How to Combine Yoga with Ayurveda – Interview with Sophie Malahieude
How did you first get interested in yoga? I wanted to practice yoga to learn more about the mind. I was hoping that yoga could offer me understanding and consciousness of the mind. I discovered much more.
What changes has yoga made in your life? A daily practice brought me peace and happiness, and helped me to discover the purpose of my life. The “side effects” of the practice brought good health, management of stress, better sleep and flexibility. I call those “side effects” because they were not my first goal when I started Yoga.
I learned how to take care of myself. Yoga is a mental state more than a physical practice. Whatever your interests and the goals are at the beginning, if your heart is in the practice, then peace, happiness, and spirituality will come.
How would you describe your teaching style? I teach Hatha Yoga with the use of different styles like vinyasa flow, restorative, kundalini. In the class we practice asanas, pranayama, relaxation, repeat mantra and use visualization. Each pose, and each breath brings the students in the moment. It’s a meditative practice that helps the students to be who they truly are.
The class is built around the students’ needs, the weather, and the season. If most of the students feel stress I will offer more quieting poses and slowing down breathing exercises. If some of them have a cold I will boost their immune system. If it’s really hot outside I will teach the class with more cooling poses and if it’s cold outside I will bring more flow and heating postures. It’s not about a routine, it’s about the students and the environment.
What sets Yoga in Temecula apart from other yoga studios? I teach small classes, around 10 students, which allows me to adjust and be more in tune with the students. Because I integrate Ayurveda to the class, students discover not only the knowledge of Yoga but also their personal nature. Therefore they can adjust the practice to their needs and level. I love to have a class full of different Tree poses. One with the foot placed on the other foot and hands by the side, the other with the foot placed on the calf and hands in Namaste, another one with the foot on the thigh and the arms overhead. It’s like a forest, everyone is unique but together the energy flows.
Can you explain for us the basic ideas of Ayurveda? Ayurveda is a 5,000 year old system of natural health and healing. It’s called the sister of Yoga: Yoga as a spiritual science and Ayurveda as the “science of life”
Ayurveda is a nature-based system. Its objectives are longevity and health, achieved by the balance between the person (body, mind, and spirit) and the environment.
According to Ayurveda the human being is the embodied universe. The universe is composed of the 5 elements (Space, Air, Fire, Water, Earth), so is the body. These elements, in the biological form, combine to create the three Doshas, which you can think as an energy force.
We are all born with a unique, individual balance of the Doshas. Each one is present in us at different level forming our optimum being, leading to good health.
Ayurveda doesn’t address the symptom but the imbalance of the whole person. It is a holistic approach.
Environmental factors like stress, diet, daily routine, exercises, climate and seasons impact the balance of the natural constitution. When imbalance is present, toxicity (or ama in Sanskrit) may build in the tissues, compromising well being. Understanding the constitution (Doshas) will help to remain in balance.
How would you recommend people to integrate Ayurveda with yoga? When you know your nature (Prakriti in Sanskrit), you can adapt your lifestyle, diet, yoga practice and stay balance. You will achieve optimal health, gain longevity and prevent illness. As Yoga practitioner, Ayurveda optimizes the spiritual path as the practice will be adjusted to the person. Again it is not about following a unique path, but adjusting regarding your Prakriti. Some people would benefit from practicing Yoga in a heated room, but others would benefit from restorative Yoga. Know yourself with Ayurveda to find your path with Yoga.
What do you think is the one thing that most people could do to improve their lives? Avoiding multitasking to learn to live in the present moment.
What advice would you give to someone who is interested in starting a yoga practice?
Start by letting go of judgment (yours and others) to focus on where you are.
If you join a class, connect with the teacher, try several classes to feel at home with the teacher.
If you want to start at home, use a book or video and follow your inner voice.
Because at the end, the best teacher is yourself.
Sophie’s journey started in Germany in 1997 when she entered a Yoga class without speaking fluently German. She discovered Yoga from her heart. In 2004, shortly after moving to United States, She decided to become a teacher. She attended Asheville Yoga center, NC and graduated as 200-hour Yoga Teacher. She completed a 500-hours in San Diego at Yoga and Meditation Center. The practice of Yoga led her to explore more of the possibilities of the mind and the heart. She is trained and certified as Laughter Yoga leader. This training helped her reconnect with her inner child, and understand that laughter can lighten difficult time. Then Healing came naturally. Yoga combined with Ayurveda offers optimal health, contentment and enlightenment. She received her certification as Vedic healer from Bhava Ram and Laura Plumb at The Deep Yoga School, in San Diego.
She continues her education in Yoga therapy through The Deep Yoga School (with Laura and Bhava) and the American Institute of Vedic Studies under the guidance of Vedacharya David Frawley. For more info: