Know your Body type with the help of Ayurveda


RAKRITI (Ayurvedic Genomics)

In previous blogs we have explained the functions of Vata,Pitta and Kapha Dosha in body. Today in this article learn how these three doshas are responsible for forming physical and mental constitution of body.
WHY YOU SHOULD KNOW YOUR PRAKRITI

Knowledge of Prakriti helps in
1) Deeper understanding of our body and our nature.
2)  Helps the doctors in proper diagnosis and customizing the treatment for patients.
3)  Helps in adopting correct diet and lifestyle regimen which suits to the body.

Prakriti as explained in Ayurveda is a characteristic nature of individual which is determined right at the time of conception in mother’s womb.  It forms the basic constitution of body and mind through unique combination of Vata, Pitta and Kapha Doshas. As we grow we develop our skills, understanding and personality but prakriti cannot be changed during lifetime.
The factors which determine the Prakriti of fetus are:-
1. Prakriti of Sperm
2. Prakriti of Ovum
3. Predominant Dosha in Uterus
4. Time and season of Conception
5. Diet and lifestyle of Pregnant mother

The Dominant Dosha involved in above mentioned factors lead to formation of unique Prakriti of individual.
Prakriti  is of two types
1) Sharirik (Physical ) Prakriti
2) Mansik (Psychological) Prakriti

CHARACTERISTICS OF VATA DOSHA PRAKRITI

Such individuals generally have lean and thin body, they tend to lose weight more easily, their hair and skin are dry and rough in nature, their nails are thin and very brittle, veins are prominent on their body parts, their voice is hoarse and not clear, they generally speak fast missing some words. Their body perspires less, they walk  fast with long strides, during walking or work out their joints create noise (Crepts),they sleep less and are very active in nature, they frequently make hand gestures , move legs, lips, tongue, eyebrows and shoulders , Vata predominant individuals can talk endlessly on different kinds of topics, they are very creative, They initiate very quickly on any work project but also can get bored of that work quickly , they grasp things very quickly and also forget  things quickly, their short term memory is very good but long term memory is comparatively weak, they are easy to please as they become happy in small things, they can also become sad for trivial matters, They dream a lot during sleep and they tend to have dreams of falling, climbing, flying or any other adventure but they often fail to recall their dreams, Their digestive power is irregular, their bowel movements are very irregular and they are frequently constipated, their hunger and thirst are irregular, they desire sweet, sour and salty foods more, their diet is also very irregular Read more

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.

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

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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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What’s my dosha (mind body type)?


The science of Ayurveda demonstrates that we are all made of the same elements as everything in Nature. Based on 5,000 years of observation, it recognizes that people generally fall into specific combinations of those elements. Ayurveda calls these combinations “doshas” or mind body types: Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

The doshas are powerful aids in understanding each human being’s unique responses to food, to experiences, to stress, and to the environment. Vata, Pitta and Kapha offer valuable insight into the imbalances that can lead to illness and disease. And they are excellent guides to self-awareness and to the choices that can restore and maintain good health.

If you are new to Ayurveda, the following general descriptions will begin to give you a sense of your dominant mind body type(s). Most people are a combination of two (Pitta Vata, for example, or Kapha Pitta), while a small percentage of people have all three doshas in equal portions.

As a rule of thumb, a bi-doshic or tri-doshic type should make seasonal adjustments for balance.  A Pitta Vata type generally would find it helpful to balance Pitta in the summer (Pitta season) and Vata in the fall and early winter (Vata season). Someone with Kapha would work on Kapha balancing during the late winter and early spring.

For more information, read Perfect Health by Deepak Chopra, MD, a good basic introduction to the doshas and Ayurveda. It’s available by visiting our store or by clicking on the link above.

If you have several of the following characteristics:
*  a thin body frame
* dry, rough skin
*  prominent veins and tendons
* cold hands and feet
* small, dark eyes
* a restless nature
* a preference for warm seasons and climates
* a love of new places, people and experiences
* a tendency towards nervousness and worry
* a tendency toward dry stools or constipation
 You have a significant amount of VATA.

