ayurveda, Yoga and Vedic Studies. He has developed training for specializations in Ayurvedic Yoga therapy, one portion of which is Ayurvedic Psychological Yoga therapy which he discusses here.

Integral Yoga Magazine: What is the relationship between Yoga and Ayurveda?

Dr. David Frawley: I regard Yoga and Ayurveda as two sides of the same system and I believe this was always the tradition. Ayurveda provides the therapeutic background and medical system for Yoga to really work as a therapy.

IYM: What is Yoga therapy in your view?

DF: If we go back to Patanjali and the classical concepts of Yoga we find a psychology and therapeutic approach. In the complete system of classical Ayurveda, there are three parts. The first is rational (my translation of the Sanskrit term in Ayurveda) therapy. This is mainly the physical therapy portion that embraces diet and herbs. The second part is Yoga therapy or utilizing Patanjali’s Ashtanga (eight-limbed path) Yoga to increase sattva guna. The third part is karma therapy which focuses on reducing negative karmas through utilizing mantras, fasting, pilgrimage, yagnas (sacrificial rituals), charity, and other such actions.

Yoga Therapy today is mainly a physical asana therapy practiced in the context of modern medicine. Yoga therapists tend to rely on western medical diagnosis for their therapy and then they prescribe asanas for structural or physical conditions. That’s not a bad thingbut it often results in a kind of physical reductionism in which the greater portion of Yoga and Ayurveda is lost.

IYM: You are now offering training for Ayurvedic psychological Yoga

DF: It rests upon the Yogic model of developing sattva guna. The healing basis is Raja Yoga–the removal of the kleshas or afflictions from the mind or chitta. In addition to applying remedies to increase sattva, the Ayurvedic psychological therapist also would know how to counter the doshas and their disturbances at a psychological level as well, which greatly aids in the efficacy of the treatment.

It can also be helpful to learn Vedic astrology, which provides many additional psychological healing tools and means of examination through the birth chart. Severe and degenerative diseases as well as psychological disorders are often clearly revealed in the chart, even when the physical causes may not be easy to see through an Ayurvedic diagnosis.

IYM: Would you speak about the psychological level of the doshas?

DF: Doshas are not physical concepts. They are pranic concepts that have physical and psychological implications. We are concerned with not only increasing sattva but dealing with negative manifestations of the doshas. For example, pitta’s physical implications affect digestion, metabolism and blood circulation. Pitta’s psychological implications–in the negative–create conditions of irritability, jealousy, anger, rage while it’s positive side creates conditions of warmth, creative passion, fearlessness.

IYM: So, how would you work with the doshas from this perspective?

DF: We first have to understand that the mind and body form an integral system. In the Upanishads it is said that the mind is the essence of food. Even diet will change or impact the psychology. So, we use herbs and diet to reduce pitta. We recommend avoiding factors like exposure to heat, fire and sun. We will work on the sensory level employing therapies that are the opposite to heating qualities of pitta–cool water, cooling forms of incense, cooling types of color therapy. We cultivate cooling and calming emotions to counter pitta and that increase peacefulness, compassion and forgiveness. There are ways of managing anger, resentment, hatred, hostility through meditation and other practices. Cooling pranayama practices are applied–we will look at a range of practices to be done energetically–from diet to meditation…

Read the rest of this article in the Summer 2005 Issue of Integral Yoga Magazine.