Page 1


The Ayurveda Experience: Text Companion Copyright Š 2015 Transformative Learning Solutions Published by Transformative Learning Solutions Pvt Ltd 3 Ring Road Lajpat Nagar 4, New Delhi-110024 India All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from the publisher, except by reviewers who may quote brief excerpts in connection with a review in a newspaper, magazine, or electronic publication; nor may any part of this book be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or other, without written permission from the publisher.


Transformative Learning Solutions Lissa Coffey

Step-1 Recognizing

5

Step-2 Understanding

19

The Beginning Ayurveda and Modern Medicine The History And Evolution Of The Science Of Ayurveda

Module-1 • Introduction-Part-1 • Introduction-Part-2

-The Doshas and Money -Sleep and Ayurveda

6 8 10

20 29 31 32

• Introduction-Part-3

34

Module-2 • Ayurveda Through the Day and Through the Years Part-1 • Ayurveda Through the Day and Through the Years Part-2

48 54

• Ayurveda Through the Day and Through the Years Part-3

56

Module-3 • Eating the Ayurvedic Way Part-1

64

• Eating the Ayurvedic Way Part-2

72

• Eating the Ayurvedic Way Part-3

79

Module-4 • Exercise and Body Work Part-1

98

• Exercise and Body Work Part-2

107

-Handling Headaches Ayurvedically

-Food for Vata -Food for Pitta -Food for Kapha

-Ayurveda and Food Combinations -The 20 Properties Or Attributes -The Six Tastes -The Process of Digestion -The concept of Ama

-Yoga -Massage

55

66 68 70 75 80 85 88 92

99 103


• Exercise and Body Work Part-3

110

Module-5 • Meditation Techniques Part-1

134

• Meditation Techniques Part-2

141

• Meditation Techniques Part-3

145

Module-6 • Breath and Energy Part-1

152

-Exercises for Vata -Exercises for Pitta -Exercises for Kapha -Breathing Exercises -Yoga poses for body types -The Sun Salutation -Choosing Yoga poses as per your body type -Warm-up before the exercise/sport -Sample exercise regimen for Dosha types

-Meditation Techniques -Mala Beads -Mantras for the Doshas

-Ayurveda and Depression

-Advanced Meditation Techniques -Samatha meditation -Satipatthana meditation -Meditating on the Chakras -Inner Smile meditation -Laughter meditation

-Prana -Alternate Nostril Breathing Pranayama -Cooling Pranayama -Breath of Fire Pranayama

117 118 120 121 122 126 129 131 132

135 139 140 143 145 146 147 147 149 150

152 156 157 157

• Breath and Energy-The Chakras and The Chakra Diet • Breath and Energy Part-2

158 163

Module-7 • Ayurvedic Self Care Part-1

166

-Ayurvedic Eye Care -Ayurvedic Weight Control -Bad Breath Remedies

166 167 168


-Ear, Nose and Throat -Hair Care (Basic) -Indigestion

169 169 170

• Ayurvedic Self Care Part-2

171

• Ayurvedic Self Care Part-3

181

-Women’s Health -Men’s Health -Self diagnosis and the 8-Fold Exam -The massage routine -Ayurveda dry massage -Ayurvedic Head massage -Ayurvedic Foot Massage -The self care routine to strengthen the senses -The self care routine for specific organs and organ systems

Step-3 Optimizing

-The Concept of Beauty in Ayurveda -Ayurveda and Skin -How to care for your skin -Some nutrition tips -Avoid list -Hair Care and Ayurveda --General tips for hair care --Dandruff, Premature Graying of Hair, Hair Loss & Hair Fall -Top 10 everyday problems and their Ayurvedic Remedies 1.Acidity 2.Constipation 3.Flatulence 4.Burning micturition (burning during urination) 5.Common cold 6.Cough 7.Lumbago or back pain 8.Common ailments of the oral cavity 9.Poor eyesight 10.Obesity Sample Meals For The Doshas 10 Bad Habits You’ve Gotten Into And How To Correct Them Nadi Pariksha (Pulse Diagnosis)

172 173 174 181 185 186 187 189 191

197 198 199 201 205 206 208 211 212 216 216 218 220 223 225 228 233 234 235 236 240 243 246


Transformative Learning Solutions Transformative Learning Solutions is a Digital Publishing Firm where Leading Professors, Experts and Film Makers work together to spread the Intellectual wealth of the teachings of Ancient Indian Wisdom, Alternative Health Practices, Indian History, Mythology, Philosophy etc. to audiences across the world. We promote holistic health and complete mental, emotional and spiritual growth by empowering people through easy and practical Personal Development Multimedia Programs . Courses are also available online in Video Formats through: www.theAyurvedaexperience.com www.theayurvedicbalancedietclub.com www.thevedantaexperience.com www.thebuddhaexperience.com www.theshivaexperience.com www.theganeshaexperience.com www.thegoddessesexperience.com www.thevishnuexperience.com Contact Us at: info@transformative.in

Transformative


Lissa Coffey Lissa Coffey is a lifestyle and relationship expert who serves up an inspiring blend of ancient wisdom and modern style. She’s been living an Ayurvedic lifestyle since researching her first book, “The Healthy Family Handbook” in 1996. Lissa appears frequently on television and radio, and contributes to many national publications with her insightful and compassionate approach to modern-day issues. Lissa Coffey is a certified instructor with The Chopra Center. Deepak Chopra says: “Coffey brings the timeless wisdom of Ayurveda to a contemporary audience and shows us how to discover more about ourselves and our relationship. Ayurveda expert Lissa Coffey is the world-renowned authority on Ayurveda and Relationships. -Lissa received the “Dharma Award” from AAPNA for her Excellence in Promoting Awareness of Ayurveda. -Her best-selling book “What’s Your Dosha, Baby? Discover the Vedic Way for Compatibility in Life and Love” is the only book ever published on Ayurveda and Relationships, and it has been translated into five languages. -Lissa Coffey has appeared on national television and has lectured worldwide on the subject of Ayurveda and Relationships. -In 2005 she was awarded a commendation from Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for “Outstanding Contribution to the Yoga Community.” -Her first book on Ayurveda: “The Healthy Family Handbook: Natural Remedies for Parents and Children” was released in 1997. -She has published seven books. Her most recent book is “The Perfect Balance Diet: 4 Weeks to a Lighter Body, Mind, Spirit & Space.”


8


Step 1

Recognizing 9


The Beginning… Ayurveda is the Science of Life – it explains the nature of everything in the universe, and it is the art of living in harmony with nature. The word Ayurveda is made up of two Sanskrit words, ’Ayu’ meaning life, or more specifically, the life process and ‘veda’ meaning knowledge . So Ayurveda can be aptly defined as the ‘knowledge of life and life process.’

Ayurveda is well known as an alternative form of health care. It dates back more than 5,000 years. The first written records of Ayurveda are found in the Vedas, the oldest and largest body of knowledge in history. But Ayurveda is even older than this, because it started as an oral tradition, with the knowledge being passed down by the rishis, who studied nature and its laws, and how these laws relate to human beings. Ayurvedic knowledge spread into other parts of the world as time went on. Eventually, it made its way to Greece, where it had a profound influence on the development of medicine there.

6


During the 15th century, when India was under the influence of European colonization and eventually British rule, Ayurveda all but disappeared. In 1835 the British banned Ayurveda in favor of European medicine. But at the beginning of the 20th century, the Indian independence movement began, and India fought for the renewed recognition of Ayurveda. Now Ayurveda is once again prominent–not just in India but across the globe and its coursework is found at major schools and universities around the world. The principle behind Ayurveda is balance. Ayurveda is used in two ways: as a preventive health care system by keeping the body balanced, and as a responsive health care system to bring the body back into balance. While Western medicine looks at an illness and seeks to rid the patient of its symptoms, Ayurveda looks at the whole patient and seeks to bring him or her back into a state of balance, thereby creating a natural state of health. This balance is achieved through diet, exercise, and lifestyle. Because of the popularity of yoga, and meditation, which are both sister sciences of Ayurveda, people are recognizing Ayurveda as a valuable system of healing. Today many doctors combine Ayurveda with Western medicine in a harmonious blending of East and West.

7


Ayurveda and Modern Medicine We tend to think that newer is always better. There is new technology coming out every day and we always want the next gadget. Medicine has evolved quite a bit over the ages. But just because western medicine is newer, doesn’t mean that it’s better for us. For example, western medicine often relies on aggressive and costly prescription drugs and expensive surgery to deal with problems related to body toxicity. These methods generally address only the symptoms of toxicity and not the underlying causes. As soon as you stop using the drugs, the problems return! And the use of these prescription drugs often results in unwanted or even dangerous side effects. Let’s say you have a migraine headache – this is frequently caused by toxin buildup in the body. There are several medications that a western doctor would commonly prescribe to alleviate migraines. Their side-effects include blurred vision, confusion, constipation, dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, faintness, fatigue, increased appetite, weakness, and/or weight gain. In this case, the side-effects of the medication, like constipation and increased appetite, accelerate the damage to the digestive tract, so even toxins build up and the symptoms worsen. Another condition related to body toxicity is constipation, or slow bowel movements. Laxatives are commonly prescribed for treatment in western medicine. Magnesium hydroxide is the most common active ingredient in laxatives. However,

8


this particular chemical doesn’t remove the buildup on the walls of the colon. It only liquefies the contents of your bowel to produce watery stools. The long-term usage of laxatives has been shown to weaken the intestinal muscles that serve as the digestive system’s engine. This approach is counterproductive and worsens the condition that it is meant to treat. In contrast, Ayurveda is the oldest form of medicine on the planet. It is the most holistic and comprehensive medical system available. Ayurveda uses the inherent principles of nature to help maintain a person’s health by keeping the individual’s body, mind, and spirit in perfect balance with nature. Ayurveda offers recommendations for our lifestyle that help us to stay healthy, and therapies for purification and detoxification that bring us back into balance when we are not feeling our best. Ayurveda delves deep into defining the root cause of a disease and prescribes the therapeutic use of various herbal medicines and holistic treatments for enhancing the capabilities and vigor of your body’s detoxification system, while at the same time strengthening the body and your overall well-being. Now doesn’t that make more sense? We’ve gotten away from our true nature – while we’ve been busy advancing technology and science, we’ve forgotten who we are, and what we are made of. Ayurveda helps us to gently and beautifully remember what it is like to be whole, healthy, and functioning optimally in body, mind and spirit. Ayurveda helps us to find our balance, and to stay in balance, so that we can express our healthiest and happiest selves.

9


The History And Evolution Of The Science Of Ayurveda Hita hitam sukham dukham, ayuh tasya hita hitam i manam cha tachcha yatraoktAmayurvedah sa uchyate ii “Where advantageous and disadvantageous, as well as happy and unhappy states of life, along with what is good and bad for life, its measurement and life itself are described, that science is known as Ayurveda...”

Says Charaka, in Charaka Samhita-Sutra Sthan, Chapter-1, Verse-41… Was this a sage walking down the banks of the river Ganga, or was it a community of believers? Who was Charaka? What is the Charaka Samhita and how do the origins of Ayurveda lead us to this question? Flipping through the ancient chapters of India’s vast history, the origin of Ayurveda goes deeper than ink could run… Looking for an answer to this question, we reach back into a time when memory was the paper and voice, the pen. As the legend goes, the solemn god of creation, knowledge and wisdom, Brahma, contemplated deep within his ‘being’ and recalled the ancient knowledge of the science of life, Ayurveda. As our genes pass on in blood lines, the wisdom of ancient India passed on from father to child, and thus, within the ‘cells’ of his consciousness, Brahma’s son Daksha Prajapati carried forward what he learnt from his father.

10


Even deeper than bloodlines ran the ancient Indian teacherstudent tradition or the guru-shishya parampara and Daksha Prajapati, more popularly known as the father of the Indian Goddess Sati, the wife of Lord Shiva, passed it on to Ashvinikumars who were the doctors of the gods and were known as the Devas of Ayurvedic medicine. The Ashvinikumars further imparted this knowledge to Lord Indra. Then, desirous of longevity, the powerful ascetic Rishi Bharadwaja came to Indra, the lord and protector of Gods, to learn the science of life. He then shared it with Punarvasu Atreya. Engraved in the minds of yogis, the knowledge of Ayurveda was recalled within their consciousness, etched on to their memory and thus passed on orally. Charaka the scholar, also famous as the Father of Medicine, having learnt orally, then penned down the teachings of Punarvasu Atreya who taught in Takshila University in the Buddhist Era, in the form of Charaka Samhita, a treatise on ancient Indian Medicine. Written as volumes of Sanskrit prose and poetry, this authoritative text consists of 9295 sutras and 120 Adhyayas or chapters. Sushruta, the Father of Surgery, also contributed to Ayurveda. The author of the authoritative treatise on surgery,‘Sushruta Samhita’, the origins of Sushruta have been traced back to the 6th century BC. Ayurveda is the oldest system among all life sciences. It originated in India thousands of years ago. It is not easy to determine the exact period of its origin as this science is the work of thousands of thinkers, philosophers and investigators through the ages. Ayurveda evolved from the quest to have

11


a happy life, through a deep understanding of creation and its maintenance, perceived and conceived by the Rishis or seers of ancient India, and was passed on through the oral tradition of teaching and learning. The first documentation of Ayurveda is found in the Vedas, the world’s oldest existing form of literature. The exact period of Vedas is also not known because for untold centuries, the Vedic sciences had been passed orally from generation to generation. However, historians believe that the period of documented literature falls between 2000 - 1000 BC. This period was dedicated to research, observations, and conclusions at a higher level of consciousness by enlightened scholars. This important information was then communicated to deserving disciples and students. At the end of the Vedic period, the progressive establishment of scientific Ayurveda began. The Rishis held conferences to discuss and exchange their experiences. They documented detailed sensory and extrasensory perceptions in order to establish a scientifically accepted principle. The minutes of these congresses are compiled in the form of Samhitas. They are the basis of Ayurvedic teachings and practice even today. Carakasamhita, Sushruta Samhita and Astangahrdaya are the most important and popular am ong these samhitas, compiled roughly between 1500 BC - 500 AD. In these texts ,all eight clinical branches of Ayurveda are described along with the fundamental principles. These fundamentals on which the Ayurvedic system is based are essentially true for all the time and are equally relevant even today. We find in this history that Ayurveda did not originate or develop as a separate independent system. It was part of the evolution of knowledge concerning the well-being of all 12


humans. The goal was to enjoy the ecstasy of the ultimate truth. All of the Vedic philosophies are the result of these quests. Ayurveda is a practical integration of important Vedic philosophical systems including yoga, thoughtfully combined with useful tools for health care. Ayurveda has been defined by ‘Charakaa’ the exponent and highest authority on Ayurvedic principles. And this is how he defines “life”: “Life is a combination of body (shareer) , senses (indriyas), mind (satva) and the spirit or consciusness (atma). The body, without the senses, mind and spirit is dead.” As we discussed earlier, the “Body” is thought to be a conglomerate of the five basic elements that the cosmos is composed of, as per Indian philosophy: air, space, fire, water and earth. This body, when combined with sense organs, mind and spirit, takes the form of life. Ayurveda believes that life is not just the beating of a heart and respiration going on in a body. The sense organs which are further divided into 5 sense organs and 5 action organs, are responsible for gathering knowledge, communication and our actions. These organs should be able to perceive their respective impulses and perform their actions appropriately. The 5 sense organs, or in Sanskrit The ‘Jnanendriyas’ are: The Ears-to hear, the skin-to feel, the eyes-to see, the tongue-to taste and the nose – to smell. The 5 action organs, or in Sanskrit the 5 ‘Karmendriyas’ are: The hands - to work, the legs - to walk, the anus - to eliminate wastes, the tongue and organs of speech - to speak and communicate, and genitals for sexual activity, urination and procreation.

13


Satva or mind is the subtle basis and abode of ego, perception, intellect and memory. It is not actually the physical brain, but a subtle force. The mind operates at two levels and performs various functions: The first level is the subconscious-At this level the mind stores the experiences gathered through the previous lives (Ayurveda believes in rebirth theory or reincarnation) as well as the current life that determines the beliefs, attitudes, feelings, and emotions of an individual. The second level is the conscious-At this level the mind exhibits following functions: • Willingness, determination, reasoning and discovery, intelligence and emotions like anger, greed etc. • It acts as a messenger to take sensory inputs from the sense organs to the brain. • It processes the knowledge that has been gathered through the sense organs. We can understand how important it is to have a sound mind because without one, the body with its 10 senses will have a meaningless life. Both body and mind are vulnerable to their respective diseases. Atma or soul is the life principle, the divine consciousness which, along with the subtle body, enters the fertilised ovum. Atma pervades through all three and gives them life force to do their respective jobs. Without the presence of Atma the body cannot perform its functions and becomes lifeless. Atma is not affected by disease, greed, ignorance or anythingit just stands testimony to all the deeds and experiences perceived by the body through the mind and sense organs. It is immortal, pure consciousness and passes from birth to birth along with the subtle body when the physical body

14


disintegrates. It is the representation of cosmic consciousness. No doubt, life without Atma is unimaginable. Going back to Charaka’s definition of Ayurveda, an appropriate life means a life bestowed with a healthy body having fully functional sense organs, and a balanced mind free from negative emotions, and filled with divine consciousness. The opposite is an inappropriate life. A happy life is when there is a pervading sense of well-being of body and mind which is the result following an Ayurvedic lifestyle. The opposite of that is an unhappy life. Our goal is to live an appropriate and happy life. Ayurveda shows us how to do that by providing the knowledge about the most suitable food, lifestyle and medicines. It’s also important to know about the unsuitable food, lifestyle and medicines that lay the foundation for an inappropriate and unhappy life. That way, we can make the best decisions for ourselves. So we can appreciate that Ayurveda is not just a treatise on medicines or treatment modalities of diseases, but is a complete doctrine on life and life processes right from the stage of conception through old age and death, covering all the aspects of the physical, mental and spiritual health of an individual. In Ayurveda the human being or the ‘Purusha’ as an individual is referred to, takes centerstage and all its teachings and treatments are directed towards the well-being of the individual as a whole and not just the disease he or she is suffering from. Ayurveda has three main aspects to it in keeping the ‘Purusha’ or the individual human being in mind: • To preserve the health of the individual (preventive health care) • To promote the health of a healthy individual

15


• To cure the disease of an individual. To achieve these goals Ayurveda has 8 branches of medicine: • • • • • • • •

Internal medicine Surgery Head and neck (ear, nose, throat, and eyes) Pediatrics and obstetrics Toxicology Rejuvenation therapy, geriatrics Therapies to increase virility and sexual performance Psychology

And now, let’s move on to really understanding the Ayurvedic concepts that will help you practically transform your life through the next module!

16


# Fun Fact Another legend attributes Ayurveda to Dhanvantari who emerged from the Ksheera Sagar or the Ocean of Milk. The Legend of ‘Samudramanthan’ or the Churning of the Ocean tells the tale of the Demons and the Gods who came together to obtain am brosia or the Elixir of Immortality and in the process emerged Lord Dhanvantari with herbs in one hand and am brosia in the other! Dhanvantari is known as the father of Ayurveda, or the Hindu God of Medicine. It is said that simply remembering Dhanvantari, holding his image in mind, brings the removal of all physical suffering. What a guy! His right hand is raised in the mudra indicating fearlessness. He holds a pot of am brosia, which represents physical health, well-being, and longevity. If you are studying Ayurveda, it is traditional to keep Dhanvantari somewhere nearby, as he will help with your mastery of the medical sciences and bless you with spiritual knowledge and liberation.

Pot of Ambrosia Physical Health, Well being, & longevity.

Right Hand Fearlessness

17


Step 2

Understanding


Module-1 Ayurveda: The Science Of Life Part-1 The ancient Indian science of life called Ayurveda explains that human beings, like the universe, are made up of each of the five elements (air, space, fire, water and earth) and the Soul. Therefore, our bodies are a microcosm of the universe itself. How are these elements expressed in our bodies? *Air is inhaled during breathing, it pumps the blood through our system to keep us alive. *Space is in the hollow cavities of the body, and we require space to move around. *Fire is a part of our digestive system that helps to break down the food we eat and burn calories to give us energy. *Water comprises about two-thirds of our body, and we need water to survive. *Earth is in our bones and the vital minerals that keep us healthy.

20


These elements, in their biological form, are known as doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vata is made up of a combination of Air and Space. Pitta is a combination of Fire and Water. Kapha is made up of a combination of Earth and Water. Every activity and function of our mind and body is dependent upon the balanced or unbalanced state of our doshas. Because we all have all of the elements in VATA our bodies, we have each of the doshas as well. But every one of us is born with a unique, individual balance of these doshas. So, no two of us are alike! The idea is to find what our own special combination of PITTA KAPHA doshas is, and to work to keep it in balance so that we stay in radiant health mentally, emotionally, and physically. Ayurveda helps us understand our natural tendencies, how we operate, and what it takes for us to get along with the people in our lives. Through learning about our doshas, we learn to recognize our strengths and work on our weaknesses. Since health is not just physical but also mental, emotional, and spiritual, Ayurveda can be used to help us create and maintain healthy relationships. It can help us to better understand ourselves, and the people in our lives. We can work with our natural strengths to help balance each other out. We can stop trying to “change” others to fit our needs, and instead accept a person’s characteristics as a part of their wholeness, and honor who they are.

21


Vata Vata-type people are generally thin and find it hard to gain weight. Because of this, Vatas have very little energy reserve and can tire VATA easily and get themselves out of balance. Vatas need to get sufficient rest and not overdo things, stay warm, and keep a regular lifestyle routine. Vatas are creative, and get bored easily. Think about a hummingbird as a very Vata-like creature, very light and airy, going from one thing to the next quickly and unpredictably. The Vata dosha controls all movement in the body, including breathing, digestion, and nerve impulses from the brain. When Vata is out of balance, anxiety and other nervous disorders may be present. Digestive problems, constipation, cramps, and even premenstrual pain are usually attributed to a Vata imbalance. The most important thing to know about Vata is that it leads the other doshas. Vata usually goes out of balance first, which causes the early stages of disease. More than half of all illnesses are Vata disorders. Balancing Vata is important for everyone, because when Vata is in balance, Pitta and Kapha are generally in balance as well.

22


Pitta PITTA

Pitta-type people are generally of medium size and well-proportioned. They have a medium am ount of physical energy and stamina. They also tend to be intelligent and have a sharp wit and a good ability to concentrate.

Fire is a characteristic of Pitta, whether it shows up as fiery red hair or a short temper. Since Pittas’ body temperature is generally warm, Pitta types can go out of balance with overexposure to the sun. Their eyes are sensitive to light. They are ambitious by nature but can also be demanding and abrasive. Pitta types are known for their strong digestion but should be careful not to abuse it. Their heat makes them particularly thirsty, and they should take care not to douse their agni, or digestive fire, with too much liquid during meals. Pitta dosha leads us to crave moderation and purity. We rely on Pitta to regulate our intake of food, water, and air. Any toxins, such as alcohol or tobacco, show up as a Pitta imbalance. Toxic emotions such as jealousy, intolerance, and hatred also should be avoided to keep Pitta in balance for optimum health. An eagle is representative of Pitta in nature. Strong, powerful, and goal-oriented.

23


Kapha KAPHA

Kapha-type people tend to have sturdy, heavy frames, providing a good reserve of physical strength and stamina. This strength gives Kaphas a natural resistance to disease and a generally positive outlook about life.

The Kapha dosha is slow, and Kapha types tend to be slow eaters with slow digestion. They also speak slowly. They are calm and affectionate but, when out of balance, can become stubborn and lazy. They learn slowly, with a methodical approach, but also retain information well with a good understanding of it. Kapha dosha controls the moist tissues of the body, so a Kapha imbalance may show up as a cold, allergies, or asthma. Kapha types need to progress to stay in balance. They should not dwell in the past or resist change. They need lots of exercise and need to be careful not to overeat. Kaphas need stimulation to bring out their vitality. Kapha dosha teaches us steadiness and a sense of well-being. The swan is a very Kapha-like animal. Heavy, serene, and family-oriented.

24


VATA

PITTA

KAPHA

Thick, oily, often dark and curly

Hair

Dry

Fine, usually straight, may be reddish, sandy, thinning, or prematurely gray

Eyes

Small, dark, often close set or wide set

Bright, often gray or blue

Large, wide, thick lashes and brows

Build

Thin body frame, light muscles, long legs and arms

Medium body frame, often muscular

Solid, sturdy, large bones and muscles, may be overweight

Skin

Dry, rough, thin-visible veins

Warm, pale, ruddy, may have freckles

Thick, oily, smooth, cool

Nails

Brittle, may have ridges

Medium in size, pinkish in color

Large, smooth, white in color

Voice

Low, weak, quick, talkative

High, sharp, clear, organized, argumentative

Deep, slow, silent, good vocalists

Lips

Thin, dry

Medium in size, pinkish in color

Full, moist

Walking Pace

Quick, uneven, hyper

Moderate, goal-oriented

Slow, steady

25


Because we each have all five elements in our physiology, we also have all three doshas present. Yet each of us is unique and no two mind/body types are exactly alike. Our dosha is like our fingerprint, and we might find that two of the doshas express themselves strongly, and sometimes all three express themselves equally. The dosha combination that we are born with is our perfect state of balance, and this is known as our prakruti. The dosha we exhibit at any particular time, when we may be out of balance in some way, is our vikruti. Basically, when we are out of balance we need to make lifestyle adjustments to bring ourselves back to our natural state of balance so that we can be our healthiest and happiest. An Ayurvedic physician can provide the most accurate diagnosis of a mind/body type. Typically, the doctor will use a special pulse diagnosis, have you answer a series of questions, and look at your tongue and your physical features to determine your particular combination of doshas. The doctor can also detect any imbalances and recommend specific Ayurvedic herbs and lifestyle adjustments, if necessary. If you are interested in learning more about Ayurveda and adopting this lifestyle, and particularly if you are not feeling well, it would be a good idea to consult an Ayurvedic professional. Being in balance not only means being healthier and happier, but also being the best person you can be! Here are some of the character traits of doshas when they are in balance versus when they are out of balance:

26


VATA

When in Balance You Are

When Out of Balance You Are

PITTA

KAPHA

Enthusiastic Alert Flexible Creative Talkative Responsive

Loving Content Intelligent Articulate Courageous

Affectionate Steady Methodical High stamina Resistant to illnesses

Restless Fatigued Constipated Anxious Underweight

Perfectionist Frustrated Angry Impatient Irritable Prematurely

Dull Prone to oily skin Prone to allergies Possessive Oversleeping Overweight

gray or have early hair loss

27


Personality qualities of the Doshas:

VATA

PITTA

KAPHA

Dreams

Flying, falling

Problem solving, test-taking

Romantic, involving water

Particularly Sensitive To

Music, sounds, touch

Mood lighting

Seductive scents, good food and drink

Money Spending Tendencies

Usually spends too much money, often on unnecessary things

Doesn’t spend much money on day to day things, but splurges on luxuries

Doesn’t like spending money, has lots of money in savings

Learns Best By

Listening

Reading, visuals

Association

Memory

Learns quickly, forgets quickly

Good, sharp memory

Learns slowly, but then doesn’t forget

28


Part-2 Snake Story: To better understand the differences between the doshas, there is an old story that I’ve updated a bit. A Vata, a Pitta, and a Kapha walk into a bar… they see a snake! The Vata

The Pitta

The Kapha

We don’t necessarily need to know all the subtle qualities of each dosha in order to stay in balance. However, having this knowledge can help us when we need to address specific conditions. It also helps us to understand more about how nature works, and how it expresses through our doshas. Each dosha has subtle aspects that express in unique ways to perform various functions. These are the subtle qualities of Vata

VATA

-Prana. Prana is seated in the brain. It is the primary aspect of Vata from which the other four are derived. The word prana loosely translated from Sanskrit means to “breathe forth.” Prana governs swallowing and inhalation, and regulates the senses, mental process, heart and consciousness. -Upward Moving. Udana is seated in the throat and is active in the chest. It governs speech and exhalation. It helps us to expand our consciousness and to relax. -Equalizing. Samana is seated in the small intestine. It governs digestion, assimilation, and biochemical processes. -Pervasive. Vyana is seated in the heart region. It governs circulation and movement. -Downward moving. Apana is seated in the colon. It governs elimination, menstruation, childbirth, and expulsion of reproductive fluids.

29


These are the subtle qualities of Pitta

PITTA

-Digestive Fire. Agni is the primary aspect of Pitta from which the other four are derived. It is seated in the small intestine. A strong digestion is necessary for the body to transform food into fuel. -Knowledge. Seated in the brain and heart, knowledge concerns our powers of discernment and our ability to plan and to reach goals. -Radiance. Seated in the skin, radiance influences the complexion and governs the processing of heat. -Visual Perception. Seated in the eyes, perception governs the reception of light and sight. -Coloring. Seated in the liver, coloring influences the blood, stomach, spleen and small intestine. It governs the coloring of bile, blood and body waste. These are the subtle qualities of Kapha

KAPHA

-Calming. Seated in the brain and the heart region, this aspect of Kapha helps us with emotional stability. It also improves our memory. -Lubrication. This is the fluid in the joints of the bones. -Moistening. This is the secretion of mucus in the stomach and elsewhere. -Perception. Seated in the mouth and tongue, this shows up as saliva that helps us taste food. It also helps with the first stage of digestion. -Support. Seated in the lungs and heart. The basis of phlegm and other actions of Kapha corresponds to the watery essence (plasma) distributed by the actions of the heart and lungs.

30


The doshas express themselves in our personality – let’s take a look at some examples: The Doshas and Money Our doshas have an influence on how we handle money. If we are aware of these tendencies, we can work to become more diligent and responsible with our spending habits. Vatas tend to spend too much money. Vatas love to shop, and are often impulsive with their spending. They are likely to have things in their closets that they have never worn. One strategy for Vatas would be to have money automatically deposited from their paychecks into a savings account. VATA

Pittas don’t like to spend money, but they do splurge on special items. Whether it is a piece of jewelry, or a nice car, if they really want it, they will save for it and get it. They are goal-oriented, and will work hard to achieve their goals. Pittas need to be careful not to become workaholics. A good strategy for Pittas would be to allocate certain hours for rest and relaxation and not even think about work during that time. PITTA

Kaphas are really good savers. They avoid shopping, but when they do have to go out, they look for bargains. Kaphas also tend to hold on to items for longer than necessary. They think that they are saving by doing this, but in most cases, it is causing some inertia. A good strategy for Kaphas is to go through their closets every few months and donate unused items to charity. KAPHA

31


Sleep and Ayurveda Our sleep affects our health and our general mood throughout the day. If you’re tossing and turning, are restless, snore, or feel sleepy during the day, then you may be having problems getting the deep sleep you need. There are basically three different kinds of sleep disorders, one for each dosha. VATA

PITTA

KAPHA

When you have trouble falling asleep, that is typically because of too much Vata. If you fall asleep, and then wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back to sleep, that is indicative of a Pitta imbalance. When you can’t seem to get enough sleep, you have trouble waking up in the morning, then that shows an overabundance of Kapha.

There are lots of reasons why we may have trouble sleeping, and no matter what they are, Ayurveda has solutions to help us get a good night’s rest. ▪ Avoid caffeine, especially after noon. ▪ Eat a light meal between 5 and 7 pm. This will give you time to digest it before you go to sleep, so that your body can rest more soundly. ▪ An hour before bed, relax. Avoid stimulating activities such as working on the computer, or watching the nightly news. Take a nice bath, or listen to music. Use this time to wind down. Take slow, deep breaths. ▪ Get to bed by 10 pm. This is still Kapha time, when our body naturally wants to rest. ▪ Wear comfortable clothing to bed, breathable fabrics like cotton. ▪ Keep the room dark or dimly lit.

32


In addition to knowing about the doshas, it is helpful to know about the GUNAS. “Guna” is a Sanskrit word that represents the three qualities of nature, or types of energy. The three qualities are: Rajas: Comes from the root verb raj, which means “to glow.” It is a state of motion, vibrant, active, where the mind is overactive. Tamas: Comes from the root verb tam, which means “to perish.” It is a state of dullness, inertia, dormancy, where the mind is underactive. Sattva: Comes from the root sat, meaning “being.” This is a state of beingness, where there is nothing to do, no desire, just light and bliss. Sattva is a balance of rajas and tamas that is purity, harmony and lightness. This is what we strive for – being in balance.

33


Part-3 The Ayurvedic understanding of disease and health is based mainly on the study of: 1. Hetu (causative factors): The main causative factors are the result of improper application of intelligence, inappropriate use of the sensory faculties and disturbed qualities of the seasons. 2. Linga (signs and symptoms): Ayurveda gives a detailed account of signs and symptoms of diseases including the interplay of the doshas, the stage of the disease and the prognosis of the disease. 3. Aushad (therapeutic management of diseases and health): These measures are divided into two categories. The first includes the measures for a healthy individual to maintain his health. The second includes the measures to help a person recover from a disease. Ayurveda emphasizes prevention first, and then early treatment of the diseases. All Ayurvedic knowledge revolves around these three aspects of health and disease. In each of the three aspects of health and disease management, the Ayurvedic physician looks for and follows the basic principle of similarity and dissimilarity. The similar is responsible for the increase and the dissimilar is responsible for the decrease of substances, properties and actions respectively. This means that when a similar substance is consumed, or a property of similar nature is used, or an action similar in nature is undertaken, it will respectively increase the similar substance, property and the action in the body. The opposite holds for dissimilar substances, properties or actions which will decrease the respective dissimilar

34


substance, property or action in the body. Ayurvedic therapy and diets, recommendations for substance, property and action can also be used together. Now that you know about the doshas, you can understand why like increases like. For example: More Vata increases Vata. Vata is cold, dry, and light. Put a Vata person in cold, dry, windy weather and they get out of balance, they feel anxious, their skin becomes dry, and they are generally not happy. Instead, put a Vata person in a warm, humid climate and that person thrives. They become more balanced, calm, their skin glows and they feel great. This principle of similarity and dissimilarity is used everywhere in preventive, promotive and therapeutic health care by Ayurveda. When we talk about the doshas, and your individual dosha type, there are 7 possible dosha types, depending on which of the doshas is expressed most strongly in an individual’s personality and physiology: Vata, Pitta, Kapha, KaphaPitta, Pitta-Vata, Kapha-Vata and the last Tri-Dosha, or “Sum Prakruti” which has a balanced contribution from of each the three doshas. To diagnose your constitution or natural state of balance, your Prakruti, you have to relate to your original self and list the features present in yourself through most of your life when you are your healthiest and happiest. It is possible that you might not fall in one single category and/or might not have all the features mentioned in one single category. But the majority of features which relate to you determines your predominant dosha. Most of us fall in two categories with one being predominant, while only a few individuals show features of all three categories. The last category of people are thought to have a ‘balanced or sum prakriti’ and thus do not fall sick easily. The

35


other categories of people with one dominant dosha or two doshas are susceptible to getting the diseases pertaining the respective doshas if they are exposed to causative factors. In fact, no prakruti is bad. The constitution we have at birth forms the basis for our physical growth and physiological and metabolic activities and mental make-up. We should just know how to live with it, how best to stay in balance. It’s only when this personal balance of our doshas gets disturbed that we fall sick. And the dosha which is most predominant in our prakruti is obviously the most vulnerable. The body will always yearn to achieve its natural state of balance every time it is faced with factors that cause it to become out of balance. There are factors that influence the Prakruti. These include: 1. The mental state of our parents at the time of conception. 2. Genetic factors, including if someone comes from a family proficient in art, music, teaching, or science. These traits can be passed down through generations. 3. Our age. Because we are so influenced by Kapha in childhood, Pitta in adulthood and Vata as we are older this can mask our original Prakruti. 4. Our ethnicity and nationality. People from various parts of the world have particular features associated with their country of origin. 5. The time of day and the season in which we were conceived.

36


Now Let’s take a closer look at the 5 elements and how they influence the mind and body: 1. Space (Akash)-Akash is the first element in the process of evolution as it has been depicted as an all-pervading, omnipresent element covering the entire cosmos. It has the maximum expanse. Non-resistance is its specific attribute. When we hit a solid substance we feel resistance, but when we move our hand in space we do not feel any resistance. Whatever be the expanse of an object, it will be its Akash. Whatever be the space occupied by a person, building, country etc will be their respective Akash. Whatever is the limit of a person or an object, is also the limit of the respective Akash. In the human body the akash is represented by all the pervading spaces like • • • • • •

The numerous pores of the skin Space inside the body Alveolar and bronchiolar spaces Chambers of the heart Alimentary canal Blood vessels etc.

2. Air (Vayu)-We have air all around us. Though we cannot see it, it can be perceived by the feeling of touch and when the wind blows against the skin. And we can see the effects of air through the motion of trees, fans, and windmills. Motion, movement and speed are means by which we recognize Vayu. Akash or space is the seat of Vayu. Vayu is responsible for all movements in the cosmos. It might not be the air that flows in the earth’s atmosphere, but air itself can take various forms to control the movements in the cosmos as a whole. Due to Vayu there is vibration in the cosmos and in the body the same vibration at a micro level is responsible for the sustenance of life. In our body it controls 37


all the movement at a physical level (circulation of blood, expansion and contraction of the chest etc.), and also at the neuro-psychic level (the thought process, travelling of nerve impulses etc.). All creativity, from sprouting of a seed to growth of a fetus to regeneration of cells to creative ideas –all are possible only through Vayu.

3. Fire (Agni)-Agni transforms and metamorphoses everything in the universe. Agni is present in each and every particle and each and every cell of our body. The same agni is present in each and every particle of the cosmos and manifests in different forms such as the luminosity of the stars, the electricity in the clouds, or the fire from wood. Heat, burning and transformation are the main attributes of Agni. In our body Agni gives heat and radiance, by burning the food consumed and transforming the ‘food juice’ formed from of the process of digestion into the subtle elements essential for the nourishment and growth of various tissues of our body. At the mental level, Agni transforms the stimuli received from the senses into knowledge and thoughts.

4. Water (Jal)-The water element has the inherent property of cohesion. The water we see is composed of all five elements with dominance of Water element. In the cosmos the Water element is responsible for balancing the Fire element. So much so that the universe is visualised as a combination of Agni (fire) and Soma (Water). Fluidity, cohesiveness and cold are the hallmark of the Water element. As in the cosmos, the water element balances the Agni in our body. It is responsible for maintaining the fluidity of various important body components and for holding together various tissues in our body. At the mental level it is responsible for the feelings of love and affection which holds the family together.

38


5. Earth (Prithvi): The most important inherent property of the Earth element is to give substance. Like we described in the case of water, the earth we inhabit does not represent the Earth element. In the cosmos the earth element is responsible for giving matter the ability to be perceived, to exist, to be still in the dimensions of time and space. When this matter comes under gravitational force, it results in weight. So in our body all that is substantive, heavy, stable and still is represented primarily by the earth element – for example, our bones. Due to its inherent properties the Earth element in our body gives anchorage or ‘holding capacity.’ Now let’s look at how the three doshas express themselves in our mind and body: 1. The Vata dosha- Made up of the elements of air and space, the Sanskrit word Vata is derived from the verb ‘Va’ which means motion. Vata is responsible for all the movements in our body and also due to its continuous motion, keeps the life force permeating through all parts of the body. There are 5 types of Vata depending on the function and the site of action: -The Pran – The word pran literally means the foremost to sustain life. It controls the functions of respiration, salivation, sneezing, and more. The site of Prana vayu is the head, chest, throat, tongue, mouth and nose. -The Udan – Udan literally means to cause upward movement. The functions of Udan are strength, enthusiasm, complexion, and memory. Its sites of action are the umbilicus, chest and throat, and the naso-pharynx. -The Saman- Saman is responsible for regulating the secretion of digestive juices, to regulate the passage of

39


food through stomach and small intestine, to help the digestive fire to digest the food properly, to segregate the nutrients from the waste products during digestion of food, and to help in the absorption of nutrients from the nutrient rich food juice formed after the process of digestion. Its site of action is the umbilical region. -The Vyan-Vyan is responsible for the pulsation of the heart and the circulation of blood along with the nutrients absorbed from the gut. It is responsible for all voluntary motions of the limbs as well as reflex actions like the blinking of eyes. It presides and acts all over the body. -The Apaan-Apaan is responsible for controlling the excretion of feces and urine and the ejaculation of semen. It also facilitates the delivery of a fetus. Its sites of action are the urogenital region, umbilical region, the thighs, and groin.

2. The Pitta Dosha is made up of the elements of fire and water. The word Pitta is derived from the root ‘Tapa’ which means to impart heat. Pitta is responsible for digestion and metabolism in our body and thus to generate heat. It is in fact responsible for taking any stimulus, including food, and breaking it down, or digesting it, to a level that is easily assimilated by the body. As per its actions and site of activity it is divided into five types: -Pa-chak – Pachak literally means one who cooks. Accordingly, Pachak Pitta is reponsible for the digestion of food. It also nourishes the other types of Pitta. It is located in the region of the stomach and small intestine.

40


-Ran-jak-Ranjak literally means to color. Ranjak Pitta converts the nourishing fluid of plasma into blood. It resides in the liver and spleen. -Bhra-jak-Bhrajak provides pigment to the skin and the hair and it is responsible for their luster. Its site of action is the skin. -Alo-chak-Alochak means the critic. So alochak Pitta critically analyzes the visual stimuli and transforms it into messages to be interpreted by the related areas of the brain. It is responsible for visual acuity and discrimination of colors. It resides in the eyes. -Sa-dhak – Sadhak means an instrument. Sadhak Pitta is instrumental in coordinating the activities of the body and the mind. It is responsible for intelligence and ego. Its area of activity is the heart region.

3. The Kapha Dosha made up of the elements of water and earth. Kapha has a synonym ‘Sheleshma’ originating from the root ‘shlish’ which means to hold. Kapha is responsible for giving stability to the body. It provides nourishment to bodily tissues. According to its actions and site of activity it is divided into five types: -K-le-dak – Kledaka literally means one who is capable of liquefying. Kledak Kapha is slimy in quality, sweet in taste and has the action of moistening the food. It also shields the stomach wall from the action of digestive juices. Its site of action is the stomach. -Av-lam-bak-Avlambaka means one who is capable of supporting or sustaining. Avlambak Kapha provides nutrition to the heart right from the cardiac activity seen in utero. It resides in the chest region. 41


-Bo-dhak-Bodhak means one who is capable of perceiving. In the case of Bodhak Kapha is the sense of taste perceived through the tongue. When food is taken in the mouth the Bodhak Kapha lubricates the food adequately and when it comes in contact with the taste buds present on the tongue, the taste is perceived.The site of action is the tongue in particular and the oral cavity generally. -Sh-le-shak- Shleshaka means to bind or hold together. It is responsible for giving lubrication and strength to the joints. Its sites of activity are all joints of the body. -Tar-pak-Tarpak means one who nourishes and gives contentment. Tarpaka Kapha gives nourishment to the brain in particular and the whole of the central nervous system in general. It is supported by Avlambak Kapha situated in the heart. Its site of action is the head region. The aggravation of the Doshas or their depletion is ascertained by the respective increase or decrease of their activities seen in the body. Substances, including the doshas, exhibit 10 pairs of opposite properties. Ayurveda has broken them down like this: 1. Heavy-Light 2. Cold-Hot 3. Unctuous– Dry 4. Slow-Sharp 5. Stable-Mobile 6. Soft-Hard 7. Slimy-Rough 8. Viscous-Liquid 9. Gross-Subtle 10. Cloudy-Clear

42


The Doshas are the all-powerful constituents operating in the body. They have properties (guna) and actions (karma). They are combinations of five basic elements and are present in each cell of the body. They are considered as energy or matter in different situations. They actively influence and control body functions in natural and pathological states. They work in close coordination with each other with other body constituents. They are not nullified by each other in spite of possessing antagonizing properties. They are responsible for the formation of individual constitutions. They decide the individual’s response to various stimuli. The word Dhatu is derived from the verb ’dha’ which means to hold and thus dhatus are responsible for the sustenance of the life process and can be broadly compared to the basic tissues of the body. They are the direct result of the digestive process. They are seven in number. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

Rasa- The nutrient fluid of blood plasma Rakta- Blood Mamsa- Muscular tissue Meda- Adipose tissue, or body fat Asthi- Osseous tissue, or connective tissue Majja- Bone marrow Sukra- Reproductive, or regenerative tissue

Ayurveda says that each human tissue is formed from the previous tissue in ascending order of complexity. Each tissue type has its own Agni (Fire), which determines metabolic changes in the tissues. So when food is ingested, it is digested until, in the small intestines, it becomes a liquid material known in Ayurveda as 'ahara rasa', or food essence or nutritive fluid. With the help of 'ahara rasagni' (each dhatu has its own specific metabolic fire) this ahara rasa is taken to the heart through the action of Saman vayu and is converted into Rasa dhatu (nutrient fluid or blood plasma)-the first and most simple tissue, within 24 hours. Now, Rasa dhatu, metabolized

43


by Rasagni, is transformed into Rakta dhatu (formed blood cells), the second fundamental bodily tissue. Rakta dhatu in turn, with the help of Raktagni, becomes Mamsa dhatu (muscle); and similarly the formation of Majja, Asthi and Shukra dhatu takes place. When a dhatu or tissue is being formed from the food juice or essence, it goes through a phase of conversion that results in the generation of a multitude of by-products such as stool, menstrual fluid, mucous, sweat, hair, and more. All of this makes up the physical bulk of the body. Dhatus have an inherent tendency to get vitiated or diseased hence they are called dushya. In the disease process first the Doshas get impaired and then they in turn impair the Dhatus. In contrast to doshas, the dushya have no tendency to vitiate other factors of body. They are only a passive component of disease where as the doshas are active participants and perpetrators of disease. Ojas-The last body constituent to emerge from the process of digestion is Ojas. It literally means, strength, vigor, vitality. It cannot be equated to any biochemical parameter as per modern biochemistry, but is thought to be the essence of all seven dhatus. Its depletion causes many symptoms like fatigue, weight loss, irritability, lack of concentration, and lack of self esteem. The Malas-The waste products of metabolism. The word mala is derived from the root ‘malin’ which means to contaminate. Malas have the the potential to contaminate the body if not excreted out of the body. Thus Ayurveda lays great emphasis on the excretion of wastes of the body on a regular basis for optimum health. They also get impaired by Dosha and are therefore called ‘Dushya’ like Dhatus.The malas are divided into two :

44


-Aahar (means food) Mala-Waste originating as a product of digestion of food (including ingested liquids). They are three in number viz. • Stools (purisha) • Urine (Mutra) • Sweat (Sweda) -Dhatu Mala- These are the by-products of tissue metabolism such as nails, body hair, secretions from nose, ear etc.

Agni We have already talked a bit about Agni, the metabolic fire, but I want to go into more depth about this because this is an important concept. Agni is responsible for all the digestive processes and metabolism happening in our body. Ayurveda believes that the majority of diseases are the result of a deranged function of the Agni. Agni has been classified into three types according to its site of action and its functions: I) Jatharagni – This is the digestive fire and is responsible for the conversion of food into smaller constituents so that they are easily absorbed, assimilated and utilized by the body. It nourishes all other fires. II) Seven Dhatu-agnis-These are seven fires, one for each of the 7 tissue systems, that help to metabolize and assimilate the nutrients at the tissue level. III) Bhoot (elements)-agnis(fire)-The 5 elemental fires one each for five elements. This fire works at the most subtle level at the

45


level of ‘Deha parmanu’ the tiny particles that are thought to be the building blocks of our body. An impairment of the Agnis can happen at any level and are of three types: • Mand-agni: the fire working at subnormal capacity • Tikshn-agni: The fire burning intensely • Visham-agni: Fire that is variable-sometimes slow, sometimes normal and sometimes intense. All these abnormalities of agni cause disease but Mand-agni, when the fire is very low, is implicated in most of the diseases. Ama is like a build-up of toxins. Ama has broadly been defined as the ‘undigested’. Ama is the result of impaired metabolism at all the three levels of Agni. It has the capacity to block the channels (srotas) and also impairs the Dosha. That is why Ayurveda lays lot of emphasis on the proper functioning of Agni.

46


NOTES

47


Module-2 Ayurveda Through The Day And The Years Part-1 In general, our constitution, otherwise known as our dosha, or mind/body type, doesn’t change much. When we are in balance, we have the same proportion of Vata, Pitta and Kapha that we were born with. However, each age has its own dosha, and we are influenced by that dosha’s traits during these times in our lives. Kapha Childhood has all the qualities of Kapha. This “season” of our lives lasts from when we are born until about age 20 or so. As children, we are more Kapha-like. We may have a little bit of baby fat, we’re more calm and carefree. We place an emphasis on friendship and love to be cuddled. VATA

Children go through a stage where they are very possessive. They identify things as “mine!” They don’t want to share. They hoard their toys and start collections. These are Kapha traits. As parents, and teachers, we understand that this is a

48


part of their growth process, and gently teach them how to get along with others, how to relate better with other people. We need to remember these lessons as adults in the world! When we are children, it might take longer for us to learn things, but once we learn them, we never forget. It might have taken quite a while to learn the alphabet, to get all 26 letters in the right order. But I think we’ve all got it down now, even though we don’t practice every day! When we’re very young, we take a lot of naps, and sleep long hours at a time. Then we go through another stage as teenagers where we sleep a lot, too. This is all very Kapha-like behavior. Kids also tend to get a lot of colds, especially during the preschool years. Colds and congestion are Kapha imbalances. Like increases like, and kids share their germs freely when they gather together on a regular basis. Kapha associated with Kapha produces more Kapha, and too much Kapha leads to imbalance. Getting kids on a Kapha routine during these times helps to balance them out. Pitta Sometime around age 20 our Pitta nature starts taking over. We might be in college, or just entering the working world, and our am bition becomes important to us. We become more competitive, we want to get ahead. We start thinking about money, and wanting luxury items like fast cars. PITTA

At this age we are very busy building our careers, we are super work-oriented. We’re in the thinking and planning phase of our lives. We’ve got this fire burning inside us, so we’re a little more aggressive in going after what we want. We can be impatient. This is the time when we use our intellect more than any other. Whether we’re studying for exams or learning about our chosen field, we are constantly thinking. We’re also

49


strategizing and positioning ourselves. We look at where we are and where we’re going. We like being in control. As a part of this planning stage, we’re also looking for our lifetime partner. We’re discerning in this process, sorting out our priorities. We have lots of choices to make, but we know what we want – or at least we think we do! Our sexual desire is at its peak. Vata Then at about age 40 Vata comes strongly into play, and we become more Vata-like as we grow older. We start noticing that we don’t remember things as well. There’s a joke on the internet about “Age-activated Attention Deficit Disorder.” Attention Deficit Disorder is actually a Vata imbalance, so there is a lot of truth in the humor there. At this age, our attention is also divided between work, family, community and other responsibilities, so we naturally have more on our minds. KAPHA

As we get older, more of Vata’s physical ailments present themselves too. Our fertility decreases. We may begin to have digestive problems, and our hearing may get a little worse. All these things are the effects of more Vata present in our system. This is the time for us to adapt our diet and exercise programs to include more Vata foods and activities.

50


Calendar Weather and seasonal changes affect our balance. Everyone can benefit from adapting their routine to the season. In the fall and winter, when it is cold and dry, is Vata season. When wind, cold, and dry weather continues, Vata accumulates in the environment, which can cause a Vata imbalance in the body. During this season, it is a good idea to adopt a more Vata diet and routine to keep Vata in balance. Stay warm, eat warm foods, and don’t wear yourself out. Pitta season comes during the summer, when the weather is hot. To keep Pitta in balance during this time, eat cool foods, such as salads. Drink cool, not ice-cold, liquids, and avoid too much sun. Spring is Kapha season, when it is cold and wet. This is the time you are more likely to get a cold from a Kapha imbalance. Stay warm, eat light meals, and get enough regular exercise to help keep Kapha in balance. Clock Just as the seasons have attributes of the doshas, so do the hours of the day. At sunrise, or about 6:00 am ., the day’s cycle begins with Kapha. To take advantage of the Kapha cycle, it is best to awaken between 6:00 am and 8:00 am On awakening, you feel slow, relaxed, calm: all Kapha attributes. Kapha lasts until about 10:00 am Even young children can reap the benefits of the Kapha hours by arising at sunrise.

51


From 10:00 am to 2:00 pm , it is Pitta time. You are at your most active and efficient during these hours. At noon, or lunchtime, your appetite is at its peak. Eat lunch between noon and 1:00 pm to use Pitta to your advantage. Lunch also should be your largest meal of the day. Parents should pack nutritious snacks and lunches for children that include the foods best for their particular mind/body type. This is the best time for children to take tests in school; and it is their most productive learning time. From 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm is Vata time, when you are most alert and creative. A light dinner should be eaten before 6:00 pm if possible, to take advantage of this energy. The cycle repeats again in the evening hours. From 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm is Kapha time. Sunset brings the body rest and a slower pace. It is best to get to bed by 10:00 pm to take advantage of the natural Kapha rhythm of this time. For best digestion, eat dinner at least three hours before bedtime. Younger children who need more sleep should go to bed earlier so that they will still wake up at sunrise. Pitta time is 10:00 pm to 2:00 am , when Pitta keeps the body warm; the body also uses the Pitta heat to digest food and rebuild body tissues. Vata time occurs again at 2:00 am to 6:00 am Vata creativity is expressed as active dreams. At this time, brain impulses are at their most active for the night. Every person is born with a unique balance of each of the three doshas. Generally one or two of the doshas will dominate, and this will determine the Ayurvedic routine for your mind/body type. Remember that we each have Vata, Pitta, and Kapha in our constitution, but in a different proportion. Here are some examples of things you can avoid to help keep your dosha in balance:

52


VATA

Aggravated by Avoid

KAPHA

PITTA

Wind

Heat

Cold

Caffeine

Alcohol

Damp

Traveling

Smoking

Oversleeping

Irregular Routine

Pressure

Overeating

Stress

Heavy foods

Cold, dry weather

Excessive spicy or salty foods

Too little variety in life

Excessive mental work

Excessive activity

Irregular meals

53


Part-2 When it comes to learning, Ayurveda has a lot to say. The ancient Ayurvedic texts describe three aspects of mental ability. The first is “dhi” which is the power of acquisition, or learning itself. The second is “dhriti” which is the power of retention, how well we retain what we learn. The third is “smriti” which is the ability to remember and recall what we have learned. We need all three of these mental functions to be in balance and work with one another, or learning problems may arise. Vatas tend to learn quickly, but then forget just as quickly. It is helpful for Vatas to write things down, and carry a dayplanner or a laptop with them all the time. Vatas learn best by listening. A good technique for studying is to listen to a book on tape while reading along. Pittas have a good, sharp, general memory. Pittas are visual learners, so it is helpful for them to have charts, graphs and pictures to refer to. They will remember something better if they read it rather than if they hear it, so keep “to do” lists for them. Kaphas take more time learning things, but once they learn them, they don’t forget. Kaphas learn best by association, so tell them stories that relate to the lesson at hand, or give examples of experiences they can remember which apply to what they need to learn. Often ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is an excess of Vata. Gotu Kola (also known as the Ayurvedic herb brahmi) is prized by students and yogis for its memoryenhancing properties. Gotu Kola also promotes mental clarity and concentration. It is an adaptogenic herb, which means that it helps to remove the negative effects of daily stress.

54


Handling Headaches Ayurvedically At some point or other, we’ve all had a headache. And now that we know about Ayurveda, we have more tools we can use to manage this common condition. Headaches can be caused by indigestion, constipation, colds or flus, muscle tension, stress, anxiety, anger – lots of different things. And they can be aggravated by the weather, genetics, and other factors. A Vata headache is extremely painful, and anxiety and/or depression are usually present. To treat this headache, try taking some Triphala, drinking Vata tea, and resting. A Pitta headache is one where the eyes are sensitive to light, and you feel hot, angry or irritable. Sometimes this is accompanied by a nose bleed. A beneficial treatment is to apply sandalwood oil to the third eye area, the temples, heart and under the nose to additionally benefit from the aroma. A Kapha headache is dull and heavy. You feel tired and nauseous. Phlegm may be present. For this condition, basil is helpful, as an herb on food, or as a tea. The aroma of eucalyptus oil is also beneficial. Shirodara, a very warm oil head massage, is beneficial for overcoming any headache. You can find this massage offered in an Ayurvedic spa, or you can now use a home shirodara machine and have this massage whenever you like.

55


Part-3 We’ve already discussed the ideal Ayurvedic daily routine – let’s talk about some other daily practices that Ayurveda recommends: Time to wake up: Ayurveda recommends getting up before sunrise. This is an auspicious time as per many religions, and is best suited for meditation. This is a Vata time as per our body clock so the mental faculties are at their best to receive, as perception is a property of Vata. Therefore, it is also said that this is the best time to study and learn new topics. Vata time also ensures that we clear our bowels and bladder well. Many would argue that this does not fit into the western culture of working till late at night and partying hard till midnight etc. Well, cultures are the adaptations we make for our convenience. So if some practices are good we can always adopt them. If you need to sleep in late, then one practical solution is to wake up before sunrise and spend an hour on meditation and doing yoga or light exercise and go to sleep again. This will surely give you the benefit of this auspicious time of the day and slowly you may get into the habit and see the benefits. Drinking of water: Ayurveda recommends drinking a cup of warm water when you get up in the morning. This ensures proper evacuation of the bowels and bladder. It is very important to empty the bowels every morning so that you feel light and have proper appetite and digestion later in the day. Suppression of this natural urge leads to many diseases in the long run.

56


Oral hygiene: Oral hygiene includes brushing the teeth at least twice a day. There are many Ayurvedic dental creams and powders available in the market. Be sure to use a soft toothbrush to clean the teeth. The second important part of oral hygiene as per Ayurveda is to cleanse the muck accumulated on the tongue with the help of a scraper. Many materials like copper, silver, gold and even the bark of the twigs were used in olden times. Now we have several varieties of plastic or steel scrapers. If you do not have a tongue scraper, then you may use the toothbrush without the toothpaste to scrape the tongue. The tongue cleansing takes care of foul odor from the mouth, increases appetite, and gives a feeling of freshness. The third step is to massage your gums using a mixture of 1 pinch of rock salt in oil (gingelly or mustard) with the help of your index fingers. The tip of the finger is used to apply this mixture on the gums, followed by a gentle massage. This ensures healthy and strong gums and check infections of the gums. The fourth and last step is to rinse the mouth with warm saline water and gargle with it. Oil application: Ayurveda lays a lot of stress on using oil internally as well as externally. -Application of oil on the head-Coconut, sesame, and mustard oils can be applied to the scalp, followed by gentle massage daily at least an hour before bathing. Application of oil on the head prevents premature graying and hair loss, it can help make the hair thick and long. It also prevents headache, nourishes the sense organs and induces sleep. -Instilling oil in the ears- Ayurveda advocates instilling a few drops of slightly warm oil in the ear canals BUT VERY CAREFULLY. This ensures that there are no Vata disorders of the ear like tinnitus, deafness, earache, and conditions like lock jaw and neck stiffness. If your ear drums are intact and there is no perforation, then, WITH PROPER CARE it is safe to

57


instill oil in the ears. This should be followed by massage of the external ear. Then the extra oil can be removed from the ear canal by tilting the head to either sides. -Body massage-Abhyanga – It is important to stress that a daily oil massage an hour before bathing is advocated in Ayurveda. It makes the body strong and supple, increases the stamina to undertake exercise and to withstand injuries. If you’re into sports then you’ll see that this daily massage will help you to avoid sports injuries. Bathing: Have a bath using slightly warm water in the winter and room temperature water in the summer. Don’t bathe immediately after a massage or after exercise or while you are sweating. Scrub the body using a cotton cloth or a sponge. Bathing gives a feeling of purity, it takes care of body muck and tiredness, and vitality. Sleep: Sleep is also one of the pillars of health. It is very important to repair the wear and tear of the body due to mental and physical stress and tissue loss. Here are some additional sleep tips: -One should sleep with the head towards east or south. East is the best direction. - The bed room should be clean and clutter-free. - The bed should be properly laid with sheets and blankets to keep the body warm. It should be soft and comfortable and a suitable pillow should be used to support the neck which should be neither too high nor too low. - The bed room should be draft-free. - You should sleep on your side or on your back. - Don’t go to sleep immediately after eating. - The mind must be free from all worrries at the time of going to bed. Praying or meditating helps to calm the mind and induce sleep. - Don’t go to sleep too late at night. Aim to get to bed by 10 pm.

58


-A minimum of 7 hrs of sleep is recommended to repair the wear and tear of the body. -Day time sleeping is best avoided. -At bedtime, massaging the feet and palms with a little oil and then washing the oil off with warm water followed by patting them dry, ensures deep sleep. Ayurveda says that there are reasons why we have natural urges and that urges are important and should not be suppressed. These urges are: the urge to urinate, to pass stools, to ejaculate semen, to pass gas, to vomit, to sneeze, to belch, to yawn, to eat, to drink, to weep, to breathe, and to sleep. The suppression of these natural urges produces many disease conditions. We talked about the Dosha stages of life and how we are affected by the different doshas as we age. Here is some more information: The childhood till adolescence is called ‘Baalya-awas-tha’. It is the stage of Kapha dominance. Hence the babies are chubby, having baby fat, supple and tender. They have to be looked after properly as they get influenced by the causes that increase Pitta (infections) and Vata with its cold property in particular (colds, respiratory disorders-aggravated Vata aggravates the Kapha also, being strongest of the doshas). They have to be kept warm in winters and protected from the sun in summers and given enough hours to sleep. Their food has to be mild, non-greasy and light to digest. They love company, like to laugh, are possessive, are care free and take time to learn. All are Kapha features. But as Kapha also denotes retention so it is the best time to introduce new concepts to children and make them learn and retain. Being in the Kapha stage, children have pretty good stamina to play and do physical work after they have gained enough balance and coordination of their muscles. As Kapha also is Tamasic in nature, children can take negative impressions and can be misled.

59


Another important aspect of this stage from the Ayurvedic point of view is that Kapha also means nourishment, so in this stage the body registers maximum growth of the body systems. So pro-Kapha diets and regimens are indicated in this stage. The same preponderance of Kapha continues till puberty and generally the pro-Kapha diet and lifestyle is best suited to the child until this stage. Use of spicy, high salt, fat laden fast food is not advisable. Instead, milk and milk products including milk substitutes for those who are vegan and wish to avoid dairy, and cereals are very good. After puberty, the child starts showing some symptoms of Pitta dosha along with Kapha as they approach adolescence. They become more am bitious, competitive, assertive, aggressive, adventurous and courageous by nature and develop a lot of ego. The Kapha ensures their growth and nourishment to the fullest. Hence pro-Kapha diet and lifestyle with a slight addition of heavy foods which now the emerging Pitta will be able to digest is advised. The Pitta factor in their constitution allows them to analyze and then accept things and they are able to grasp higher level concepts of their curriculum. At this stage, discipline and moral education helps to tame the aggressive Pitta along with the vulnerable Kapha. The Yauvan (Youth)-avastha – This stage of life is dominated by Pitta. In earlier times, this was the time when one would start earning from the knowledge gathered through education, get married and start family life.

PITTA

From the Ayurvedic viewpoint, the person entering this stage of life shows some features of outgoing Kapha and more features of incoming Pitta. The little Kapha which remains at this stage gives bulk and strength to musculature, in Vata and Pitta constitutions (remember they control physiology, anatomy and behaviour in the background) and may make people with Kapha constitution prone to obesity. So Kaphas 60


have to be especially careful regarding the food choices they make. The person becomes more am bitious, competitive, intelligent, cynical, assertive and responsible. The major focus is on career and money and on accumulation of means of comfort and luxury. A typical Pitta behaviour. Problems like acne, acidity, anger and anxiety and infections which are Pitta-dominated disorders may be seen. But Pitta ensures good digestive power and hence youth stage is bestowed with high dynamism and a comparatively diseasefree period. The person is able to digest any sort of food. However, wrong food choices overburden the system and ultimately the body may succumb and get diseased. Alcohol and tobacco abuse are Pitta-aggravating habits and have to be restrained. Overindulgence in sex (as sexual desire also increases) also leads to Vata aggravation and diseases. Anxiety and depression (thought to be Vata disorders) are very common in this age group these days. So indulging in calming activities like meditation, yoga, swimming etc. are very beneficial. The philosophy of giving attention to your actions, rather than the results, saves us from unnecessary anxiety about the future. Nevertheless youth is the time when physical and mental capacities are at their prime, there is enthusiasm, courage, a spirit of adventure and intensity. So this stage is called appropriately the Grahstha ashram or the Stage of family life. A well-balanced diet and lifestyle with special attention to Pitta-pacifying diet and lifestyle ensures health and prosperity. The Vri-dha (old) awastha (stage): This stage of life is marked by Vata and is divided into sub stagesVATA two ashrams Vanprastha and Sanyaas. In the first stage there is a gradual depletion of Pitta and a gradual increase of Vata. In the second stage very little Pitta remains and Vata gets prominence. The first stage has somedrive left as contribution from Pitta. The digestive fire is moderately active and the intelligence levels are fair. But

61


the physical stamina starts reducing as degeneration sets in in all the systems slowly due to Vata. However, we can definitely help this with proper interventions in the form of diet, lifestyle and rasayanas, or rejuvenators. Because we are slowing down at this time of life, the person tends to take a back seat and gives the driving seat to the successors. The strict adherence to daily and seasonal regimens becomes all the more important to promote health and to ward off diseases. Lifestyle diseases emerge at this stage. The use of tonics and rejuvenators is very effective at this stage. Moderate exercise gives gratifying results. It’s the right time to indulge in social work as one has time to spare and has the wisdom to guide others. A light well-balanced, unctuous diet with slight reduction in quantities is advocated. Sex is to be limited. The second sub-stage is marked by a dominance of Vata and a depleted Kapha and Pitta. The digestive fire is unpredictable, generally weak, the skin becomes dry and so do secretions like saliva, gastric juices and unctuous secretion of eyes, tears. So there is difficulty in swallowing, loss of appetite, and dry eyes. The hearing, vision, and mental faculties also deteriorate. In such a stage one becomes cranky, depressed, and forgetful. So the Indian philosophers advocated Vanprastha whereby instead of indulging in worldly affairs and exposing yourself to various stimuli, one had to contemplate and concentrate on self-realization. From the Ayurveda point of view, at this stage one should try to rein in the aggravated Vata by the use of oil and other fats both internally and externally (in the form of massage etc.). The fats used in the food should be as per the digestive capacity and as per the conditions of the blood vessels (the cholesterol and atherosclerosis). In case of atherosclerosis, oils like olive, gingelly, ground nut are advised. Sunflower, safflower, corn oils are not recommended as their source has a Vata component. The food should be soft and easily digestible. Milk and nuts are very good for old people to nourish the depleted Kapha, tame Vata and thus help in insomnia and forgetfulness. Use of Rasaynas like

62


Chya-van-prash – a herbal jam having rejuvenating herbs in the base of am la Is very beneficial. Use of stimulants in any form is counterproductive and hence contra-indicated. Light exercise of joints and extremities with the help of an aid is recommended. A Vata-pacifying diet and lifestyle along with adherence to seasonal and daily regimens is very essential to maintain a state of well being in Vridha awastha.

63


Module-3 Eating The Ayurvedic Way Part-1 Food plays a big role in the Ayurvedic lifestyle. Ayurveda teaches us that food is basically medicine. It says: “When diet is poor, medicine is of no use. When diet is good, there is no need of medicine.” There are three parts to the digestive process that are important: digestion of food, assimilation of food, and elimination of food. When our digestion is efficient, the rest follows more easily, we get the optimal benefit from our food and we are more in balance. There is a Vedic expression that basically that says that if our digestion is strong, our bodies can turn poison into nectar, but if our digestion is weak, the body can turn nectar into poison. Fresh Fruits And Vegetables The digestive fire is called “agni” in Sanskrit. Ayurveda offers the following guidelines to those who want to boost our agni, and improve our digestion: • Sit down while you eat. Eat in a quiet atmosphere. Focus on the food; do not read or watch TV as you eat.

64


• • • • • • • •

Don’t rush through meals or linger over them for too long. Eat meals at approximately the same times every day. Stop eating before you are completely full. Allow approximately 3 to 6 hours between meals for digestion. Eat when you are hungry, when the stomach is empty. Sip warm water or juice with meals. Drink milk separately from meals, either alone or with other sweet foods. Avoid ice-cold food and beverages. Sit quietly for a few minutes after eating.

65


VATA Food for Vata Vatas are the pickiest eaters of the three mind-body types. This is probably because their digestion is very delicate. Vata governs the colon, and when out of balance, Vatas are prone to Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Since Vata is composed of air and space, it is easy for Vatas to get gas. So, naturally, with all these things going on, Vatas need to watch what they eat. The Vata appetite, like everything else about this dosha, is variable. To stay in balance, Vatas need to keep a regular routine when it comes to meals. Even when you don’t feel like eating a lot, you should eat something at regular intervals. Vatas tend to like to snack, but then they don’t get the nourishment that they really need from their food. It’s best to establish good eating habits to promote proper, healthy digestion. A Vata breakfast might be oatmeal, rather than cold cereal, sweetened with some brown sugar and soy milk. Many Vatas are lactose-intolerant, so soy milk (or rice milk or almond milk) is a good alternative. Caffeine is particularly aggravating to Vata. So, instead of regular coffee, serve up some herb tea or decaffeinated coffee. Coffee substitutes are often better than coffee because of coffee’s acid content, which may disturb Vata’s digestion. Because Vatas have such a dilemma with their diets, and because they are such creative people, many Vatas love to cook their own meals. The only problem is that sometimes they’ll taste their way through the recipe so much that they’re not hungry once the meal is prepared!