If you have several of the following characteristics:
*  a medium frame
* oily, sensitive skin (often with moles and or freckles)
* blond or reddish hair (or thinning, early graying or balding for men)
* warm hands and feet
* blue, green, or hazel eyes sensitive to bright sunlight
* an intense, sharp, in-command nature
* a strong intellect
* a tendency towards irritability or anger
* a tendency toward loose, hot stools or diarrhea
You have a significant amount of PITTA.

If you have several of the following:
*  a large frame
* big bones and strong joints
* pale, thick, cool skin
* thick lustrous hair
* a large round face
* large round blue or brown eyes
* an excellent memory
* a calm, stable nature
* a tendency toward inactivity
* a tendency toward fluid retention and/or respiratory congestion
 You have a significant amount of KAPHA.

Ayurveda Frequently asked questions


What’s ayurveda?
Ayurveda is defined as the science of natural or  holistic living. Its the first natural or holistic medicine. Originated about 6,000 years back around Himalayas it quickly spread to Tibet (Tibetan medicine or Tibetan Ayurveda) and then to China (Traditional Chinese Medicine) and Japan (Japanese healing systems such as acupuncture) to the east. Sri Lanka, middle east and most Asian countries follow its principles in ‘natural medicines’ and ‘natural therapy’. Its used on differently for each person. Its very simple. Its scientific.

How dos Ayurveda compare to Chinese medicine, Herbalism and Naturopathy?
Chinese medicine deal with most physiological aspects life. Naturopaths and herbalists use modern science to understand the disease and use “naturally derived chemicals” and supplements to correct it just like your local G.P. Its progressively moving towards ‘evidence based medicine’ by almost fully abandoning holistic approach. Ayurveda attempts to remove the cause, while addressing the disease process, keeping it holistic and natural. It utilizes wisdom from all healing systems.

What does a ‘natural doctor’ do in health management?
Interestingly, the 6,000 year old Ayurvedic laws and principles of health, disease and management (healing) are essentially the same in modern medicine. The difference is the holistic approach. Ayurveda specialises in accelerating the healing with natural products and time-tested techniques for the benefit of the whole mind and body. This is what we call holistic. An Ayurvedic / natural doctor or physician attempts to address a condition so that the client heals faster with less side effects making the condition more bearable.

How many herbs and therapies are used in an Ayurvedic clinic?
Over 21,000 herbs are used in India. 7,000 of them are scientifically studied and categorized.  Over 500,000 recipes are found in various Ayurvedic text books. An Ayurvedic physician would have immediate access to over 10,000 recipes and 2,000 single herbs. Many Ayurvedic doctors alter the traditional recipes to suit the client. Including panchakarma, purvakarma, shodhana, rasayana and paschat karma there are over 30 therapies and their variations.

Whats dosha?
Dosha is the most misunderstood term in Ayurveda. Doshas are functional units. Its based on three universal life-triggers. Everything is and can be classified into three dosha category.

What is an Ayurveda diet?
Ayurvedic diet is a holistic nutritional approach based on over 30 individual factors that accelerates healing while resting and nourishing the entire body. The common notion that its based on your body type is inaccurate, unscientific and illogical.

Ayurveda Recipes
Ayurvedic recipes are those put together for a specific health condition with six flavors, at least four textures. Ingredients are all natural, harvested in season and locally. Combination is synergistic and eaten before sunset.

Is Indian cooking Ayurvedic?
Indian cooking may not be Ayurvedic cooking. Ayurvedic cooking uses local, seasonal and natural ingredients and simple processing methods. Most Indian meals are, sadly, over-cooked, over-spiced and grain predominant.

