Panchakarma – Mind Body Healing & Detoxification


Pancha means five and karma means action. It is a peculiar mind-body healing experience designed to clear toxins from the body at the deepest level, nourish the immune system, and re-instate good health and balance. It is one the best and effective healing methodology in Ayurvedic Medicine. It involves detoxification and rejuvenation of the body and is a safe and natural way of cleaning the body from harmful toxins. It also opens various energy channels and restores proper digestion. It is often recommended on a seasonal basis and or when an individual is experiencing illness or is out of balance.

Five main methods of Panchkarma you should know:

The five principle techniques for panchakarma are:

1. Therapeutic vomiting (vamana)

2. Purgation (virechana )

3. Enema therapy (niruha basti for medicated enemas and anuvasana basti for oil enemas)

4.Nasal cleansing (Nasya)

Depending on the health problem, at least one of these modalities is utilized to purify the body and promote healing.

These methods or a combination of them aids in strengthening the procedure to purify all the impurities, free negative feelings and energy flow, and lessen cellular inflammation and toxic development from the body. Other than panchakarma treatments and massage therapies, therapists and masseurs frequently select specific essential oils and natural herbs to purify and nurture the body at the deepest cellular level.

Read why you should undergo a Panchkarma Treatment:

Stress, pollution and poor lifestyle decisions make a toxic load on the body that if left in the tissues and circulatory system brings about weakness. Panchakarma alters this degenerative procedure rapidly and its results are regularly significant and long lasting. Panchakarma uses an amalgamation of massages, herbal saunas, special foods and nutritional directives, mellow fasting and colon treatments to free the body from accumulated toxins.

A panchakarma program starts with an intensive examination of the body by an Ayurvedic physician, which empowers him to prescribe a program customized to your individual well-being. It is very important for an individual to consult a qualified Ayurveda physician/Vaidya in order to undergo a Panchakarma therapy. It is only a qualified Ayurveda physician who can understand your prakriti (constitutional type) and recommend appropriate therapies according to the health issues you must be facing. As your panchakarma therapy advances, you will be given a special diet amalgamated with specific herbs and essential oils to use at home. This will help refresh your liver and digestive tract by cleansing it of any toxins present in it or inside the body.

Benefits of Panchakarma:

1. Evacuates toxins and negative energy from the body and mind, which can result in laziness, emotional imbalance and interminable medical issues

2. Increases energy, physical strength and mental balance

3. Strengthens immune system and helps recoup from sickness

4. Turns around the negative impact of stress on body and brain

5. Enhances self resilience, strength, vitality, and stops the ageing process

6. Achieves profound relaxation, feeling of internal peace and sentiments of harmony

Panchakarma medications consider detoxifying each of the seven layers of tissues, or dhatus, as they are called in Ayurveda. The seven dhatus of the body are plasma, blood, muscle, fat, bone marrow and nerves, and reproductive tissues. It takes no less than seven days to reach and purify the most profound level of tissue.

Appropriate nutrition, lot of water, additional rest and listening to your body are prescribed as the body experiences a profound internal reset. It is characteristically occasional and not prescribed in the late spring or winter. Or maybe, it is most effective in fall or spring. Various Ayurvedic home remedies can prove helpful to balance doshas (Ayurvedic Body Types) which are formulated using medicinal plants. Length of a Panchkarma program can change according to the various needs of an individual.

 

Dinacharya – Ayurvedic Daily Routine


Dinacharya

The secret to happy and healthy living lies in living a stress-free and healthy routine. The tradition of dinacharya (every day schedule), as mentioned in Ayurveda, can help enhance your overall health and well-being. ‘Din’ means ‘day’ and ‘acharya’ means to ‘follow’. Ayurveda emphasis on the fact that in order to lead a disease-free life, one should tune their body to the nature’s master cycle which in turn will help regulate the rhythm of the body.

Benefits of dincharya:

  1. Disciplines the mind and body
  2. Aids in digestion
  3. Helps establish a balanced constitution
  4. Makes one feel healthy, fit and happy
  5. Relaxes the body
  6. Keeps one energetic & active through the day
  7. Increase’s the body’s strength to fight aliments & diseases

Embracing an appropriate routine is without a doubt a standout amongst the most grounding and nurturing things you could do for yourself. Keeping in mind that the idea of having a daily routine is at the core of an Ayurvedic way of life, no single prescription is appropriate for everybody. The general format can and ought to be adapted to address the issues of every individual’s constitution and current state of balance.

Morning Dinacharya:

  • Wake up early in the morning, ideally before the sunrise to feel peace of mind and bring freshness to the senses.
  • Drink a glass of warm water with lemon out of a copper container
  • Splash your face and mouth with cold water and rinse your mouth. Wash your eyes with cold water and then massage them by gently rubbing them. Blink your eyes 7 times and rotate your eyes in almost all the directions
  • Scrape your tongue with a tongue scrapper to purify your mouth and sense of taste. It also helps to fortify digestion and elimination of bacteria
  • Brush your teeth with herbal tooth powder or paste
  • Empty bowels and bladder, preferably in the first hour of waking
  • Do 10-15 minutes of morning yoga followed by 15-30 minutes of brisk walking or any other form of rigorous exercise
  • 5-10 minutes of breathing activity (Pranayama)
  • 5-15 minutes of meditation must be performed at the end of the exercise routine as it helps bring the mind, body and soul in harmony to one another and enables the mind to stay active through the day
  • It removes sweat and dirt, brings energy to the body & freshness to the mind.
  • Perform oil pulling! Rinse herbal coconut or sesame oil in your mouth for 10-15 minutes while showering.
  • Breakfast: eat light breakfast, a stewed apple or pear with cereal followed by a glass of milk is ideal.

Midday Dinacharya:

  • Lunch: Have a nutritious meal of pulses, fresh salad, vegetable and chapatis. Try not to overeat.
  • Do not lie down immediately after lunch
  • Go for a short walk of 10-15 minutes or do some chore that would involve physical labour to aid digestion
  • Briefly lie down to rest your body and relax yourself. A power nap of 15-20 minutes is enough to refresh you.

 

Evening Dinacharya:

  • Once you reach home try and relax your body and senses by performing meditation for 10-15 minutes
  • Play some soothing music in the background as it will help you focus better
  • Do few yoga asana and breathing exercises
  • Have a light meal of soup made of lentils or rice. Remember to keep your dinner light as it will help you sleep better and keep any digestive problem at bay
  • Go for a short walk post dinner (10-15 minutes) to aid digestion
  • Go to bed by 10pm

From an Ayurvedic point of view, following this dinacharya aligns you to nature’s rhythms every day. For example, exercising is most ideal in the morning, between 6am and 10am, when the body is in its kapha stage and is naturally at its strongest. Eating the biggest meal of the day at noon aligns with the pitta time of day, from 10am until 2pm, when the stomach related fire is strongest.

Between 2pm and 6pm, which is the vata time of day, the nervous system is most dynamic. So, it is advantageous around this time to do calming exercises like yoga and meditation. Also various ayurvedic products & ayurvedic home remedies prove useful to balance doshas.

How To Chose Your Best Option From Unending List of Herbal Remedies


How to choose the best option for yourself from a multitude of herbal remedies ?

There are so many herbal remedies available online that probably one cannot try everything in one lifetime. Besides, there are contradictory suggestions about many things. Some say one should have fruits after food, some advice taking fruits before food.

Also we see a lot of everyday examples of violations of health habits, but some people survive them for decades yet they stay healthy. At the same time, there might be health freaks who suffer from multiple disorders. So, to decide what is good for you, might look very complicated sometimes. Therefore, many people skip health planning completely on this excuse. But actually it is very simple to choose your best options. Only problem is that we love complications! Anything complicated only is capable to drug our intellect/ ego and command respect.

So let’s take the first step – appreciate simplicity.

Know Your Prakrati

Second step is to know your Prakruti. Everything starts with “know thyself”. You should know about the person you are trying to treat or keep healthy – yourself. Sometimes, people have over expectations from their bodies; sometimes they subject their bodies to countless hit and trials and sometimes they just don’t care about their bodies. All extremes are wrong. Knowing your body is like knowing your car. You cannot expect a sedan to suddenly develop features of a sports car. You should know your possibilities and assets, know your prakrati.

Prakrati calculation is very easy. There are many websites that provide with online prakrati calculation tools.

After using the prakrati calculation tools, you would know the most probable tridosha combination of your prakrati. In normal body conditions, this calculation is correct. However, there might be some variations due to any physical or mental disease. Therefore it is always good to refer to a learned Ayurveda physician. According to Ayurveda ethics, no physician should charge for inspection or advice. Fee should be charged only for medicine. So ideally a learned physician might be freely available.

One of the major problems that comes with self prakrati calculation is that we might be biased towards results or have preconceived ideas about our body conditions. Here a physician will be definitely helpful.

Here is a link of my personal questionnaire for your ease. The responses to this questionnaire are not automated. They are examined by Ayurvedic physicians free of cost.

Prakrati Parikshana Questionnaire

After this questionnaire, you would know whether you own a sedan or a racing car!

Choosing Right Herbal Remedy For Yourself

Third step is to appreciate our uniqueness. We should love ourselves because we are unique in all senses. Everything from our eye color to the finger prints is absolutely unique. Therefore our health solutions cannot be same for all.

Nature has provided us with such a fabulous variety of edibles which helps us to choose the best options for ourselves. Every food item is beneficial, harmful or neutral towards each one of the 3 dosha. After knowing your prakrati, you should know which food items are best suited to your tridosha combination. It is just like different requirement for each car.

The easiest way, to know whether a food item is good for you or not, is to check presence of different pacifying qualities for each dosha in it. If the relevant qualities are present in the food item, then it is good for you.

Rasa (taste)

Rasa is the taste of the substance. There are 6 types of rasa – Sweet, Sour, Salty, Bitter, Pungent and Astringent.

If you have a vata dominant prakrati – sweet, sour and salty are the best rasa for you.

If you have a pitta dominant prakrati – sweet, bitter, astringent will be better than rest.

If you have a kapha dominant praktati – go for bitter, pungent and astringent rasa

Guna (qualities)

For vata prakrati go for hot(tendency and not necessarily temperature), oily substances.

For pitta go for cool temperament substances.

For kapha, go for hot, rough, dry, light substances.

So if you have long list of herbal remedies for indigestion, for example

Apple cidar vinegar

Fennel seeds

Ginger

Baking Soda

Carom seeds (Ajwain)

 

For vata prakrati choose ginger because it is hot and opposes main guna of vata that is cold.

For Pitta prakrati choose fennel seeds because they have a cooling sweet temperament. However for other prakrati types they will not be as effective because they are not compatible.

For kapha prakrati choose carom seeds for their astringent taste and dry temperament.

Please find an indicative list of beneficial herbs for each dosha.

Ideal Herbs According To Prakrati

Satmya ( Compatibility)

Satmya means something that is naturally favourable or comfortable for the body.  It is said that even if something is not compatible to the human body in general, after exposure for a long time, starting with small quantities; the body makes physiological changes to adapt itself to that particular substance. It can be anything, from excessive salt in food to poison.

Curd is absolutely forbidden at night according to Ayurveda because it is believed to increase susceptibility to upper respiratory tract infections. But south Indian meal is never complete without curd, whether it be lunch or dinner. And still most of them have no chronic cough and cold.  It is because after long repeated exposure to habit of eating curd at night, body adjust itself to it and stays healthy with it.

So if a health habit or a food item is compatible to you, there is no need to change it just because others are doing something else.

Priya (Liking )

Now if your prakrati is pitta dominant, sweet and cool things are best for you, but what if you don’t like sweets. Should you try to eat sweets just because they might be healthy for you ? Actually no, have mint instead if you like it better. This is the most important thing is the third step – love you choices.

Respect your desires and our mind. There is a huge amount of religious literature telling us that the mind should be kept under strict restrictions to be healthy. But to be successfully healthy, we need to become more sensitive towards the rightful desires of mind. Instead of restriction, guided control is the real effective measure. When you are hungry you should eat food. In fact you should always eat something that makes you happy. I am not advicing you to get addicted to junk food, but even if you follow the same rule for junk food, after a time you would start loving more healthy food because of the unhealthy results of junk food. But that is a long twisted way to health, might take more than a lifetime to reach your destination.

There is such fabulous variety of edibles and their preparations that definitely there must be something healthy that tickles your taste buds too. You should try to find that and eat the Healthy food you love! The sense of satisfaction derived after eating a tasty meal is the key to proper digestion and assimilation of food. What is the benefit if you have something very healthy but is not absorbed by the body.

So eat what you love and love what you eat !

Dosage

According to ayurvedic medicine, all organs of one body are different from another body. Therefore there should not be an exact standardization of food or Medicine intake according to age or weight or other factors. Our body is the best measuring tool for the right amount of food or Medicine for us. For example , if a person should have a handful of rice, than the his hand is the best measuring tool because everyone’s size of hand will be different from the other, but in proportion to his body and thus his needs. One pinch will contain slightly different amount of salt for different people but in exact proportion as is required by their individual bodies. Therefore if I were to tell you to have 100 gms of rice in a meal, probably I will not be as precise as when I would tell you to have one handful of rice for a meal.

The idea is to appreciate that our body is the best reference point for its needs.

Therefore if you have indigestion with vata dominant prakrati, take a pinch of salt and a finger full of carom seeds with water precisely.

Asana According To Ritucharya


Exercise Routine According to Seasonal Ritucharya

Important recommendations on exercise routine are:

  • Keep shorter period of exercise with less exerting exercises during summer and rains, longer during autumn, winter and fall.
  • Focus more on yoga and breathing exercises during the summer and rains, as they are easy to do and do not put extra load on temperature maintenance system of the body.
  • For mental health, meditation should be essential part of daily routine.
  • Try to have food sitting on the ground, in sukhasana or vajrasana.
  • After eating food, sit for some time (5-10 min) in Vajrasana.
  • Sharad is the ideal time to start body building, which can be continued throughout the year in a regulated way.
  • Shavasana should be done at the end of any exercise, to bring back body to the normal metabolism rate.
  • Yoga Nindra is very effective for all Dosha and should be practiced daily, before sleep preferably.

There are multiple good websites to find the relevant yoga poses. Some suggested websites (indicative) are–

List of asana – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

List of Yoga Poses | Step-by-Step Instructions for Asanas – Yoga Journal

Complete List of All Yoga Poses And Asanas | Workout Trends

Morning Drink According to Season and Prakruti


Best time to wake up is before sunrise. It is like to be prepared for the show before the spotlight falls on you J

This is true for all Prakruti and seasons. Before sunrise the Dosha or body metabolism is in an ideal balanced state. Our body is almost like the body of a new born, after the night long internal cleansing and detoxification of the body organs.

Kapha Dosha is easily vitiated in people who sleep late in the morning.

After waking up in the morning, people of all prakruti should drink 2-5 glasses of water according to individual capacity and comfort. Vata and Kapha prakruti people should take normal or lukewarm water according to the season. It is like washing your intestine in the morning before food enters it.

Unless you are hungry in the morning, you should have a drink as the first food intake and not solids, just like a new born. An appropriate drink will rinse away all unwanted elements from your intestines and balance any vitiated dosha. If you are hungry, definitely you should have something to eat as well. Otherwise eating should begin with proper breakfast, after sunrise. Sun influences our bio rhythm and affects digestion.