66


The basic rules for the Vata diet: • Food should be warm, and cooked, rather than raw. • Favor tastes that are sweet, sour and salty. • Avoid eating cold, dry foods, like chips or crackers. Try adding a warm dipping sauce to accompany these foods. • Avoid caffeine. Caffeine aggravates Vata and causes imbalance.

67


PITTA

Food for Pitta Pittas do best on cool, uncooked foods. So the Pitta couple can have lots of salads, raw vegetables, and fresh fruits and be very healthy. Pitta’s digestion is very good, and especially so at midday when Pitta is at its peak. It is favorable for the largest meal of the day to be eaten around noontime. Pittas should never skip meals. Because their digestive fire is so strong, skipping a meal would be like putting an empty pot over a flame. Basically, the foods that Pittas should avoid are the ones that are too spicy or too salty. Pittas can be at risk for ulcers, and should avoid anything too acidic. Alcohol and smoking are two of the most Pitta-aggravating things and should be avoided at all costs. Pittas are frequently thirsty and should always have water or fruit juice handy. Cool drinks are good, especially during the summer.

68


The basic rules for the Pitta diet: • Choose cool or warm, but not very hot foods. • Avoid salt, oil (particularly fried foods), and spicy foods. • Avoid sour foods like pickles, yogurt, and cheese. Use lemon or lime juice instead of vinegar on salads. • Avoid red meat. • Eat an abundance of salads and vegetables. • Avoid coffee and alcohol.

69


Food for Kapha Food is Kapha’s biggest weakness. Kaphas love food and love to eat. They have a strong, constant appetite and especially love sweet foods, though these are the worst for them. One of the big reasons that sweets are so bad for Kaphas is that they tend to be the higher calorie foods, and Kapha is prone to weight gain. The Kapha digestion is slow and heavy.

The basic rules for the Kapha diet: • • • • • • • •

Choose foods that are bitter, spicy and tangy. Eat warm foods rather than cold foods. Avoid sugar. Use honey as a sweetener instead. Avoid dairy foods. Avoid fried foods. Eat smaller portions of food. Do not eat in between meals. Do not eat because of your emotional state, whether to celebrate or to soothe. • Walk after a meal, do not rest or sleep. • Drink fewer liquids during the meal, especially avoiding cold drinks.

70


VATA

PITTA

KAPHA

Diet

Tastes

Tastes

Tastes

To keep in Balance, Favor

Sweet Sour Salty Warm foods

Sweet Astringent Bitter Cool foods (not cold)

Bitter Pungent Astringent Warm, light foods

Here are some examples of specific foods in those taste categories that are balancing for each dosha Sweet

Sour

Salty

Bitter

Pungent

Astringent

sugar honey rice milk butter bread

lemon cheese yogurt tomato grapes plums vinegar

salt

bitter greens cucumber tonic water spinach

chili peppers onions garlic ginger cinnamon

beans alfalfa sprouts apple pear potato

71


Part-2 When discussing digestion, there are two other considerations in Ayurveda. First, whether a food’s action is heating or cooling. The tastes of sweet, bitter, and astringent are cooling. Sour, salty, and pungent are all heating. The second is the post-digestive effect or how the foods “taste� to the tissues during and after assimilation. Sweet and salty are sweet in post-digestive effect. Sour is sour, and pungent, bitter, and astringent are pungent. Taste, action, and post-digestive effect are known in Sanskrit as rasa, virya, and vipack respectively in Ayurveda. They are the keys to understanding food and herbs. With this knowledge, you can figure out the energetic dynamics of food and make good choices in your diet. How many times have you seen someone munching on a sandwich while driving through traffic? How many times have we caught a bite to eat at our desk, in front of the computer because we could not take the time to have a proper lunch? Our bodies need an uplifting and settled environment in order to process and absorb the nutrients from our meals. If that is not available then we should at least be sitting down to eat--not standing, walking, or driving our way through a meal. The act of eating is life-giving. The process of eating, according to Ayurveda, is something reverent and important for the development of consciousness as well as our physical health. When we sit down to eat our stomach is in a relaxed posture and our awareness is on the taste, texture, and smell of the food. This will greatly improve the digestion. Another way to improve the digestion is to stimulate the agni or digestive fire before we begin eating. Weak digestive agni may result in fatigue after eating, so Ayurveda recommends

72


eating a 1-inch piece of fresh ginger with a few drops of lemon juice and a few pinches of salt on it before a full meal. This starts to activate the saliva glands, producing the necessary enzymes so that the nutrients in the food are easily absorbed by the body. Balancing your digestive agni is key in Ayurveda. That’s why Ayurveda recommends general practices for better digestion. Digestive agni can be compared to a burning fire. If the flame is very low then it will take a long time to cook the food. And then, if the fire is too big it can burn the food. If we put a huge log on a low fire it will extinguish it. Our digestive fires should be balanced so that we can digest our meals efficiently and smoothly. The ginger and lemon juice recommendation helps to increase the digestive power. If, however you suffer from an over-active agni, because of which there is too much internal heat and acid, then just use lime in cool water, as lime is cooling. Ayurveda recommends avoiding cold drinks at meals and ice-cold foods in general. This is like putting cold water on the burning logs. Iced water, normally served at restaurants, extinguishes the digestive fire. Even beverages served right out of the refrigerator are too cold for the digestion. Juice is best taken at room temperature, and water served without ice. Once you get into this habit of drinking beverages at room temperature you will notice a dramatic improvement in your digestion and the way your body feels while eating and after the meal. Cold drinks and foods mixed with warm cooked foods can cause stomach cramps, bloating and general discomfort in the stomach area.

73


If you have a Pitta imbalance you can take cool drinks inbetween meals. Cold or frozen foods are not recommended for Pitta either because even though they may temporarily cool down the heat, the agni is still being over-stimulated and the imbalance will continue. The time of day that you eat your meals also affects your digestion. Have you ever gone out for a late dinner and found that it was harder to wake up the next morning or that it was difficult to be efficient the next day? These are often the side effects of improperly digested food. The best way to avoid these problems is to follow nature’s prescription of suitable times to eat. When the sun is strongest between 12 and 2 pm is when the digestive fire is also strongest. Agni is associated with the Sun. This is one of the ways Ayurveda seeks to connect our mind and body with the environment. Ayurveda recommends that lunch be the largest meal of the day since that is the time the digestive agni is working at its maximum potency. As the sun goes down so does our agni. Dinner should be lighter than lunch and should ideally be eaten before 8:00 pm Late night meals interfere with sleep and after 10:00 pm the body is working to burn off toxins and continue to digest food from the day. If you eat after 10:00 p.m., the food may cause toxins to accumulate in the system, and as a result the next day you wake up tired. If you are not able to wake up fresh and clear, then it is important to analyze the quantity of food and the time you are eating dinner.

74


Ayurveda and Food Combinations There are three factors that make up the properties of a food. First is its taste, or rasa. We know that there are six tastes in Ayurveda, and foods can have one or more of these tastes. We also need to determine if a food has either heating or cooling energies, this is known as Virya. This helps us to know if a food is balancing to our personal dosha, and if it is good to eat within the current season as well. And then we also need to consider the effect that the food has on the body after it is digested – or Vipak. In the western diet, very often foods are served together with different tastes, energies and post-digestive effects. The problem with this is our agni, the digestive fire, can get overloaded trying to do too many things at the same time. This results in the production of toxins in the body. So it is important for us to pay attention to the foods that we consume together to make sure that our digestion stays strong. There are many foods that, when eaten separately, stimulate agni and are digested easily. But some of those same foods, when eaten together, slow down agni and cause digestive distress. Here are a few basic rules for food combining:

FRUIT Eat fruit on its own, preferably two hours before or after you have eaten something else. Fruit should never be combined with any dairy product, like milk or yogurt. And yet we see this happening all the time! Yogurt with fruit and granola is considered a healthy breakfast – but it is one of the worst things you can eat, it can wreak havoc on digestion. While the fruit and milk process in the stomach, the fruit can curdle the milk causing excess acid. Having a banana smoothie, where

75


banana is blended with milk and/or yogurt, can change the bacterial mix in the intestines, and may even cause sinus congestion or allergies. Milk and melon together is particularly to be avoided because milk has laxative properties, and melon is a diuretic. Melon combined with carbohydrates or starchy foods is also bad for digestion. Melon is digested very quickly, and carbs tend to take more time. So the fructose in the melon ends up not getting digested properly. Fruit and cheese is also often served together as an appetizer or a dessert bad idea! Cheese is a dairy product, and will have the same effect on digestion as milk does in combo with fruit. Cheese is difficult to digest and can cause constipation, so cheese in general is to be avoided. And fruit, even on its own, is not good for dessert. Better to eat fruit before a meal, waiting a bit to digest, or as a snack in between meals. Ice cream is not great for you anyway, it’s cold and hard to digest. But add fruit to it and it’s even worse. And for dessert it’s downright awful. Ice cream will totally put out that digestive fire that is so needed to help digest your meal.

MEAT Though Ayurveda does not recommend meat, if you cannot do without it, Meat and dairy should never be eaten together. Well, there go the cheeseburgers! Meat is heating and milk is cooling so this is a bad combo. They contradict one another, upsetting agni and producing toxins, or Ama. Fish counts as meat – and is not good to eat with dairy products. Think of all those cream sauces that are served over fish. And Tartar sauce is dairy based – we see this served alongside fish and chips all the time. Avoid this combination!

76


HONEY Uncooked honey, or raw honey, can be beneficial in Ayurveda for many conditions. But cook it, and you get the opposite effect. When cooked, honey digests very slowly and it becomes this sticky gunk that clings to membranes and clogs channels producing toxins. Yuck. So don’t put honey in your hot tea, or have a hot drink while you’re eating something with honey on it. Ghee and honey are a delicious combo – but they should not be served in equal proportions. Ghee is cooling and honey is heating – so pick which one you want more of.

WATER During a meal, water should be served warm or at room temperature. Small sips can help with digestion. Iced water, as is often served in restaurants, puts that digestive fire right out. I usually ask for water, no ice, with lemon. Sometimes I’ll ask for hot water with lemon.

LEFTOVERS When food is fresh, it has a certain intelligence, it knows where to go and what to do in the body. The longer food sits, the more it loses that intelligence or vital energy. Plus it gets cold in the refrigerator, then you end up heating it up in the microwave, and it’s a pale shadow of what it was when you started out. So avoid eating leftovers if you can. And if you must eat leftovers, heat them up on the stove and add in

77


some ghee and spices. Here’s a list of some of the more common incompatible food combos: Avoid DAIRY products combined with: -fruit -meat, including fish -starchy foods -yeasty breads Avoid EGGS combined with: -dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt) -meat, including fish -melons -bananas -starches Avoid CORN combined with: -bananas -dates -raisins Avoid LEMON combined with: -cucumber -tomato -dairy products Avoid NIGHTSHADES (tomato, potato, eggplant, chilies) combined with: -dairy products -melon -cucumber

78


Part-3 Ayurveda defines life as a conglomerate of body, mind, senses and soul. They are inseparably connected to each other by the life force called ‘Prana.” Ayurveda explains that the human body is the only means by which we can meet all of our obligations in this lifetime: Dharma-that which holds the society through righteous acts, Artha-the various materialistic pursuits undertaken by man, Kama-all the pleasures, Moksha-liberation of soul So, the human body reigns supreme when it comes to the objective of Ayurveda-‘the science of life’ because without a healthy body, life will be meaningless. The existence and sustenance of this body is thought to be dependent upon the three ‘Pillars’ of life. The major ‘pillars’ as per Ayurveda being the three physiological forces, the Three doshas, Vata , Pitta and Kapha. In addition, the normal functioning of the body and life force is dependent upon three other ‘sub-pillars’ namely, Food, Sleep and Activity (meaning our relationships, work, and self-control). Food as we can see is the foremost am ongst the ‘sub-pillars’ of life force. Food is the major source for continuation of the life process. A human being is the result of the food the person consumes. A wholesome and balanced diet is required to support the body and the life force to realise one’s optimum physical and mental potential. Ayurveda has a very unique way of treating food just like a medicine. It describes in detail the properties of various food items and their effects on physiological forces, the Doshas. These properties also determine how a particular food would be digested and how it is likely to affect the seven tissue

79


systems on a physical level and the three attributes, Satva, Rajas and Tama on a mental level. Generally, when the quality of a food is similar to the quality of a dosha, it will result in the increase in the activity of that particular dosha (as doshas are physiological forces that manifest in the body through their actions) Conversely, if the attributes of a food are opposite to the quality of a dosha, then it will reduce the activity of that particular dosha. So a food which is beneficial for an individual considering the state (physiological – Prakruti, or balanced state, or pathological – Vikriti, or unbalanced state) of doshas in his/her body, can be harmful for another person as per the state of doshas in his/ her body. So you can see how it applies that suitable food is responsible for nourishing a human body and unsuitable food only nourishes the disease-causing factors in the body and ultimately the disease itself. It is very important to know which food is most likely to suit one’s body and which isn’t. To ascertain this we have to go through certain basic Ayurvedic principles. This helps us to choose the right suitable food for our unique individual bodies. There are many things to consider. We have already learnt which foods suit which Dosha. In this section we will go deeper to understand the Ayurvedic principles which tell us why it is so. The 20 properties or attributes: Every food item imbibes fractions of the Five basic elements (Space, Air, Fire, Water and Earth), with the domination of one or more of the elements, and in turn the three Doshas and seven tissue systems also have different proportions of the five basic elements with dominance of certain elements in each. So, according to the Ayurvedic principle of ‘like increases and dislike decreases,’ food having the similar properties as of a

80


particular Dosha and/ or tissue systems increases the same and if they have opposite properties then it results in their depletion. These ‘properties’ (or Gunas in Sanskrit) are 20 in number and are distributed am ongst the five basic elements. Just as the doshas, tissue systems, food (and medicines alike) are composed of these five elements in different ratios, hence these 20 properties get manifested in them also. Ayurveda has a unique distinction of classifying food articles based on these 20 properties and uses food to nourish and/ or to bring about changes in doshas and tissue systems. These 20 properties are classified in opposing pairs of 10 and are listed as: 1. Heavy-Light 2. Cold-Hot 3. Unctuous– Dry 4. Slow-Sharp 5. Stable-Mobile 6. Soft-Hard 7. Slimy-Rough 8. Viscous-Liquid 9. Gross-Subtle 10. Cloudy-Clear Here are some examples of how the 20 properties exhibit themselves in various foods: 1. Heavy-Cream, cheese, kidney beans, rice flakes. 2. Light-Puffed rice, popcorn, wild rice. 3. Cold-Mint, coconut water, water melon, rice. 4. Hot-Peppers, nutmeg, turkey meat. 5. Oily-Nuts, fats and oils, black lentil.

81


6. Dry-Millets, rye, corn, gram flour. 7. Slow-Yogurt, pork, beef, condensed milk. 8. Sharp-Onion, ginger, garlic, bell peppers, mustard Greens. 9. Stable-Ghee, wheat. 10. Mobile-alcohol, sprouts, tobacco. 11. Soft-Puffed rice, tapioca, pasta. 12. Hard-Nuts, bones (small bony fish is eaten in many parts of asia), jack fruit. 13. Slimy-Colocasia, ladyfinger, full cream yogurt. 14. Rough-Most millets, broccoli, cauliflower, oats. 15. Dense-Cream, tubers. 16. Liquid-all water based beverages, soups, milk. 17. Gross-Roots and tubers, dates, minerals. 18. Subtle-Spices, saffron, oils (oils penetrate in pores by virtue of subtleness). 19. Cloudy-Mayonnaise, butter, sea food. 20. Clear-Clarified butter milk, black eyed peas, bitters. As stated earlier, every element has specific properties. Foods can be classified on the basis of five elements and thus can be used to balance/ nourish these elements in the body (tissues etc.)

82


Element

Foods

Space or Ether

Wheat flakes, fermented products, sprouts, alcohol, hemp, marijuana etc.

Air

Roasted grains, popcorn, broccoli , cabbage,sprouts, potatoes, brinjal, chickpeas, pinto beans etc.

Fire

Spices like peppers,cinnamon, nutmeg,ginger, turmeric, garlic, onion, sour food items, lemons, vinegar, alcohol, tobacco, tea, coffee etc.

Water

Milk and dairy products, products made from sugarcane juice like sugar, sugar candy, water enriched vegetables like gourds, water melons, citrus fruits, coconut water, beverages etc.

Earth

Wheat , rice, meat, roots and tubers, hard dried fruits, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, salts and minerals etc.

83


As per their constituent elements, different foods will show the actions as attributed to the respective element. A brief list of these actions of elements is as follows: Element

Action

Space or Ether

Softness, permeability, lightness

Air

Dryness, fatigue,vibration,transparency, lightness

Fire

Burning, digestion, radiance, lightness, texture, colour.

Water

Moistening, lubrication, cohesion, detoxification, tenderness, pleasure

Earth

Growth, cohesion, heaviness, stability

84


These in addition to 20 gunas and 5 elements, are 6 tastes (rasa), 2 energies (Virya) , post-digestion effect (Vipaak) and the unique unexplained action (Prabhava) and last but not the least the food combinations.

The Six tastes (rasa): All food articles have some taste. Charakaa has categorized these tastes into six. Each taste has its own elemental composition and unique properties through which it affects the doshas and the tissue systems. 1) Sweet Taste-The sweet taste is dominated by earth and water elements. Due to the relative heaviness of these elements, foods with sweet taste have downward movement in the body. Its qualities are unctuous, cooling and heavy. It calms Vata and Pitta and aggravates Kapha. It nourishes all the seven tissue systems, and is good for the hair, skin and throat. The sweet taste increases strength, vitality and satisfaction. It can help to heal wounds and repair fractures if taken in appropriate quantities. If the sweet taste is consumed in excess quantities, then it causes obesity, lethargy, lack of appetite, cough, cold and asthma, diabetes and more. Examples of the sweet taste include-sugar and sugary foods, milk, sweet fruits, rice, wheat, licorice, asparagus, almonds and more. 2) Sour Taste-The sour taste is predominantly composed of earth and fire elements. Its movement is both upwards (due to fire) and downward (due to earth) in the body. It is light, hot and unctuous. It calms Vata but aggravates Kapha and Pitta. If taken in moderation it acts as an appetizer and kindles the digestive fire. It strengthens the heart, aids in passing accumulated gases in the intestines, aids digestion, and stimulates salivation. If taken in excess the sour taste causes sensitive teeth, involuntary closure of eyelids, hyperacidity, heartburn,

85


edema especially in emaciated individuals, it aggravates Pitta and also aggravates the blood, causing skin diseases, like boils, eczema, and dermatitis, and it promotes infection in wounds. Example of foods rich in sour taste include citrus fruits, tamarind, raw mango, vinegar, sour cream, grapes, lemon and more. 3) Salty taste: The salty taste is predominantly composed of water and fire elements. Its movement is also both upwards (due to fire) and downwards (due to water). It is a bit heavy, unctuous and hot in properties. It calms Vata, and aggravates Pitta and Kapha. In moderation it relieves Vata in general and accumulated gases in colon in particular, relieving pain and spasm in the same. It aids in expulsion of mucous from the respiratory tract and stools from large intestine. It purifies the fluid channels of the body, and is important for the electrolyte balance of the body. It relieves spasm of the muscles and body pains and makes body parts supple. It induces salivation and makes the food tasty, is an appetizer and digestive. It dominates all other tastes and makes them palatable. If taken in excess, the salt taste causes wrinkling, premature greying of hair and hair loss. It depletes the reproductive tissue, weakens the sense organs, causes burning, excessive thirst, acidity, aggravates the blood, causing bleeding tendencies, hypertension, gout and skin diseases. Examples of the salty taste: any kind of salt, as well as kelp and some tofu. 4) Pungent taste: The pungent taste is dominated by Fire and Air elements. Due to the upward going nature of the two, the movement of pungent taste is also upwards. It has properties of lightness, heat and dryness. It aggravates Vata and Pitta and calms Kapha. In moderation it promotes salivation, nasal secretions and tears and thereby helps in cleansing of mouth cavity, sinuses, and eyes. It aids circulation, clears blockages, helps sense organs to perceive better, relieves severe flatulence, edema, and excessive oiliness. The pungent taste can also help a person to lose weight.

86


In case of overuse, the pungent taste can deplete and destroy the reproductive tissue causing ovulation failure, low sperm count and sexual debility. Due to aggravation of Pitta it causes vertigo, fainting episodes, thirst, burning, and peptic ulcers . Due to aggravation of Vata, it causes giddiness, nausea, tremors, pricking and tearing pains in extremities, flanks and back. Examples of pungent foods include peppers, ginger, onion, garlic, mustard, rye and more. 5) Bitter taste: The bitter taste has dominance of Air and Space elements. Due to the very nature of constituent elements it has a tendency towards upward movement. It is dry, cold and light by nature. It calms Pitta and Kapha but aggravates Vata. Though by nature it is sometimes unpalatable, if taken, it can cure anorexia, removes toxins, parasites, itching, skin diseases, thirst and fainting. The bitter taste also purifies the milk of lactating mothers. It brings down fever, makes the skin firm by working on excessive oiliness and fat . It cuts down on excessive fat and is drying in nature and thus reduces lymphatic edema, and pus formation. In excess the bitter taste depletes all the tissue systems, produces dryness in all the body channels, reduces strength, causes emaciation, weakens the heart, produces dryness and roughness. Examples of the bitter taste include bitter gourd, bitter melon, neem, turmeric, fenugreek seeds, aloe vera, coffee, and more.

6) Astringent taste: The astringent taste is dominated by Air and earth elements. Its movement is both upwards and downwards. It is cooling, dry and heavy by nature. It calms Kapha and Pitta and aggravates Vata. It helps in the healing of wounds and promotes clotting. By its nature it depletes all the tissues and produces roughness of channels. It absorbs water and causes dryness of mouth and throat. It is a blood purifier. In excess the astringent taste may cause choking, absolute

87


constipation, severe flatulence, heart spasm, stagnation of body fluid. It can cause excessive thirst, lack of virility due to aggravation of Vata and may also cause Bell’s Palsy, Hemiplegia or paralysis, lock jaw and other neuro-muscular disorders. Examples of the astringent taste include: unripe banana, tamarind and mango seeds, betel nut, colocasia, black plum and more. Ayurveda says that all the six tastes are to be judiciously used in our meals so as to keep all the tissue systems, body channels and doshas in balance and to am eliorate the diseased conditions.

The process of digestion Before we take a deeper look at the process of digestion, it is essential that we further understand the digestive fire or ‘Agni’ in Ayurveda. Agni in fact is the second most-talked about entity after Doshas in Ayurvedic texts. Many Ayurvedic doctors say that the treatment of diseases of the body is in fact treatment of the Agni. This Agni is responsible for transforming food into substrates/ metabolites which can be used by the body to balance and nourish the tissue systems. So even if we have arranged for all kinds of suitable foods in the right combination, our body cannot utilise them without the help of Agni-the digestive fire. In the body, the Agni or fire is manifested as Pitta Dosha. The Pitta Dosha has the fire element predominantly and has fractions of other four elements , water, air, space, and earth as well. The qualities of being sharp, and light is due to fire element. Lightness is also contributed by space element. Air gives the property of mobility and lightness. The properties of mild unctuousness, the capacity to spread evenly and the fluid state are due to water element. The earth element

88


gives a peculiar odor to Pitta, the representative of Agni in the body. Knowing that Agni in the body consists of the five elements, becomes more relevant when we talk about the four states of Agni: 1) The normal state (Sum Agni) –This stage is a balanced state of all the five elements by their representative doshas in the body. The person having a ‘Sum Agni� is able to digest reasonable quantities of food without any adverse signs and symptoms. The person enjoys perfect health with season, food or habits affecting the Agni. The person is bestowed with strength, radiance, immunity to diseases, abundant life force and a long life. 2) The irregular state of Agni (VishAmagni): When Vata dosha (Space) becomes aggravated in the body under the influence of various causative factors, it also aggravates the elements of Air and Space present in Pitta (the representative of Agni in body) and thus the Agni shows irregular behavior, a distinct characteristic of the Air element. It is sometimes able to digest the food and sometimes not. There is sometimes diarrhoea and at times constipation, flatulence, colicky pains, gurgling in the intestines. The aggravated Vata dosha which accompanies this condition causes muscle spasms, low backache and various Vata disorders. 3) Hyper state of agni (Tikshna agni)-When Pitta Dosha gets aggravated due to causative factors, then it increases the fire element in the Pitta residing in the Abdomen area as digestive fire or Agni, resulting in an intense state of digestion and metabolism, like a fire engulfing everything coming its way. This state causes the person to eat large quantities of food. Once the food is digested the increased Fire element in the digestive fire causes a dry palate, parched mouth, a burning sensation, acidity and heartburn. It may also cause gastritis, dysentery or colitis. The increased fire element of the Pitta Dosha can cause systemic Pitta disorders like inflammations.

89


4) Hypo state of agni (Manda Agni)-When Kapha aggravates Agni it also aggravates the elements of Water and Earth in the digestive fire. As Water and Earth elements antagonize the properties of Fire, the digestive Fire becomes doused (Manda in Sanskrit means slow). It is not able to digest even small quantities of food leading to slow metabolism. There is fullness of stomach, nausea, loss of appetite, and the systemic Kapha disorders like colds and cough, lethargy, cold clammy skin. So we can see that in all these stages of Agni, there is local effect on the gastro intestinal tract due to the derangement of elements in the Digestive fire – the Agni and systemic symptoms that are cause by the aggravated Doshas which started the process in the first place. The digestive process: Actually Agni has been envisaged and perceived to act at three levels by Ayurvedic specialists. The explanation given earlier refers to the first level i.e Agni present in the Gut – The digestive fire called Jatharagni-jathar meaning gut). It nourishes and strengthens the Agni present at the next two levels. This Agni is present throughout the food channel (annavaha srotas), and breaks down the ingested food into simpler molecules and renders it liquid. But this liquid is not subtle enough to be used by the body tissues, so here comes the next level of Agni, the Elemental Fire (or Bhootagni), and there are 5, one for each of the five elements. This renders this liquid form of food to further break up in smaller simpler fractions so as to be taken by the tissue systems. At the third level, the role of the 7 tissue Fires (Dhatu agni-Dhatu means tissue systems) comes into play. They are present in the respective cells of the tissue systems and take up these minute fractions to nourish their respective cells and also for final transformation.

90


The diet as per Ayurveda has to include four types of foods: a) foods that have to be chewed many times b) foods that are softer and require moderate chewing c) foods that can be licked d) foods that have to be drunk. This classification ensures representation of five Elements in the diet. This in turn is essential to nourish the representatives of the five Elements and their respective sense organs. It should have all the six Tastes as they are directly related to Doshas and influence them. It should have two-fold or 8-fold potencies which is essential for dosha activity and metabolism of tissue systems. It should contain the 20 properties which are represented in body constituents. This is for a balanced state (Prakruti) of body. However, in an unbalanced state (Vikruti) of body we have to pick and choose the appropriate foods having the required attributes. We can see that there is considerable overlap am ongst these attributes. So we can make use of any one or two or more of these attributes as per our requirement while selecting a food item. But in a normal state all these attributes have to be present in the food for optimum nourishment and growth of the body. I) The first Stage: Such balanced food is acted upon the Digestive fire called Jatharagni, and the end result is liquefied food which gets absorbed and reaches the circulation and heart pumps it to all parts of the body. This is the first stage of the process of digestion and involves the digestive fire residing in the food channel called Jatharagni. II) The Second Stage: In the second stage, the liquefied food juice is acted upon by the respective Elemental fires (bhootagnis) so that the content of this liquefied food becomes more subtle so it can be used by the cells of the

91


tissue systems. For example milk and wheat have earth and water elements predominantly respectively. So, in the second stage their digestion is different from each other as they are separately acted upon by respective elemental fires. A deranged Elemental fire results in the depletion in the structure and /or the function of related tissue systems and tissue wastes and the related sense organ. III) The third Stage: The third stage is dominated by the action of respective Tissue Fires (Dhatu Agnis) on the liquefied food juice. It makes the food juice, acted upon by the Elemental fires previously, even subtler to be taken up by tissues. The tissues selectively take up what is needed at a particular time. A deranged tissue fire results in loss of structure and function of the particular tissue system.

The concept of Ama The discussion on Agni and digestion is not complete without mentioning about Ama. Ayurveda says that deranged Agni not only causes depletion of the body constituents and derangement of their function, but also results in the formation of a highly toxic, contaminating substance called Ama. The partially digested food that is formed is not converted into the nourishing liquefied food juice and the food juice that is formed is laden with Ama and cannot nourish the tissues. At the level of the first stage of digestion where any of the sub-stages may get deranged, the Ama-laden food juice produces grosser symptoms like occlusions of channels and aggravating the doshas. But if Ama is produced at the level of Elements due to deranged Elemental fires, then the symptoms are more of sensory, mental and at the level of consciousness. If the Ama is produced due to deranged Tissue fire then it is more restricted from spreading and produces local symptoms in the respective tissue system.

92


So you can see that Agni is very important for the nourishment, growth and proper functioning of the body and most of the intrinsic diseases are the result of the impaired Agni. We should be ever mindful of the status of agni and avoid the causes responsible for its derangement, for a healthy and long life.

93


Food

Taste

Potency

Barley

Sweet

Cooling

Buckwheat*

Astringent, Sweet, Pungent

Heating

Corn

Sweet

Heating

Millet

Sweet

Heating

Oats

Sweet

Cooling

Quinoa*

Sweet, Astringent

Cooling

Rice (Basmati)

Sweet

Cooling

Rye

Astringent

Heating

Spelt

Pungent Astringent

Heating

Tapioca

Astringent Sweet

Coooling

Wheat

Sweet

Cooling

Cereals /Grains

94


Post Digestive Properties Effect Attributes

Dosha Increased

Dosha Decreased

Sweet

Light, Diuretic

Vata(V)

Pitta(P) Kapha(K)

Sweet

Heavy

V,P

V,K

Sweet

Heavy

V,P

K

Sweet

Dry,Light

V,P

K

Sweet

Dry,Rough

V

P,K

Sweet

Heavy

K

V,P,K

Sweet

Light, Soft, Weight Promoter

V,P

K

Pungent

Dry,Light

V,P

K

Pungent

Light,Dry

V

P,K

Sweet

Dry,Light

V

P,K

Sweet

Heavy,Unctuous, Weight Promoter,

V,P

K

95


Food

Taste

Potency

Aduki

Astringent

Cooling

Black Eyed Peas

Astringent

Cooling

Chick Peas

Sweet

Cooling

Kidney Beans

Astringent, Sweet

Cooling

Lentil Brown

Sweet

Cooling

Lentil Pink

Sweet,Astringent

Cooling

Lentil Yellow And Green

Sweet,Astringent

Cooling

Lentil Black

Sweet

Heating

Navy Beans

Sweet, Astringent

Heating

Pinto Beans

Astringent

Cooling

Soy Beans

Astringent,Sweet

Cooling

Garbanzo Beans

Astringent

Cooling

Legumes And Lentils

96


Post Digestive Properties Effect Attributes

Dosha Increased

Dosha Decreased

Pungent

Hard,Heavy

V

P,K

Pungent

Hard,Heavy

V

P,K

Pungent

Dry,Rough,Heavy

V

P,K

Sweet

Dry, Heavy, Clear Promotes Bowel Evacuation

V,K

P

Sweet

Dry,Rough

V,K

P

Sweet

Dry,Light,Binds Faeces

V

K,P

Pungent

Light,Clear

V

K,P

Sweet

Unctuous, Heavy,Increases Quantity Of Faeces

V

K,P

Pungent

Dry,Rough

V,P

K

Pungent

Heavy

V

P,K

Pungent

Unctuous,Heavy

V,K

P

Pungent

Heavy, Hard To Digest

V

P,K

97


Module-4 Exercise and Body Work Part-1 Exercise is, of course, an important part of taking care of our bodies. We need to get up and move! The basic rule in Ayurveda is to exercise to 75% of your capacity. Don’t work out until you are exhausted and depleted. Stop when you are still feeling good, but can see that time coming. In this way you will build up your stamina and your strength. Vatas tend to get worn out; they have a low reserve of energy. The worst thing they can do is to overextend themselves physically. Vatas are fairly flexible, so they love exercises like yoga or Pilates, where they can stretch and warm their muscles. They also like exercises where they can have fun, as they tend to get bored easily, so anything novel gets their attention. They love a hot, steamy shower after exercise. Pittas are fiercely competitive, so sports where they play on a team, or games where they have something at stake, really fuel their fire. Swimming, diving, and other water sports are great for Pittas as the water is cooling, which is balancing for

98


them. It is refreshing for Pittas to take a nice dip in the pool after their workouts. Kaphas have a lot of stored up energy, so they can take more strenuous exercise-they need it, actually, to burn off that energy so that it doesn’t turn to bulk. Running is great, even if it’s on a treadmill in the gym. Weight-lifting is also really good for Kaphas. As a reward for their efforts, Kaphas may look forward to a nice warm soak in the tub!

VATA

Recommended Exercise for Balance

PITTA

KAPHA

Activities

Activities

Activities

Low-impact Yoga Walking Dancing

Competitive or team sports Baseball Tennis Or Cooling Sports Swimming

Stimulating, regular exercise Body building Running

YOGA Yoga and Ayurveda are regarded as sister sciences. Both originated as parts of a greater system of Vedic knowledge. Yoga originated in the Yajur Veda, while Ayurveda originated in the Atharva Veda and the Rig Veda. Both Yoga and Ayurveda are based upon the principles of the elements: space, air, fire, water, and earth. Yoga and Ayurveda also encompass an understanding of how the body works and the effect that food has on the physiology.

