Follow The Journey From Yoga To Ayurveda - Discovering The Benefits Of Nasya

Discovering The Benefits Of Nasya
She woke up in the morning feeling clogged in her nose. Food did not have taste for her and her head felt heavy. Easy way out was popping an antihistamine. This easily became a daily routine till she found yoga! Yoga was delightful but when it came to practicing pranayama (breath control), she was still limited. Slowly with time she learnt that the nose is the gateway to the brain and thereby it increases prana (life force) through breath.

Life is Breathing - Breathing is Life 
To be able to inhale and exhale through the nose is wonderful, we instantly calm down, get grounded especially if we notice the breath. Now imagine trying to inhale with a blocked nose. The flow of breathing is fragmented, creating tension. One of the methods of maintaining healthy sinuses is pranayama, in Sanskrit it means “extension of the pran or breath”. There are many simple techniques used to cleanse the nasal passage. Congested sinuses may result in bad moods, prolonged periods of feeling tired (we don’t get enough oxygen for the whole body to relax and recharge), sleepiness, snoring, apnea, runny nose, recurring sinus problems, headaches, migraines, hay fever the list can, of course, go on.

 The link ~ Discovering The Benefits Of Ayurveda And Pranayama
Ayurveda, literally, is ‘The Science of Life’.  It came to her. She realized that it provided simple yet very effective solutions for decongesting the sinuses and eliminating other imbalances that might stem from just a blocked nose and bad breathing. Also discovered was that a very important aspect of Ayurveda is Nasya.

Nasya:  What is it?
‘Nasya’ is an Ayurvedic practice that involves administering herbal oils to the nasal passage. Commonly such treatments are known to clear sinus congestion, help clear accumulated toxins from the head and neck region. In Ayurveda, nasya is one of the important self-care methods which brings about internal detoxification. It is a part of an 'Ayurvedic Daily Routine' by putting 3-5 drops of warm ghee or sesame seed oil into each nostril in the morning.

Nice Video ~ How To Do Nasya Using Ayurvedic Nasya Oil:

Use Different Nasya Oils For Different Doshas:
- Vata Dosha: Sesame oil, ghee, or vacha (calamus) oil.
- Pitta Dosha: Brahmi ghee, sunflower or coconut oil.
- Kapha Dosha: Vacha (calamus root) oil.

She Discovers The Benefit Of Anu Taila:  
Which is a classical Ayurvedic formula oil for nasya that was described in Asthanga Hrdaya, the Ayurveda Classical text. Prepared in a base of sesame seed oil it contains 30 herbs and goat’s milk. Anu Taila positively effects Tridoshic conditions and has no known side effect if administered correctly.

 Self Administration Of Nasya Oil At Home:
a)   To comfortably lie down with the head slanting downward and looking at the ceiling
b)   To Place 3-4 drops of AnuTaila or any other nasya oil into each nostril.
c)   Massage in circular motion the outside perimeter of the nostril
d)   Ensure the drops of oil go down the nasal passage.
e)   And then to rest for two minutes.

Benefits of Nasya: A Revelation For Her! 
Nasya is thought to help relieve:
- Hoarseness of voice
- Stuttering or slurred speech
- Stiffness in the head, neck, throat, TMJ
- Headaches and migraines
- Earaches and any pain in nose and throat

Even More Benefits ~ Too Good To Be True:
It improves conditions such as Rhinitis (runny nose) and clear blocked nasal passage. Relieves mental and emotional stress, anxiety, fear and negativity. Positively impacts higher cerebral and sensory organs (eyes, nose, ears, skin and tongue). Prevents facial paralysis, goiter, tonsillitis, convulsion and motor disorder. Prevents loose teeth, gingivitis and diseases of the oral cavity.

 Nasya is also thought to nourish the body by:
1  Strengthening the hair as well as prevent white/grey hair
2  Firming veins, joints, tendons, and ligaments of the neck
3  Reduces the chances of eye disorders due to old age

DISCLAIMER:
This is strictly for educational purpose only. Not medical advice.
Always seek the advice of your primary care physician and guidance of a qualified practitioner.


Purifying The Mind With Pratyahara ~ A Yoga & Ayurvedic Approach

The conscious withdrawal of the senses or pratyahara is thought to help purify the mind
Just as a healthy body can resist toxins, a healthy mind can ward off the negative sensory influences around it. In today’s modern times, most people suffer from sensory overload from television, cell phones, radio, computers, newspapers, magazines and books.  Society functions on stimulation through the senses. When we watch violent acts on TV etc. we are absorbing that into our system/mind and each impression has an impact on our mind, positive or negative. If one is easily disturbed by the noises and turmoil in their daily lives, then you may need to practice withdrawing your senses in order to help avoid paying too much attention to these disturbances. Indriya-pratyahara, or control of the senses, is the most important form of pratyahara. 

Strengthening Our Will-Power Through Yoga And Ayurveda ~ Pratyahara! 
It takes a certain amount of will power to follow pratyahara. The term pratyahara is composed of two sanskrit words, prati and ahara. Ahara means "food," or "anything we take into ourselves from the outside". Prati  meaning "against" or "away". Therefore, the meaning of pratyahara is the conscious withdrawal of energy from the senses. Pratyahara is twofold. It involves withdrawal from wrong food, wrong impressions and wrong associations, while simultaneously opening up to right food, right impressions and right associations. "Tapas," sanskrit for "inner fire” is one of the niyamas. This yogic concept refers to austerity, determination, and the willingness to do whatever is necessary to bring us back into balance and health.Therefore,  yoga and meditation ultimately helps us to strengthen the power of will.

Four Types Of Pratyahara:
- Indriya (Senses)
- Prana (Breath)
- Karma (Action)
- Mano (Mind)

In life there are three levels of ahara, or food; nourishment
1.) Food that we eat and that is made up of the five elements necessary to nourish the body.
2.) The impressions on our minds through our five senses.
3.) Our daily associations and the people we meet and hold at the heart and emotional level.

The first step in helping to control the influences of all these impressions is to realize that we have become slaves of it. The simple way to control them is to set aside some time daily apart from all sensory inputs and connect with nature fully. Just as the body benefits by fasting from food, so the mind benefits by fasting from impressions. A “media fast” by abstaining from the digital world is a good practice to cleanse the mind. The practice of pratyahara can be done daily by simply dedicating some time aside to sit and redirect the senses inwardly. Also by doing a few rounds of the bhramari pranayama [bee breathe] it is considered to be very effective in instantly helping to calm the mind. It is one of the best breathing exercises to release the mind of agitation, frustration or anxiety and helps get rid of anger.

How To Practice ~  ***Bhramari Pranayama (Bee Breath)
A simple-to-do technique for bhramari pranayama can be practiced anywhere at work or at home. The beauty of bhramari pranayama is that it can be an instant option available to help de-stress yourself and bringing your focus inward. Sit upright in a quiet room with eyes closed (can be seated on a chair if needed). Place the index and middle fingers gently over the closed eyes, the ring finger on the outer edge of the nose and the thumbs to press the ear cartilage lightly. Then, take a deep breath in and with an exhale, to gently press the cartilage while making a loud humming sound like a bee. Continue the same pattern for 6-7 times.

Keeping the eyes closed for some time, observe the sensations in the body and the quietness within. The vibrational sound of bhramari's breath buzzing can drown out the endless mental tape loops that can fuel emotional suffering, making it a useful starting point for those whose minds are too "busy" to meditate and withdrawing inward.

*** Bhramari should not be practiced by pregnant or menstruating women. It is also contraindicated for individuals with extremely high blood pressure, epilepsy, chest pain, or an active ear infection.

Pratyahara is related to all the 7 limbs of yoga.
All of the other limbs — from Yamas/Niyamas to samadhi — contain aspects of pratyahara. For example, in asana practice, both the sensory and motor organs are controlled. Pranayama contains an element of pratyahara as we draw our attention inward through the breath. Yama and niyama contain various principles and practices, like non-violence and contentment, which helps us control the senses. In other words, pratyahara provides the foundation for the higher practices of yoga and is the basis for meditation.