Below are multiple options for morning drink. One should experiment and choose the one which suits her/him the best

Morning Drinks According to Ritucharya

http://ritucharya.wordpress.com


Seasonal Food


Good Food and Bad Food

Keeping in mind that food cannot be cooked separately for all persons in a house, Charak describes the food quality that should be taken regularly for all seasons and all prakruti, along with food that should be used very rarely by all prakruti individuals.

Food that should not be eaten regularly

  • Dried Meat
  • Dried Vegetables

 

Charak uses the word “abhyas” which means practice. It is very convenient and sometimes cheap to store dried meat or vegetables for easy use. But such products should not be used every day.

Food that is naturally juicy, when consumed in dried form tends to absorb extra water from the intestines for getting into its original digestible form.

It is said that such food takes a long time to get digested and after digestion does not fuel the digestive fire, instead leaves it weaker.

Let us take the example of putting sand on the fire, sand does not burn but brings down the intensity of fire.

Instead, meat or vegetables stored in pickled form are oiled, tender and better option for easy cooking than the dried ones.

Food that should be used rarely (example maximum once in a week for a healthy young person) –

 

  • Food cooked in mixture of milk and curd/yogurt etc.
  • Pork (Red meat)
  • Beef (Red meat)
  • Fish
  • Buffalo meat
  • Urad Dal ( Black gram)

Ayurvedic hypothesis is that the food items listed above diminish digestive fire and release more toxins than nutrients during their digestion. Only person with extremely good digestion power is able to absorb proper nutrition from them. Let us assume that it is like putting damp wood in the fire, which takes a long time to get burnt, produces a lot of smoke while burning and still does not get burnt properly.

According to Ayurveda, milk and curd are different in constitution and so is their digestion process. If we cook raw rice with already cooked rice then the cooked rice will be over cooked and lose its nutrition, or in another way the raw rice will not get cooked properly and will not be absorbed. When something is not properly absorbed in the body, it starts to putrefy and produce contaminants. Digestion of milk and curd together produces incompatible substances, which might not be easily absorbed, producing more toxins.

Beef and Urad Dal (Black gram) are described to be very dry and liable to cause diseases related to Vata Dosha. Beef is more hazardous than Urad Dal (Black gram) since its digestion is more difficult as compared to Urad Dal.

 

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, a part of the World Health Organization, red meat might have carcinogenic effect on humans, with possible risks for colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancerGastric cancer, and prostate cancer

Urad Dal (Black gram) is an important constituent in idli/dosa batter and also as flavouring in south Indian cuisine. Since it is used in fermented form, it changes its dry constitution, becomes slimy and more easily digestible. Use of Urad Dal as flavouring is a very miniscule part of the entire meal, so its effect is balanced by other constituents such as asafoetida, mustard seeds, Methi seeds (fenugreek seeds). Plain boiled Urad Dal also should be flavoured by Vata reducing herbs like asafoetida, mustard seeds etc. even when you are eating it once in a while.

It is important to note that the food passes through the digestive tract (stomach, intestines) and is kept there for a specific period or till reaching a specific condition, whichever parameter is reached first.

For example the food is kept in stomach till the ph. reaches a certain point or ideally for 1-2 hours. Similarly there is a time range of digestion in intestines also.

 

Sometimes because of wrong food choices, the body is not able to digest the food in stipulated time. It can be because of incompatible food combinations, heavy food or large amount of food or everything combined. So the food is held in the body for longer duration. The flip side is that food purification starts if the food is held in the body for a longer time or the amount or quality of digestive juices is not enough to cover the digestion and preservation requirements. The sugar in undigested or under digested food gets fermented and creates toxins, gas, bloating etc. Also the body energy is distracted and wasted in fighting any infection or discomfort arising out of this condition.

If this happens regularly, the person becomes more prone to diseases and faster aging.

So it is very important to see that the right food in right amount goes inside your body.

Food that should be taken in minimum quantity

3 things are covered under this heading in Charak Samhita

Pippali (Long pepper)

Acids

Salt

Pippali or long pepper is used in many ayurvedic medicines. According to Charak, it should not be used independently everyday as a practice, because it has a tendency of causing phlegm, is said to vitiate Kapha and pitta and does not pacify vata also. It is beneficial to use Pippali only for a short duration, when prescribed by a physician.

Acidic food products such as aerated drinks, canned food, Tamarind, Vinegar, soya sauce, citric acid etc. should not be used in large quantity every day. They can be used as flavouring or seasoning agent in minimum required quantity. Also elderly people should refrain from using such sour tasting edibles, because they vitiate vata and cause joint pain.

Excessive use of acids cause early hair fall, damage to eye sight and impotence. It is interesting that Charak Samhita specifically mentions that people of eastern countries (China, Thailand etc.) use too much of acid in the food and that causes the specific facial features found in them.(Charak Samhita : Viman Sthana – 17)

Salt should be used in minimum possible quantities. According to Charak, excessive use of salt causes weakness and low stamina in the body, baldness, early hair whitening and wrinkled skin.

Food that should be used every day

  • Rice
  • Moong Dal (Green gram)
  • crystalized sea salt(Saudha Salt)
  • Gooseberry (Amla)
  • Jowar (Sorghum or white millet)
  • Evaporated and condensed water(pure water)
  • Milk
  • Ghee
  • Meat of land animals found in plains or forests
  • Honey

 

Amla can be taken in the form of a pickle, chutney or any other preparation. During the cold seasons, from Oct to April, amla can be taken in raw form or in juice form by Pitta prakruti people with excellent digestion. Amla cooked preparations are better for vata and kapha prakruti people.