99


Both yoga and Ayurveda advocate for the regular practice of breathing exercises, pranayama, and meditation, as well as the use of herbs, body purification procedures, food, and the chanting of mantras for physical and mental health. The two overlap in many areas, they complement each other, yet they each have their unique place and function. According to the classic Vedic texts, the difference between the Ayurveda and Yoga is that Ayurveda was originally created specifically for health and healing purposes, while Yoga was created as an inner spiritual practice. While Ayurveda is the only healing system in Vedic teachings, all of the Vedic teachings involve some form of Yoga practice. When you practice Yoga, it is always good to practice Ayurveda too. In India, Ayurveda and Yoga are always practiced in tandem. A person would never think of doing one without the other – it would be like wearing your left shoe without the right one! Through Yoga, our goal is to increase awareness, centeredness and emotional intelligence, and bring about the blossoming of consciousness. The Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle routine contributes to this aspect. The food guidelines of Ayurveda, in turn, help us attain maximum benefit from yoga. The lifestyle recommendations in Ayurveda exert a positive influence at the mental level as well, which enhances yoga practice. Yoga is the one exercise that is beneficial for every body type. Yoga postures are called “asanas” and there are many different asanas that you can do individually or as a couple. Most yoga studios are now offering “date nights” where couples can practice together. You may also choose to just try practicing at home.

100


VATA

Focus of practice

PITTA

KAPHA

Activities

Activities

Activities

Calming, grounding

Cooling, relaxing

Energizing, releasing

Moon Salutation, Triangle, Half Moon, Shoulder stand, Boat, Fish, Bow, Tortoise.

Sun Salutation, Lion, Half Moon, Downward Dog, Upward Dog, Handstand, Headstand, Shoulder stand, Plow, Camel

Recommended Sun asanas Salutation, Lotus, Lion, Tree, Triangle, Warrior, Inversions, Cobra, Tortoise, Boat, Twist, Corpse

Yoga done with a partner helps you get “in touch� with that person, and also with yourself. Yoga helps us to look within, to challenge ourselves, to be still. When working with another person, that person acts as a kind of mirror for us, and helps to keep us on track. There is also a certain am ount of trust involved when you are doing asanas together. There are times when you need to depend on your partner for support, or balance, and this can reflect how you function within the relationship in other ways, too. A lot of feelings can come up; this is a good opportunity for growth both individually and as a couple. Another benefit of yoga is simply the physical exercise-yoga helps us to keep fit. When we are in good shape, we feel better, and we are able to perform better, mentally and

101


physically. Yoga is also a way for us to relax and just have fun together. It is a shared activity. We get away from our hectic activities and spend time on a joint project, where you can set and accomplish goals together. So, yoga is a bonding experience in many ways. It is a way for us to connect with each other, and with ourselves. Practicing yoga together can help both of you to reduce stress, improve your communication, develop trust and understanding, and enhance your libido. A few basic tips: • Find a flat, open space, where you are free to move around without bumping into anything. • Set aside at least 30 minutes, and preferably an hour, to devote to this practice and nothing else. Turn off the phones. • Don’t practice on a full stomach. Allow time to digest before exercising. If you are pregnant, or have back problems, consult your doctor before starting any new exercise program. • Wear loose, comfortable clothing, and be bare feet. • Don’t overdo it. Rest when you feel tired. Your stamina will increase over time with regular practice. • Breathe. Breathe through your nose. Your breaths should be long and deep. Breathe with your diaphragm. Relax your chest and allow your breath to feel as if it is coming from your belly. • Start out slowly, allow your body to warm-up. • Have fun. Laugh. Enjoy being together. Don’t take yourself too seriously. • Cool down gently, allow your body time to rest and restore itself after you are done.

102


Massage With massage we are working our hands on the body, manipulating muscles and skin. And we are also working with these energies; there is an interaction between giver and receiver. When giving a massage, you need to be aware of this, and focus on giving loving, caring energy to your partner. Be careful to keep the person’s dosha in mind, and his or her preferences in relation to pressure and temperature. Think good thoughts, and keep your vibrational level high. Massage is a service, and it should be offered to your partner as a heartfelt gift. Breathe deeply. After the massage, it is a good idea to restore your energy by relaxing yourself a little bit. The receiver needs to just relax and give in to the experience. Allow the body to surrender and not resist. Close your eyes, find a place of peace, and enjoy. The Sanskrit word for oil is “snigdha.” Sanskrit has many layers of meaning, and translated, snigdha means oil, fat and also, love! Oil creates smoothness, lubrication, and vigor. It is nourishing, like love. When we use oil in a massage, we are taking care of ourselves, and coating ourselves with love. The opposite of oily is dry, or “ruksha.” Dryness creates dehydration. Dry weather aggravates Vata, and causes dry skin. Fear, nervousness, anxiety and loneliness are also dry. Love is the antidote! So to balance ruksha, coat the skin with oil, or love. Then take a warm shower after the application of oil, and the skin, kidneys and colon are also nourished. Some general rules to keep in mind when giving a massage: • Warm your hands by rubbing them together. • Use an oil to lubricate your hands to avoid friction or irritation.

103


• Be gentle on the parts of the body that are more thin. • The feet may be massaged more vigorously, and for a longer time. • If there is hair on any part of the body, massage in the direction of hair growth. • Use plant-based oils only. Mineral oils do not get absorbed by the skin and can actually be irritating because they prevent the skin from breathing. Massage balances all three doshas, and is particularly healing for Vatas. There are many different oils you can use, depending on the season, and the dosha of the person you are working on. For Vatas, warm the oil to body temperature, be generous with your portions, and use gentle, firm strokes. For Pittas, the oil should be slightly cool, use a moderate am ount, and keep your touch light and soothing. For Kaphas, you may use a dry massage, or use just a small am ount of warm oil. Kaphas can take a stronger touch, a more deep massage.

Balancing massage oil

VATA

PITTA

Sesame. Also, almond, castor

Coconut. Also, sunflower

KAPHA

Olive. Also, corn, mustard

Ayurvedic Massage (Abhyanga) Ayurvedic massage offers many benefits. If done in the morning, it helps you to start your day off relaxed, which is essential in maintaining balance. When done at night, it promotes a restful night’s sleep. It doesn’t matter when you choose to do the massage, but you will receive the optimum benefits if you do it every day. Since the quality of Vata is dry and cold, a warm and oily massage provides an ideal balance

104


for Vata types, though all types will notice increased health and vitality, especially during Vata season. The massage soothes the nervous system and the endocrine system, since skin produces endocrine hormones. It rejuvenates the skin, promoting a youthful appearance. It also eliminates toxins and tones the muscles. Sesame oil is generally recommended for Ayurvedic massage because it helps to balance all three of the doshas. But feel free to choose one of the oils that are specific to your dosha. Sesame is great for Vata. Coconut or sunflower both work well for Pitta. Corn or olive oils are beneficial for balancing Kapha. You can also add herbs or fragrances to the oils to personalize them for your needs. The entire massage requires only about 2 ounces of oil per person each time. If you are so inclined, this is a massage that you and your partner can do together. Before you begin, warm the oil to skin temperature. The easiest way to do this is to keep a small plastic squeeze bottle filled with oil, and set the bottle in a bowl or cup of very hot water. Wait a few minutes for the oil to reach skin temperature. While the oil warms, lay out a towel to protect the carpet or floor from any oil that may spill. When you are ready, start the massage at your head. Drizzle a small am ount of oil onto your scalp and massage it in with the palms of your hands. Use a clockwise, circular motion. Then gently massage your face and ears. If you have oily skin, avoid those areas that are prone to breakouts. Massaging the ears is excellent for balancing Vata. Drizzle some oil in your palms and massage your neck, then move to your shoulders. Use a circular motion on your jointsshoulders, elbows, knees-and long up-and-down strokes on your limbs.

105


Be gentle on your torso. Use large, clockwise motions to massage the chest and stomach area. Reach around to massage your back as best you can without straining. Then massage the legs, ankles, and knees. Using the palm of your hands, vigorously massage the feet. It is best to leave the oil on the body for 20 minutes before washing it off in a warm, not hot, shower or bath. You can use this time to meditate or do your yoga exercises. If you don’t have time to wait, that’s fine. It’s much better to do a quick massage than none at all.

106


Part-2 Exercise and Body work Exercise is an important part of the Ayurvedic routine because it burns Ama (those digestive impurities) and creates more flexibility, and lightness in the body. Exercise creates balance when suitable for the body type and season. However, you don’t want to wear yourself out. Exercising beyond one’s capacity can create imbalance in both the mind and body, and do more harm than good. Ayurveda recommends that we exercise to 50-75% of our capacity. Stop before you hit that wall and you will start to build up more stamina, as well as recover much more quickly. Vata types need less exercise, so lighter activities such as walking are best. Pitta types need moderate am ounts, cooling water sports are particularly good, like swimming and skiing, Kapha types need more intense exercise, such as running, weight-lifting, and aerobics, in order to stay in balance. Kaphas need to sweat. The seasons should also be taken into consideration: if you want to increase your exercise, winter and spring are the best times. In hot weather, you need to decrease exertion and stay out of the hot sun. As for age, children have more capacity for exercise and older people need less, although some daily exercise is essential at any age. Yoga asanas are the ideal form of exercise for all body types and ages, because they balance the three doshas, tone the muscles, and rejuvenate all the organs in the body. Pranayama, or breathing exercises, are also good for restoring balance to mind and body. Hatha Yoga, which dates back to the 15th century, combines the Sanskrit words ha, meaning sun, and tha, meaning moon.

107


Together hatha means “force.” The word yoga means union. So Hatha Yoga is the yoga of force. It is the practicing of balancing opposing energies of the body: sun and moon, male and female, shiva and shakti, left and right, hot and cold. Hatha yoga says that we unify these energies with physical postures, or asanas, breathing, or pranayama, and meditation. The objective is to still the mind and create balance, to purify and activate the energy centers of the body. Hatha Yoga is one of the four main traditions of Tantra Yoga. The idea behind Hatha Yoga is that by stilling the mind using the tools of asanas and pranayama we are preparing ourselves for deep and long meditation. There are many benefits to Hatha Yoga. It relieves stress and promotes relaxation while also providing good physical exercise. As we learn and hold each pose, it teaches us to be fully present, aware of the breath. This is a powerful tool for self-transformation. It’s always good to attend a yoga class, or a meditation class, to get together with a group and experience the practice together. “Sat” in Sanskrit means “Truth.” A Satsang is a gathering of people experiencing, or sharing Truth. A Satsang could be a lecture, or a discussion group. It could include music or food. A Satsang is good for our souls because it brings us together with like-minded people. Anytime we can come together in wisdom is good, especially in group meditations. And it is also our responsibility to provide opportunities for Satsangs for others, since we recognize the value for everyone. 108


When you exercise, you sweat – and sometimes with that sweat come break-outs on the skin. Acne is a common skin disease that affects more than 85% of the population at some point in their lives. Acne is more common in men than women during adolescence, and more common in women than men during adulthood. Ayurveda says that acne is an imbalance of all three doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha, with the main cause being the aggravation of the Pitta dosha. Pitta is made up of a combination of fire and water, hence the heat, or redness, of the skin. Since a Pitta imbalance is deep in the physiology, creams and topical treatments just mask the symptoms of acne. Ayurveda recommends a Pitta diet and lifestyle routine to tackle the disease at the root cause. Meditation and yoga help to ease stress, which is a contributing factor. When experiencing a breakout of acne, try making a paste of turmeric powder and water and applying to the blemishes with a cotton ball. Turmeric has both antibiotic and antibacterial properties so it will help calm the eruptions.

109


Part-3 The most authentic literature of Ayurveda Charaka Samhita (about 8th century BC) and Sushruta Samhita (5th century BC) have many references of exercise and the verses on the topic ‘Vyaa-yam.’ The Descriprtion of exercise (Vyaayam) as given in Ayurvedic texts: Definition of exercise: The word Vyaayam originates from many roots (Every word in Sanskrit has some root from which it is derived.) Vy is for specific, aa means particular, yam is for control. So Vyaayam or exercise is the means by which specific and particular control of the body is obtained. Charakaa defines exercise as “a physical action which is desirable and is capable of bringing about bodily stability and strength is known as physical exercise”. Sushruta defines exercise as “Any activity that brings tiredness to the body is called exercise or Vyaayam” These definitions are in tune with the modern concept of exercise and were probably the earliest definitions of exercise recorded in the history of medicine. Charaka Samhita propounded the idea of the maintenance of positive health which includes proper diet, sleep, rest and activity and regular exercises etc. It described body, mind and soul as three legs of a tripod which collectively sustains life. It mentions that one should do Vyaayam for the body and meditation and Yoga for the mind and soul. Features of optimum level of exercise: Charakaa says “Perspiration on the forehead (perspiration on rest of the body is bound to happen and is fine, but once it starts appearing on the forehead, it is the threshold), enhanced 110


respiration, lightness of the body, feeling of inhibition at the level of the heart and other body parts denotes the optimum level of exercise. One should stop exercising at this stage. Sushruta calls this stage as ‘Ardha (half) bala (strength) and advises to stop exercise at this stage. It is the stamina of a person to do exercise and with practice this threshold increases. So, one should never exert so much that one has to gasp for breath. The am ount of exercise also depends upon the climate. In hot weather conditions and in summers in general, the exercise should be lesser. It should not be done immediately after food or completely empty stomach and when one is sick and feeling weak. Harmful effects of excessive exercise: If exercise is done excessively then it causes tiredness, exhaustion, depletion of body fluids and body tissues, excessive thirst, vitiation of blood, breathing difficulties, cough, fever, giddiness and vomiting/nausea. Benefits of exercise: Both Charakaa and Sushruta have enumerated benefits of exercise which is done as per one’s capacity. • Exercise nourishes the body, improves luster and shape of the body. • It brings about lightness in the body and removes laziness. • It increases stamina to do physical and mental work. • It increases strength and stability of the body. • It increases the capacity to bear stresses like cold and heat, tiredness, etc. • It decreases vitiated doshas. • It improves appetite so much so that the person is able to digest even half-cooked food.

111


• It begets overall health. • Exercise cures twenty types of Kapha diseases like anorexia, drowsiness, laziness, excessive sleep, heaviness of the body, sweet taste in the mouth, salivation, indigestion, hardening of arteries, obesity etc. (Sushruta considers exercise as the best treatment for obesity). • Exercise is the essential component of the treatment of diabetes mellitus and obesity as per Ayurvedic texts. How to get Started With this preliminary knowledge, let us see how we can implement this wisdom into practice reaping all the benefits that we might not get by just following the modern concept of exercise alone. The modern concept of exercise is based on exercises designed on basis of the movement of muscles and muscle groups of extensor and flexor compartments and toning and synchronising the movements of the two. It also emphasizes on development of core muscle groups and skills needed for a particular sport. In the aerobic exercise, emphasis is given on reaching the target heart rate (which is calculated using various formulae-an easy one is-220 minus your age multiplied by .60 to get your minimum heart rate per minute and by .80 to get maximum heart rate per minute. You have to get your heart racing somewhere in between the two ranges.) On the other hand, Ayurveda believes that every individual being different, it is best to exercise till you do not get out of breath and have to breathe through your mouth. This is your Bal-ar-dha or half strength. You have to stop at this point and start after a period of rest. Slowly, this threshold level increases. This way while breathing deeply through your nose you are letting the ‘Prana’ to reach the remotest alveolus of the lung and this induces a sense of relaxation at the level of body tissues. Otherwise if you push the body too much you end up taking short breaths from the mouth that generates

112


stress in the body tissues (every cell of the body has a mind of its own as per vedic philosophy!) Ayurveda suggests a daily routine of exercise should include 1. Breathing exercises to increase the flow of prana (life force). 2. Meditation and/or deep relaxation to create a balance between internal self and external world and allowing the body to repair and mind to attain happiness and ultimately a state of permanent bliss. 3. Yoga poses (yoga though is a complete science of Body, Mind and Spirit but at a superficial level use of Yoga postures is very beneficial to provide required mind body coordination) 4. An appropriate physical activity (in accordance to your dosha predominance). Such an exercise routine includes work out for the body, mind and the soul that affects not only your body, but has a positive influence on your mind, emotions, senses and spirit. The benefits of VyaayAmare achieved as you focus on your chosen activity in awareness of your breathing, physical responses, and sense of well-being. When you exercise according to Ayurvedic tradition, your energy and vitality are enhanced by the appropriate demands placed on your body and you are left with a feeling of happiness. But before one starts there are few guidelines: • Before starting on an exercise regimen, it is always advisable to get a medical check up done by your physician to rule out any absolute contraindication or to know about any precaution which you should take while exercising.

113


• Exercises should be done an hour after a light snack and clearing your bowels (do not worry if you do not clear up initially, but following a regular Ayurvedic routine will ensure that you are able to do so) preferably in the morning as it is Kapha time (6am-10am) and the body’s stamina, strength and coordination is maximum. Early morning exercise prepares you for your day with a clear mind, increased circulation and added strength to your digestive fire. The middle of the day is not a suitable time for exercising, as middle of the day (10 am to 2 pm) is the time for eating as your ability to digest food is increasing and your body’s capacity for physical activity is in decline. So, avoid exercising in the middle of the day. This is the time to eat your main meal of the day. Exercise done at the evening time if at all necessary should be of mild (for Vata body type) to moderate in intensity (for Pitta and Kapha body types) like a walk or a slow intermittent jog or power walk for 15-30 minutes. • Do not eat immediately before, during or immediately after exercise. As circulation to muscles is maximum during exercise and consuming food at these times will compromise on the blood flow to stomach needed for proper digestion, a state which is not favorable for health. • Drinking stomach full of water or energy drinks while exercising is also forbidden. However small frequent sips of cool (never cold or chilled) water to rehydrate oneself and to quench the thirst should be had. • Ayurveda advises that exercises are to be done after anointing oil to the body and giving a mild self-massage thereafter. This prevents Vata aggravation and prepares the muscles for exercise. • The choice of cloth fabric for the exercise gear should be as per the local weather conditions, a pure cotton or cotton blend is ideal which allows comfort and stretchability.

114


• Exercises should not be done in excess beyond one’s needs and capacity. • Rigorous exercises should not be started all of a sudden but one has to ‘build up’ on intensity, and time. • Avoid excessively vigorous and jerky movements affecting the joints and other vital points (marmas). • Those indulging in regular exercise should consume nutritious and unctuous food having all the tastes. The use of milk and milk products and nuts is recommended. • Most importantly exercise should always be in accordance with age, season and individual needs. • Contra-indications to the exercise as told earlier should be kept in mind. • While it is recommended that you include outside activities in your regular workout to insure there is sufficient fresh air, it is advisable to also consider the temperature and weather condition. A cool breeze and neither too hot nor too cold weather conditions are perfect. Fresh air and exposure to nature are balancing. In extreme weather conditions, exercise done in a well ventilated room is the best option. • The mental state should also be calm and joyful (just like the nature outside!) Frequency and duration Daily moderate exercise produces predictable and positive results. Irregular, intense exertion will place unnecessary demands on the systems of your body and create a stress response. Five days a week is the next best option. It is advised to exercise for a minimum of 20 minutes to a maximum of an hour for the daily workout (excluding time taken for warm-up, yoga and meditation). Athletes preparing for the competition may exercise/train more.

115


Intensity The essence of Ayurvedic exercise as instructed by the texts is to exert upto half of your maximum strength or capacity that helps to maintain a consistent energy through your workout. To maintain fifty percent of your capacity, never exert yourself to the point that you have to breathe through your mouth. Nose breathing is superior to mouth breathing because your lungs fill more completely with air and you’re your lungs are protected from harmful air borne pollutants by the cilia in your nose. When you exert yourself to the point that you have to breathe through your mouth, you lose to maintain the tempo and the correct posture to perform the exercise concerned. Do not get disheartened if you get out of breath much sooner than your peers, as this threshold get raised gradually. This allows your capacity to exercise to increase with regular practice, without creating stress, strain or imbalance. Pre and post exercise workout Preparing the body for exercise is very important and a light body massage with oil does exactly the same. This can be followed by stretches of the back, limbs, shoulders, neck and the chest area. The same protocol can be repeated after the exercise. Sushruta advises kneading and massaging the body gently after the exercise. Step1: Selecting exercise as per your body constitution (body type) One of the most basic principles of Ayurveda is that we have our own unique body-mind constitution with distinctive features and behaviour patterns. What makes you different from others is your different needs for your personal balance, including the way that you exercise. The important thing is that physical exercise should enhance your strength, and add to your relaxed, balanced and blissful state. The following guide lines for the three major Body types will help you to achieve this goal. 116


Exercises for Vata The most significant feature of a Vata body constitution is constant motion. Be it physical activity or a mental exercise, Vata personalities are always on the go. Vatas love being active and thus enjoy exercise. The other feature of a Vata personality is change. So Vata personalities cannot stick to the same exercise routine. They want change in the same activity or to change the activity all together. Third Vata have a low endurance level and hence exercises that require lot of strength and perseverance are not for Vata, instead an exercise with quick bursts of activity followed by a rest period or slower pace of activity is ideally suited for Vata. All these guidelines are for normal Prakrit state of Vata Peronality, what if Vata is aggravated in a Vata personality? In an aggravated state, Vata personalities will show lot of irritability, aches and pains, insomnia and anxiety. Then a calming exercise is advised to sooth the sore muscles and calm the nerves. For a routine (Normal Prakrit state) Vata can pick any of the following activities: ▪ Walking ▪ Slow jogging ▪ Archery ▪ Cricket ▪ Tai chi ▪ Judo ▪ Golf ▪ Gymnastics ▪ Belly dancing ▪ Horse riding ▪ Sailing ▪ Bowling ▪ Yoga ▪ Slow cycling

117


For calming the Vata in the aggravated state: ▪ Yoga ▪ Tai chi ▪ Dancing ▪ Cycling ▪ Horse riding ▪ Golf ▪ Slow jogging or walking ▪ Sailing Activities unsuitable for Vata personalities in all states: ▪ High intensity aerobics ▪ High endurance (heart-lung endurance as well as stamina) sports like power lifting, foot ball, basket ball, hockey, football, rowing, power yoga etc.

Exercises for Pitta Pitta Personalities are warriors with a strong sense of competition and desire to excel. So obviously they love to have activities that require competitive interaction with others. They are happy competing with themselves also by building up on their intensity and endurance of exercise persistently. So they love to use the stop watch and other parameters for this purpose. They are muscular and athletic in their build and hence they do well in high-endurance sports and exercises. But in their pursuit to excel Pitta personalities may overstretch their limits and get angry (According to Ayurveda anger increases Pitta) at not being able to win or achieve their set target. This is the time to draw a line and they need to shift to an activity which needs endurance but is non-competitive and calming for the fire that is Pitta. Exercises recommended for Pitta personalities in Prakrit state: ▪ Baseball ▪ Handball ▪ Hockey ▪ Football 118


▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪

Basketball Boxing Rowing Sprinting/ jogging Fast cycling Ice skating Mountain climbing Skipping Swimming Racquet sports Weight lifting Gymnastics Skiing

Exercises/ activities to calm Pitta in aggravated state ▪ Yoga and yogic breathing ▪ Swimming ▪ Water sports ▪ Slow jogging ▪ Cycling ▪ Horse riding ▪ Shooting/ archery ▪ Gymnastics ▪ Dancing ▪ Golf Exercises/ activities that Pitta personalities should avoid ▪ Power Yoga ▪ Sauna bath ▪ Exercising in afternoon and under harsh sun. ▪ Power lifting.

119


Exercises for Kapha Kapha personalities are marked by inertia, endurance and stored energy reserves. They need stimulus to get moving. They are more comfortable playing team sports where they do not have to move a lot. But they can be cajoled to take up more strenuous exercises and once they warm-up to it, they start enjoying the activity as their endurance level is high. They are benefitted immensely by any aerobic work but due to their weight should be accustomed gradually to take up high intensity exercise/sports. Exercises recommended for Kapha personalities in Prakrit state: ▪ Aerobics ▪ Power yoga ▪ Baseball ▪ Basket ball (defence positions initially) ▪ Football (defence positions initially) ▪ Hockey (Back or full back positions initially) ▪ Weight training ▪ Power lifting ▪ Cycling ▪ Jogging ▪ Skipping ▪ Kick boxing ▪ Racquet sports (doubles initially till muscles get conditioned for a single’s game) ▪ Rowing ▪ Swimming Exercises/ activities to calm Kapha in aggravated state: ▪ Any aerobic workout ▪ Jogging ▪ Skipping ▪ Weight training (quick repetitions) ▪ Hiking ▪ Fast cycling

120


▪ Mini marathons (slowly built up with time)-As the duration of exercise increases, aggravated Kapha starts normalising very fast. Exercises /activities that Kapha personalities should avoid: ▪ Water sports for long durations which involve getting wet. ▪ Exposure to cold during any sport or exercise. ▪ Over hydration during exercise

Breathing Exercises Breathing deeply and correctly not only makes you more alert, lively and relaxed but also increases your exercise endurance and performance. Once you have selected the exercise, then give some time to increase the capacity of your lungs to increase the flow of ‘Prana’ the life force (or the oxygen as we know it today). Take deep breaths through nose only as this way the remotest of the alveoli of the lungs get infused with ‘Prana’. Sit on a chair or on a mat cross legged and keeping your back and neck straight breathe deeply through your nose. Your abdomen should rise as you take the air in and should go in as you breathe out. Do 10-20 such cycles trying to increase the depth of the breath as you inhale. Use some force to expel all the air out of the lungs every time you exhale. But do not strain. Feel the relaxation. This is a warm-up breathing exercise for all body types. Other specific breathing exercises for different body types can be balancing. For Vata body type in addition to the warm-up breathing exercise, alternate nostril breathing can be very useful to calm the aggravated Vata and also helps to concentrate on

121


the exercise routine.It should also be done in balanced state of Vata. For Pitta body type, after initial warm-up exercise, cooling breathing exercises called ‘Shhetli’ and Shheet-kaari’ can be performed to cool down the aggravated Pitta. Alternate nostril breathing can be performed in balanced state of Pitta. Kapha body types, after warming breathing exercise should do few rounds of forced exhalation breathing exercise called Kapal-bhati. It warms up the body, increases the circulation and removes inertia experienced by Kapha personalities. It can be done for 5-10 minutes in aggravated state of Kapha and for 2 minutes in balanced state of Kapha. People with recent eye, abdominal or chest surgeries, glaucoma, retinal detachment, and hernia and pregnancy, should avoid doing Kapal –Bhati. The details of the breath control and various forms of Breathing exercises (called Pranayama are discussed in detail in the next section.

Yoga poses for body types Yoga poses or Asanas as they are called are important part of an Ayurvedic work out and should be practiced daily or 2-3 times in a week. A daily work out can include warm-up, sun salutation and few selected yoga poses. Yoga should preferably be done under the guidance of a teacher. However general guidelines are being given here to let you get initiated. Yoga should be performed either in open or in a well-ventilated room on an exercise mat using loose and unrestrictive clothing. Know your limitations: Mastering yoga poses is a gradual process and needs sustained effort and practice. So to begin with do not overstrain your body. You might have a stiff back

122


or a shoulder or lower limbs or ankles. So poses requiring the movement of a stiff part can be perfected only over a period of time. Similarly you may not be able to breathe as deeply as required, so you have to coordinate with your breath with the movements and make use of your chest and abdomen to perfect the breathing. Some of you are not able to concentrate and put your mind to the yogic workout. This also results in an imperfect situation. With conscious coordination of body movements with breath, the mind gets trained and stops wavering. So to begin with start at the level you are at. Do not make haste. Things will fall in place slowly and you would be able to master each yoga pose. The warm-up: The practice of yoga poses commences with coordinating breath with the body movements. As a warm-up to performing yoga poses certain basic movements of the body parts are to be performed along with the conscious inhalation and exhalations. The basic movements involve movement of the arms, legs and the trunk. It is a good idea to begin with the movements that involve natural forward bending of the trunk or raising of the arms and legs. It is not advisable to start your practice with a backward bend or a twist. ▪ To begin do some deep inhalation and exhalations through your nose as described earlier using your abdomen and chest. ▪ Raise your arms one by one or together. Inhale while raising and exhale while lowering. Do several rounds till you let go of all the stiffness at the shoulder and scapular region. Always be conscious about your breath and ‘feel’ the prana flowing to each muscle. ▪ Similarly stretch you arms and stand on your toes while inhaling and stretching your body and then exhaling while lowering your arms and heels. Do not stay in any position, but do it dynamically coordinating each movement with breath as described. ▪ Lie on your back and practice neck stretch. Lying on your

123


back bring your legs and feet together. Tighten your leg muscles and push using your heels and flex your feet and extend your toes. Meanwhile interlock your finger and place your palms at the base of your skull and elbows outstretched on the sides. Inhale and bring in your elbows and raise your head stretching the neck. Maintain the stretch in your legs. Exhale and come back slowly to starting position relaxing your legs also. Repeat 3-4 times. ▪ Now keep lying on your back and practice few rounds of leg raising as you inhale and exhaling while lowering the legs. Bend the knees and bring them close to abdomen while inhaling and exhale while stretching the legs back to starting position. Do it with one leg at a time first (keeping the other leg straight) and with both legs together after the initial warm-up. ▪ Sit with legs straight or stand and raise and straighten your arms above your head with an inhalation and without stopping exhale and bend forwards as far as you can (without straining your back and hamstrings) while exhaling. Do several repetitions. People with Slip disc or backache due to any reason and pregnancy should avoid forward bends Rest for a few minutes in corpse pose after the initial warm-up. ▪ For backward bends, you can choose postures as per your instructor’s directions like table pose and cobra pose or a cat stretch and a pelvic tilt. Here in cobra pose or table pose while bending your spine backward you need to inhale and while coming back you need to exhale. But in cat stretch and as you bend your spine down (though apparently it is much like bending the spine backwards but here the focus is on pressing the spine down) you have to exhale and while raising it you have to inhale. Similarly

124


in a pelvic tilt you are lying on your back and pressing on the lower spine with a pelvic tilt to straighten it and touch the floor. So apparently it is like ‘raising the spine as in a cat stretch and thus one should inhale, but here again the focus is on downward movement of spine, so it begins with exhalation. And on touching the ground to coming back to the initial position, inhalation is advised. The cycle is repeated. ▪ For the spine twists there are several poses like half spinal twists which also follow basic breathing rules. You need to inhale while beginning with the twist and exhale while coming to the neutral position. You have to be focussed on breathing while performing an action and breathing should ideally be initiating the movement. The length of the breath is dependent on the speed of the movement and in due course it becomes natural. Though initially you can perform the poses dynamically without a pause till you are ready to ‘hold’ the pose. But if you lose track of your breath then you should give a very short breath at the end of every exhalation and inhalation to remain focussed. Losing this attention causes the whole exercise to be mechanical and deprives one of the actual yogic workouts. Yoga poses and counter poses: All yoga poses target different areas of the body and thus strain a particular group of muscles, ligaments and other soft tissue structures. Secondly they may also involve a deviation from the neutral position of the body to one extreme like towards left or right, or back or front etc. So in the first case, where a group of muscles etc are strained, a counter pose which relaxes these structures should be performed in succession. In the second case where the body is forced into an extreme position, a gentle counter

125


position is to be attained to bring the body back to the neutral position. For example, for a powerful forward bend, a gentle backward bend is suggested and for a powerful back bend, a gentle forward bend is advocated. Hence to begin a yoga session one should follow the following guidelines: 1. Know you limitations and do not push yourself too hard. Take time to master the poses. 2. Do a basic warm-up as suggested bringing in coordination of breath with your movements. 3. Do a Sun Salutation 2-8 times before beginning any session. 4. Be sure to sequence the poses under guidance of an experienced teacher and follow with appropriate counter poses. 5. Practice the poses dynamically before holding on to them. 6. Specific counter poses should be in succession to each individual pose and should be relatively simpler. 7. Though as we learnt that Ayurveda directs you to rest whenever you fall out of breath, but in the practice of Yoga postures we should rest as soon as we feel tired or certain parts of the body feel overworked or perhaps sore. (one can rest in corpse pose, child pose etc.)

The Sun Salutation Sun salutation is an excellent warm-up exercise and also a complete exercise in itself that energises the body and prepares it for the rigors of daily activities and a session of yoga. It is performed in 12 steps which are worth describing as follows:

126


Step1: Stand straight with your feet joined together and spine erect. The hands should be held at the chest level in “namaskaar’ gesture. Step 2: Thoracic extension:-Inhale and extend your arms in a big circle over your head (as in mountain pose) and keep your elbows behind your ears. Meanwhile keep you feet firmly grounded and arch your thoracic vertebra backwards. Step 3: Forward bend:-Exhale and bend forward from the waist , bringing your arms down and placing your palms by the side of the feet (slowly you can achieve this). Keep the knees straight. Bend as much as you can without straining the back. Step 4: Runner’s Lunge:-Inhale as you take your left foot backwards extending the left leg as far as possible. Your right leg bends at the knee at a 90 degree angle. Open your chest forward and relax your hips down towards the ground. Step 5: Downward dog:-Exhale and bring your right foot back in line with the left foot hip width apart. Stay on the balls of your feet and bring your arms,shoulder and torso in a straight line and raise your pelvis up as you lower your heels. Do not bend the knees. Feel the stretch behind the legs. Step6: Plank pose:-Inhale and bring your hips down till your body is straight like a plank from head to heels. Keep the arms straight, shoulder width apart and balance the weight of the upper body on flattened palms and that of lower part of the body on toes.

127


Step 7: Chin-Chest – Knee position:-Exhale and lower your chest and touch the ground. Similarly chin also touches the ground and so do the knees. The abdomen is kept away from ground by keeping the hips up. Step8: Unsupported Cobra pose:-Inhale as you lower your hips to the ground and straighten your legs. Tighten your legs and buttocks. And keeping the palms by the side of the shoulder and elbows close to the body raise slowly your chin, extend your neck backwards and then raise your chest from the ground till the level of the navel curving backwards. Do not put any weight on the hands for support. Raise the chest as much as you can first and with practice you would be able to lift it till the level of the navel. Step 9: Downward dog:-Exhale as you raise your hips, straighten your arms and align your shoulder and upper body in a straight line to come back to step 5 position. Step10: Runner’s lunge:-Keep your hand at the same position, inhale and bring your right foot forward, bend at the knee (90 degrees), in between your hands with your head and neck raised and the left leg kept straight (as in step 4). Step 11:Forward bend;-Exhale as you bring your left foot forward and kept at a hip width apart in line with the right foot and the upper body is bent at the hip level as in step 3. Step12: Thoracic extension:-Inhale and bring your body up and extend your arms above the head, elbows behind the ears and spine arched backwards as in step 2.

128


Step 13: The standing position:-exhale and lower your arms and keep your hands in the ‘Namaskaar’ gesture as in step 1. Repeat these steps with the right leg going back first as so on. Once repeated with both legs, a cycle is completed. Do 2-12 such rounds.