Pratyahara and Ayurveda
Pratyahara is the right management of the mind and senses and is essential for all constitutional (Dosha) types. It is the most important factor for mental nutrition.

Vata:
Vata individuals tends to exhibit excessive sensory and mental activity and often needs a consistent practice of pratyahara. Their restlessness commonly distracts the senses, disturbs the motor organs and prana. Pratyahara helps to reverse the adverse tendencies of vata and helps return this energy into a positive force of prana.

Pitta:
Pitta individuals generally have more control of the senses than the others.  Often these individuals are more involved in disciplined like activities in which they stress both the body and the senses. There need for pratyahara is to let the 'Divine Will' work through them while simultaneously relaxing their own personal will.

Kapha:
Kapha individuals more oftenly may experience imbalance where one generally suffers from too little activity, including on the sensory level.  This also implies "Tamasic" characteristics of being lazy, watching television or sitting around the house. They need more mental stimulation and benefit from sensory activity of a higher nature.

Take Home Message: ~ Where There Is A Will, There Is A Way
Where there is a will, there is a way and that way to optimal health is by pratyahara.

 

 


Prajnaparadha [Crime Against Wisdom] ~ An Ayurvedic Perspective

Prajnaparadha [Crime Against Wisdom] ~ An Ayurvedic Perspective
We as humans are wonderful. We may not be perfect and that is perfectly okay. Often we make mistakes regarding the food we eat, the time we sleep, and the endless hours of work in daily life. "Prajnaparadha" [crime against wisdom] is willfully ignoring one’s inner knowing — going against our intuition and common sense. According to ayurveda, prajnaparadha is considered to be the root cause of nearly all diseases.

Simple Examples Of Prajnaparadha
Any choice we make in life, whether that choice involves work or home life, will inevitably create an impact on our overall health and well-being.

  • When one has eaten enough and is full yet still eats more food because it tastes so good.
  • When one is very tired and should take rest but instead continues with additional work.
  • When we know that smoking is harmful to one’s health but still continues to smoke cigarettes.
  • Misuse of the organs of sense perception. For example, watching violent movies.
  • Misuse of speech such as gossiping, speaking untruth, and talking too much.

 

Where Do We Begin? 
We can begin to heal ourselves simply by being kind and learning to forgive ourselves. By not blaming others for our own wrong choices and by making a promise to move forward afresh with a willingness to change, we heal. Likewise, by pausing at the crossroads of our choice-making and learning to ask ourselves whether or not the choice we are considering is moving us towards our soul’s purpose. If you ask this question quietly within the silence of your heart, you will be surprised by the commitment and strength which springs forth. Therefore, let us begin anew with a healthy respect for our intuition and self-care. By commiting ourselves fully and completely in becoming our own true friend creates a sacred place where true healing begins. Today is the day to begin. Today is the day to transform your health.

Ask The Experts
We asked several highly respected ayurvedic professionals what they might recommend regarding becoming more aware of the natural principles explained by ayurveda and this is what they had to say ...

"Become acquainted with the wisdom of the body and mind by listening to its language. How does your body speak to you? Are you experiencing any aches or pain, indigestion, butterflies, tightening of the jaw or shoulders? Are you willing to hear?... and are you willing to respond with love, compassion and forgiveness?"
- Betty Moylan, Ayurvedic Professional 

"As my father always tells me, always think twice! When going to eat something, or do something, ask oneself whether it will be beneficial or not? In the beginning it may feel weird,however, after sometime you will get used to it and do it automatically. Another thing is to know oneself and by knowing oneself you develop the intuition of what is good and what is not."
- Yossi Joe Nazar, Ayurvedic Professional 

"By taking care of all your senses [seeing, hearing, touch, taste and smell] you give the best guarantee for contacting  your deeper soul using ayurvedic natural principles."
- Gerry Van de Moortel, Ayurvedic Professional 