Evaporated and condensed water is not only pure. It is believed that such water is easy to absorb as compared to non-boiled water. Probably it is because of elimination of the microorganisms in the water, so the liver as to work less in its detoxification process.

 

All these food items are easily digested with minimum production of toxins and contribute in fuelling of the digestive fire. Let us treat this food as the oiled, dry wood that catches fire instantaneously and burns without smoke, giving the vital heat and light to the surrounding.

Dosha


Dosha is something which has tendency to malaise or spoil. It can be understood as a factor of catabolism (breaking down process in the body)

Also Dosha is a concept in itself.

According to Ayurveda, there are 3 kinds of Dosha or body temperaments – Vata, Pitta and Khapha.

It is said that as life resides in heart but no one can see it, similarly these temperaments guide the body physiology but no one can see them. In short, they are the 3 basic and distinguishable behaviour or metabolism patterns of the body.

Nature of Dosha

Let us understand this concept through an example of a wooden stick, which can endure pressure, force or weight up to a certain level. It has a yielding point after it will not be able to support the kinetic energy and will break. Similarly it will have a point of heat after which it will start burning. Same is with inertia. It will have a certain amount of inertia according to its weight, size etc. that gives the stability and opposes changes in its state of existence.

Same is with our body, in a more dynamic sense. Our body can hold certain amount of total kinetic energy, with specific channels of flow or function. This amount or holding capacity differs from person to person, just as volume differs from container to container. It also has different but definite capacities for heat and inertia.

The basis of Prakruti or natural body constitution lies in the different capacities of the individuals. Let us assume that the total energy (of all types) is 6X.One body will have capacity to hold 3X of kinetic energy, 2X of heat energy and X of inertia. This body will be of vata dominant prakruti, or VPK prakruti. Similarly if a body has capacity to hold more of heat energy – 3X, it will be Pitta dominant body.

VATA – It is the concept of kinetic energy in the body. All motion inside body or by the body is because of Vata. Vata is said to be made of Vayu (motion element) and Akash (space element).

PITTA – It is the concept of transformation energy, any chemical reactions, heat generation is considered to be under Pitta. It is made of fire (Heat element)

KAPHA – It is closer to the concept of inertia, mass, stability in the body. It is made of Jal (water element) and Prithvi (mass)

There is no single dosha at work at any point in time. One dosha might dominate or direct one process, but all 3 dosha contribute to it. There is natural tendency of Dosha or physiological patterns to spoil the body by either excess or deficiency of motion, transformation or inertia. When out of control, these become the negative forces in the body. They are balanced by Dhatu and Ooja (life force). Any imbalance tilting towards Dosha causes diseases.

Each of these behaviour pattern or syndrome has 3 aspects – Normal physiology, Excess and Deficiency.

 

Role of Dosha

Dosha are like different maintenance programs for different situations. They support a specific type of metabolism, have a set time and place of function and aim to produce specific results.

During any activity, entire body comes together and every part of the body contributes to produce a single result. Some parts contribute more, some contribute less. But there is no single isolated activity happening in the body at any point in time. Everything is connected. The organs of the body synchronize their activities under single command. It must be difficult for brain to communicate to each cell. The body parts communicate through their secretions or electric signals. But Dosha is like a pre-programmed code, triggering chain reaction in the entire body. Under a particular dosha and given a specific environment, each body cell will behave in a particular fashion, contributing towards a single result. Dosha are comprehensive platforms that define what each part will do to perform a particular activity. They align the body activities to produce a single desired effect.

We can compare it to the sympathetic and non-sympathetic nervous systems.

Let us take the example of digestion. Pitta dosha is the parent dosha for digestion. Complete digestion can be divided in 3 parts.

 

Kapha stage:  Beginning of digestion

When the digestion of food begins, the blood supply to other parts of the body, like the limbs, brain etc. is reduced and diverted to the intestines for absorption (that is why we feel sleepy and lethargic immediately after a meal). It is advised that one should walk 100 steps to keep the kapha balanced during this time. So the hands, legs, brain etc are synchronized to the digestion in stomach because of Kapha dosha. This is a very simple example

Pitta stage: Complete breakdown

Various organs (gall bladder, pancreas) secrete their juices in the alimentary canal to aid digestion. Simultaneously, liver detoxifies the digested juices in the blood and produces the heat through digestion. This is time of chemical transformation and heat production. Blood gets fresh supply of nutrients. Body cells start assimilating the nutrition transported by the blood. Body becomes active. This is good time to sleep in summer, to keep the heat through activities, low and balance the heat of digestion.

Vata stage: Absorption and excretion

After complete digestion, the food gets absorbed though the small intestine (nutrients) and large intestine (water). Large intestine is the site of vata. This stage of digestion involves constant motion and absorption of water.

The important point is that with the beginning of digestion, other parts of the body, even the eyelids perform their function by getting drowsy or the legs by forfeiting extra blood supply, or the brain. And all this is orchestrated by the dosha. So we can appropriately evaluate what will be the condition of eyeballs or liver or legs when a particular dosha is active, vitiated or balanced.