Choosing yoga poses as per your body type: Each yoga pose has definite action on the body types by influencing the sites of the dosha accumulation-lower abdomen for the Vata, navel region for Pitta and stomach and chest for Kapha. Yoga poses can relieve the body of accumulated gas in the large intestine, relieve congestion of blood and promote flow of bile through liver and gall bladder into the intestine and also promote expulsion of mucous through chest and nose to balance aggravated Vata, Pitta and Kapha respectively in their pathological states. Yoga poses aimed at restoring the natural state of Doshas have specific effects. The yoga poses for Vata calm the nerves, relax the muscles, and relieve the stress and make the person more grounded. The exercises directed towards Pitta, balance the circulation and improve the digestion, and induce coolness, patience and calmness. The exercises directed at Kapha increase circulation, removes congestion from chest, make the body lighter, and the mind more alert.

129


The Yoga poses for beginners to balance specific Doshas are listed as under For Vata

For Pitta

For Kapha

Sun Salutation 4-10 times

Sun Salutation-4-6 times

Sun Salutation-6-10 times

Downward dog

Cat stretches

Downward dog pose

Mountain pose Power chair pose Triangle pose Warrior pose

Back stretches Downward dog Inversion pose

Child’s pose

Child’s pose

Sideways stretches

Locust pose

Boat pose

Head to knee pose

Modified inversion pose

Perfect sitting pose

Toe touching Locust pose and variations of back stretches Head to knee pose Staff pose Basic hero pose Forward bend

Open legs forward bend Alligator twists Full forward bend Standing chair twists Corpse pose10-20 minutes

Sitting chair twists Alligator twists Corpse pose for 10 – 20 minutes.

130

Mountain pose Tree pose Triangle pose Shoulder stand (with support) Warrior pose Boat pose Cobra pose Locust pose Forward bend Lion pose (in simple sitting position) Alligator twists Corpse pose5 – 10 minutes.


Warm-up before the exercise/sport: All exercise regimens should start with a simple warm-up that increases circulation and makes the joints and tendons supple and prepares them for exercise. Another variation of warm-up which can be followed on the day yoga poses are omitted includes following steps: 1. Head – Turn your head towards left and then to the right trying to look over the shoulders as you turn. Slowly roll your head from right to left and left to right completing a circle clockwise and anti-clockwise.. Do not rush. Stop in between in neutral position. 2. Arms-Swing the arms in a circle backwards and forwards. 3. Shoulders-Bend your elbows and touch tip of your shoulders with your finger tips. Make a circle forwards and backwards simultaneously rotating both the bent arms.With arms outstretched take your arm backwards as much as you can.Pull your arms at the elbow pressing it to the chest using the other hand. Repeat on each side. 4. Wrists- Stretch the arms keeping them in front and straight at elbows. Make fists of both hands and simultaneously move the fists left to right and right to left. Open the fists and stretch the fingers. Now move the hands at the level of the wrist upwards and downwards. 5. Fingers-Stretch and expand the fingers and then make a fist. Repeat few times. 6. Waist-Give lateral, forward and backward stretches. 7. Hip-give clockwise and anti-clock wise rotations. 8. Legs-Give gentle forward and backward kicks using one leg at a time and holding a chair etc. Lift the legs one by one to make the thighs parallel to the ground, swing the lower legs side to side.

131


9. Knees-Lift the legs one by one so that the thighs are parallel to the ground and rotate the lower leg in small circles clock wise and anticlockwise. Kick the buttocks with the heels one by one. Use chair/ wall for balancing. 10. Ankle-Lift the lower leg and feet from floor and circle the foot clockwise and anti clockwise. 11. Feet-Stand on toes few times. 12. Body-Stand on toes, lock your fingers and stretch your arms over your head with palms facing upwards. Lower down and repeat few times.

Sample exercise regimen for Dosha types The following regimen can be followed on weekends and holidays. On working days the yoga poses can be omitted and the exercise / sports activity may be undertaken for 20-30 minutes only to save time.

132


For Vata

For Pitta

For Kapha

Breathing exercises-10 minutes

Breathing exercises-10 minutes

Breathing exercises-10 minutes

Meditation-20-30 minutes

Meditation-15-20 minutes

Meditation-10-15 minutes

Warm-up-5-10 minutes

Warm-up-5-10 minutes

Sun salutation – 4-6 times

Sun salutation – 6-10 times

Yoga poses-for 20 minutes

Yoga poses-for 20 minutes

Corpse pose10 minutes

Corpse pose5-10 minutes

Appropriate exercise for Pitta as per the state of Pitta (aggravated or normal)-30 – 45 minutes.

Appropriate exercise for Kapha as per the state of Kapha (aggravated or normal)-30-45 min

Warm-up-5-10 minutes Sun salutation – 6-8 times Yoga poses-for 20 minutes Corpse pose10 minutes Appropriate exercise for Vata as per the state of Vata (aggravated or normal)-30 minutes. Note-Vata needs change so keep on changing the exercise chosen to break monotony. Total time--2 hrs

Note-Pitta needs challenge and action so keep on increasing the difficulty level of the exercise chosen to keep up the interest.

Total time--2 hrs

133

Note-Kapha needs encouragement and resist activity. So begin slowly and then gradually increase the duration and the intensity

Total time--2 hrs approx.


Module-5 MEDITATION TECHNIQUES Part-1 Ayurveda recognizes meditation as one of the most powerful tools to help us restore balance in our mind and body. In this return to silence, we experience a deep sense of peace and relaxation. This reduces the stress that so often triggers the imbalance in our lives that leads to health problems. There are many types of meditation, and whichever you choose, Ayurveda recommends that you practice 20 to 30 minutes in the morning and another 20 to 30 minutes in the evening. Time spent in silence or with nature helps keep the doshas in balance and can greatly improve your health and outlook on life. Ayurvedic researchers have found that meditation increases longevity and quality of life and can actually reverse the aging process.

134


Meditation Techniques Witnessing Witnessing is a pure form of meditation. It is simply sitting in meditation and watching the thoughts that come and go without judging or commenting. It is interesting to see what our moment-to-moment thoughts consist of from a completely neutral position. With this meditation, you kind of step outside of yourself and observe. It gives you a different vantage point. You see that you are not your thoughts, but you are the thinker of your thoughts.

Watching the Breath Watching the breath is sometimes called “mindfulness” meditation. It is a Buddhist meditation that focuses on the rise and fall of the breath. While the mind is engaged in focusing on your breathing it cannot focus on its usual distractions. In this meditation, your breathing should be gentle and regular. Just allow it to be the place where your mind is focussed and enjoy the feeling of witnessing breathing rather than concentrating on it.

Sitting This is the basic meditation of Zen Buddhists, for whom the path of enlightenment is everyday life, lived with awareness and totality. Like all meditations, sitting is a tool to help us rediscover the immediacy and freshness of ordinary life, as we did as children. In this meditation, you just sit and allow whatever happens to happen. Your mind will try to distract you with past and present concerns to take you away from fully experiencing the moment. Zen Buddhists believe these transient thoughts are “paper tigers” and that paying attention to them only gives them more energy. In the sitting

135


meditation, you experience the fact that you are not the mind and can ignore its chatter at will. If your mind is particularly rebellious, you can give it a distraction to play with, such as concentrating on the breath. Kaphas, who enjoy the peace and quiet, do very well with the sitting meditation.

Gazing Another meditation device to still the mind is gazing. The object that you look at is not really important. Traditional objects include a lighted candle, a flower, a religious image, or a picture of a guru. The main point of the exercise is to keep your eyes on a central spot because not moving the eyes restricts the input of information for your brain to process. The idea is to keep your mind quiet by keeping your thoughts simple. When you start to think about something else, keep bringing your attention back to the object of your contemplation. The goal of your meditation is to feel the quality of the object, to relax, and to enjoy what you are seeing. Pittas, because they are so visual, respond well to gazing meditations.

Listening Meditation is centered in the idea of relaxing and non-doing. When you are thinking, you may hear but you cannot truly listen. As you center your awareness in music, chanting, or natural sounds, you experience the essence of the sound, giving yourself the experience of emptiness, clarity, and receptivity. Vatas, who are sensitive to sounds, enjoy this kind of meditation.

136


Meditation in Action Everything can become a meditation, including the most ordinary everyday chores. What transforms daily activities into meditation in action is awareness and wholeheartedness. The application of the Zen principle of giving undivided attention to and really feeling the quality of each of your actions is exemplified in the Japanese tea ceremony and the art of flower arranging. We can bring this same quality of attention to our driving, standing in line at the store, or paying our bills. Being present in the moment imparts an unmistakable peace, effortlessness, and enjoyment to the “little things” that make up the greater whole of life.

Silence Today’s lifestyle is hectic and crazy. We’re constantly bombarded with noise in every way shape and form. The phone, the fax, the pager, the microwave, the computer, the TV, the car radio–everything seems to be fighting for our attention! We need some space, in the form of silence, to keep our sanity. Meditation offers that. It is time for us to just “be.”

When we meditate with other people, the effects are am plified. The vibratory level is raised so that each person participating receives more benefits. And those vibrations actually extend beyond ourselves out into our communities, so that by meditating, we’re not only helping ourselves but helping the world. Meditating with a partner is a wonderful way to spend time together. It is communicating at a higher level, one that is beyond words. Swami Sivananda said in 1945, “Silence is the language of God.” Being completely silent with someone is an intimate experience. You can tell how close you feel with someone by how much time you spend together in silence. If you are

137


aware of those “awkward pauses” and feel like you need to fill up the space with conversation, then you probably don’t feel like you can let your guard down with that person. Try spending one whole day, either by yourself, or with a loved one, in complete silence. This means no talking, but also, no TV, no radio, no reading-reading is still mental activity, you’re listening to the writer’s words in your head. The idea is tune in to your inner wisdom. To be quiet for long enough to hear, and pay attention to, the intelligence of the universe.

Mantra In the ancient Vedic texts, it is explained that everything is made up of sound. Sound, or vibration, is the purest form of energy. And there is no doubt that sound can affect us profoundly. Our words carry weight. We are moved by poetry, and hurt by unkind comments. The music we listen to can uplift us or give us a headache. Thunder makes us shudder. The voice of a loved one provides reassurance. “Mantra” translated means “instrument of the mind.” Mantras are sounds made up of sacred Sanskrit syllables, which together help to harness spiritual energy. Chanting mantras, or even merely reciting them, gives us access to our creative spirit, and brings harmony in our mind and body. Sounds can actually help us to activate our inner pharmacy and bring balance to our physiology, creating wellness and vitality. Mantras are used for various purposes, and there are many different mantras depending on exactly what you want to learn or manifest. You can even make up your own mantra, kind of like an affirmation: “I am at peace,” for example. What determines the effectiveness of the mantra the most is how much devotion and concentration is behind it. Like everything else in life, we’ll get out of it what we put into it.

138


The mantra ritual While you can repeat your mantra anywhere, anytime of day, it is nice to set some special time aside just for the ritual of the mantra. Before beginning your practice, wash your hands, as this symbolizes purity. Imagine that the impurities of your mind are being washed away. Find a comfortable place where you can be quiet and undisturbed for awhile. If it will help you get in the mood, you may choose to sit facing the east, to light a candle, and/or to sit in a cross-legged position. Close your eyes, and concentrate on each syllable of the mantra. Mantras may be repeated either silently or out loud. Continue repeating the mantra over and over again. The repetition will bring you a deep sense of peace and joy. When you feel you are done, sit quietly for a moment, and give thanks to the Siddhas, the sages of Ancient India, for their wisdom and generosity in passing these mantras on for us to use. Then slowly open your eyes, take a few breaths, and go on with your usual activity.

Mala Beads A tool that may help to focus the mind, and which is often used in Vedic tradition, is the mala. A mala is very much like a rosary, it helps us to “count” our mantras. It is a string of 108 beads. Some malas have 54 beads, in which case you use the mala to do two “rounds” of mantras. The number 108 is significant on many levels. It is representative of the nine planets, multiplied by the 12 astrological signs. 108 is also a holy number in that 1, written as a vertical line, symbolizes God, or the Supreme Energy from which all other lines begin. 0 represents a circle, showing that God’s creation is complete and perfect.

139


And 8, when looked at horizontally, is the mathematical sign for infinity, or eternity, reminding us that creation goes on eternally. In numerology, 108 adds up to the number 9, which is the number of completeness and wholeness. The chain of beads represents life as an endless chain of events, of cause and effect. The mala is tied together with a special bead called “Mount Meru.� When you reach this bead, the mala is to be turned and the movement continued in the other direction. Mount Meru symbolizes that we can rise above our perceived limitations. The mala is often held at heart level, which emphasizes the devotional aspect of the mantra ritual. Using a mala gives your hands something to do, which helps to release nervous energy. It’s a way of bringing the mind and body together to focus your thought. Roll each bead, one at a time, between your thumb and your ring finger. Repeat the mantra, and move on to the next bead. Mala beads are very personal, as they take on some of your energy as you use them. You may wear your mala beads as a necklace, with the Mount Meru in front, or as a bracelet, wrapped around your wrist. Wearing this mala reminds you of your mantra, and your clear intention. At nighttime, place your mala under your pillow while you sleep, or on your altar.

Mantras for the Doshas Dosha

Mantra

Pronunciation

Purpose

Vata

Ram

Rahm

helps boost immune system, alleviates fear and anxiety

Pitta

Shrim

Shreem

promotes general health and harmony

Kapha

Hum

Hoom

clearing, stimulating

140


Part 2 The best part about Ayurveda is that this “Science of Life” teaches us so much about ourselves. We’ve talked a lot about the body, and how to keep ourselves healthy. The body and the mind are intricately linked. Let’s look a little bit at the mind, and how we can help ourselves to be happy as well as healthy. Ayurveda explains our thought process by breaking it down like this: ▪ Manas is the mind. It senses things outwardly. It relies on the external to give it an impression to focus on. ▪ Buddhi is intelligence. It perceives both inwardly and outwardly. Buddhi can reason, and put together information based on what we see and what we feel. ▪ Chitta is consciousness. It feels internally, instinctively, with its own sense of deep knowing. In addition, there are collective and cosmic counterparts of the mind. The collective is the sensory activity of everyone on Earth. We can sense this, and the media broadcasts some of this. The cosmic is the sensory activity of all creatures in all worlds over all of time. We can connect to the cosmic through meditation. Rasayana means “recommendation.” It can also mean remedy – it’s kind of like a prescription that we can follow, instructions to help us live a better life. The following Ayurvedic Behavior Rasayanas are for everyone, for every dosha type. It is said that following these instructions will help us to avoid contradictions in the mind and therefore prevent physiological strain. They are a reminder of the simple things we can do to help ourselves, and, in turn, to help the world.

141


▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪

Be honest and kind. Be free from anger. Abstain from immoderate behavior. Be nonviolent and calm. Observe cleanliness in yourself and your environment. Be charitable toward others. Observe a regular daily routine. Be loving and compassionate. Be respectful, especially to teachers and elders. Keep the company of the wise. Be modest, have good manners. Follow your religious beliefs, be self-disciplined. Keep a positive outlook. Devote yourself to the development of higher states of consciousness.

In Ayurveda, focused attention is valued because it helps us in many areas of our lives. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali break down for us what it takes to achieve this. These are qualities that we can embody, ways of being rather than things to do. ▪ Shraddha: Faith, trust. We need to trust in the intelligence of the Universe and welcome any experiences that come our way. It is about accepting and loving what is, rather than what we think should be. ▪ Virya: Strength. This is inner strength, fortitude. It is the ability to remain undistracted by disturbances, and to be resilient when things go wrong. ▪ Smrutti: Memory. When we have certain things learned by memory, whether it is the times tables or our social security number, it gives us more mental energy because we don’t have to bother with trying to remember. A good memory allows us to think more clearly and effectively. ▪ Samadhi: Balanced Consciousness. This is about being fully present in the moment. It is non-judgment, experiencing things as they unfold without criticism.

142


▪ Prajna: Discernment. This is knowing what is real and what is not real. It is understanding where we need to put our attention.

Ayurveda and Depression More than 19 million adults in the United States alone suffer from depression. Women are affected twice as often as men, especially after childbirth and during menopause. Some people experience depression during the winter months when there is less light. Others can feel depressed during stressful times. Depression manifests in many different ways, including insomnia, social withdrawal, weight fluctuation, and feelings of low self-worth. Ayurveda says that the heart is the seat of consciousness, and that the main cause of an emotional imbalance like depression is the inability to process emotions. When we can process emotions quickly, then we can let go of them and move on. When the process takes too long, then that negative feeling remains and has an effect on our other thoughts and emotions, leaving us feeling depressed. That’s why even when things are going well in the present, if we haven’t completely healed from past pain, we can still feel depressed. What can we do about this? We need to raise our “Sadhaka Agni”-the fire that helps us to process emotions. Meditation is vital to this because it helps to dissolve stresses from the past and to also become more resilient to current stresses. ▪ Sleep during prime sleep hours is also important – in Ayurveda is it recommended that we get to bed by 10 pm and wake up at 6 am . ▪ Take a walk outside in the morning sun and breathe deeply.

143


▪ Exercise elevates the mood and the energy of the sun is beneficial for everyone. ▪ Eliminate every morning, as constipation can cause or aggravate depression. ▪ Drink plenty of water and eat meals at the same time each day, with lunch being the largest meal of the day. ▪ Eat fresh, wholesome foods that are balancing for your dosha. ▪ Abhyanga, a daily sesame oil self-massage, helps to calm the mind and soothe the emotions. ▪ And most importantly, surround yourself with loving people. Choose friends who are positive and supportive and who also follow a healthy lifestyle routine.

144


Part-3 Advanced Meditation Techniques When you’ve been meditating for a while and have started to see the benefits in your life, you’ll find that you don’t need to make time or find time to meditate, it becomes a natural part of your daily life, and you look forward to it. Some people love to find one particular meditation practice and stick to it. Others like to experiment with various techniques and explore advanced techniques to see how much more than can learn and grow through the process. The Sanskrit word for meditation is ‘Dhyana’ and that word encompasses so much more than what we understand by the English word meditation. While meditation has a long association with contemplation that involves an object of meditation, Dhyana refers to pure subjectivity with no object at all. In Dhyana you are simply not aware of any “thing,” you are simply aware. Thoughts, words, and actions are the three gateways through which we interact with the world. This is how we experience the world, and how we express ourselves. They can be conduits of negativity, or they can bring us peace, joy, and freedom from suffering. These advanced meditation techniques are meant to show

145


you how to use these three gateways to experience the stillness, the silence and the spaciousness that reside within each of us. When we are experiencing any one of these three, healing can take place. We connect with spirit, and the individual fades, aware in favor of the experience of Oneness. Here are five different advanced meditation techniques to try: 1. Samatha meditation, also known as calming meditation, brings focus to the easily distracted mind. Samatha is meant to bring a calm mind that leads to deep insights into the true nature of reality – and that ultimately results in wisdom that eliminates suffering and brings about enlightenment. This are many kinds of Samatha meditation, this is just one example: ▪ Sit in your usual meditation posture ▪ Straighten your back. Your spine is the main conduit of your central nervous system, so it is important to keep it straight. ▪ Relax your shoulders and keep the head evenly balanced. Tuck your chin slightly inwards ▪ Let your tongue touch the palate ▪ Relax your face ▪ Close your eyes ▪ Focus your mind on the rising and falling of the breath ▪ Specifically, bring your attention to the small triangular area between your upper lip and the nostrils and feel every in-breath and out-breath ▪ Whenever the mind wanders, gently bring it back to the awareness of the breath flowing in and out The practice calms the mind and increases concentration.

146


2. Satipatthana meditation is a Buddhist meditation that focuses exclusively on cultivating mindfulness, on our ability to experience present moment awareness. The word Sati come from the Sanskrit Smriti, meaning ‘to remember,’ but here it means awareness, mindfulness, or wakefulness. Patthana means steadfast establishment, or application. Satipatthana is the act of paying attention to each moment of an experience. To do this we fix the mind firmly on an object. This continuous attention to this object, even when the object itself is constantly changing, stabilizes the mind in concentration, while the observation of the constantly changing object brings about clear insight into its impermanent nature. Beginners to Satipatthana usually choose a part of the body, or the body itself, or bodily sensations, to focus on. As we gain more experience with it, we can more to more subtle objects, such as thoughts or emotions. The idea is to stay aware of the object, mindful. One moment of mindfulness leads to the next moment of mindfulness and on and on in an unbroken chain. With Satipatthana meditation, we strive to bring an energetic and enthusiastic awareness to each and every moment in our physical and mental existence. 3. Meditating on the chakras regularly cleanses and balances them. This balancing brings inner poise and unlocks hidden reserves of energy within us. There are the seven main chakras that we have already discussed in detail. There are also the minor chakras-significant ones being the

147


plantar chakra (sole of each foot), hand chakra (palms), tortoise chakra (upper sternum) and moon chakra (above your palate). Chakras are often depicted as lotus flowers-a powerful symbol in Indian tradition. Similar to the lotus flower, which grows in muddy waters but strives toward sunlight, a meditator aspires for enlightenment while rooted in the illusory world of maya. The chakra meditation is also known as a color meditation. This is an example: ▪ Sit in your usual meditation posture ▪ Make sure your spine is straight ▪ Relax your shoulders and keep the head evenly balanced. Tuck your chin slightly inwards ▪ Let your tongue touch the palate ▪ Relax your face ▪ Close your eyes ▪ Bring your attention to the base of your spine, mooladhara or root chakra and visualize a four petalled, red lotus flower ▪ Move your attention to the swadhishthana or sacral chakra and visualize an orange colored six petalled lotus flower ▪ Moving up to the manipura or solar plexus chakra, see a yellow lotus with ten petals ▪ Focus on the Anahata or heart chakra and picture a twelve petalled green lotus ▪ Move up to the visshuddha, the throat chakra, and visualize a blue lotus with sixteen petals ▪ Bring your attention to the Ajna or third eye chakra and imagine a two petalled lotus of a deep blue/indigo color ▪ Finally, move to the Sahasara or crown chakra. See that it has a thousand petalled lotus at the top of the head. Visualize it in a violet color

148


4. Inner Smile Meditation The goal of the Inner smile meditation is to bring you happiness. We can’t bring happiness to anyone if we are not first happy ourselves. While we are all well-aware of the social and physiological advantages of smiling to the world at large, even larger benefits accrue if we can do the same to ourselves. By smiling inwardly to our organs and glands, the whole body feels loved and appreciated. The body’s stress and tension invariably dissolve as the smiling gets the parasympathetic nervous system to induce the relaxation response in our body. Here is how to do the inner smile meditation ▪ Sit in your usual meditation posture with a straight back ▪ Relax your shoulders and keep the head evenly balanced with the chin tucked slightly inwards ▪ Let your tongue touch the palate ▪ Relax your face ▪ Close your eyes ▪ Start by relaxing your face; loosen your jaw muscles, cheeks, chin, lips, eyes and even ears ▪ Feel them becoming calm and relaxed ▪ Turn the corners of your mouth upward in a slow gentle smile ▪ Focus on the feeling inside as you start smiling-this will move attention away from any thoughts that come to trouble you ▪ Connect the outer smile with the inner smile. Feel that shift in the body. ▪ Now with your eyes still closed, ‘see’ the eyes smiling too ▪ Next move your awareness to the cheeks, chin and ears and allow them to smile ▪ Once you have the Inner smile established in your face and head, move down to your neck and let it smile too ▪ Keep moving lower until you have every body part and internal organ smiling

149


▪ Bask in the warm, peaceful energy radiating within your body The inner smile meditation activates the heart chakra – the seat of your love, compassion and empathy. When you feel anger, depression or anxiety, doing this inner smile meditation can help you find a quick refuge within by connecting you to your inner self. By alleviating stress and pain, the inner smile meditation also allows the body to recover its health and vitality. 5. Laughter meditation is probably the easiest of all meditations. There is nothing to focus on, nothing to chant, and nothing to visualize. All you do is laugh. It might feel strange at first, to basically just laugh at nothing, or for no reason other than to experience laughter itself. But that’s what you do. Laughter is unique to humans, it’s something we should enjoy as it is natural. Studies have shown that laughter lowers stress, boosts the immune system, and can even lower cholesterol and blood pressure. There are three parts to laughter meditation: stretching, laughter and stillness. The best time to do the laughter meditation is in the morning on an empty stomach. However you could also do it before lunch or dinner. How to do laughter meditation Stretching (1-2 minutes) ▪ Stretch your whole body by standing on your toes while pulling the arms above your head with fingers of the two hands intertwined ▪ Loosen and stretch the muscles of your jaws and face –

150


pretend you are yawning Laughing (5 minutes) ▪ Gently turn the corners of your mouth upward and start smiling softly ▪ Broaden your smile and start laughing without exerting any force ▪ Deepen your laughter so you feel it from your belly ▪ Try and laugh ‘with’ yourself or a partner, but not ‘at’ or ‘about’ someone or something ▪ Bring mindful awareness to the moment of laughterwhatever you experience in the moment laugh with it Stillness (5 minutes) ▪ Stop laughing and close your eyes ▪ Still your body-find a place to sit, if you were standing while laughing ▪ Become aware of the silence ▪ Ignore any thoughts that may arise and instead shift focus to any feelings or sensations in your body

151


Module-6 Breath and Energy Part-1 Prana “Prana” in Sanskrit means “breath.” In Vedic texts, prana is recognized as the energy of spiritual light, and this is the substance of our subtle body. Prana is an energy that can be transferred from one person to another through various hands-on treatments like massage. We energize our prana through meditation, yoga, mantra practice, and by eating nutritious foods. Another way to work on our prana is through “pranayama” or yogic breathing exercises. We all need breath to survive. Even plants breathe. And even though this appears to be a kind of mechanical process, one we don’t really think about, Ayurveda explains that the whole process of inhaling and exhaling is full of life itself. Notice

152


how the breath changes when our emotions come into play. When we are scared, we tense up, and hold our breath, our breathing is irregular. When we are happy, and laughing, we breathe deeply, our breathing is rhythmic. Pranayama translated means “to control the breath.” By doing so, we are helping to settle and control our busy minds. Pranayama is often considered to be an art, and some people consider it to be an important part of their spiritual practice. Our bodies are made up of pairs of things: two arms, two legs, two lungs, two nostrils, and even two brains, left and right. Pranayama helps us to even out the balance of energy on both sides, including our shiva and shakti, male and female energy. This brings us to a greater sense of awareness. Our breath is what gives us life. We can breathe “consciously” by becoming aware of our breath. Take long, slow breaths from your diaphragm. Pay attention to both the inhale, and the exhale. The benefits of conscious breathing are these: ▪ decreases stress ▪ helps to develop sensory sensitivity ▪ helps to improve sleep ▪ calms the body and mind ▪ improves mental capacity and concentration ▪ provides feelings of fulfillment and joy The process of pranayama, or conscious breathing, can be broken down into 3 parts: inhalation, retention, and exhalation. Inhalation is breathing in – it is receiving universal energy in the form of breath. In Sanskrit this is called puraka. Inhalation stimulates the system. Retention is holding that breath for a pause to be still and appreciate the universal energy. In Sanskrit this is known as kumbhaka. Retention distributes the energy to the whole body.

153


Exhalation is breathing out – releasing with the breath all thoughts and emotions. The Sanskrit word for this is rechaka. Exhalation gets rid of old air and any toxins. While the lungs are empty, pause again, in kumbhaka, and surrender the individual energy to the universal energy. Become one with the whole. The word Prana is usually translated as “breath”–but it is so much more than that. “Prana” is the universal energy–the energy that exists everywhere, all at once. We can experience this energy as light, heat, gravity, magnetics, or electricity. It is all of these and more. Prana is also the potential energy that resides within each one of us, and in all living beings. Prana is what energizes us, moves us, motivates us and gives us life. Prana has many names, and many functions. Ayurveda says that Vata one of Prana’s names. The functions of Vata have been explained the same way that the Yoga texts explain the functions of prana. Patanjali, who wrote the Yoga Sutras, describes Pranayama as “the controlled intake and outflow of breath in a firmly established posture.” So pranayama is not just our usual breathing that we don’t even have to think about. It’s an art. There are techniques to use to make the respiratory organs move and expand in an intentional way. The respiratory system is seen as the key to purifying the whole body. When the respiratory system is functioning optimally, then the circulatory system can work at its best. Bodily fluids are able to flow properly to the liver, kidneys, stomach, skin and other organs. And when the circulatory system is operating well, then the digestive system can do its job properly. We can live without food for a few days. We could even live without water for a while. But without breath, without respiration, there is no life. When we are born, and we take our first breath of air, our life as an independent person in this world begins.

154


Subtle changes take place in the body when we practice pranayama. Pranayama helps the mind to concentrate, and helps us to achieve both health and longevity. As we age, the respiratory function decreases. But by practicing pranayama, we bring vitality to all the organs of the body, particularly the lungs, so we can slow down the ageing process and be healthier, longer. Tantric texts say that the goal of Pranayama is to wake up the Shakti, or power, called kundalini. Kundalini is the divine cosmic energy in the body that lies at the base of the spine. As kundalini moves up the spine, through each of the 7 chakras, we begin to understand the oneness of all creation. We see beyond time and space and experience our divine connection with the universe. In this state we are ever-present – not thinking of regrets from the past or anticipations from the future – we are in a serene state of mind where only the “now” exists. Here are some recommendations for how to best practice Pranayama: ▪ It is best to have been practicing yoga for a while and have mastered some of the postures, or asanas, before learning pranayama. This way you will understand better muscle control and your lungs will be more prepared for the practice of pranayama. It has been said that yoga brings discipline to the body and pranayama brings discipline to the mind. It is best to practice yoga and pranayama at separate times of the day. Pranayama cannot be performed properly after strenuous exercise. ▪ Empty the bladder and bowels before you sit down to practice pranayama. ▪ Go slow and gently with your practice. Take one step at a time. Do not practice too hastily or too forcefully. ▪ Choose a fixed time and place for when and where you

155


practice. Find a time where you can be quiet, away from distractions. Find a place that is clean and airy. The best time to practice is in the early morning, before sunrise if possible, when the body and brain are fresh. The next best time is after sunset, when the air is cool. ▪ Do not practice pranayama on a full stomach, or when you are hungry. Leave some time, about four hours or so, after you have eaten to begin your practice. Allow half an hour after pranayama to pass before eating a meal. ▪ Do not practice pranayama when you are angry, sick, or tired. Do not practice just before bedtime as it will keep you awake. ▪ Sit on a mat or blanket placed on the floor. Keep the spine straight. You can sit cross-legged, or on your shins, or with your feet together and your knees apart. Whatever position is most comfortable for you. If you have back trouble, sit in a chair with your feet on the floor. ▪ Yoga asanas are practiced with the eyes open. Pranayama is practiced with the eyes closed. With the eyes closed, look within and place your attention on the heart. ▪ When you complete your practice, rest for a while before resuming activity. There are many different types of pranayama, but let’s look at just three: 1. Alternate Nostril Breathing Pranayama This exercise is good for all three doshas. ▪ Begin by sitting with your back straight. Be comfortable, either on the floor or in a chair. ▪ Take your right hand thumb, and with it, close your right nostril. ▪ Inhale through your left nostril, deep into the diaphragm.

156


Hold it for a moment. ▪ Close your left nostril with the ring finger of your right hand. ▪ Exhale through your right nostril. Hold it a moment. ▪ Inhale through your right nostril. Hold it a moment. ▪ Close your right nostril with your right thumb and begin the sequence again. You can do this exercise for 8-10 “rounds” and will notice an increase in your energy level, and feel like you have a clearer mind.

2. Cooling Pranayama This exercise is particularly good for Pittas. ▪ Curl your tongue into a tube shape and stick it out a little. If you can’t curl your tongue, then part your lips, keeping your teeth together, and put your tongue up against your teeth. ▪ Inhale through your mouth, allowing the air to pass over your tongue. ▪ Draw your tongue in and close your mouth. ▪ Swallow. ▪ Exhale through the nose, keeping the mouth closed.

3. Breath of Fire Pranayama This exercise is good for both Vatas and Kaphas. ▪ Inhale gently through the nose. ▪ Exhale through the nose more actively, with more strength, almost like you’re blowing something out your nose. ▪ Inhale gently again. ▪ Blow out through the nose again.

157


â–Ş Start out slowly, then gradually increase your speed. The idea is to sound like a train moving slowly at first, and then picking up speed. Practice one round of 20-30 exhales, then rest for a minute or so. You can practice up to five rounds at a time, twice a day.

The Chakras The chakras work with the five elements (earth, water, fire, air, and ether) to provide energy to various parts of the mind and body. When our chakras are functioning well, we are healthier, and happier. One way to enliven the chakras is by touching the physical body. Chakra )Sanskrit Name(

Associated Color

Location

1. Muladhara

red

base of the spine

2. Swadhisthana

orange

between the navel and the base of the spine

3. Manipura

yellow

the navel area, the solar plexus

4.Anahata

green

the heart

5.Vishuddha

blue

the throat

6.Ajna

indigo

between and slightly above the brows (third eye)

158


Element

Influences

Sense

Dosha

earth

energy of elimination

smell

Kapha

water

fertility, sexual energy, creativity

taste

Kapha

fire

the stomach, the energy of digestion, absorption

sight

Pitta

air

the heart, the energy for circulation and respiration, supports the immune system

touch

Vata

ether

speech, thyroid

sound

Vata

mind (combination of all)

the brain

intuition

-

159


The seventh chakra (sahasrara) is often called the crown chakra. Its located at the top of the head, and its color is violet. You can see that the colors of the chakras correspond with the colors of the rainbow. And, like those colors, you can remember the sequence with the name ROY G. BIV, for the first letters in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. We have other, smaller, chakras, in the palms of our hands and the soles of our feet. So by touching others, we meld our energy with theirs. The best way to hug someone, to make them really feel good and hugged, is to embrace them heart to heart. Put your left palm on the base of their spine, and with your right hand open, rub up and down their back.

The Chakra Diet Ayurveda is all about balance. And part of staying in balance is also keeping our chakras balanced, and operating efficiently. We can do this in many ways – with meditation, with color, and also with the foods we eat. Keeping that in mind, here are some suggestions for foods for fuel your chakras. The base, or root chakra, is all about keeping us grounded. It’s about our connection to the earth, stability, survival in the world. A good way to energize this chakra is by eating root vegetables like beets, carrots, potatoes, onions, and garlic. Red is the color associated with the root chakra, so red foods are also helpful. Pomegranates are a good example. Also red spices like cayenne pepper and hot paprika are good for stimulating the root chakra.

160


The sacral chakra is associated with both creativity and creation. This includes sexuality, and reproduction. Orange is the color that goes with the sacral chakra, so orange foods will help to keep this chakra healthy and flourishing. Fruits like mango and oranges are great. And fruits that have lots of seeds are also good, like passion fruit, and strawberries. Cinnamon, vanilla, and sesame seeds also help to stimulate creativity.