"A probable solution to avoid the state of prajnaparadha lies within one's own mental faculty. One needs to coordinate the balancing of the intellectual understanding (dhee), determination (dhruti) and cognizance of facts (smruti). By using a proper positive approached counseling one is able to help maintain the inter faculty equilibrium of dhee, dhrti and smrti."
- Dr. A. Rangaprasad Bhat, Ayurvedic Physician 

"Prajnaparadha can be controlled by inner cleansing and optimism plays a vital role."
- Vishnu Priya, Ayurvedic Professional 


BALANCE: CONCEPT IN YOGA & AYURVEDA

WHAT IS BALANCE?
The word balance brings about a mental image of equilibrium to both the mind and body. It often reflects a middle path in any aspect of life and relates to a feeling of calmness and steadiness. Balance means to come into our center and being able to function from that center, in each moment. It follows naturally that a well balanced person reflects excellence in health. It is thought that every human being (with exceptions) is born with an optimal blue print aligned with universal principles. However, as we continue the process of development, several factors influence us and may take us away from a balanced alignment [i.e. wrong diet, lifestyle, relationships, trauma, abuse, accidents and past karma].

NATURAL TENDENCY TOWARDS BALANCE: 
We, as human beings, are constantly looking for balance, consciously or unconsciously.
1. If it's cold, we wear warm clothes … if it's hot, we wear less.
2. If we’re hungry we only think of food ... if full, we naturally decline food.
3. If we have not slept, we desire to sleep ...  if overslept often we feel a sense of dullness.
4. Too much time together one seeks space …. if lonely, a person longs to fill that space.
5. Too much work, a feeling of exhaustion ... if no work, one may develop a dull and idle mind.

BALANCE ~ A YOGA PERSPECTIVE:
In yoga, when we think of balance, we think of standing on one leg or doing arm balancing poses.  Yes, trying to stay steadily balanced on one limb in a yoga asana has multiple benefits. It strengthens, increases concentration, and gives intense focus.  Lack of equilibrium brings just the opposite. When one falls or looses balance, besides bringing frustration it can also strike the ego. Standing on one foot instills a deep sense of calmness even though it requires unwavering alertness.

Alignment, Strength, and Attention:
The three essential elements of balance in yoga are alignment, strength, and attention. Alignment of the body with gravity is crucial as it makes balance physically possible. Strength gives us the power to create, hold, and adjust alignment. Finally, attention continually monitors alignment knowing how to correct from one moment to the next.

Balance ~ A Meditative State of Mind:
Balance is moment to moment. The effort to remain centered not only brings balance to the body but also our nerve impulses, thoughts, feelings, emotions, and consciousness itself.  Where there is calmness there is equilibrium. Equilibrium brings about a state of equanimity. Balance cannot be restricted to only standing on one leg or holding the body upside down. Rather, balance involves a deeper sense of distribution of weight throughout the body.  When we walk, there is a always a sense of balance involved. However, if that sense of balance is off-centered it can result in twisting of the ankle or having a fall. While walking, foot placement is often automatic and unconscious. However, if attention is paid to each step it easily can become a meditative state of the mind. Even the way we stand should have a center of balance. To stand evenly on both feet brings about a lightness to the body. Hence the appropriate proverb, “Stand on your own two feet!”

 

“Sama Dosha Sama Agnischa Sama Dhatu Mala Kriya
Prasanna Aatma Indriya Manaha Swastha Iti Abhidheeyate”
- Sushruta sutra sthana, 15/41


BALANCE ~  AN AYURVEDA PERSPECTIVE:
The sanskrit definition (above) in ayurveda integrates all aspects of life giving us a complete picture of physical, mental and spiritual health.

PHYSICAL HEALTH:

Sama Dosha:
The doshas (vata, pitta, kapha) are biological energies found throughout the human body and mind. They govern all physical and mental processes and provide every living being with an individual blueprint for health and fulfillment. The doshas are derived from the Five Elements and their related properties. Vata is composed of Space and Air, Pitta of Fire and Water, and Kapha of Earth and Water. These three must exist in their normal range, display their normal characteristics and perform their normal functions.