Taking the same example forward, if the food is too heavy to digest; the Kapha dosha will get vitiated. This means that the Kapha program will not shut down at the correct time and will keep running in wrong condition and for wrong (longer) duration. The digestion of food will not reach the next stage properly and the errors in digestions will be carried forward in the form of toxins.

Best example is the process of sexual stimulation. Parent dosha for sex is vata, which is a kind of lord of all physical activity.

During sexual intercourse, the entire body activity is synchronized to achieve a single result. Eyes close to enhance the effect of skin receptors. Conscious brain activity is more imagination based (Pitta is associated with logic, Kapha with the memory and vata with imagination or creativity). Movements of hands, legs, penis / vagina are co-ordinated to achieve the desired outcome. Sperm friendly secretions lubricate the vagina to ensure safe and easy passage. This is a most elucidating example of perfect organ coordination on vata platform.

The key of health is in the balance of these Dosha.


Importance of Vata

Have you ever wondered why it is always Vata, Pitta and Kapha and not Kapha , Pitta , Vata or Pitta, Kapha and Vata.

It is because Vata is the most important and defining force among all three. After Vata comes Pitta and finally Kapha, most innocuous one.

This is because Kinetic energy is considered to be the most important here, which can affect other factors. Kinetic energy produces heat and can destroy inertia. Also Kinetic energy of the body is in direct control of the being. An Individual can use his kinetic energy at will and change or balance energy equation of the body. We can heat up the body by exercise and reduce inertia. Vata, because of its influence on other dosha, can cause maximum diseases. Hence Ayurveda chooses to establish Vata (Kinetic energy) as a greater force than the rest.

Sequence of Dosha

If we consider a lifespan or any natural phenomenon, Ayurveda has a rule that everything starts with stability (Kapha state), goes to the stage of transformation or maturity (Pitta state) and deterioration (Vata state).Same rule applies to human body as well. Child is in Kaphaj state, youth is in Pittaj state and elderly in Vataj state and interestingly all these are more prone to disease attributed to respective Dosha. For example, children are more prone to cold and coughs (Kaphaj disorders), youths are prone to acme, pimple according to their Prakruti (Pittaj disorders), and old people are prone to joint pain (Vataj disorders)

Similarly first 1/3rd of day is Kaphaj, second 1/3rd is Pittaj and third 1/3rd is Vataj. Again the symptoms of respective diseases exaggerate during the respective times, for example cold, sneezing etc. increases in the morning (Kaphaj), acidity is aggravates in daytime (Pittaj) and joint pain increases during the evening time.

The seasons come and go in a cycle but the cycle is considered from Hemant according to Ayurveda, which is the coldest season (Kaphaj state), then move towards summer (Pittaj state) and rains (Vataj state). In Sharad the effect of Vata subsides completely, to regain the Kaphaj state.

General functions of balanced Dosha:

सर्वशरीरचरास्तु वातपित्तश्लेष्माणः सर्वस्मिञ्छरीरे कुपिताकुपिताः शुभाशुभानि कुर्वन्ति- प्रकृतिभूताः शुभान्युपचयबलवर्णप्रसादादीनि, अशुभानि पुनर्विकृतिमापन्ना विकारसञ्ज्ञकानि||९||
uraḥ śiro grīvā parvāṇyāmāśayo medaśca śleṣmasthānāni, tatrāpyuro viśeṣesarvaśarīracarāstu vātaPittaśleṣmāṇaḥ sarvasmiñcharīre kupitākupitāḥ śubhāśubhāni kurvanti- prakṛtibhūtāḥ śubhānyupacayabalavarṇaprasādādīni, aśubhāni punarvikṛtimāpannā vikārasañjñakāni||9||

The normal (physiology) Dosha, in balanced condition, result in good health, Upachaya (body nourishment)
Bal – improvement of strength and immunity
Varna Prasad – improvement of skin health and complexion and in imbalanced state, cause illness.

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Swasthvritta


The sphere of Health

Ayurveda has a concept of Swasthvritta “Sphere of Health “

Let us imagine a sphere of light around us and outside it, is all darkness. This sphere constitutes all the healthy habits and strength of our mind and body. Conceptually, as this sphere diminishes, we become more and more vulnerable to darkness of diseases. We can also assume that it is a part of aura that one has around him.

Assuming that the light in the sphere is because of the life factor or the soul, let us imagine that the size of the sphere detonates the strength of the body whereas the brightness detonates the strength of the mind.

So for a healthy life, one should grow and maintain this sphere of health. The better and more compatible health practices we have, this sphere will be bigger and brighter, which reflects our ability to foresee more, to do more and to accomplish more. It reflects immunity and stamina that your body has against diseases.

For the people who have bad health habits, this sphere will be smaller and duller; such person will fall sick and succumb easily to diseases and other external factors.

There are 2 types of patients defined based on their mental strength

Strong minded – these are the people who are mentally very strong, capable of enduring heavy discomfort for a long time, without much visible agony. In such people, even a big disease may appear to be trivial, due to concealed symptoms.

Feeble minded – Completely opposite, small problem may look big because of their inability to endure. They shout and jump at every little pain in their body. Normally, these kind of people have some kind of emotional pain that reflects through their attention seeking behaviour.