The solar plexus chakra is where we hold our willpower and self-esteem. Whole grains, flax, and rice help with this. Also, since yellow is the color of the solar plexus chakra, look for yellow foods. Yellow lentils are particularly helpful, since they can aid in digestion, which is also located in the area of the solar plexus chakra. Yellow spices like ginger, chamomile and turmeric help with this as well.

The heart chakra helps us to process emotions. To keep the heart chakra healthy, favor green foods, as green is the color for this chakra. Kale, spinach, broccoli are particularly good, but really any green vegetable is helpful. Green tea also works wonders, as well as green spices like basil, sage, thyme, coriander and parsley.

161


The throat chakra helps us with communication, self-expression, and speaking our truth. The throat needs lots of liquids to stay clear and moist, this can come from water or herbal teas. Adding a bit of lemon or lime to the water is effective for clearing out energy. Fruit juice is also effective, particular when the juice comes from fruit that is grown on trees: apples, pears, peaches, or apricots. Plums, which can reflect the blue-ish color of the throat chakra, are very helpful. A little bit of sea salt or lemon grass is also good for the throat chakra.

The third eye chakra is all about wisdom and intuition. Since indigo is the color for this chakra, look for dark blue or purple foods to help gain clarity and focus. Blueberries, blackberries, raisins, prunes and purple grapes are especially good. Grape juice works as well. Poppy seeds and lavender also help us to stimulate our intuition and to tune in to the wisdom of the Universe. The crown chakra is our connection with Spirit, the Divine, or our Higher Self. The color of the crown chakra is light violet, so violet foods are helpful in keeping the channel open and clear. But the crown chakra also likes a rest from food. So giving the body a break by eating light meals, like soups and broths, for a day helps the crown chakra to become energized. Meditation, yoga, journaling, and pranayama are also good for stimulating the crown chakra. Clearing your environment with incense like sage, myrrh, juniper or frankincense is also helpful.

162


Part-2 Ah, incense! It all goes back to our primitive origins, with the discovery of fire. When wood was burned, people discovered the Amazing aromas that came from the burning wood and the effect that the aroma seemed to have on our emotions. At some point we began experimenting with the effects of burning various materials such as leaves, herbs and fruit. As the smoke carried the aroma upward, toward heaven, we viewed that as a spiritual experience. Burning fragrant objects became a part of many religious and spiritual rituals and was seen as a gift from the gods as well as an offering to the gods. In both the Buddhist and Hindu tradition, incense is offered as a devotional. Burning incense also can accompany meditation and is often burned on home altars, daily. According to Ayurveda, there are five elements–and the different types of incense fall into these five categories–which are burned to help balance energy. Here is an example of each: • • • • •

Air: (leaves)-Patchouli Space: (fruit)-Anise Fire: (flower)-Clove Water: (stems and branches)-Sandalwood Earth: (roots)-Ginger

The practice of burning incense can be artful–you can burn one fragrance at a time, or create a blend depending on the kind of effect you want to achieve. Incense was the beginning of aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is the science of using the fragrance of essential plant oils in healing treatments.

163


Aromatherapy is an energetic healing technique that uses the vibratory power of certain aromas to shift energy within the body and bring about relief from various physical symptoms. Aromatherapy is an important tool in Ayurveda, for maintaining wellness and for healing. It can be used to protect prana, regulate digestion and metabolism, and to boost immunity. Aromas have a subtle, yet extremely powerful influence on our mind and body. There are lots of ways that aromatherapy can be implemented. Burning incense sticks during meditation is one way. We can also add rose petals or basil leaves into our bath water. Essential oils make using aromatherapy easy. The aromas are distilled directly from plants and combined with an oil base, creating what is called the essential oil. The vapor of essential oils stimulates our olfactory nerve, which goes directly to the brain. The olfactory nerve stimulates the limbic system, which connects to the areas of the brain that process emotions, desires, appetites and memories. It also stimulates the endocrine glands, which regulate hormone levels. We can use a diffuser, or an aroma locket, or an aromatic candle to produce aromas in our environment. Essential oils can also be used in massage, in the bath, and in our skin and hair care products. We connect to the physical world through our five senses: vision, hearing, smell, taste and touch. Aromatherapy has many benefits and can be calming, relaxing, energizing or soothing. It can help us to get to sleep or it can help wake us up! These are the fragrances that help balance each the doshas: • • •

Vata-vanilla, orange, lavender, pine Pitta-rose, jasmine, sandalwood, peppermint Kapha-cinnamon, basil, eucalyptus, musk

164


NOTES

165


Module-7 Ayurvedic Self-Care Part-1 Ayurvedic Eye Care These days, we spend so much time in front of the computer screen, watching TV, driving, reading – we’re using our eyes all the time, and yet we tend to take them for granted and not give them the care they deserve. In Ayurveda, we learn that it is important to take care of our health, and the health of our eyes. This way we can prevent problems from occurring and improve our vision. The eyes are governed by Pitta, which becomes less balanced as we age, so it’s a good idea to implement some Ayurvedic recommendations for eye care now. ▪ Make sure you get enough sleep. Your eyes need rest just as the rest of your body does. ▪ Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from direct sunlight. ▪ Make sure you have proper light to work or read in, not too dim or bright.

166


▪ Take a break from the computer every 30 minutes. Get up, walk around, and look at objects in the distance for awhile. ▪ Try this yogic eye exercise. Look up for two seconds, then look down for two seconds, then close your eyes for two seconds. Open your eyes, look right as far as you can for two seconds, then look left as far as you can for two seconds, look to the front again, and close your eyes and breath for 10 seconds. Repeat. ▪ Make sure to include foods that are rich in vitamin A in your diet, like carrots, and green, leafy vegetables. ▪ Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and keep the eyes moist. Avoid caffeine. ▪ In the evening, rest with two cotton balls dipped in rosewater placed over your closed eyes. Rosewater is cooling, and the fragrance is balancing for Pitta.

Ayurvedic Weight Control The Ayurvedic approach to weight control is very simple and straightforward. Kapha types tend to have the most trouble with weight imbalance. Kaphas have a slower metabolism, so they are more prone to weight gain. Kapha is made up of earth and water, so to boost metabolism one strategy is to increase the fire element. Flavor foods with spicy spices like pepper, ginger and curries. Eat foods that are easy to digest: warm, light and cooked. Nothing fried, and avoid dairy and sugar. Pittas can also have issues with weight gain, which is usually caused when digestive enzymes are out of whack and there is too much acid. In this case there is an abundance of fire, so spicy foods are not good. Instead, what Pittas can do to improve this condition is to eat three meals a day. Sweet, juicy fruits like pears and peaches are great for Pittas, as are licorice and fennel seed. Pittas also need to be sure to get to bed before 10 pm, when Pitta time kicks in and they get the munchies. 167


When Vata types gain weight it is usually due to stress. To reduce stress, it is important for Vatas to meditate twice a day and to keep a regular routine. Vatas also need to remember to eat in a relaxed atmosphere and not rush through their meals.

Bad Breath Remedies According to Ayurveda because the mouth is governed by the Kapha dosha, bad breath, or halitosis, is a Kapha disorder. However, because digestion is governed by the Pitta dosha, Pitta is also indirectly responsible. When the digestive fire, or Agni, is not functioning properly, our digestion is off, which could lead to bad breath. Bad breath is caused bacteria in the mouth decomposes the residue of food and releases sulfur. The sulfur is what smells bad. Bacteria can live in the spaces of the teeth, or on the tongue. What to do? Ayurveda recommends that after we clean our teeth (after every meal or at least twice a day), that we also clean our tongues by using a tongue scraper. This is a U-shaped instrument, usually made out of stainless steel, that helps to remove bacteria from the tongue. Clove is commonly used in dental treatments. Because of its pungent taste, it is great at balancing Kapha, which helps to fight bad breath. Tulsi, or Holy Basil, can also be used to treat bad breath. Just chew a few fresh leaves right off the plant. To prevent bad breath, flavor foods with cardamom and clove. Drink lots of water throughout the day. If you can’t brush and floss after every meal, at least brush twice a day, and gargle after eating.

168


Ear, Nose and Throat Ayurveda has a few recommendations for how to keep ourselves healthy when it comes to the ear, nose and throat. To clear mucus from the throat, mix a pinch of turmeric and a pinch of salt in a cup of warm water and gargle. To soothe a sore throat, chew licorice root, or lick a spoon of honey. For a dry throat, especially good when you have a lot of speaking to do, suck on some cardamom seeds. For the ears, apply a small am ount of sesame oil around the opening of the ear canal with your little finger. This helps to keep Vata in balance and reduces tension in the jaw. Massaging the ears with warm sesame oil benefits the whole body. With the nose, it is also beneficial to apply a little warm sesame oil around the inside of each nostril every morning. This helps us to have a keen sense of smell and calms the mind by keeping Vata in balance. When the sinuses are congested or dry, we can do “nasya� or rinse the nostrils with warm salt water.

Hair Care Ayurveda teaches us to care for our hair both inside and outside. Hair is a by-product of our bones, and healthy bones depend on healthy fat tissue. We need to care for our both our bones and our fat tissue to have that luxurious hair we crave. Using healthy fats, such as olive oil and ghee (clarified butter) in cooking helps. It also helps to eat sweet, juicy fruits and

169


leafy greens, while avoiding processed and packaged foods, refined sugars, and fried foods. A good night’s sleep is of benefit to body, mind, and spirit, and will reflect in our entire physiology, including our hair! To care for our hair on the outside, we need to use gentle shampoo and conditioners with natural ingredients like plant extracts that nourish the hair and provide moisture and balance to it while getting it clean. We can also massage the hair and scalp, once a week, with warm oil. It keeps our hair looking good, and it feels great!

Indigestion Digestion is very important to our health and Ayurveda has many suggestions for how to improve our digestion. Many times people who have an overabundance of Pitta become imbalanced and it shows up as acid indigestion. Pitta types are prone to hyperacidity, and peptic ulcers. Stress, impatience, anger, and heat can also aggravate Pitta. What to do if you are experiencing indigestion? -Avoid Pitta-aggravating foods like citrus fruits and juices, vinegar, tomatoes, spicy foods, fried foods, salty foods, onions and garlic. -Avoid alcohol. -Do not skip meals. An empty stomach makes more stomach acid. -Eat breakfast, even if you are not hungry in the morning. Eat something even if it is just a little bit. If you skip breakfast you can be too hungry at lunchtime, and overeat. -Meditate to relieve stress. -Enjoy the beauty of nature. -Favor cool foods and drinks. Coconut juice is especially good for pacifying the Pitta dosha. 170


Part-2 Self Care Ayurveda explains that we are our own best healers. We know ourselves best, after all! We can educate ourselves and take control of and responsibility for our own health. How do we do this? First of all, we tune in to our bodies. We start paying attention to the signals that it gives us. Our own intuition is an Amazing tool to discern subtle health imbalances. We need to start trusting ourselves more. We can also follow nutritional and lifestyle guidelines to keep ourselves healthy and to develop longevity. When we start to see all the good that we can do for ourselves and our own health, we develop confidence in our self-healing abilities. The positive results that we experience for ourselves show us that we are strong, and capable.

171


Women’s Health Ayurveda has recommendations to help alleviate PMS, or Premenstrual Syndrome. In Vatas, PMS usually shows up as anxiety, insomnia, or lower backache. In Pittas, PMS manifests as hives, acne, irritability and migraines. Kapha PMS results in fluid retention and bloating. By keeping your dosha in balance with your Ayurvedic lifestyle routine, you can help relieve some of these symptoms. In general, Ayurveda also has these suggestions for women during any stage of life: -Avoid salt. -Avoid saturated fats. -Avoid caffeine. -Avoid alcohol. -Enjoy foods rich in Vitamin A – carrots, cantaloupe, spinach, sweet potato. -Spend time in the sun to absorb vitamin D. -Foods rich in vitamin C help to reduce stress– broccoli, sprouts, orange juice. -Vitamin E helps with hormone fluctuations and depression look for it in olive oil, sunflower oil, apples and blackberries. -Calcium helps to prevent cramps and pain. Magnesium helps the body to absorb calcium. Foods with these minerals include leafy greens, beans, peas, tofu, spinach, and fish. -Practice yoga stretches, take a morning walk. -Shatavri is an herb used in Ayurvedic medicine to help tone and strengthen the body, providing relief from symptoms of PMS and menstrual and menopausal imbalances.

172


Men’s Health The prostate is part of the male reproductive system. Most men are unaware of their prostate until middle age, when prostate health becomes an issue. But even though the prostate seems to be an older man’s health problem, the imbalances start much earlier in life. However, simple lifestyle changes can restore balance and most of these issues can be avoided. Here are some tips: -Drink plenty of water throughout the day to prevent the urine from becoming too concentrated. If you have a prostate problem, avoid fluids after 7 pm as a full bladder can disturb your sleep. -Always empty the bladder completely. -Avoid alcohol. -Avoid caffeine. Both alcohol and caffeine irritate the bladder. -If you must sit all day at work, take short stretching and walking breaks. -In cold weather, keep the body warm. When body temperature drops, urine is retained, which aggravates the prostate. -Maintain regularity with fiber and cooked vegetables. -Abhyanga, or daily self-massage is helpful. -Get a good night’s sleep. -Avoid extremes in food – anything too cold, too hot, too spicy, too dry, or too oily. -Eat sweet, juicy fruits.

173


Self diagnosis and the 8-Fold Exam The principles of Ayurveda are very logical and comprehensive and can be easily applied to diagnose a person’s condition so that you can come up with an appropriate action plan. To do this, we need to look at specific symptoms and signs. The first step is to diagnose which dosha might be involved in causing an unbalanced, or diseased state. For this the characteristics of the Dosha, their normal functions, the aggravating factors, and the signs and symptoms of aggravation and diminishment are to be understood and correlated with the condition that you are experiencing. These are summarised below:

Dosha

Vata

Pitta

Kapha

Characteristics

Un-unctuous, light, cold, rough, subtle, mobile

Unctuous, sharp, hot, light, fluid

Unctuous, cold, heavy, slow, smooth, stable

Normal function

Enthusiasm, inspiration, expiration, movement, normal metabolism, elimination of excreta

Goodvision, digestion, normal temperature, hunger, thirst, softness, lusture, happiness, intelligence

Unctuousness, cohesion, steadiness, heaviness, virility, strength, forbearance, patience, greedlessness

174


Aggravating factors

Intake of pungent, astringent, bitter tastes in food, and food with dry and cold properties, overeating, irregular eating, fasting, overexertion, suppression of urges, prolonged illness, dehydration etc.

Intake of pungent, sour and salty tastes, and food with sharp, hot, light, burning properties, grief, anger, fear, fright, hot summers, toomuch sunexposure etc

Intake of sweet, sour and salty tastes, and food with cold, heavy, slimy properties, overeating, laziness, sedentary life style, sleeping during the day, eating without digestion of previous meal,etc

Symptoms of aggravation

Roughnes of skin, emaciation, darkness of complexion, tremor of limbs etc, longing for hot things, insomnia, hard faeces, reduced strength

Sallow complexion, burning sensation, insomnia, craving for cold, reduced strength, weakness of senses, yellowness of conjunctiva, stools, urine.

Whiteness, coldness and numbness of body, heaviness of limbs, drowsiness, languor, somnolence.

Symptoms of diminution

Langour,shortness of speech,uneasiness, absence of hilarity

Dulness of complexion, diminution of body heat, impaired digestive fire.

Dryness, empty feeling in the stomach, looseness of joints, thirst, weakness and insomnia.

175


As we can see, both the aggravation and diminishing of the doshas can cause a diseased state. Also-it is very important to know about the normal functions of the doshas so that we can understand the difference when something is out of balance. There could be a mix of symptoms which indicated that more than one doshas are involved. As a general rule pain and dryness are an indication of the presence of Vata. Inflammation is usually present with Pitta. And itching or pus formation is an indication of Kapha. There are other methods we can use to help determine which dosha is involved so that we can make a self-diagnosis. In Ayurveda this is called the “Eight-Fold Examination.” 1. General appearance: As we’ve discussed, our body shape, the color and texture of the hair, your energy level, and even the way you walk can indicate the predominance of Vata, Pitta, or Kapha. A Vata body is one which thin, small bones, sinewy and without much curve or musculature. Pitta types are usually medium-framed with a moderate am ount of musculature. Kapha types are fuller and bigger-boned with more curves. Vata hair is typically dry, and light brown or blonde. Pitta types often have thinner hair, reddish or auburn, and may bald or go gray early in life. Kapha hair is generally thick, curly or wavy, dark brown, and oily. By looking at, or touching an affected area, we can also determine which doshas are affected. Vata brings about dryness. With Pitta there is heat, or redness. And with Kapha the area will usually be cool. 2. Eyes: When Vata is present we see a combination of smoky, pinkish, bluish hues in the eye area. Also, a dryness of the eyes, an unsteady gaze, and sunken eyes. Pitta symptoms show up as pink, yellow or redness in the eyes, eyes with discharge, a penetrating gaze, lusturous eyes, sensitivity to light, and a burning sensation in eyes. 176


Kapha symptoms show up as white conjunctiva, glistening, unctuous and watery eyes, a steady gaze and itchy eyes. 3. Tongue Examination: The tongue is a mirror of your digestive system in general and can also give an indication of the area of the body that is involved in a diseased state. Stick out your tongue and look at it in a mirror. See if it is coated or clean. A coated tongue even after scrubbing indicates an impaired digestion. A thin white coating is normal, but a thick white coating indicates coldness or a Kapha aggravation. A yellow coat is indicative of heat and Pitta aggravation. In Vata conditions the tongue is dry and has a coating as per the accompanying Kapha or Pitta dosha along with Vata. Grooves in the tongue, a red parched tongue devoid of coating, or blisters on the tongue, are indicative of inflammation and a Pitta condition. Any abnormality appearing on the the first third of the tongue starting at the tip is indicative of abnormality in upper body above the diaphragm. An abnormality on the middle third indicates a condition in the abdomen above the navel. And an abnormality on the last third part of the tongue near the throat indicates a condition in the lower abdomen including the large intestines and kidneys. 4. Pulse examination: The Pulse examination is an important part of the Ayurvedic diagnostic tools. With practice we can begin to understand about the feel of a normal and abnormal pulse. The pulse is felt at the radial artery which is present at the base of the thumb. This is a 3-finger process using the index, middle, and ring fingers of the other hand. The index finger is placed at the base of the thumb and is used to read Vata. The middle finger comes next which reads for Pitta. And the ring finger is next, and is used to read for Kapha. 177


The pulse is measured for the intensity, speed, feel, temperature, characteristic and location. The Pulse is carefully felt under each of the three fingers using the fingertips. A pulse that feels like a smooth upward curve (figure 1) denotes the activity of that particular dosha at that particular time. On the other hand if the pulse is felt like a pointed curve (figure 2), it denotes an aggravated state of that particular dosha. If the pulsation is felt under more than one finger, then two or three doshas are thought to be active at that particular time of examination.

Figure 1

Figure 2

After first having ascertained the location of the pulsation, the intensity and speed of the pulse is noted. An intense, full pulse denotes the heightened activity of the particular dosha and so does the speed of the pulse. A slow and ‘empty’ pulse denotes the diminished activity of the dosha. Next, the temperature of the pulse is felt. A warm pulse denotes the ‘Aama’ condition or the morbid condition of Doshas as in fever. A cold pulse denotes the depleted state of doshas and /or hypothermia. Finally, the characteristic of the pulse should be noted. A slippery pulse that changes position subtly denotes a Vata pulse. A jumping pulse is a Pitta pulse. And a slow moving pulse is a Kapha pulse. Any of these characteristic pulses can be found under the specific fingers of Vata (index) Pitta (middle) or Kapha (the ring finger) or under any other finger. For example, if we get a jumping pulse under the index finger, it denotes that the Vata is afflicted by Pitta. If we get a slow moving pulse under the middle finger then it denotes that

178


Pitta is afflicted by Kapha. So with a fever in which there is lot of body pains, we will get a racy full pulse and a pointing pulse under the Vata finger and the Pitta finger. On the other hand if the fever is accompanied by chest infection we will get pulsation under the Pitta finger of jumping quality and also a jumping pulse under the Kapha finger. This is because the place of origin of Kapha is the Chest, and hence we would be able to infer that the place of Kapha is in this case is afflicted by Pitta , as would happen with an inflammation of the lungs. With practice, we can pinpoint the dosha involved in a particular diseased state. 5. Examination of Stools: The stools can reveal vitally important information about our digestive health. Daily elimination (or lack thereof) is a visible indication of digestive health. Ideally, we should eliminate every morning within one hour of waking. The bowel movement should have no pain or strain and should be the consistency of a banana. Constipation indicates that Vata is present, loose stools indicate Pitta, and heavy, sludgy stools indicate Kapha. An impaired state of digestion is the root cause of many disease and demands immediate remedial action. Well-formed stools is a mark of health while a dry pebble like or a semi-formed or loose stools are the mark of disease. 6. Examination of urine: A straw colored urine is normal while a yellow or reddish urine denotes increased Pitta and /or dehydration. Urine that is clear like water denotes a Kapha aggravation, an attack of cold on the body and /or of over hydration. A frothy urine with impaired flow denotes a Vata aggravation. 7. Sounds in the body. Gurgling in the stomach or cracking of the joints indicate the presence of Vata. The quality, speed, and tone of your voice also give information about which doshas are present. If you speak quickly and tend to lose your train of thought, there may be excess Vata present. Those

179


with more Pitta in their constitution speak sharply and clearly. Kapha types take their time expressing their thoughts while speaking sweetly and slowly. 8. Nails. The nails also indicate the presence of Vata, Pitta or Kapha: Long vertical lines can indicate malabsorption of nutrients. Soft, flexible nails indicate Pitta; brittle nails that break easily are more Vata; and Kapha nails are thick, oily, and strong. Dry skin is a feature of Vata; oily skin prone to acne and rashes is a sign of Pitta imbalance; and Kapha skin is thick, soft, and smooth. Apart from the above specific examination tools, one can diagnose a condition by correlating the symptoms with the characteristics of the doshas. For example, heat denotes Pitta. Pain and dryness indicate the presence of Vata. And heaviness, coldness and sliminess will be due to Kapha. One should though keep in mind that in many diseased conditions the symptoms overlap so it is always best to seek out the counsel of an experienced physician.

180


Part-3 Ayurveda provides a detailed account of the cause , symptoms and treatment of disease on the one hand, and detailed guidelines for the prevention of disease, to stay healthy, promote youthfulness and delay aging on the other. It also emphasizes that each individual is different whether in a natural state of health or in an unnatural state of disease, But whether its state of health or disease the key remains the ‘balance.’ The state of disease may warrant the intervention of an Ayurvedic physician but in the state of health or mild disorders, if we can keep mind, body, and environment in proper balance, health is restored, youthfulness is prolonged and aging happens without much deterioration and incapacitation. We just need to follow few guidelines given by Ayurveda keeping our unique body type and the external environment in mind. Here are some self-care practices to help us feel bright, youthful, light, energetic, and disease-free. 1.) The massage routine: Ayurveda says that the human body is unctuous by nature. So when dryness sets in it leads to tissue damage and disturbance in physiology of our body. The reason is simply that dryness aggravates Vata dosha, which in turn being the most powerful of all the doshas have a damaging effect on the functions of the body. The best substance to counter dryness and calm Vata is oil. So our body needs a regular dose of anointing to check the dryness and to keep it going and perform at optimum levels. Benefits of massage as per Ayurveda: Regular massaging makes one strong enough to tolerate physical and mental stress. ▪ ▪ ▪ ▪

It gives vitality and energy. It eliminates tiredness It makes the body supple and muscular. It delays signs of old age including wrinkles. 181


▪ It makes the skin lustrous and improves overall appearance. ▪ It calms the Vata dosha (and thus pacifies the nervous system and induces sleep). ▪ Mobilises toxins and brings them to gut for elimination. The self massage routine should focus on three major areas: ▪ The head ▪ The body ▪ The feet Ideally the massage should start with head and end at the feet. The body should be massaged in sections and not the whole body at a stretch. This is to facilitate the proper flow of blood and lymph and induce relaxation of the body part by part, from head downwards. The massage should be done slowly with varying pressures. A firm pressure should be applied on extremities and a light to very light pressure should be applied to neck, abdomen, heart are, face, eyes, and forehead. The extremities can be massaged with long strokes in the direction of body hair. The back of neck and waist and flanks can also be massaged using long and firm strokes. Circular clockwise motion should be used on the joints. The abdomen should be massaged in the clockwise circular motion in the direction of the large intestine, moving up on the right side then straight and then downwards on the left side. The massage should be done for 5-15 minutes on a routine basis and at weekends one should give atleast 10-15 minutes to each of the three areas head, body and feet. One should rest for 15 minutes after the massage before taking a bath. Massage should be done in a warm, ventilated but a draft free room (bathroom for instance). Warm oil should be used for the body and cool to lukewarm oil should be used on the head. In peak summers cool oil can be used and in cold seasons lukewarm to warm oil should only be used even on head.

182


The choice of oils should preferably be as per your dosha and the area to be massaged. For head generally oils with cooling properties are used. ▪▪ For Vata constitution-Sesame, olive, castor, sunflower oils can be used. ▪▪ For Pitta constitution-Coconut, sesame, sunflower oils and ghee can be used. ▪▪ For Kapha constitution-Mustard, sesame, corn, olive oil can be used. ▪▪ For body-Sesame, olive, sunflower, mustard, corn oil. ▪▪ For head-Coconut oil. sesame oil How to perform a thorough whole body massage • Begin by heating a quarter-cup of the massage oil (it should be slightly warmer than body temperature (38°C, 100°F, for example). This is typically done by placing the container of the oil-a plastic squeeze bottle works well-in hot water for a short while. • Start by massaging the head. Put a small am ount of oil on the crown area (the area on the head which remains soft in young children and subsequently becomes ossified) and give gentle dabbing strokes using your palm. Then pour more oil on the scalp and massage using open palms of the hands and the flat surfaces of the fingers rather than the fingertips for the whole massage. The stroke should be circular, describing small circles. Spend more time on the head than on other parts of the body, because it has marma points (vital points) which influences all the other parts of the body. Head massage in itself is a very important part of self care and can be a quick fix remedy for headaches, insomnia and stress. So this will be detailed later in this section. • Massage the face and outer part of the ears, using the fingers. Massaging the ears is also said to influence the

183


whole body, so give them some extra time, but don’t massage them vigorously. Massage whole of the outer ear and apply some oil at the opening of auditory canal and massage using your little or index finger (trim the nails if you have long ones) At this point, you may want to smear oil over the rest of the body: This will give the maximum time for the oil to penetrate the skin. • Massage the front and back of the neck, and the upper part of the back using firm and long strokes along the direction of muscles fibres. • Next, massage the arms using long strokes in the direction of the body hair (from shoulder towards the hand) and use a circular motion, on the shoulder, wrist and elbow joint. The palms, back of the hands and the individual finger and the finger joints should also be massaged with firm but gentle pressure using the thumb and finger of the other hand. Repeat for the other arm in succession. • Now do the chest and stomach. Use moderate to light pressure particularly on the heart area. Use a circular motion over the pectoral area, and a very gentle, vertical motion over the breastbone and solar plexus. Use a very gentle circular motion over the abdomen, moving clockwise, in the direction of the large intestine. • Massage the back and spine and the flanks a far as your hands can reach using firm and long strokes. • Now massage the legs in the same way you did the arms: straight on the bones, circular on the joints from hip downwards in the direction of the body hair. Massage the feet spending more time. Massage the sole and dorsum of foot vigorously applying firm pressure of your palms. The toes are massaged individually as fingers. Feet also contain many vital points and nerve endings, and like head affect the whole body. Hence foot massage is a

184


ritual in itself and thus is detailed in this section. The ideal length of a daily full body massage is 15 to 30 minutes, but even a quick massage for 5 minutes could be very beneficial (priorities being head and feet). Be careful about getting oil over your bathroom floor. If your bathroom is carpeted, we suggest that you protect it with an inexpensive floor mat, or some disposable covering. Take a warm shower after 20 minutes of massage. Do not use soap for the body instead take gram floor and make into a paste and apply all over. Rub it off once it starts drying. It will take away all the oil but still some oil will be left to nourish the skin. For taking oil out of hair a herbal shampoo can be used. Dab the body dry with a towel. It is better to keep separate towels for the massage routine as ultimately they get oily and need to be changed. Ayurveda Dry massage: For Kapha personalities having lot of Kapha dominance and in case weather is too humid the same steps of massage can be done using raw silk gloves. Alternatively first smear the body with a paste of ‘Trifla’ powder made in warm water and let dry and then rub it off using the same massage strokes. For head and face bare hands have to be used. To enhance the effect the dry massage can be done in the direction opposite to the body hair. Contra-indications of Massage: Massage is contra-indicated in a person having a cold, skin infections, great emaciation, Kapha diseases, inflamed joints, indigestion, acidity, fever of recent origin (massage is indicated in chronic fevers), having vomiting and/or loose motions. Massaging mobilizes the toxins. In all these conditions the body has toxins which are localized in the diseased area. So massaging at this point will spread the toxins systemically and also increase the toxins locally thus worsening the condition.

185


The Ayurvedic Head massage: The head should be given a massage at least twice in a week. Sushruta says, (Sushruta Samhita, Chi-kit-sa Sthana Chapter 24, verse 25) that head massage helps to treat diseases pertaining to head region, nourishes the sense organs, brings luster to the face, and makes the hair thick, long and strong. Head is one of the secondary place of Vata dosha. To calm this Vata head massage with oil takes care of headaches and insomnia. due to aggravation of this ub type of Vata. How to perform a self head massage: -Begin by choosing an oil. Sesame, mustard, almond, coconut, and olive oils are most commonly used. Coconut oil and sesame oil are best for massaging the scalp. -Pour some oil at the crown area and give gentle dabbing strokes with your palm. Let the oil spread on the scalp assisted by your palms and then, starting from the sides and working towards the top give the scalp a moderately vigorous massage in small circular pattern using your palms. -Work your way toward the front and back of the head. Once the whole scalp has been covered, gently massage the whole head in the same circular fashion, with your thumbs and fingers using the flat surfaces. -Grasp fistfuls of hair at the roots and tug from side to side, keeping your knuckles very close to the scalp. Squeeze at the temples with the heels of the hands and make slow, wide, circular movements. Bow down your head slightly and massage the back of the neck by squeezing and rolling the muscles. Begin at the top of the neck and work your way down, first with one hand and then with the other hand. -Place the thumb of your left hand under the left side base of the head and the thumb of your right hand under the right side of the base of the head and relax the tight muscles by

186


using friction or a rubbing movement. -Place your right hand on your left shoulder near your neck. Using medium pressure, gently squeeze the shoulder muscle that starts at the base of your neck. Work your way outwards along your shoulder to your arm and then down as far as your elbow. When you reach your elbow, go back to the base of your neck and do this twice more. Concentrate on squeezing and releasing the muscles. Repeat on the right side using your left hand. â–Ş Finally, rub lightly using flat surface of your fingers and thumbs all over the head; extend this movement to cover your face. If possible, relax for a few minutes afterwards. â–Ş Take a head bath using a herbal shampoo or a herbal head bath powder. Wrap wet hair and let dry. Comb hair repeatedly with a wide toothed comb when fully dry. Ayurvedic Foot Massage: Charakaa says that the foot massage alleviates roughness, stiffness, numbness, cracks (of heels) and fatigue of the feet. It also promotes suppleness and stability to feet and make them strong. It increases the visual acuity, and calms the Vata dosha. It helps to am eliorate diseases like sciatica and other Vata disorders. The foot massage should be done exclusively for 15 minutes at least once in a week or more if your time permits. How to perform a self foot massage: First, create a foot soak that meets your current needs, using one of the following recipes: -To cool down Pitta costitutions (and in summers), fill a foot tub with cool water and mix in a tablespoon of honey and a handful each of dried lavender and fresh rose petals. You can also use lavender or rose essential oil. This will soothe the mind.

187


-To warm up (Kapha constitutions and in winters), fill a foot tub with lukewarm water and add 1 teaspoon of dried ginger powder. This will invigorate the body and increase circulation. To relax and rejuvenate (Vata constitutions and in rainy seasons), fill a tub with very warm water and add 2 tablespoon of rock salt to 3 litres of water. This will reduce any swelling and alleviate fatigue. -Submerge your feet, relax for 10 minutes, then remove your feet and pat them dry. -Now you are ready to give yourself a foot massage. Use slightly warm sesame, olive (Vata and Pitta) , or mustard oil (Kapha). Apply the oil generously throughout your massage. -Starting with your left foot, massage in circles around the ankle. With your right hand, squeeze down from the base of the calf muscle all the way to the heel bone, 3 times. Holding the heel, flex and extend the ball of the foot several times. Massage the spaces between all the toes, pinching the webbing between finger and thumb. Glide your thumbs up and down the grooves between the tendons on top of the foot. -Now turn your foot over so the sole is facing you and hold it in both hands, with your thumbs just under the ball of the foot. Press your fingers into the top side of the foot, stretching the base of the toes apart. Then use your thumbs to “milk� each toe, sliding from the base over the tip of each toe several times. -Next, massage vigorously from heel to toe using the heel of your hand. Walk your thumbs along the outer edges of the foot, along the arch, and deeply into the edge of the heel. Use your knuckles to massage the arch. -Hold your ankle with your left hand and the top of your foot with the right, rotating the foot clockwise, then anticlockwise.

188


-Grasp your big toe and rotate it fully, as if you were drawing a large circle with the tip of the toe. Then rub the toe between the palms of your hands and the base of your little toe. Finally, using the flat palm of your left hand, massage the entire sole of your foot in a figure-8 pattern. -To finish, pat the sole of your foot a few times. Then press the palm of your hand to the centre of the sole of your foot. Feeling the subtle energy at this marma (pressure point) encourages a healthy flow of Apana vayu, the grounding, and downward moving subtype of Vata. Repeat the entire sequence on the right foot. -Finally, rinse your feet with warm water, dry thoroughly, and slip them into clean cotton socks, which will allow your feet to feel protected, soft, comfortable, and responsive.