Whats dosha diet?
Dosha diet is one of the basic classifications of food items. There are dozens of other factors in health and diseases. Before clinical application we need to consider over 30 different other individual factors such as agni, vayah, balam, rtu, shareera and so on. Dosha diet addresses a just dosha. Addressing just dosha can be detrimental in 99% of the health conditions.

What is body-typing?
Ayurveda uses for different body typing techniques to understand what are you designed for. Dosha typing is one of them. Body type is entirely different from body, tendencies, personality and preferences. The current dosha-based body type analysis is virtually useless as all the five categories are squashed into something totally unintelligible.

Ayurveda massage
Ayurvedic massage is an amazing tool to rest your mind and body to accelerate healing. Its performed on a daily basis during Panchakarma. The original technique is drawn from the oldest martial art system called Kalari Payattu. In abhyanga massage a trained therapist uses one of the 700 different herbal oils.

How old is Ayurveda?
Based on the modern historians, Ayurveda could be 3,000 to 6,000 years old. Considering Australian Aboriginal stories it could be 60,000 years old. Age has nothing to do with the efficacy of something. Most views and principles of Ayurveda are extremely similar to our modern science!

What is dosha balancing?
Traditional Ayurveda talks about normalizing and correcting health issues. It doesn’t use the word balancing, ever. If a dosha is excess it needs to be brought back to normal. Its called normalizing. E.g. a heat / acidity excess is normalized using alkalizing techniques. By definition ‘balance’ doesn’t work with health or healing.

What is body type balancing?
This concept is a basic mistake by modern ayurveda gurus. Pathology needs to be normalized or corrected and physiology needs to be supported. Body type is neither a mistake or nor a health condition. None needs to or can ‘balance’ /correct it. Body type tells us what we are designed for.

What is panchakarma cleansing?
These are five advanced therapies performed by a fully trained ayurveda doctor. Each therapy takes at least 3 weeks in a fully equipped ayurveda hospital. A week to prepare mind, a week to prepare body, cleanse and a week to bring them back to normal diet. No one needs all the five. Requires round the clock supervision, counseling during the therapy and innumerable herbs for this.

Isn’t it life about ‘balance’?
Balance is defined as ‘an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady’. Guess what would happen if everything in our body or life is equal to each other! Equal amounts of – iron and calcium or diastolic and systolic pressures! Life and health are about priorities, not balance.

About Ayurveda Elements & Australian Ayurveda Academy
Ayurveda Elements & Australian Ayurveda Academy were born in 1996 in Cairns, the tropical paradise of Australia.Moved to Sydney in 1997 and evolved into a complete Ayurveda center quickly. Established a successful training and treatment center in Sydney’s north shore. Runs educational and training programs in India and Bali apart from Australian cities. Has conducted over 300 presentations during the past decade at various Australian centers.

What does Ayurveda Elements offer?
Offers workshops, seminars and certificates in Melbourne, Canberra, Wollongong, Sydney and Cairns. Conducts south India disorders), tours and helps clients with health resort referral. Uses traditional and modern compounds sourced locally and imported from India. Specializes in back pain, neck pain, weight loss and bowel diseases.

What is Ayurveda good at?
Ayurveda is fantastic with all aspects of health maintenance, prevention and cure. We successfully treat health conditions like allergies, arthritis, bursitis, back pain, colitis, dermatitis (skin digestive hair loss, hepatitis, irritable bowel syndrome / disease, migraine, nasal allergies, neck pain, thyroid conditions, ulcerative colitis, tendinitis and more. Has clinics and training programs in Melbourne, Canberra, Wollongong, Sydney and Cairns.

What are the specialties of Ayurveda Elements?
We specialize in fertility disorders, bowel (colitis, irritable bowel etc.), autism, back and neck pain.

What’s common to most diseases?
Stress damages digestion resulting in ama (toxins). Toxins migrates into channels and end up in weak tissues. Body is all tissues. Tissues attack the toxins, resulting in inflammation and sometimes infections. They are called ‘itis’ as suffix to the tissues affected. This is the story of most diseases.