With the concept of Swasthyavritta, it becomes easier to understand that a person with a relatively weak body (smaller circle) but a strong mind or will power(brighter circle) will be able to defeat the darkness of diseases more certainly.

When a person is angry with destructive thoughts, his thoughts first attack his body. We all know about auto immune diseases. You must have experienced many times that when you are angry for some time, afterwards you feel very tired and drained. Unfortunately, this becomes a routine for some people and they get habituated to such dark thinking, which is inviting for diseases.

This sphere has different components according to the type of mind or thought process.

Mind is said to be of 3 types

Satvic – Intellectual, wise

Rajsic – Imperial, Imposing

Tamsic – Dull, lethargic

If we assume that each sphere has its own colour according to its mind energy, then Satvic will be white, orange, and yellow

Rajsic – Red

Tamsic – Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green

Now we have 3 dimensions of thought – size, brightness and colour of the sphere.

If you see red object in blue light then it will appear black!

The point is to make clear that all people have different minds so their Swasthvritta are also different. One set of health practices might not fit the other. One man’s food is another man’s poison. Our Swasthvritta originates in our mind, so if our health practices are borrowed and we don’t feel happy about them, then they are not in sync with our mind and so they will never be effective in keeping us healthy, ever if they have proved to be very beneficial to many other people.

There are many people who conceptually do not agree with non-vegetarian food. Such food, if consumed, will never bring them any nutrition, instead it might create toxins from undigested food.

Similarly, many people who eat vegetarian diet but are very ambitious, regal and daring, might profit from a non-vegetarian or a high protein diet and absorb it quite readily as it is the food subconsciously sought by their mind. Because the mind develops the body according to its aim and it suits an ambitious person to be ready for physical hard work and have good stamina. A soldier with a fighter mind will appreciate the benefits of a non-vegetarian diet, but a intellectual will go for a simpler and easy to digest diet, that helps supply more blood to the brain instead of the muscles.

We all have coloured thinking, so you should eat and live according to the colour of your mindJ, to keep your mind and body in sync.

Another way to maintain the sync between external inputs and the mind is to change the mind, change the colour, the thought process. So whatever comes from outside is easily assimilated without disturbances.

Therefore Swasthvritta also includes meditation and other such activities for mental        flexibility. There is no surety of peace in religious rituals, but spiritual practices are great for mental health. Methods for maintaining mental health also differs according to the minds of the people.

So to conclude, you have your own Swasthvritta which is as unique as you are and your innocent pleasure is the guiding light for you to discover it.

This series will help you with the tools to develop your unique health routine!

Constituents of Swasthvritta

There are 2 fields of health, which are also the fields of diseases – Mind and body

So we should regulate our mental and physical inputs. Like our body cells, we should become selectively permeable to external inputs: embrace the compatible ones and be impervious to incompatible ones

2 major parts of Swasthvritta are appropriate Aahar (Material Input) and appropriate Vihar (adjustment to surrounding)

Aahar

Aahar – It is interesting to note that all material inputs absorbed by the body can be termed as Aahar, so the body ointment or the unwashed soap on the skin is also is an Aahar that might affect the skin!

8 ways of Aahar in body (Intake)

Oral – solids, liquids

Nasal – Smell, air

Eyes – Kohl, Eye make-up

Ears – Liquids, air (There is ayurvedic treatment of putting medicated smoke in the ear for ear ache and many other disease.)

Skin – Air (vapour, smoke), Liquids, ointment, powder

Anal Route – Enema, smoke

Rectal Route – Enema, smoke

According to Ayurveda, Aahar is more important as it helps to strengthen the body from inside, so even effects of wrong Vihar or lifestyle can be overcome. Effects of Aahar are also more prominent on the mind. It is rightly said that you are what you eat!

Vihar

Vihar or lifestyle covers the following factors –

Daily Routine

Exercise

Bathing

Tooth care

Skincare

Haircare

Clothing

Sleep pattern

Sexual behaviour

Accommodation

Swasth Mana

Sattva is the mind; also it is synonymous with the mental strength. As earlier discussed our body is a physical manifestation of our mind. In fact not only our body, our relations, house, work; everything evolves and gets life from our mind. Everything appears the way we see it.

Compatibility is the key. Nothing is good or bad categorically; everything should be defined in context to the person concerned. It is interesting to note that the prescribed amount of the food and medicines for a person in Ayurveda, depends on the measurements of his body, for example amount of grain one should eat in a single meal is equal to the amount of grains he can hold, putting his hands together. Earlier, labourers were given grains in the units of the amount they can hold putting their hands together, as wages. Also the size of heart is defined as equal to the size of the fist of the person, which is again different from person to person. Salt or medicinal powders(churna) should be taken in a pinch, which again will be different according to the size of the fingers of each person.

In context of mental compatibility, everything depends on the kind of mind energy you have (Satvic, Rajsic, and Tamsic); classical singing might a wonderful stress buster for someone, but not necessarily for you. You might like rock or pop, or might like rock climbing even better.

Compatible Aahar for mind includes – cheerful conversations, blessings, praise, Satsang (company of likeminded people / well-wishers / wise men/cheerful and positive people)

Compatible Vihar for mind includes – be in state of happiness, satisfaction, lack of jealousy, anger, hatred, be close to nature.