2) The self care routine to strengthen the senses: Ayurveda gives invaluable guidelines for self care to keep our sense organs working efficiently and free from disease. -Eye care: The eye is the most important sense organ. According to Ayurveda this is the site of Pitta and has to be protected from the onslaught of Kapha at all times. Otherwise there is a diminution of vision with time gradually. The simplest but very effective eye care routine you can follow is to irrigate your eyes with fresh and pure water while bathing. Fill your mouth with water and using the running tap water splash gently the open eyes with small am ount of water in your palms. Do it repeatedly till the water in your mouth tends to loose its coolness. Release the water of your mouth and after a short break for few second repeat the process twice. This procedure as per Ayurveda cleanses the eyes, protects it

189


from the onslaught of Kapha and increases vision. Eye douching with ‘Trifla water’ regularly is very effective to increase visual acuity (please refer to the module of management of common diseases through Ayurveda) As told earlier foot massage is very beneficial to increase the vision. Particular attention is to be given to massaging the big toes for extra benefit. -Rub both your palms and using your index and middle finger gently massage the margins of the eye orbits from the side of nose towards ears seven times twice a day after meals. It can have wonderful results on visual acuity in particular and the health of the eyes in general. -Ayurveda forbids viewing very bright and very minute objects to protect the vision. An optimum illumination is mandatory at the place of work. -Ear care: Putting 4-5 drops of lukewarm sesame or mustard oil in ear canal on a regular basis just before taking a meal at least once a week protects one from hard of hearing, tinnitus, earaches and blocked ear canal due to hardening of wax. It also protects from stiff neck and lock jaw or TM joint dysfunctions. The only contraindication is the perforated ear drum otherwise it is very safe and beneficial. It also improves the eye sight and prevents wrinkles on the face. -Nasal care: Nose according to Ayurveda is the gateway to the structure in the head. So elaborate nasal therapies under the generic name ‘nas-ya’ are mentioned that take care of many diseases occurring in the head region. On a day to day basis, just putting 2-3 drops of lukewarm almond (Vata constitution) or mustard oil (Kapha constitution) or cow’s ghee (Pitta constitution) protects one from recurrent cold and cough, blocked nose, loss of smell and headaches!!

190


-Care of tongue and oral cavity: The tongue should be scraped after brushing the teeth as detailed in the chapter on daily regimen. The gums should be massaged with a mixture of a pinch of rock salt, alum ash, turmeric and pepper in 1 tsp of mustard oil. This protects the gums from infections, and bleeding. In addition to this filling the mouth with sesame oil and holding it till you get tears from your eye and nasal discharge and then releasing it helps to give strength to the gums, jaws, and teeth. It retards dental caries, dental sensitivity and makes the enamel so strong that one can easily chew hard objects. Not only this it improves the sensation of taste, improves interest in food, makes the voice resounding and improves hearing. Isn’t it worth practicing with so many benefits?.

3) The self care routine for specific organs and organ systems: -Care for the lungs: Drinking tulsi tea (Occimum sanctum) regularly makes the lungs strong and protects it from the accumulation of phlegm (the Kapha in its waste form). For making Tulsi tea boil 7-8 dried or fresh Tulsi leaves, 5-6 coarsely ground black pepper, and a ½ inch crushed piece of ginger in one glass of water. Boil and reduce to half. Add 100 ml of pre boiled milk and 1 tsp of sugar. Sieve and drink slowly in sips. Chewing and then swallowing deseeded 15 dried black grapes soaked overnight in water and taken in morning helps to strengthen the lungs in the long run. Breathing exercises (Prana-yam) is very beneficial to strengthen the lungs and as self care for lung diseases. (they are detailed in a separate chapter). A mixture of ½ tsp each of ginger powder and roasted cumin seeds and 1 tsp of sugar powder taken with water helps to check coughing. Sucking on black pepper

191


along with sugar candy helps to reduce hoarseness of voice due to overuse of the voice box. -Care for heart: Abstinence from smoking and taking one tea spoon of am la powder or 2 tsp of am la juice (Indian Gooseberry) every day prevents heart diseases. Gulping two pods of finely chopped garlic in the morning helps to check rising cholesterol levels and hence coronary heart diseases. Sleep with your head either in south or east direction only. -Care for digestive tract: One should follow all the guidelines discussed in the chapter on food and digestion wherever possible. Crushing 4-5 Basil leaves and swallowing them with water wards off many stomach ailments. Soak 100 gms of fenugreek seeds in 200 ml of lemon juice and keep in the refrigerator. Chew ½ tsp of these fenugreek seeds with dinner takes care of indigestion and constipation. Take a stroll after every meal and at dinner lie on your back for 8 breaths and to your right for 16 breath cycles and to your left side for 32 breath cycles to ensure proper digestion, and passage of accumulated gases. -Care for kidneys: Voiding urine after having a meal every time helps to check diseases of kidney, bladder, prostate enlargement, high uric acid in blood and kidney stones. To flush the kidneys drink 1 table spoon of apple cider vinegar in a glass of water every day for one week every month or once in two months. Keep body hydrated by taking at least two litres of fluids daily in general for proper functions of kidneys. Cut down on extra salt.

192


4) Exercise,Yoga and breathing exercises: Doing regular exercise and appropriate yoga and breathing exercises helps to prevent many diseases and should be followed as discussed in previous chapters.

5) Taking care of indigestion arising out of various foods Ayurveda has elaborated upon the indigestion which may arise due to overeating of certain foods giving rise to acidity, flatulence, abdomen pain and loose motions. The following list will guide you on some self care measures:

193


Food causing indigestion

Remedy

Banana

Chew on 1-2 cardamom

Melon

Drink ½ cup of sherbet

Water melon

Chew on 1 clove or gulp down 1/4th tsp of rock salt with water.

Apple

1/5th of a teaspoon of Cinnamon powder to be taken with a sip of water.

Raddish

Take 2 tsp of juice of radish leaves with a pinch of rock salt.

Potatoes and sweet potatoes

Take 5 gms of jaggery (concentrate of sugar cane juice available at Indian stores)

Citrus fruits

1/4th tsp of rock salt to be taken with water.

Rice

½ tsp of carom seeds to be chewed and gulped with warm water.

Wheat

Butter milk with seasoning of black salt and roasted cumin seeds powder

Fatty food/ cream

Black pepper or warm water in sips till you get a light feeling, Skip next meal if needed.

Sweets and confectionary

½ tsp of long pepper powder with 1 tsp of honey.

Nuts

½ cup of butter milk seasoned with black salt and roasted cumin seeds powder.

Meats

Eat ripe papaya 2-3 slices seasoned with salt and pepper for the next meal.

Milk and milk products

Take 5-6 coarsely crushed black peppers and gulp them down with a little warm water.

194


6) Seasonal and daily regimens: Following daily and seasonal regimens as discussed in previous chapters also goes a long way to ensure health and ward off diseases. A simple yet very effective way of keeping yourself healthy is to use the powder of Trifla or Harad (Terminalia chebula) as per the season. Take 5 grams of either of the above powders at bedtime with warm water as follows; Late winter (15th Jan. to 15th March roughly)-With powder of long pepper (0.5 to 1.0 gm). Spring (15 March to 15 April roughly)-With one or two teaspoonfuls of honey. Summer (15th April to 15th June) – With jaggery 5 gms Rainy season (15th June to 15th August)-With 1/5th teaspoon of rock salt Autumn (15th Aug. to 15 th Oct.)-With 1 teaspoonful of Sugar or Sugar candy powder. Early winter (15th Oct. to 15th Dec)-With 1-2 gm of dry ginger powder.

To conclude, we can say that by using some of these Ayurvedic principles in your daily lives, you will be opening yourselves to the wisdom of the ancient Ayurvedic practitioners in favor of experiencing a holistic lifestyle and a healthier you both mentally and physically.

195


196


Step 3

Optimizing 197


Ayurveda and Beauty: Skin and Hair Care Special The Concept of Beauty in Ayurveda Ayurveda speaks of holistic health and beauty in conjunction. The former has physical, mental and spiritual components to it. This is reflected in the definition of a healthy person as given in Ayurvedic scriptures also. SAmA DOSHA SAmAGNISH CH SAm DHATU MALKRIYA, PRASANATMENDRIYA MANAH SWASTH ITI ABHIDHIYATE . (SUSHRUTA SAMHITA , SUTRA STHANA, CHAP-15, VERSE-41 ) It is written that if in a person, all the three doshas, all metabolic fires (digestive fire and fires responsible for transformation at tissue level), all tissue systems (seven tissue systems) and excretory functions (including feces, urine, sweat etc) are at their peak optimum level quantitatively and qualitatively, and mind and soul are in a state of bliss and all sense (ear, eyes, nose etc) and action organs collectively known as ‘indriyas’ are also without any disorder, then only the person can be considered healthy.

198


Health and beauty coexist as per Ayurveda. A healthy body which fulfils the above mentioned criteria can be beautiful. Ayurveda lays stress on the proper functioning of the body as a healthy body along with its tissue systems, metabolic fires, mental and physical functions forms the basis of a beautiful body. Though we can infer that as per Ayurveda beauty is more than just being skin deep, but skin being the most visible part of the body, its appearance plays an important role in the personality and beauty of a person.

Ayurveda and Skin Ayurveda has a unique understanding of skin care. Though the overall function of the skin remains the same, different body types (the Seven types of ‘Prakritis’) have inherent characteristics of skin. The characteristics like color, thickness, texture, hydration, unctuousness, suppleness, temperature, etc varies with varying body types. The concurrent conditions of the three doshas and weather also influence the characteristics of the skin. Various skin types as per Ayurveda Whether the skin is being influenced by the body type (prakrit awastha-physiological stage) or the predominance of a dosha (vikrit awastha-pathological stage) at a particular time, the skin shows different characteristics as per dosha predominance. 1) Vata skin: Vata predominant skin is usually dry, thin,delicate and cool to touch, and is easily vulnerable to influences of dry windy weather. Vata skin ages faster and tends to be dry, rough, and flaky when out of balance.

199


2) Pitta skin: Pitta predominant skin tends to be fair, sensitive, soft and warm to touch, and of medium thickness. Pitta skin types are more prone to discolouration, pimples, freckles, and moles. It is sun sensitive and may flare up with rashes, boils, sun–patches with prolonged exposure to sun. 3) Kapha skin: Kapha predominant skin tends to be oily, thick, pale, soft and cool and can withstand sunrays better. Kapha skin tends to age at a slower rate and wrinkles less than the other two types. Kapha skin types may have to struggle with dull complexion, enlarged pores, excessive oil, blackheads, moist type of eczema etc. The combination skin like Kapha + Vata, Vata + Pitta or pita + Kapha or Vata+ Pitta+ Kapha skin types show mixed characteristics as per the relative dosha predominance.

Prerequisites for a healthy skin: The characteristics of a healthy skin have been told above. For a healthy skin one should have good quality body fluids (rasa dhatu-including blood plasma and lymph called lasika), blood (rakta dhatu,), muscular tissue (mamsa dhatu), fat tissue (meda dhatu). Along with all these healthy tissue systems, the person should have a stress-free lifestyle, adequate sleep,(6-8 hours of uninterrupted night sleep), fluids and sunshine (sun bathing at dawn and dusk).

Causative factors of skin diseases: The main tissue systems affected in skin diseases are Rasa (blood plasma and lymphatic fluid), Rakta (blood), Mamsa (muscular tissue), Meda (fat tissue) According to Charaka Samhita (Nidan Sthan,Chapter-5, verse-6), the common causes of skin diseases are factors which affect the above mentioned tissue systems due to derangement of digestive fire and aggravation of doshas as per the causative food item/food combination/actions/climatic conditions etc.

200


These are: (reference Charaka Samhita, Nidaan and Chikitsa Sthaan) • Taking hot foods immediately after cold foods and viceversa. • Taking wrong combinations of food e.g fish with milk. • Excessive use of certain food items curds,fish,salt, sour foods,black gram, jaggery, milk and sesame seeds. • Exercising, exposure to sun after consumption of dry and pungent foods. • Eating over previous undigested meal. • Stopping the urge to puke. • Excessive intake of fats and fatty foods. • Indulging in sex without giving time to a meal to get digested. • Sleeping during the day. These are the general causative factors of skin diseases. We can see that they either affect the digestion creating toxins in the body fluids, altering the blood chemistry and aggravating the doshas and thereby affecting the four tissue systems. This takes time and the skin gets affected after a long period of exposure to causative factors. Alternatively certain causative factors like wrong food combination, excessive exposure to sun in sun sensitive skins can swiftly aggravate the doshas which disturb the tissue systems and cause respective skin diseases marked by relatively rapid onset e.g rashes.

How to care for your skin

Vata skin type For Vata skin, massaging the skin all over the body daily with sesame or olive oil for 20 minutes and then taking a bath with lukewarm water helps to reduce dryness and flaking.

201


As per the season, apply raw milk (in summers) or lukewarm milk (in winters) with the help of a cotton swab dipped in it all over the face and/or body with gentle circular motions. See the pores getting cleansed and rinse with lukewarm water. It reduces the dryness and wrinkles and patchy skin. To improve the colour of the Vata skin, one can mix fine powders of Red Sandal wood, Yashti madhu (Glyirrhiza glabra), and Manjishta (Rubia cordifolia) in sesame oil and massage gently over affected part. Use herbal soaps (if at all needed) to avoid excessive dryness and early wrinkling. Alternatively use herbal scrubs in place of soaps for bathing. Recipe of a bathing scrub: To 60 gms of wheat or barley flour (sieved) add 1/4th turmeric powder and 1 teaspoonful sesame or mustard oil or melted ghee.add some water to make a paste. Apply liberally on face and body and after 10 minutes rub it off with the help of your palms and bathe with lukewarm water. A mixture of gram floor and milk can also be used as an alternative to soap.

Pitta skin type Pitta skins are more oily, prone to blemishes, acne and black heads and sunburn. Excessive sweating can also be a problem in some individuals. To reduce oiliness of the Pitta skin a face pack made from Fuller’s earth 50 gms, 1 teaspoonful of red sandal wood powder, 1/4th tea spoon of turmeric powder mixed and made into a paste using rose water can be applied on the affected part with the help of a brush. To be rinsed with cold water after it dries up. Blemishes-Aloe vera gel 2 tablespoons can be mixed with a pinch of turmeric and 1 teaspoonful of red sandal wood powder to make a paste and applied on the skin for 15 minutes every day to gradually remove blemishes. Alternatively an

202


Ayurvedic medicated oil called ‘Kukumadi thailam’ can be applied overnight to remove blemishes. To remove sun tan-Mix together 30 ml of Cucumber juice,1/2 teaspoonful each of lemon juice and rose water and apply with help of cotton swab and apply for ½ to 1 hour on affected parts. Rinse first with lukewarm water followed by cool water. Odour from sweat, take a mixture of ‘Trifla Powder, Fuller’s earth 1 part each and sandal wood powder 1/4 th part and mix with rose water as needed to make a paste and apply on sweaty areas of the body. Rub the mixture off when it is almost dry. Take a bath with room temperature water or lukewarm water. Acne is the most common in Pitta skin. Acne needs use of blood purifying herbs internally and external application of medicated pastes. The best proven herbs for internal use in acne are Chirayta (Swertia Chirata) and Neem bark powder (Azadirachta indica). Either can be taken in powder form ½ teaspoonful twice a day before meals twice a day with plain water . For external application, the following herbs can be used as per the stages of acne 1) In the early stage when the acne have just appeared-Apply the paste of nutmeg powder (Jaiphal)in rose water over the acne overnight and rinse with cold water in the morning. They will subside. 2) In the stage where acne are filled with pus and are inflamedApply paste of inner bark powder of neem,turmeric,and red sandalwood powder made in juice of mint leaves for an hour and then wash with normal temperature water. 3) In the stage where pimples have subsided and threaten to leave a mark-Apply the paste of orange peel powder and Fuller’s earth made into a thick paste with rose water for 1015 minutes and then rinse with lukewarm water, everyday for 3-4 weeks.

203


4) Applying a paste of pink lentils made with rose water for 10 minutes and then washing it off helps in making skin acne free. There should be no constipation in a person having acne. So to avoid constipation 1 teaspoonful of trifla powder mixed with 1 teaspoon of isabgol husk can be taken with lukewarm water every night at bedtime.

Kapha skin type Kapha skin types need to use herbs that increase circulation and need to get regular fomentation/ steam bath. For dull complexion use a combination of massage, fomentation/ steam bath and body scrub. Massage gently the skin with mustard oil (warm in winters) giving two minutes to each body part. Take steam bath. Make a paste of Trifla powder, turmeric powder, liquorice root powder and red sandalwood powder (equal proportions) in water and apply all over the body for 10 minutes. Remove the paste by rubbing it off. Take a bath with warm water. For black heads apply mixture of lemon juice and rose water on the affected area overnight or cut lemon into halves and rub over the skin. Leave overnight and rinse by morning. Do for 2-3 weeks. For wide pores in the skin massage the skin with the paste of Trifla in water. Rinse the area and apply paste of red sandalwood and Lodhra powder (Symplocos racemosa) made in rose water. Rinse after 10 minutes. Eat for your glowing skin A quick look at the causes of skin diseases will tell us that the food and its digestion plays a vital role in having a healthy skin. Charakaa advocates the use of easily digestible grains, use of leafy vegetables with bitter taste like fenugreek leaves, bitter

204


gourd, use of cow’s ghee, meats of chicken, goat, turkey grown in open farms (as game meat is no more advisable as advocated),yellow and green (moong) lentil. He keeps heavy -to-digest food items like items made from creams, fried foods etc in avoid list. The use of milk, curd, fish, jaggery and sesame seeds is forbidden if a person has skin disease (but can be consumed as part of balanced diet in case skin is healthy). Some nutrition tips: 1) Persons having Vata skin may benefit by adding cow’s ghee or sesame oil or fresh butter in their diets to restore natural lusture to their skin. 2) People with Pitta skin should avoid having spicy food to avoid irritation to skin. 3) Kapha skin types can have ginger pieces soaked in lemon juice before meals to aid digestion. 4) Fresh leafy greens are good for all skin types. 5) Carrots are good for all skin types and so are fresh juicy fruits. They act as cleansers and nourish the skin from within. 6) To improve digestion, appropriate spices can be used. Vata skin types can have a moderate am ount of turmeric and ginger and garlic and Asfoetida. Pitta skin types can use cooling spices like fennel and coriander seeds (as per Ayurvedic materia medica ‘Raj Nighantu’) powder. Kapha skin types can use pungent spices like dried ginger powder, black and long pepper, turmeric. 7) Water is very essential for skin health as well as overall health. Vata skin types can have it lukewarm, and Kapha can sip it hot and Pitta skin type can take it cool. 205


Pitta skin type can have jam of rose petals called Gulkand as a coolant and a remedy for Pitta type skin diseases. 8) Nuts like almonds, walnuts and raisins in moderation help to moisturize and nourish the skin.

Avoid list: 1) Excessive intake of sesame. 2) Salts other than rock salt (Saindhav). 3) Bakery products and products made from refined wheat flour. 4) Canned, stale, milkshakes with sour fruits. 5) Excessive use of chillies and tamarind. 6) Frog’s meat, prawn, pork, buffalo and camel meats. 7) Excessive vinegar, yeast products, and aerated drinks. 8) Junk food. In addition, a regular good night’s sleep, avoiding retention of natural urges, avoiding constipation, regular oil massage to body, scalp and feet, eating only when hungry, and regular exercise have been advocated strongly by Ayurveda for overall health and beauty of skin. *Earth is in our bones and our vital minerals that keep us healthy.

206


S.No

Tissue system

Characteristics of optimum status of the tissue system

1.

Skin (twak)includes the blood plasma or ‘rasa’

Lustrous skin, unctuous, smooth, soft, clear, with fine, less numerous, deep rooted tender body hair.

2

Blood (rakt)

Unctuous, red, beautiful, dazzling appearance of eyes, ears, face, tongue lips, soles of hands and feet,nails and forehead

3

Flesh (mamsa)

Stable body, optimum body weight, beautiful appearance, fullness of temples, well formed forehead, nape of neck, eyes, cheek, jaws, neck ,shoulders, abdomen, axillae, chest and joints of upper and lower limbs.

4

Adipose (meda)

Abundance of unctuousness of complexion, voice, hair of the scalp, other body parts, nail, teeth lips etc.

5

Bone (asthi)

Robust heels,ankles, knees, forearms, collarbones, chin, head, joints, bones, nails and teeth.

6

Bone marrow (Majja) – also includes nervous tissue

Softness of organs, strength, unctuous complexion and voice, robust, long and rounded joints, Intelligence (Dhi , Dhriti, smritiknowledge, retention power and assimilation and memory)

7

Reproductive (Shukra)

Gentleness and gentle looks, eyes appear as if filled with milk, teeth unctuous, round strong, even and beautiful, clean and unctuous complexion and voice, dazzling appearance, well formed buttocks, Strong.

207


Hair Care and Ayurveda Ayurveda considers hair as the by-product of the metabolism of bony tissue (Asthi Dhatu).As per Ayurveda, the food we take undergoes metabolism by the action of digestive fire at the level of gut and at the level of tissues. Thereby starting from Rasa tissue (blood plasma and lymph) followed by rakta (blood tissue), Masa (flesh tissue), Meda (fat tissue) and finally till asthi (bone tissue), the food gets metabolised and nourishes the tissues, through body channels meant for the particular tissue system called “Strotasa,” in this order. The first tissue system Rasa tissue system receives nutrients by the action of digestive fires on food as ‘aahar rasa’ which divides it into five parts. a) Part nourishing the receiving tissue system b) Part which will be used to nourish next tissue system c) Part nourishing the waste product of the particular tissue system d) Part nourishing the sub-tissue systems of the particular tissue system e) Contributory part to life essence or ‘Ojas” So we can easily infer that for nourishing the hair, food and its nutrients should pass through all these stages till Bone tissue. This process can be disrupted at any stage due to inadequate nutrients, insufficient metabolic fire at the level of gut (Jatharagni) and metabolic fire responsible for breaking macro nutrients (Bhootagni) and /or at the level of tissues (Dhatwagni), and blocked channels due to accumulation of metabolic wastes. Hence mere local application of hair oils, pastes etc offers partial help to nourish the hair. In fact the do’s and dont’s applicable to skin care are more or less advocated in maintaining a disease-free scalp and lustrous hair.

208


What causes hair problems? According to Ayurveda, hair problems can occur if hair is exposed to smoke, harsh sunlight, strong breeze, water and other pollutants. Irregular eating patterns, excessive sweating, unhygienic ways of living, suppression of natural urges, anxiety, depression, chronic ill-health, incompatible foods, intestinal worms and irregular food habits, lack of nutrition and improper assimilation of food. Hair care in general as per dosha type: The quality of hair and scalp like skin also depends partially on the body type and partially on the preponderance of a particular dosha in a person at a given time. Hence hair care (care of the hair roots and hair shaft) and scalp care can be done as per the dosha type. Routine hair care involves application of oil, massaging the scalp and use of herbal cleansers. Vata predominant hair and scalp: Vata kind of hair is dry, curly, tangled and has split ends. The scalp may be dry, itchy and may have dandruff. The Vata-predominant hair requires more frequent warm sesame/castor/sweet almond oil massage. Alternatively herbal sesame or coconut oil based preparations can also be used. Brush hair after massage and wrap in towels dipped in warm water. This can be followed by application of herbal cleanser the next day or after 2 hours. Recipe herbal cleanser (suitable for all hair types) Shikakai (Acacia concinna)-50 gms Soap nut (Sapindus mukorossi)-20 gms Amla-(Embilica officinalis)-10gms Hibiscus leaves and flowers (dried)-40 gms each Fenugreek seeds-10 gms Green gram-20 gms 209


Method of use: Grind all the ingredients into a fine powder and mix sufficient quantity in water and apply to hair rubbing off all the oil and then rinse scalp with lukewarm water. Alternatively, for Vata type, take 100 gms of yogurt with 1 gm of black pepper powder mixed in it can be used as a shampoo, by gently rubbing the mixture into the scalp and hair and then rinsing thoroughly with warm water. It gives luster to dry hair. Pitta predominant hair tends to be oily, with split or clean ends. Premature greying and hair loss is seen predominantly in Pitta types. The hair is thin and flat. The Pitta scalp tends to be red, itchy, and tends to manifest boils, eczema, dermatitis etc. Pitta hair requires gentle massaging with coolant oils like brahmi oil, trifla or am la oil or Bringraj oil. This can be followed by the application of cooling hair pack made from fresh paste of licorice, hibiscus (flowers and leaves), Brahmi, am la, henna leaves etc. Rinse after half an hour with cool water and wrap hair in a clean towel to dry. Kapha predominant hair is lush, full /long, thick, wavy and slightly oily. The scalp is moist full with strong , lustrous hair. The scalp may harbour dandruff (which is a disorder arising out of Vata and Kapha). Kapha hair requires vigorous massage with warm oils that stimulate circulation in the scalp. Followed by an appropriate herbal hair cleanser like the trifla water hair rinse. Trifla hair cleanser: Soak 25 gms of Trifla powder in 250 ml of water overnight and in morning rub the powder so that its essence gets mixed with the water. Sieve and use as a hair cleanse by rubbing it into the scalps and on the hair filaments. Use twice a week. This will keep the Kapha hair and scalp clean. 210


General tips for hair care Apart from the above hair care routine, there are certain do’s and dont’s for keeping the hair healthy. 1. Have a balanced diet as told earlier. Have food at regular intervals. Say no to severe dieting. Avoid canned, processed and junk food. 2. Consume freshly prepared meals. 3. Follow early to bed and early to rise regimen, getting 6-8 hours of sleep. 4. Ensure clear bowels by consuming fibre-rich diet. 5. Exercise regularly. 6. Practice yoga and meditation to combat stress, fatigue, grief etc. 7. Never use hot water to wash hair (it should always be lukewarm or cool). 8. Never brush wet hair. 9. Use home-made herbal hair wash and oils in place of herbal cosmetics available in market as they contain artificial colours, preservatives etc. 10. Certain allopathic medications can be harmful for the hair. So discuss with your doctor. Some common management

hair

problems

and

their

Ayurvedic

1) Dandruff: Dandruff is mentioned as ‘Daarunak’ in Ayurvedic texts. It is thought to be caused due to excess of Vata and Kapha. Treatment: ▪ Paste of seeds of Chironjii or Charoli (Buchanania lanzan),

211


Licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) costus roots (kushta-Saussurea lappa), black gram (masha,Phaseolus mungo) and mustard seeds 1 tablespoon each , mixed with honey is applied to the scalp and kept for an hour followed by a thorough rinse. ▪ Mix 10 gms of camphor in 250 ml of coconut oil and keep aside till the camphor completely dissolves in the oil. Apply the oil after washing the hair with triphala water as described earlier. ▪ Apply the paste of fenugreek seeds mixed with curd on the scalp and keep for an hour and wash. ▪ Classical oil preparations like Dhoordhurpatradi coconut oil, Eladi coconut oil and Nellibhringadii coconut oil are also beneficial in curing dandruff. The oil has to be applied and rubbed into the scalp 2 hours before head bath. 2) Premature graying of hair: According to Ayurveda, prolonged anger, grief and exertion leads to aggravation of Pitta dosha. This increased body heat goes to the head region and cause early graying of the hair. Other factors like intake of Pittta-aggravating foods like excessive alcohol, tea/coffee, sour and spicy food and irregular sleep pattern also contribute to the problem. Remedies: ▪ Paste of sesame seeds, Indian gooseberry(Amla), licorice and honey applied to the scalp nourishes the hair and imparts black colour. ▪ Nasal administration of 3-4 drops of oil of seeds of Neem (Azadirachta indica) every day arrests graying of hair. ▪ Intake of 6 gms of powder of Bhringraaj (Eclipta alba), black sesame seeds, dry am la, and sugar candy taken mixed in equal proportions, empty stomach in the morning with 250 ml milk for 6 months to one year has wonderful results on premature graying and hair fall. ▪ Ayurveda advocates the use of purification therapies

212


like Vaman (induced vomiting), Virechan (purgation) and Shirovasti (holding of oil on head) however, must only be undertaken under the guidance of an Ayurvedic physician. ▪ Regular intake of rejuvenating medicine like Narsimha rasayana, Brahma rasayana, Chayavanprash are very effective in treating premature graying. ▪ Application of medicated oils like Prapundrikadi Cocconut oil, Malthyadi cococnut oil,Kayyunadi coconut oil are effective in arresting premature graying ▪ Use of henna leaves (Lawsonia inermis) as a hair tonic and herbal dye has been in practice in India since ages! Henna delays premature graying and is an excellent natural dye and natural conditioner. It has anti-bacterial and antifungal properties and thus protects the scalp. Traditional henna recipe: 6 table spoon of Henna powder 5 teaspoon of tea decoction 3 tea spoon of lemon juice 2 teaspoon of powder of white Hibiscus leaves 2 teaspoon of powder of red Hibiscus flowers 2 teaspoon of am la powder 2 teaspoon of licorice powder 2 teaspoon of bhrigraj powder 2 teaspoon of Neeli powder (Indigofera tinctoria) Method of use: All ingredients are mixed in water and made into a thick paste and kept in an iron vessel overnight. The next morning the hair is parted in sections and paste is applied to the roots (you could use latex gloves). Hair is covered with a shower cap and kept for 2 hours and then washed thoroughly with water.

213


3) Hair loss and hair fall: Hair loss is named indra lupta (pathchy hair loss) or khalitya (male pattern baldness) in Ayurvedic texts.It is thought to be caused by the obstruction of the nourishing channels of the hair. Other major causes of hair fall are hormonal, nutritional deficiencies and complication due to other diseases (like typhoid fever, hypothyroidism) and medications, stress, chemotherapy and sudden weight loss. Hormone related hair fall may also result from an increased sensitivity of hair follicles to male hormones. The component that is inherited through the genes is termed as Pitta constitution. Treatment: The first step is to avoid Pitta aggravating foods and lifestyles. ▪ A paste of powdered licorice, Blue water lilly (Nymphaea stellata), Murva root (Marsdenia tenacissum), Black sesame seeds, cow’s ghee, Bhringraj (Eclipta alba) made in cow’s milk and applied to bald patches for 1 hour daily. ▪ A paste of powders of Jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi) roots, Kushta (Saussurea lappa), Sariva (Hemedesmus indica), blue water lilly, mixed with milk and honey is applied to scalp for excellent results in hair fall. ▪ Intake of 1 teaspoonful of trifla at bed time with milk or water helps to arrest hair fall. ▪ An Ayurvedic hair oil called Brihat Bhringraj oil prepared as per the text (Siddha Yog Sangrah) has been found very effective in baldness and hair fall. ▪ Application of the paste of the powder of Aerial prop roots of a banyan tree (Ficus benghalensis) made in lemon juice to scalp arrests hair fall very quickly and promotes hair growth. ▪ Internally use of tonics (called Rasayanas) like Narsimha rasayan, BhringrajasavAmare helpfull for promotion of hair growth. Hair needs care and crowning glory can be all yours if you treat it right!

214


NOTES

215


Top 10 everyday problems/ diseases and their Ayurvedic Remedies Ayurveda has its unique and elaborate diagnostic techniques, treatment regimens and purification therapies. It not only offers cure for deep-rooted and complicated disease, requiring the help of an experienced Ayurvedic physician, but also remedies for common day-to-day problems, which a lay person can easily. Some of these common day to day problems are being discussed in the following sections:

1) Acidity All of us have experienced that agonising heart burn after a heavy meal sometime or the other in our lives. But for some it is an everyday problem with lot of belching, burning sensation over the stomach area going all up to the throat with sour water brashes and /or vomiting in severe cases. Ayurveda calls it ‘Amla Pitta” am la meaning sour and Pitta as we know is the digestive fire. So in am laPitta the sour and heat properties (called guna in sanskrit) of digestive fire increases. Causes of Acidity (AmlaPitta) as per Ayurveda: • Intake of excessive sour food items. • Too much intake of spicy and fried foods. • Too much alcohol intake. • Too much intake of fermented products including lot of yogurt.

216


• In addition intake of food over an undigested meal, wrong food combinations like ice cream (or any other milk product) and sour food items like tomato sauce, and even not eating when hungry. • Living near water bodies/sea shore-Ayurveda believes in the effect of the local climate on a person’s digestive fire and doshas. It has been observed that people living near sea shores have more of acidity. • Supressing natural urges-This include urges like urge to pass stools, urine,vomit etc on a physical level and also includes suppressing mental urges to express anger, grief etc. So what can we do to take care of this unpleasant feeling and get relief? Ayurveda suggests simple home remedies and simple herbal combinations which can help us as a self aid. a) If you have a heavy meal and fear that it will trigger a bout of acidity, just keep 1 clove in your mouth and chew slowly, taking in its juice. Repeat after every meal for 2-3 days. It takes care of all symptoms related to acidity. b) In recurrent indigestion, sucking upon 10 gms of jaggery-(a concentrate of sugar cane juice available at Indian stores) after meals helps in controlling sour water brashes. c) A powder of ½ teaspoon of black Myrobalan (botanical name-Terminalia chebula) and jaggery 2gms taken after every meals for few days takes care of the tendency of acidity and improves digestion. d) A 10 gms powder of special variety of roasted rice called ‘Laja or Kheel’ (you can grind it easily in your food processor), available at Indian stores, taken with equal am ount of honey and unrefined sugar powder twice a day before meals helps specially in heartburn. 217


Dietary Dos and dont’s: Dos: -Take freshly prepared food in a calm environment -Wheat, barley and (roasted rice as mentioned above) are recommended cereals -Bitter gourd, banana, pomegranate, Indian goose berry and coconut water is recommended. -Eat only when hungry. Dont’s -Eating while under stress/anger -Fried and spicy foods, newly harvested grains and their products (a unique recommendation of Ayurveda is to use grains after a year of harvesting) -Black lentil -Fermented food products specially made from lentils and chickpeas like Hummus. -Alcohol -Yogurt -Sesame and nuts.

2) Constipation Ayurveda believes that one should pass stools once every day. Constipation can occur due to changes in the consistency of stools or due to defect in the rhythmic squeezing action of large intestine (called peristalsis) or due to some mechanical obstruction in the intestine. Generally speaking, when we talk about constipation we are referring to the first two causes as they are due to derangement in the normal functioning of the body at the level of ‘channels carrying the stools’ as described in Ayurvedic texts.