Sama Agni:
Agni or the “digestive fire,” is one of the most important principles in the ancient science of ayurveda. It refers broadly to our ability to process all aspects of life, including food, experiences, memories, and sensory impressions. Agni is responsible for absorbing the nutrients and essential elements the body needs while burning off waste products.  (agni is the root of the English word “ignite”).  If our agni is strong, we’re able to digest food efficiently and easily assimilate our daily experiences. On the other hand, if agni is weak, our body won’t digest well, creating toxic residue or ama that lodges deep in our cells.

Sama Dhatu:
The seven dhatus are the tissue structures of the body, which are constantly being built up and broken down.
- Plasma (Rasa)
- Blood (Rakta)
- Muscle (Mamsa)
- Fat (Meda)
- Bone (Asthi)
- Bone marrow and nerve( Majja)
- Reproductive fluid (Shukra)

Sama Mala:
Malas are the various waste products produced during the normal metabolic processes. The three primary malas being Purisa (faeces), Mutra (urine) and Sweda (sweat).  Ayurveda clearly states that only a balanced condition of doshas, dhatus, and malas is arogya (good health or disease-free condition) and their imbalance is the cause of ill health.


MENTAL HEALTH:

Prasanna Indriya:
The Indriyas are the five senses (sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch). Each one should be capable of identifying its respective objects clearly and correctly. Each of the senses should be used properly - neither too little, nor excessively, nor in an inappropriate manner.


Prasanna Mana:

The Manas, or mind, should be balanced, calm and satisfied.

SPIRITUAL HEALTH:
Prasanna Atma:
The Atma, or soul, is that which is separate from the physical body, yet responsible for its actions. It stresses the importance of each individual recognizing right from wrong, and acting upon that at the proper time. It can also include introspection, seeking and understanding that each person ultimately seeks.

Conclusion:
During the course of each day, we are all faced with situations old and new, which may take us away from feeling ‘centered’. A nice simple practice that I would like to share with all is ...

Sit for a few moments even in the midst of turbulence and bring your focus to your natural breath and observe it for a few moments (your eyes can stay open).  Next, focus inside your chest and feel ‘yourself’ inside of you. It will gently bring a shift into your awareness and reflect upon your nervous system.  The mind will begin to develop calmness as you enter into your center of being. Decisions made from one’s center are connected to the Highest Truth. This is a practice to be practiced daily. The more it is practiced, the easier it becomes to stay in balance. Balance is a constant effort. However, when one is balanced, there is no effort in being.


The Concept of Food in Ayurveda

WHAT IS AHARA?
Ahara is one of the important pillars of Ayurveda. It means that it is one of the basic principles upon which health, happiness and harmony rests. It is concerned with diet and lifestyle and is essentially preventive in nature.  It is not only the food that we consume, but also what each of the 5 senses (eyes-sight, nose-smell, ears-hearing, tongue-taste, skin-touch) absorb from all that they come into contact with.

Our life revolves around food.
We begin each day and end each day with some intake of food!   Some of us live to eat and yet some eat to live! The first cry of a newborn is for nourishment from his/her mothers milk and touch. From the first moment of our lives, food is one of the most important ingredient for a healthy body and mind. In todays time, restaurants are totally packed. Take out food centers are overflowing with orders. Grocery stores have long lines. When we see a beggar on the streets, he is begging for money so as to feed himself & his family. Food is his primary thought.

In our fast paced life today, fast foods are on the rise.  We eat quickly, foods that are prepared with shortcuts and we find relief in filling the stomach and senses rather than nourishing and energizing the body. Protein shakes are taken as ‘fillers’ and nutrition. There is a complete lack of attention to the process of eating. There are several gadgets in the kitchen today for cooking aid but eating out or taking food out is the latest fad of this century. New and old diseases are rapidly on the rise and some are uncontrollable or incurable.

