Mas and I have known of one another for a while, mostly through similar circles and social media. But what a joy to meet him and connect with him for this interview. He’s such a beautiful soul who embodies the wisdom of the Yogic and Ayurvedic sciences.
Watch the full interview here and experience a guided element meditation from Mas.
Melanie Philips: What first drew you into Yoga? How did you get onto this path?
Mas Vidal: It was really a heart-based search. It came more from the spiritual side. I was really drawn to the mystical aspects of it—meditation, what is the purpose of life, what does true love mean, dharma.
MP: How do you see the sister sciences of Yoga and Ayurveda working together in a practical way for people today?
MV: In my view they are inseparable and, as ancient as Yoga and Ayurveda are, I find they are still the most practical and adaptable systems for the modern age.
We’re in a society today of technological advancement, and everything is moving faster and people are getting more and more stress. Their mind-body relationship is essentially fracturing, they are not connected to their bodies, they are not connected to the inner temple that they have within themselves. And so, Yoga for me—and the way that I’ve learned it and teach it—is a very powerful system to reconnect that mind-body relationship and bring them together in a harmonious way so that you can maximize the strength of your body, you can increase longevity in your life, and live in a more balanced way so you don’t constantly ride the roller coaster of flus and viruses and all the things that are floating around, and so it gives you a great resilience.
Ayurveda gives us tremendous insights and real practical principles to adapt ourselves to changes and fluctuations because, you know, this great Buddhist teacher once said, “the only constant in life is change,” and we have to adapt to that. Yoga and Ayurveda are here to heal our mind, to balance and heal our bodies, and together they are the most effective means for achieving success. That’s what success is to me.
MP: How do you go about teaching groups of people yoga? How do you bring Ayurvedic principles into your yoga classes?
MV: We are all very different, and when we go in to a yoga room there’s many different levels of practice and experience, many different body types, and people are coming from very different cultures throughout the country. So what I try to do is speak a language of individuality and to encourage each person to understand who they are and what their true nature is, what their body-mind type is, and what their life purpose is.
So what I try to do is sort of stir and spark this inner fire in them of enquiry and self-enquiry, to begin to ask those questions, “Who am I? What is my purpose? What is my body like? How does my body function? What are my body’s needs?”
So when a person starts to ask those questions, they may realize that, “Yes, you’re right, I notice this in my body, I notice that it changed a little bit during that time of the year.” They begin to understand that we’re a small piece of this grand Universe. We're a replica of it—we’re all connected in some way. So that’s a beautiful sort of invitation for people to begin to explore, and find their way. There is no one way to Yoga and Ayurveda. We have to each find our unique individualistic way to heal ourselves.
Those Yogis or those Yoga practitioners that also embrace Ayurvedic principles and Ayurvedic knowledge begin to understand Yoga in a very different way, and in a very unique way, and they begin to understand that Yoga, like Ayurveda, is an integral approach to healing, to wellness.
MP: Mas, please share with us how you personally incorporate Ayurveda into your day-to-day?
MV: There are so many aspects to it but in the most practical sense, what is most important to me is listening to my body, and each day checking in with my body, and there’s different ways to do that. One is the wonderful practice of self-massage, abhyanga. This is a practical way and a very nutritious way of feeding our body. The skin, as Ayurveda acknowledges, is the largest organ in the body and we can affect all of the tissues of the body and prevent ailments from coming on. It keeps our body strong, and it gives us a sense of how we’re feeling when we’re actually contacting and touching our body.
The other aspect is daily yoga, I don’t really believe that it is necessary to do long or extensive yoga practices. I’m more prescriptive and selective about choosing maybe two or more asanas and a few Sun Salutations and using those poses specifically according to my constitution and what my dosha type needs that day.
I try to be really practical but the main thing is, am I keeping my mind-body relationship intact. In my view, disease, disorder, dosha, begins with mind body fracturing. When we break the relationship between the mind and the body, we open up that door to imbalance and disorder.
When we keep these two entities, these two instruments that we’re born with as a spirit, as a soul—when we work with them and keep them connected as they are, intrinsically connected, they’re really one thing. The body is just a grosser, denser form of energy, and the mind is a subtler form, more light based, more etheric energy, of atoms and cells. And so these two work together. They work together to teach us how to enjoy life, and they teach us how to heal ourselves and understand what we need to continue this journey, and to enjoy this thing that we call life.
MP: Do you have a daily meditation practice?
MV: Yes. Meditation, I would say, is the bedrock of my practice; it’s my daily priority. Yoga and Ayurveda teach us that the body is a reflection of the mind and the body is basically just the mirror of the mind. Whatever we’re feeling and experiencing systemically, physiologically, is a reflection of the mind. So basically psychology and biology are inter-exchanging with each other constantly.
I don’t encourage anyone to sit and meditate unless their lifestyle is intact and they’re living on a day-to-day basis in a balanced way. This brings in the importance of a daily routine of Ayurveda, which we call the dinacharya. The daily routine is essentially a structure that is established to connect us, our spirit, and our uniqueness, to nature. Self-care is the first step in that direction, as long as the temple is dirty, so to speak, or the house is dirty, there’s no space for energy and consciousness and wellness to exist, so we have to learn self-care. Self-care breeds self-love, compassion, understanding, patience, and this is the hallmark of Ayurveda.
We can’t just jump and skip over to enlightenment. We have to learn how to take care of what God gave us, which was this beautiful body born with five elements with various energies, capacities, and we have to really learn that.
Get connected to your body. Are you exercising regularly? Are you cooking for yourself? Are you doing some walks? I encourage people to stop hiring other people to do things for them, like wash their car. Often people are now paying other people to do their laundry, to clean their house, and I find that you can take those tasks, those rituals of life, and make them meditations for yourself and self-disciplinary actions to connect and use our bodies again. We spend too much time sitting around, pushing buttons, and hoping that things will get done for us. This is not the way of health and wellness, this is not the way of Ayurveda. Ayurveda wants us to have discipline; it wants us to have a good sense of well-being.
“Your health is in your hands and Ayurveda is a powerful system, a science that has tremendous wealth of knowledge. In order for that wisdom to really become effective, each person has to take responsibility, 100%.”