218


Causes of constipation as per Ayurveda: -Suppression of urge to pass stools. -Untimely food intake – taking food when not hungry or keeping long gaps between two meals, late night dinners. -Sedentary habits -Lack of exercise -Emotions like, grief, fear, anxiety. -Intake of astringent foods -Fasting (including less intake of fluids) -Overindulgence in work Simple remedies for constipation: a) On getting up, drinking 2-4 glasses of water kept in a copper vessel overnight, helps many people in having a proper evacuation of bowels. b) Apply any oil on the abdomen in clockwise strokes followed by a steam bath. Maintain adequate hydration. c) Drinking water at room temperature with 1 teaspoon honey and juice of a lemon or 1 gm rock salt with juice of a lemon in 1 glass of warm water, first thing in the morning, helps you to ease off. d) Soak 2-4 figs in 1 glass of water and night and chew them thoroughly the next morning. Swallow along with water used for soaking. e) Taking Isapgol husk (plantago ovat) or Psyllium husk 1 table spoon with a tea spoon full of Trifla powder (Tri means three, phala, means fruits-combination of dried fruit rind of Indian Gooseberry, Chebulic Myrobalan and Belliric Myrobalan) at night with warm water, helps to make the peristalsis more effective. f) If there is lot of Pitta (read heat) symptoms along with constipation, then taking 1 table spoon of rose petal jam (called ‘Gulkand’)along with 1 teaspoon of fennel after lunch

219


with water helps to cure constipation if taken regularly. g) Taking 1 teaspoon full of Yellow Chebulic myrobalan (Terminalia chebula) with warm water at night helps in people who pass stools in parts and have to visit 2-3 times in morning for complete evacuation. This remedy should be used at a stretch for a month and then other methods like increasing the fiber in the diet, drinking water on getting up and exercising regularly should be resorted to. The remedy can be repeated after a gap of 6 months.

Dietary and lifestyle changes: -Take 2-3 litres of fluids every day. -Drinking 2-3 glasses of water as advised in the morning should be practised daily. -Be physically active. -Ayurveda advocates use of high fiber grains. So avoid refined flours. Instead shift to high fiber whole wheat, barley, rye, oats, quinoa, brown rice etc as a base for breads and pastas. -Add green leafy vegetables in any form in your meals. -Take breakfast by 9 am , lunch by 2 pm and dinner by 8 pm. -Drinking 1-2 glasses of warm water at bed time helps people having dry stools immensely. -Eat easy to digest food and avoid foods that take longer to digest like fried foods and cheese.

3) Flatulence Body releases accumulated gases many times a day as a normal physiological process. But sometimes after taking meals the abdomen bloats up like a balloon and one passes foul-smelling gas throughout the day. This is not only embarrassing but also marks an impaired digestive system and putrefaction of undigested food in the large intestine.

220


This also means that the digestive juices carrying enzymes either are not flowing properly or the Ph of the intestine is not congenial for their proper action. As a result, partially digested food reaches large intestine and is subjected to action of gas forming bacteria. Causes: The causes of flatulence are generally related to wrong food choices and faulty eating habits which leads to indigestion and thereby flatulence. -Eating cold food -Eating lots of raw food like salads and sprouts -Eating again on a full stomach -Intake of wrong combinations of food. -Eating in a hurry or while talking. -Inadequate chewing of food-Ideally each morsel of food should be chewed for 20 – 30 times. -Drinking too much water or fluids and specially along with food-Ideally apart from few sips of water no fluid including beverages should be taken within one hour of taking food. -Eating at improper time like late dinners. -Getting to work desk immediately after taking food-ideally one should stroll for 10 minutes after meals to let the accumulated gases pass. -Eating too much of gas forming foods like baked beans, peas, potatoes etc. -Eating too much – more than 75% of your stomach’s capacity..

221


-Eating while having a bout of anger or under grief or fear. -Remaining awake at night. -Drinking contaminated water. -Remaining in a swimming pool for long after a meal. Ayurvedic remedies for flatulence: The main principle of treatment is to give herbs that improve digestion and facilitates the downward movement of ‘Vata’ dosha. -Dissolve 2 pinches of asafoetida (which is a dried sap of a particular tree) in a tablespoon of water and apply as a thin paste around the navel. Very effective in flatulence of children and adults alike. -Take ½ teaspoonful of Carom seeds and black rock salt each with warm water to get relief from flatulence and pain in abdomen. -To get relief of that heaviness after meals, chew upon 3-4 cardamom and drink ½ glass of water with ½ a lemon squeezed in it. -Drinking 20-25 ml of juice of mint leaves with 20-25 gms of honey in the morning empty stomach, curbs the tendency of gas formation. -Take a glass of butter milk (churn the yogurt in a blender after adding equal am ount of water for 3 minutes. Remove the cream/butter part floating on the top and consume the rest) and add roasted (dry roast lightly in a fry pan on low flame) cumin seeds powder ¾th teaspoonful and Carom seeds powder 1/3rd of a teaspoon, along with 1/4th teaspoonful of black or white rock salt and consume an hour after breakfast or lunch. Curd and its products are not to be taken after sunset as per Ayurvedic dietary recommendations. -Take one dried big variety of European or Californian grape, split it lengthwise, take out the seeds, and place one peeled cloves of garlic in the cavity thus formed. Such two to three

222


grapes with garlic clove inside, can be chewed upon and swallowed after meals to get relief from flatulence. Note: Placing the clove of garlic inside the dried grape helps to mask the pungent taste and strong aroma of garlic and makes it palatable.

4) Burning micturition (burning during urination) Burning during urination is a more common disease in females because of greater likelihood of infection of the urinary tract by pathogens. There are cases when several courses of anti bacterial medicines fail to alleviate the problem completely. In all such cases, Ayurvedic remedies can be tried with gratifying results. Burning micturition is explained under the head of urinary tract diseases having the main presenting symptom of difficulty in passing urine in general and that of one caused by ‘Pitta’ dosha excess . In this particular type, the person passes urine with burning sensation and pain with great difficulty. There is burning in the area of the urinary bladder also. The quantity of urine passed is scanty and the urine is unusually warmer than normal. Causes: The causes as explained in Ayurvedic texts are: -intake of hot and pungent food, -too much exercise, -Transmission of infection through intercourse with an infected partner, -any condition leading to less intake of water, -too much alcohol -Indigestion (leading to aggravation of Pitta dosha)

223


Ayurvedic remedies for burning micturition: -Keeping a wet cloth on the bladder area to alleviate burning sensation and easy passage of urine. -Take coriander seeds and grind finely. Add equal quantity of sugar powder to it. Take in the dose of 6gms daily empty stomach in morning and at about 4pm in the evening, with plain water. Do not eat anything for 2 hours after taking this remedy. Continue for 2-3 weeks. -Freshly prepared paste of onion 1teaspoon taken with a little yogurt for some days twice in a day empty stomach gradually cures burning micturition. -Lemonade made from 1 lemon and 2 teaspoons of sugar in a glass of water reduces burning of urine. -If there is severe burning in urethra, then chewing upon 5-6 basil leaves before breakfast and dinner helps in reducing the same over 3-4 days. -Fresh sugarcane juice, or warm milk with sugar taken twice a day reduces the burning sensation. -Add a pinch of black pepper, and rock salt, and juice of ½ a lemon to ½ cup juice of radish taken twice a day cures burning micturition. -Add to 10 ml juice of Indian gooseberry, 2 teaspoons of honey and a pinch of turmeric powder and have twice a day to remove pus cells from the urine. Dietary Do’s: -Old rice -Barley -Yellow and green lentil -Butter milk -Yogurt -Clarified butter (ghee) -White pumpkin -Indian gooseberry 224


-Dates -Aloevera -Lemons -Adequate intake of fluids. Dietary Dont’s -Dry (read without enough water content) and sour foods articles -Too much of salt -Ginger -Asafetida -Mustard greens -Too much alcohol In addition: -Riding a horse (biking on a rough terrain in modern times) -Suppression of the urge to urinate are forbidden

5) Common cold: Ayurveda defines common cold as a disease originating in the nasal cavity marked by a watery discharge from the nose. The main dosha involved in common cold are Vata and Kapha. Ayurveda believes that due to various causative factors there is a vitiation of the ‘Rasa ‘(body fluids/plasma) tissue and blood tissue which makes the body prone to attack by the precipitating causes leading to a bout of common cold.

225


Ayurveda believes that if the body’s physiology is working properly then the body resists the attack by external pathogens (viruses) and allergens-the two factors considered to be responsible for common cold by modern medicine. Causes of common cold as told by Ayurveda; The causative factors are divided in four categories. a) Factors causing derangement in digestive fire namely: -Excessive intake of food articles which take prolonged time to get digested e.g fried food, food made from concentrated milk etc. -Excessive intake of food with dry property e.g popcorns and other roasted grains b) Factors which make the respiratory system (nasal diseases are thought to be connected to respiratory system) more vulnerable to disease -Repeated exposure to dusty and smoky environment -Abnormal season e.g too much rain in summer season -Change of residence-climate change e.g moving from mainland to seashore c) Factors aggravating Kapha and Vata dosha: -Exposure to dew/snow -Exposure to drafts of air -Remaining awake in night -Constipation -Remaining in pool for long -Bathing in the state of indigestion. -Excessive sex d) Factors that affect the Fluid (rasa) and blood(rakta)tissue systems: -Incompatible food

226


-Eating at wrong times -Eating even when not hungry. -Too much exposure to heat e.g working in sun or before a furnace. -Indigestion Ayurvedic remedies for common cold Ayurvedic treatment: The treatment of common cold is directed at correcting the digestive fire and pacifying the Vata and Kapha dosha. -A herbal tea made from 2gms each of raisins, black pepper, basil leaves, cinnamon bark and licorice roots , 2 gms each to be boiled in 100 ml of water and reduced to half and taken lukewarm after adding 1 teaspoonful of sugar. -Wrapping the head with a cloth/scarf -Take 1 table spoon of Caraway seeds and dry roast them. Wrap in a muslin cloth and make a poultice and do fomentation of forehead and around the nose by gentle dabbing strokes. Also inhale the aroma emanating out of the poultice. This will dry up the nasal secretions, open up the nasal passages and relieve the headache. Avoid exposure to air for half an hour after fomentation. -Take a hot cup of water and add honey (1 table spoon) and lemon (one) juice. Sip slowly. -If cold is accompanied with fever then boil 10-15 crushed mint leaves in a cup of water and ad a pinch of rock salt and sip. Repeat 4-5 times in a day at regular interval. Fever will subside. -If there is lot of shivering then boil 10 crushed black peppers in a cup of water. Reduce to half and take sip by sip. Lay down covering your head and body. Switch off fan etc. This will induce sweating and will take care of body pain, chilliness and watery discharge and heaviness of head -Take fresh 7-11 basil leaves, 2 gms of ginger, 7 coarsely ground 227


black peppers. Put in 200 ml of boiling water for two minutes. Take off the flame and keep covered for 2 more minutes. Sieve and add pre-boiled 100 ml of milk and 1-2 teaspoon of sugar. Take sip by sip and lay down covering yourself from head to toe. This remedy is very effective in taking care of all symptoms related to common cold.

6) Cough Ever got an irritating feeling of something stuck in the throat, or itching of throat with strong urge to clear the throat or difficulty in swallowing food? These could be warning signs or more technically speaking prodromal symptoms of an impending bout of coughing. The main dosha involved in the pathogenesis of cough are Vata (dry cough) and Kapha (wet cough with mucous). A third variety of cough starts due to aggravated Pitta dosha and is accompanied by acidity and could be with or without mucous. Common causes and symptoms of these three types are: Causes of dry type (Vata dominant) cough: -Too much intake of dry, cold and astringent foods (like salads) -Excessive indulgence in sex -Suppression of natural urges -Too much exercise -Smoking Causes of Wet type (Kapha Dominant) cough. -Too much intake of heavy to digest, channel blocking (eg Yogurt at night), sweet and oily foods. -Sleeping excessively

228


-Sedentary habits Causes of Pitta dominant cough: -Excessive intake of pungent, hot, acid forming food -Eating very less quantities of food -Anger -Excessive exposure to sun or fire. How to distinguish between three types?-The symptoms Symptoms of dry cough-Vata dominant -Pain in chest, temples, head and flanks while coughing. -Severe bouts of cough -No mucous with cough -Loss of glow, strength and vitality. Symptoms of wet cough – Kapha dominant -Sensation of coating on tongue in particular and oral cavity in general -Loss of desire to eat -Dull headache -Itching in throat -Thick mucous with coughing. Symptoms of Pitta dominant cough -Burning beneat chest bone -Dryness of mouth -Fever, thirst and paleness of complexion -Vomit of pungent and sour vomit (may be) -Bitter taste of mouth -Yellow / green or frothy mucous with cough. Ayurvedic treatment:

229


The treatment of cough is based on the dosha type and thus first step is to ascertain the dosha type of the cough. Treatment of Vata dominant (dry) cough: Making alum ash at home: Take about 100 gms of alum and keep it on a hot plate. It will start melting and will start turning into a melted mass. Reduce the temperature and turn it upside down. Again increase the temperature. This will give a dry white am orphous mass. Powder the same and store in an air tight container. -Take 10 gms of the said alum ash powder and mix in 100 gms of sugar powder. Divide it in 14 doses. Take one such dose at bedtime with sweetened warm milk. -Powder of equal parts of long pepper and dried ginger (½ teaspoonful) can be licked with 1 teaspoonful of honey to get relief. -Take 1 part of finely powdered black pepper and 4 part of Jaggery. Mix well by pounding them together. Roll the mixture into round tablets of about ½ gm by weight.suck upon 3-4 such tablets in a day. -A popular Ayurvedic powder called ‘Sitopladi powder”can be licked in the dose of 1 teaspoonful with 1 teaspoonful of honey thrice a day to get relief. -Take steamed old rice (harvested a year back) with chicken or mutton soup. Treatment of Kapha dominant (wet) cough: -Take one dose of alum and sugar mixture told earlier with warm water at bed time. -Take 1 teaspoonful of ginger juice and warm it a bit. Mix one teaspoonful of honey to it and lick thrice in a day for 2-3 days. -Suck upon a piece of fruit rind of Belliric Myrobalan, by keeping it in the mouth, to expel the mucous easily and get relief from breathlessness. 230


-½ teaspoonful of powder of equal parts of dried ginger, black pepper and long pepper to be taken with equal part of raw (read unprocessed)sugar (available at Indian stores) twice a day with warm water. -Herbal tea made from whole plant of fresh or dried Yellow berry night shade plant (contains thorns) in the dose of 14 to 28 ml with 1 gm of long pepper powder twice a day -How to make herbal tea-Take 1 part of fresh or dried herb and add 8 times (by weight of herb) water. Boil on a low flame in an open vessel. Reduce to one fourth of initial volume of water. Sieve and use. Treatment of Pitta dominant cough; -A mixture of crushed dates, crushed de-seeded raisins, long pepper powder, roasted rice (called Laja), sugar powder in equal proportion , in dose of 2 teaspoons, can be licked with ½ teaspoonful of clarified butter (ghee) and 1 teaspoonful of honey twice to thrice a day. -Dried Californian grapes (deseeded and crushed), licorice powder, dates (deseeded and crushed), long pepper powder and black pepper powder are mixed together and a tea spoon of this mixture is licked with ½ teaspoonful of ‘ghee’ and 1 teaspoonful of honey thrice a day. -If there is viscous or frothy mucous then taking a laxative at bedtime helps. Ayurveda recommends powder of black turpethum (Operculina turpethum) in dose of 3 gms-5 gms. Dietary and life style do’s and dont’s Do’s Roasted rice, wheat, yellow and black lentils, garlic, raisins, pomegranate, goat’s milk, warm water. Dont’s Fatty food, confectionery, sours foods, yogurt, refrigerated beverages, sleeping in day time, smoking.

231


7) Lumbago or back pain Nowadays with long working hours before the computer, lack of exercise, constipation etc. have led to this common problem of backache. The back becomes stiff particularly after prolonged sitting or after a night in bed. Cause: Ayurveda considers this to be a Vata disorder and mainly the downward going Vata named ‘Apaana’ is involved in this ailment. The aggravation of downward going Vata can occur due to constipation which can be a result of faulty digestion and intake of dry foods and less intake of food. Other reasons could be suppression of natural urges, improper posture, working immediately after taking meals, stress etc are common reasons for the aggravation of Vata leading to stiffness and pain in back muscles. Ayurvedic Treatment: -Massage and fomentation of the back area helps to reduce the stiffness. For massage turpentine oil is very effective. -Constipation is to be relieved for quick and long lasting relief. The best remedy for the purpose is to make a herbal tea of a combination of ten herbs called ‘Dash Mool’ available at health stores or herbal medicines stores and castor oil. The decoction is to be taken in the dose of 25-30 ml with 10 ml of castor oil twice in aday. You may get 1-2 lose motions after taking this remedy but will find it to be very effective in relieving back pain, Take everyday for 7 days and then follow do’s and dont’s mentioned under the heading of constipation, for a long lasting relief. -Herbal tea of dried ginger powder 20-30 ml with 10 ml of castor oil can also be used. -After initial use of castor oil a back-strengthening recipe can be used regularly for a week: 232


Take 60 gms of wheat seeds and 30 gms of poppy seeds and soak overnight in water. In the morning drain the extra water and add 30 gms of sieved coriander seed powder. Grind in a wet grinder. Take out this mixture and boil in 300 ml of milk. When the milk thickens, add some sugar and eat it as you would eat porridge. This recipe taken for 1-2 weeks strengthens the back muscles and alleviates the pain. Do’s and dont’s -Eat only easily digestible food. -Eat kernels of 2-3 walnuts empty stomach every day. -Drink warm water only. If at all cool water is to be taken then put either 4-5 basil leaves or 2 crushed cardamom in a litre of boiling water and let it cool down and drink throughout the day. -Bed tea is to be avoided instead add 1 table spoon of honey to a glass of warm water and have before going to the toilet. Alternatively a coriander seed tea (Add 1 teaspoonful of crushed coriander seeds in 1 glass of water and boil. Reduced to half. Sieve and drink) can be taken. -Avoid fast food and refined floor products as they cause constipation -Do regular back strengthening exercises. -Reduce weight if overweight.

8) Common ailments of the oral cavity Ayurveda explains in detail about the ailments occurring in the upper part of the body which forms a separate branch in itself just like ENT diseases explained in modern system of medicine.

233


Here is a list of common diseases of the oral cavity and their treatment: a) Foul breath: Foul breath can be very embarrassing. Apart from diseases of the gum like Pyorrhoea, it can occur due to indigestion. To take care of indigestion, chewing a clove after every meal for some days improves the digestion, takes care of acidity and cures bad breadth. Alternatively 1 teaspoonful of fennel seeds can be chewed after a meal along with few grains of sugar candy crystals. Rinse the mouth with warm water afterwards. b) Tastelessness or altered/ bitter taste in mouth: Cut a lemon into half and sprinkle a pinch of black pepper powder and 2 pinches of black rock salt over it and warm it up on a hot plate lightly (cut surface downwards). Suck upon it slowly. It normalises the taste of the mouth and increases appetite. c) Apthous mouth: (mouth ulcers) It is due to increased Pitta -Soak 1 teaspoonful of turmeric powder in water for 5-6 hrs. Decant the water and use it for rinsing. -Apply fine powder of black Chebulic Myrobalan over the ulcers and let the saliva drool. Apply twice to thrice a day. -Rinse with tea made from peels of pomegranate or leaves of guava. -Take powder of 1teaspoonful of Trifla at bed time with warm water for a week to reduce Pitta. d) Chapped lips: -Apply cream of milk and a pinch of turmeric over the chapped area overnight. Wash by the morning. -Apply mustard oil or clarified butter (ghee) over the navel overnight. 234


9) Poor eyesight: Eyes are considered to be the most important sense organ. It is the seat of Pitta responsible for visual perception. So any causative agent which antagonises this form of Pitta or envelops it, is responsible for diminished eyesight. Sushruta, the father of Ayurvedic surgery, enumerates general causes of eye diseases viz., that by looking at distant objects for long (like drivers), looking at very minute objects for long, (e.g doing embroidery, sewing work) prolonged weeping, prolonged anger or grief,excessive smoking, having lots of sour food items, suppressing the tears, suppression of urge to urinate or to pass stools, are various causes that aggravate the doshas which ultimately cause eye diseases. Though there is elaborate account of eye diseases and their treatment covering a wide spectrum of eye diseases, the most common area of concern is the ever increasing power of the lens of the spectacles and the stigma attached to the use of spectacles in the first place (particularly the teens and young adults). So can Ayurveda help in improving eyesight? Luckily there are remedies which give good results in improving the eyesight and may even help one to see clearly without the help of spectacles. Ayurvedic remedies: -Corriander leaf juice 7-14 ml to taken with 5-10 gms of honey. -Dried powdered leaves of Gotukola (Centella asiatica) 3-6 gms taken with ghee and honey (in unequal quantities) twice a day. -Decoction of Trifla 14 to 28 ml to be taken with 5-10 ml clarified butter (ghee). Alternatively 2-6 gms of Trifla powder can be given with 5-10 gms of honey. -Trifla is a boon for eyes- Eyes should be washed daily with trifla water in the morning. To make trifla water, soak trifla powder at night in water using an earthen pot . In the 235


morning decant the water and use for splashing on eyes or use an eye wash cup for washing the eyes with this water. -Almonds, fennel seeds, sugar candy equal part by weight are taken and ground into a fine powder.!0 gms of this powder taken at night with 250 ml of milk at night for about two months helps to improve the visual acuity and may help to get rid of spectacles. For children, half the dose (5gms) is used. -In the morning fill your mouth with water and splash tap water on your eyes gently. Release water in your mouth once it becomes warm. Repeat 3-4 times. This refreshes the eyes and is advocated as a part of daily regimen by all Ayurvedic texts. Note: in addition eye muscle exercises with palming of eyes are also helpful. For palming rub your hands vigorously for a few seconds. Close your eyes and cover with warmed up palms for a few seconds.

10) Obesity: An obese person is considered am ong ’condemnable eight’ by Charakaa. As obesity is accompanied by lots of complications and adversely affects almost all systems of the body. An obese person suffers from excessive sweating, hunger and thirst, emits foul smell from sweat, feels general weakness, is unable to do physical work. The complications of obesity are well known as diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery diseases, strokes, arthritis, hormonal imbalances etc. What causes obesity? The triggering factor is sedentary lifestyle along with excessive intake of food that does not get converted into energy completely. Slowly, only the fat tissue system gets nourished and the rest of the tissue systems mainly fluid tissue system, 236


blood tissue, bone tissue, reproductive tissue system are mal-nourished. This leads to aggravation of Vata. On the other hand the highly nourished fat tissue system block the nourishing channels and there by aggravating further Vata dosh. As per Ayurveda, Vata gets aggravated either due to depletion of tissue systems or due to obstruction of channels. Both these pathologies are present in obesity. This aggravated Vata increases the digestive fire like wind turning a minor fire into an inferno. This makes the obese person very hungry, prompting him to eat rich food (read high calorie). Thus a vicious circle is formed. That is why an obese person cannot adhere to diets involving calorie cutting. So what is the answer?? Ayurveda advocates the use of food articles that are low in calorie but have a higher satiety property and take time to digest. Treatment principles of obesity in Ayurveda: During the sequential nourishing cycle of tissue system first comes fluid tissue, then blood then flesh ,then fat , then bone, then bone marrow (nervous system), then reproductive system and finally the essence called OJAS. In obesity the nutrients reach the fluids and blood tissue system in large quantity and are not fully digested/ utilized by their respective metabolic fires and also because of sedentary life style the muscle tissue is also inactive and thus the nutrients reach fat tissue and nourish it due to some physiological changes in the fat tissue fire (here the role of genes can be thought of which predispose a person to accumulate fat) and does not fully get burnt and metabolised to nourish properly the subsequent tissue systems. The subsequent tissue i.e bone, marrow (includes nervous system ) tissue and reproductive tissue are depleted. That is why we see more of osteoporosis, hormonal disturbances and lower memory/intelligence (in general) in obese people. Here the tissue digestive fires are

237


depleted and the digestive fire of the gut is increased due to the action of Vayu (particularly the one that is active in stomach area-‘SAmANA’). So the approach to obesity management is three pronged: 1) To increase the tissue metabolic fires mainly the muscle, and fat tissue fires.-Through exercise and dry powder massages. 2) To control the digestive fire-by using low calorie foods that take time to digest. 3) To tame the increased Vata by medicated enemas and by nourishing the depleted tissues systems and reducing the blockage of channels by excess fat tissue. Complicated? Yes it is and needs patience and time both on part of the physician and the patient. Some effective Ayurvedic remedies and therapies: -Pure honey that is collected by bees in the wild is a simple effective remedy to increase the tissue metabolism of fat tissue. Take 15-20 gms in same am ount of room temperature water (NOT A GLASSFULL!!) twice a day. This remedy is widely used but many people do not get results due to the dubious quality of honey. -Powder of two Ayurvedic herbs namely Nut grass (Cyprus rotundus) and Embelia (Embelia ribes) taken in dose of 3 gms each twice a day with warm water before lunch and dinner, helps to reduce circulating fat in the blood, improve fat metabolism and thereby reduce obesity if taken regularly for 5-6 months. They can be ordered online. -If one is very obese (and not just overweight) then a course of a purified raisin called Guggulu can be taken in the dose of 1-2 gms twice a day with warm water for 1-2 months. Avoid it in summer season. -Powder of seeds of Embilia, fruit rind of Indian goose berry, dried ginger and barley pearls in equal proportions and taken in dose of 6gms twice a day with 4-6 gms of honey

238


twice a day. -Massaging the body with Trifla powder against the direction of body hair helps to improve the tissue fire of Fat tissue and gives inch loss. -Medicated enemas under the supervision of an Ayurvedic doctor are advisable. A full course is recommended for substantial results. Do’s and Dont’s Do’s: -Exercise regularly -Sleep for 6 hrs only. -Diet-1 year old rice (brown variety is better), barley, yellow, green and pink lentils, roasted brinjal, butter milk (churned yogurt with cream taken out),lean meats. Dont’s -Sleeping in day time -Sauna bath (only obese, but overweight person can have) -Sedentary life style. -Cold bath -Consumption of yogurt. -Dietary dont’s-Black lentil, red meat,freshly harvested rice, wheat and its products, milk and milk products except butter milk, fried and sugary foods. -Refined cereals in general.

239


Sample Meals For The Doshas Basic rules for Ayurvedic meals: -Eat seasonally. Favor fresh foods that are in season, and keep in mind the weather to stay in balance. For example: Eat more soups and warming foods during Vata season (Fall/Winter) and more salads and cooling foods during Pitta season (summer). -Include all six tastes in each meal to feel more satisfied: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent. -Favor tastes for your particular dosha in each meal. Vata: sweet, sour, salty. Pitta: sweet, bitter, astringent. Kapha: Bitter, pungent, astringent. -Eat only until ½ to ¾ of your stomach’s capacity. Don’t stuff yourself. Allow some room for maximum digestive power. -Watch your food combinations. -Vegetarian meals are preferred. When you’ve got a family with different doshas, you can personalize each meal for each person with a few minor adjustments. Here are some examples:

Sample meals Breakfast: Oatmeal

Vata: Add brown sugar or maple syrup, warm soy or almond milk, sliced almonds. Slice of warm sourdough bread with ghee. Vata tea, or ginger tea. 240


Pitta: Add coconut milk, cardamom, sunflower seeds. Slice of whole wheat toast with ghee. Pitta tea, or rose tea.

Kapha: Add rice milk, cinnamon, a few pepitas or pumpkin seeds. Slice of rye toast. Kapha tea, cinnamon tea or ginger tea.

Lunch: Pasta with seasonal sautĂŠed vegetables

Vata: Season with Vata Churna (spice blend), add cooked onion. Pitta: Season with Pitta Churna, add fresh cilantro or/or alfalfa sprouts. Kapha: Season with Kapha Churna, add fresh cooked broccoli.

241


Dinner: Mung Bean Dahl

Vata: Add Vata Churna to the Dahl, serve with sweet potatoes, and zucchini.

Pitta: Add Pitta Churna to the Dahl, serve with brown rice and a small salad.

Kapha: Add Kapha Churna to the Dahl, serve with barley, and chard.

.

242


10 Bad Habits You’ve Gotten Into And How to Correct Them 1. You stay up too late. Ayurveda says that it is best to get to bed by 10 pm. This is when Pitta time starts. When we go to bed before 10 pm we have the energy of Kapha working for us. Kapha energy is slow, relaxed, and mellow. It helps us to fall asleep more easily. If we stay up past 10 pm we’re into Pitta time, which is “work” time – it’s more sharp, and it stimulates our thinking, it’s harder to turn off our brain. 2. You eat yogurt and fruit as a healthy snack. In Ayurveda fruit should always be eaten by itself, and never combined with dairy. This combo wreaks havoc on our digestion. Have yogurt alone, or fruit alone, but never put the two together. 3. You eat your largest meal in the evening. The digestive fire is strongest around noon, so it is best for our digestion to eat our largest meal at lunchtime. This also gives us more hours in the day to assimilate that meal and burn those calories. If we eat too late at night we don’t have am ple opportunity to digest and it’s harder to get to sleep. 4. You wake up and check your messages. First thing in the morning is the best time to meditate, to transition into your day. Going straight to technology is abrupt, you’re setting out with stress and probably getting so busy you

243


forget to meditate. Meditate first and the rest of the day falls into place nicely. 5. You avoid the sun. Holed up in an office all day you can sometimes forget what time it is. At times the only light that shines on your face is the glare of a computer monitor. Make sure you take some time for fresh air and sunshine. It’s healing, balancing, and grounding to get outside and back to nature, even for a little bit. 6. You eat ice cream for dessert. It’s not bad to have a little something after a meal – but ice cream is cold and totally puts out the digestive fire that you desperately need. Better to eat something warm and cooked, just a small bite to polish off that meal. And if you’re going to have a full-on dessert, have it after lunch rather than after dinner, so that you have more time to digest. 7. You exercise until you’re worn out. That “no pain, no gain” mentality has been drilled into us, but it’s actually counterproductive. When we get worn out, it takes longer to recuperate. Ayurveda tells us to exercise to ½ to ¾ of our capacity, and gradually that capacity will increase. Stop exercising while you still have some energy left to recover. 8. You don’t exercise enough. It’s important to move your body every day. The am ount you move will vary individually by your dosha, but walking is good for everyone, and yoga is good for everyone. Work one of these into your daily routine and then also practice the exercise routine recommended for your dosha.

244


9. You’re on your computer up until bedtime. Technology like the computer or television stimulates the brain, making it more difficult to drift off into a relaxed state before sleep. Ayurveda says to use the hour or two before bed to transition into sleep by taking a bath, reading, listening to music, doing restorative yoga poses, or spending time with your family or pets. 10. You’re not cleaning your mouth. Sure, you’re brushing your teeth, but are you cleaning your tongue? Ayurveda recommends using a tongue scraper to help get rid of all the bacteria that builds up in your mouth. There is more and more evidence about the mouth/body connection, and how bacteria in the mouth can cause gum disease, which can lead to heart disease. Keep your mouth, and your breath, as clean and fresh as possible with this simple tool.

245


Nadi Pariksha (Pulse Diagnosis) By Lissa Coffey Pulse Diagnosis in Ayurveda is known as Nadi Pariksha. Basically in pulse diagnosis, the Ayurvedic practitioner is reading, feeling, or listening to the energy that is flowing through the nadis, or channels that carry energy throughout the body. There are approximately 72,000 nadis running through the body and each serves a purpose. It is similar to mapping out our nervous system. There’s no way we can measure all of the nadis, but know that they play an important role in the state of our health. Besides the nadis, the texts talk about the five sensory nerves that carry impulses from the periphery, or the environment, to the center. These are Sabda (hearing) Sparsha (touching) Roop (vision) Rasa (taste) Gandh (smell). In addition, there are five motor nerves, that start from the center and discharge impulses into the environment. These are: Vak (speech) Pani (reception by hand) Pada (locomotion by legs) Payu (excretion) Upastha (procreation) It is important to understand the full implication of nadi pariksha. It is not just to study the pulse that is present in the wrist. Nadi science is the science of the nerves, which includes the study of all of the life processes. The presence of a pulse is evidence of life.

246


Nadi gets influenced by various conditions affecting the physiology of the body, especially the three doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. The dhamani or the nadi we use to “read� the pulse refers to radial artery. Its motion indicates the rate or the rhythm of the pulse, the size and condition of the arterial wall and the volume of blood that flows through the artery, and also the force with which the blood flows. The or the motion of this nadi also indicates the balance or imbalance of the three doshas. Pulse diagnosis is performed by an Ayurvedic practitioner to determine the imbalance of one or more of the doshas. Pulse diagnosis itself is a very detailed science. It is not the counting of the pulse rate, as we generally think of in western medicine. It takes a lot of study, practice and experience to really feel all the subtle motions that take place in the pulse.

247


The nadi examination is based on three parameters: 1. The size or volume of the pulse denotes the condition of the blood vessel wall and the lymphatic system. It also tells us about the condition and strength of the heart. The size is a clue to how much Kapha is present. 2. Number or rapidity of the pulse indicates the condition of the circulatory system and metabolism. It helps us to determine how much Pitta is present. 3. Rhythm or regularity of the pulse indicates the condition of the nervous system and helps to determine the am ount of Vata present. The doshas are influenced by the climate, the time of day, the food that has been recently eaten and more so all of this needs to be taken into consideration when reading the pulse. The movements of the nadi are compared to those of various birds and reptiles as mentioned by various rishis. In Vata, the pulse movements are be compared to the movement of a snake, creeping, and wavy. In Pitta it will be like the movement of a frog, jumpy. And in Kapha the movement is like that of swan, steady, heavy and gentle. When taking a patient’s pulse, the practitioner will use the right hand of a man, and the left hand of a woman. This is because the Ayurvedic texts say that the nadi chakra (nerve plexus) differs in males and females. It is said that this kurma chakra is faced upwards in women and downwards in men. Hence here makes the difference in the pulse pattern in either of the sexes. Yoga ratnakar text has given three reasons for continuing this practice: Science, tradition, and personal experience. It has been the practice for generations to test the pulse in the right hand for a man and left hand for a woman. However, some practitioners find it useful to test either wrist and may use either one successfully to read the pulse.

248


In assessing the three dosha i.e. Vata, Pitta and Kapha it is much easier to evaluate a pulse by using three fingers rather than one. Vata is established by the tip of the index finger of right-hand, placed on the radial artery next to the root of the thumb of the patient and that Pitta pulse should be studied by the touch of the tip of middle finger placed next to it and that the Kapha pulse by touch of the tip of the ring finger placed to the middle finger on the artery. The minimum time required for a pulse examination is said to be 30 beats. A well-practiced Ayurvedic practitioner may take a very short time in reaching to the diagnosis. The time taken for testing the pulse can not be restricted in a rule as it depends upon many conditions like tact and skill of the physician. The hand of the patient should be free and slightly flexed at the forearm, so that the left hand of the physician, the 3 fingers of the right hand, namely the index finger, the middle finger and the ring finger of the physician gently touch the skin over the radial artery. The index finger is comfortably placed nearest the thumb and the other two fingers are placed next to it. The hand of the thumb should not be relaxed. The pulse can vary if a person is hungry, thirsty, sleepy, emotional, has been exposed to the sun, or has engaged in physical activity. All of these things must also be taken into account when reading the pulse.

249


Text companion  
Text companion  
Advertisement