Anger management is a very important factor for mental health. We get angry because we are able to do nothing about the incompatibility between what we want and what we have. We cannot get everything in life. Tolerant nature is the base of mental health. It is said that the person who never gets angry and never have other negative emotions, will never fall sick and have long healthy life.

Also if you have to prioritize between health habits, take the one that feels good first, because its cheerful effect on mind is more important than the effect on the body.

Swasth Sharir

Compatible Aahar for body – differs according to the

  • Likes and dislikes
  • Prakruti (body constitution)
  • Digestive Agni (Fire)
  • Seasons
  • Physical activity

Compatible Vihar for body – differs according to the

  • Likes and dislikes
  • Prakruti (body constitution)
  • Seasons

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Definition of Health


Sam-Doshaha Sam Agni Shcha Sam Dhatu Malakriyah! Prasann Atma Indriya Manah Swasthya Ityabhidhiyate!!

Balanced state of Dosha, Agni (digestive fires), Dhatu (Metabolic essence) and Mal (Metabolic waste)

Happy soul, senses and mind constitute the (complete) health

Kshetra of Ayurveda and Importance of mind

Kshetra means field of Ayurveda, on which it acts. There are 2 fields – mind and body respectively.

Ayu means life and Veda means knowledge, Ayurveda signifies the knowledge of life. It is not only about the physical wellbeing but also mental and spiritual health.

Treating the body alone is like treating the shadow of the sick and expecting the results.

Like the way everything starts with the roots in a plant, everything starts with the mind in an individual. Soul is pure energy. Divergent tendencies start with the mind and therefore everything; peace or agony, health or diseases start with the mind. Ayurvedic approach is towards treating the human being, who is a sum total of soul, mind and body, with the focus on mind.

Ayurveda believes that diseases have 2 basic origins – Manas (psychological) and Sharir (Body based). Disease from mind can spread to body and vice versa.

Let us take an example:

  • You get a cold and you start thinking about work that you are not able to do because of it. You lower your immunity because of stress or might add headache to this cold. So the cold is body based but the headache is mind based.
  • If your cold gets worse than you might get a headache too, then both the problems are body based.
  • If you are under too much of stress, you reduce your immunity and thus get frequent cold and cough. This is mind generated.

In order to effectively cure or prevent this cold, treatment should start with finding the base or roots of the disease. It can be in mind or in the body.

According to scientific researches, 99% diseases can be traced to psychological problems! Also the role of placebo is unquestionable in getting cured. If a patient takes a sugar pill with sincere belief that it will cure her/his disease, then it might actually have equivalent or better results than the real medicine. The disease and the cure, both have their origin in the mind.

People with good diet and comfortable life develop diseases due to stress. On the other side, if one is calm or even better….happy, there are more chances of her/his getting cured soon or not falling sick at all.

BE HAPPY!

This is a little too simple to believe!

No one is happy at all the times but you are happy when you are doing something that you like to do. What is more important is that your attention is towards something that you like doing. It is not possible to be able to do what you like all the time, but no one can stop you from keeping a focus on the things that you like. Happiness is more of a frame of mind and you can keep happy if you want to be happy, you will dig out things that will keep you happy.

Being happy is the very basic, most important and probably the only thing that we require for being healthy.

Be Happy with the book – Ageless Body with Ayurvedic Ritucharya 

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There will be a lot of dos and don’ts in the coming chapters, which are meant to improve your health and longevity. But if you are not able to follow any of them because of unavoidable circumstances, do not get worried. If you are happy trying to follow them, you will stay healthy even if you are not strictly in the line.

There are many people who had routines and lifestyles which promised worst of heart attacks, diabetes, cancer etc… but they lived long and healthy, probably because they were too happy to worry about their bad lifestyle. Also there are people, who have very strict routine and healthy lifestyle, still they develop diseases and some die young, probably because they continuously worry about their health. Worrying is the most unhealthy habit. So lose it first, before you do anything else for your health.

So, the first rule is – be happy and don’t do anything that makes you unhappy….Best wishes !

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Aim (priority) of Ayurveda


Swasthasya swathya rakshnam, aturashya vikara prashman ch

Protect the health of the healthy and also treat disease of the sick

The subject or aim of Ayurveda is defined as “KEEPING THE BODY HEALTHY” and treating the ones who fall sick. Let us realize that treatment of diseases is defensive approach as compared to keeping the body strong and healthy, thereby eliminating the possibility of disease. Even after that, if any one falls sick, he should be treated.

There are so many disease causing factors among all of us but some succumb to them and fall sick, some recover and some do not. There are many people who will not fall sick at all in the similar circumstances. Diseases occur when there is suitable environment for them to occur, same is with various microorganisms. They can break the defence barrier of the body only if the body is too weak to prevent the attack or retaliate swiftly.

In order to understand the approach of Ayurveda towards health and disease prevention-

Let us imagine leaves falling from a tree of disease and our task is to keep the place clean. There are 3 ways to do it. 1) Either we can keep collecting the leaves 2) we can cut the weed down or 3) we can make the soil (environment) unsuitable for its growth. In this illustration collecting the leaves is maintenance of the disease, cutting the weed is killing the microbes or cancer cells etc., making soil infertile is turning the body environment hostile for the incubation of disease causing factors.

So Ayurveda works on mind and body, instead of killing external disease causing factors.

Following this logic, we should aim to have more preventive health centres than hospitals!

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