Finding Our Balance:
Ayurveda teaches us how to go back to nature and find our balance. Each individual has a unique blueprint. Each human being knowing their unique design can prevent imbalances and diseases in their body and mind. Slowing down is the first step in life.

 

Food has a relationship with the three doshas:

  • VATA (air and ether)
  • PITTA (fire and water)
  • KAPHA (earth and water)

 

… and the three gunas:

  • Sattwa (Harmony)
  • Rajas (Overactive)
  • Tamas (Underactive)

For a lot of people, time is of essence, in todays hurried pace and even if there exists a deeper knowledge of the Science of Ayurveda in them, they are still not able to follow the simple rules of nature. It is a constant struggle in the body and mind. But we, as human beings are responsible for everything that happens to us. Self study is the first step to making changes and bringing balance.

As a child growing up in India, I was taught to offer the food to the Higher Spirit (God) before eating the first morsel, so that it was purified, blessed and removed from toxins. The offering was always done silently even if the meal was consumed outside of home, at a restaurant etc. With the passage of time, I was taught the 24th verse from the 4th chapter of the Bhagawad Gita, which is as following:


FOOD PRAYER

Brahmaarpanam Brahma Havir
Brahmaagnau Brahmanaa Hutam
Brahmaiva Tena Gantavyam
Brahma Karma Samaadhinaha 


Translation:
[This is 24th verse from the 4th chapter of Bhagavad Geeta]
The act of offering is Brahman (Supreme God). The offering itself is Brahman.
The offering is done by Brahman in the sacred fire which is Brahman.
He alone attains Brahman who, in all actions, is fully absorbed in Brahman.
(As we chant this prayer we are offering the different types of food to Brahman).

Aham Vaishvaanaro Bhutva
Praaninaam Dehamaashritha
Praanaapaana Samaa Yuktaha
Pachaamyannam Chatur Vidam 

Translation: [This is 14th verse from the 15th chapter of Bhagavad Geeta]
This sloka is an acknowledgement and assurance to us from Brahman (Supreme God):
“I am Vaishnavara, existing as fire God in the bodies of living beings.  Being associated with ingoing (prana) and outgoing (apana) life breaths, I will digest all the four different types of food (that which we bite and chew; that which we masticate with the tongue; those which we gulp; that which we swallow) and purify them.”

Harir Daatha Harir Bhoktha
Harir Annam Prajaapatih
Harir Vipra Shareerastu
Bhoonkte Bhojayathe Harih.

Translation:
Oh Lord Hari, You are the food
You are the enjoyer of the food
You are the giver of food
Therefore, I offer all that I consume at Thy Lotus Feet

We should partake food with a Sathwic mind. Our ancestors recommended the offering of food to God before partaking. Food so partaken becomes “Prasad” (consecrated offering).

Prayer cleanses the food of the three impurities;
1. Absence of cleanliness of the vessel
2. Absence of cleanliness of the food ingredients
3. Absence of cleanliness in the process of cooking.

It is necessary to get rid of these three impurities to purify the food, for pure food goes into the making of a pure mind. It is not possible to ensure the purity of the cooking process, since we do not know what thoughts rage in the mind of the person who prepares the food.  We unknowingly may absorb the ‘rage’ of the cheff preparing the food. Also, when we consume meat of any kind, we are not aware of the emotion going through the animal before its slaughter, and we may absorb it. Similarly, we cannot ensure the cleanliness of the food ingredients as we have no knowledge if they were acquired in a righteous way by the seller.  It is essential on our part to offer food to God in the form of prayer, so that these three impurities do not afflict our mind.

Simple Rules To Follow:
– at least one meal a day, sit quietly
– observe the food on the plate
– say a prayer consciously and
– eat with full attention to the process.

In Conclusion:
Mantras are very powerful to cleanse the vibrations and purify the Food we take in daily.  Even if we are not able to eat a Sattwic meal, due to the present time pressures of the day, to chant the food prayer mantra or to say a prayer of offering the food to the Supreme God will certainly change the vibrations of it. Good health will prevail in the body and mind and the SPIRIT will soar!