10 Tips For A More Healthy Life With Ayurveda

10 Tips For A More Healthy Life With Ayurveda
Ayurveda, the science of life, is more a way of life than a way to treat people. Prevention is far better than curing a disease according to Ayurveda. I will now share with you some tips that will help you lead a more healthier and better life.

1.  Have A Daily Routine
Ayurveda suggests to have a daily routine and to stick with it. Sleeping and waking times are very crucial in Ayurveda. For example, the liver cleanses itself during the night (12 am to be exact) which during this time one should be fully asleep and is why Ayurveda recommends the time to sleep to be around 10 PM. Similarly, waking up should be around 6 AM. Eating at regular times should also be  adopted, this way the body and Agni (the digestive fire) work optimally and food will then be digested properly.

2. Eat Hot Food
Make sure not to make your diet strictly raw. Eating a small salad as a side dish is ok. However, food itself should be warm and seasoned with spices to aid digestion. Drinking large amounts of liquids during meals will only dilute the digestive acids which will then result in poor digestion and assimilation. Drinking sips of warm ginger water is more appropriate. A tip from Bhavaprakash: few slices of fresh ginger, sprinkled with rock salt and few drops of lemon chewed before food will aid in digestion and even helps in the prevention of gas formation.

3. Eat When You Are Hungry
When we feel hunger and know that the previous meal has been properly digested only then is Agni ready to digest the next meal. Eating when there is no hunger will often lead to Kapha disorders [i.e. gaining weight] and result in poor assimilation and indigestion.

4. Drink When You Are Thirsty
Don’t drink 3 litres per day or whatever these rumours tell you. Our body knows exactly when it needs liquid and will alert you with the thirst sensation. When drinking more than needed, Kapha problems are more likely to occur [i.e. kidney problems, edema, etc].

5. Never Suppress Your Body's Natural Urges
Yes, we live in a civilized and cultural community and we can't just burp, right? Wrong! When suppressing bodily urges (cough, burp, flatus etc.), it will result in a disturbance of vata and when vata is disturbed it may lead to problems such as gas not leaving the body, breathing problems, bloating etc. Therefore, one must always find a proper way to not suppress natural bodily urges.

6. Walk during the day. Practice Yoga
A bit of exercise is very important for the body. Not only does the brain release endorphins and serotonin during exercise to make us feel good but the whole body benefits from exercise. Agni is maintained in its optimal state when practicing Yoga or any other sport. Even walking a bit everyday will be beneficial. Getting off the bus two stations before your destination and walking to your final destination is a nice routine to follow. According to Ayurveda, one should exercise only till one gets sweaty with that being the optimal limit for one's exercise regimen.

7. Drink Room Temperature Water Upon Waking Up
Drinking water that is room temperature (a "bit" cold is also ok) will help to promote bowel movement as this will stimulate Apana Vata [downward movement of the body]. During sleep we are in a natural state of fasting and therefore returning liquid to the body is very important.

8. Advice from Vimalananda (Dr. Robert Svoboda's Mentor)
Keep your body moving, keep your bowels moving, keep your breath moving. By keeping to this one simple rule, surely, will help lead to a long and healthy life. We have discussed the benefits of exercise and avoiding constipation (i.e. promoting regular bowel movements) but above all - the most important movement of the body is the breath. Therefore, make sure to breathe well, deep, and fully.

9. Practice Meditation At Least 20 Minutes A Day
Practicing meditation daily for 20 minutes will help one cope with all of life's daily activities. Meditation has been proven to help with the resistance to stress and to provide better understanding in order to help make the complexities of life more simple.

10. Look At The Bright Side Of Life
Life isn’t all that bad. After all, when you really look at it - life has lots of surprises. Some of those surprises may not always make us happy, however, learning from each incident is the most insightful thing to do. Therefore, make sure to look at all the beautiful things you do have rather than focusing on the negative aspects of life.

May you all lead a healthy and fruitful life!


Yoga - What is it exactly?

What Is Yoga?
Yoga is literally translated as 'Union'
What does union mean in Yogic context? Yoga is union and means non-duality, oneness! It comes from the Sanskrit root "Yuj" which means to join. Yoga is harmony, union, meeting, (connecting) together. We tend to think about Yoga in the term of asanas [postures], but that is not only about that. Yoga is union with the Lord, the Atman which resides in the body, unifies itself with its creator (Lord, God, Supreme Soul or whatever you refer to). Yoga comes in order to help the body and mind focus, and stay firmly established in the self and finally in the Lord. This union mentioned, works also for behavior, daily routine, and all aspects of life. To be established in this oneness, one needs to be equanimate in every situation in life, whether it is favorable to us or not. In that way, union can be there and be preserved.

Where did yoga come from?
Yoga was written in Hindu ancient texts. It has been brought down by Lord Shiva as Yogeshwara (Lord of Yoga), later narrated to an easier language and better understanding by Sri Sage Patanjali in the Patanjali Yoga Sutras. Later books like Hatha Yoga Pradipika and Gheranda Samhita were written.

What are the qualifications of the student?
The student should get the basic understanding that ignorance is a part of life, and it makes him forget that everything in the world is temporary and inconstant. This ignorance is the root of every sorrow! But the seeker should find this knowledge for oneself and understand it. It cannot be purchased from anyone,  As Patanjali says: "Atha Yoga nususanam", now I will only translate to you the way Yoga is, Yoga cannot be forced. Yoga must come from within! As the flesh grows from the inside of us and makes us-us.

Eight Limbs of Yoga – Ashtanga
Yoga is constituted of eight limbs, thus it is called ashtanga.
Ashta = Eight; Anga = Limb

The eight limbs of Yoga are:
1. Yama [ethics]
2. Niyama [virtues]
3. Aasana [postures]
4. Pranayama [conscious breath regulation]
5. Pratyahara [bringing awareness within]
6. Dharana [one-pointedness of mind]
7. Dhyana [contemplation]
8. Samadhi [harmonious union]


The Gunas [Attributes] ~ An Ayurvedic Perspective

The Gunas [Attributes] ~ An Ayurvedic Perspective
In Ayurveda we say each Dravya [Matter] has gunas in it, or characteristics which distinguish it from all others. In Ayurveda we have many gunas, but according to Charaka, 20 are the most important. Every matter does not have to include all 20 gunas, but will have some which define it best. By this we can know how matter will affect the doshas, and of course agni, digestion and even the state of mind.

An example in order to make things more simple:
Milk is pichchila, snigdha, drava and guru. This means milk is cloudy (not clear), unctuous, liquid and heavy. In accordance to doshas, milk will be harder to digest as it is guru (heavy) but will help peristaltic motion as it is snigdha (oily), and so on.

Vagbhat who wrote Ashtanga Hridayam composed all the gunas into a shloka, so it could be easily remembered. The shloka has only 10 gunas mentioned, but when one knows their opposites, one can remember all the 20 gunas.

"Guru Manda Hima Snigdha
Slakshna Sandra Mridu Stiraha
Gunaha Susukshma Vishada
Vimshati Sa Viparya yaha”
(Ashtanga Hrydayam Sutrasthanam:1:18)

Translation:
“Heavy, Slow, Cool, Unctuous, Smooth, Dense, Soft and Stable: These qualities, along with subtle and clear and their opposites comprise the 20 qualities.”

English
Heavy – Light
Slow – Sharp
Cold – Hot
Oily – Dry
Smooth – Rough
Dense – Liquid
Static – Mobile
Gross – Subtle
Cloudy – Clear

Sanskrit
Guru – Laghu
Manda – Tikshna
Hima\Sheeta – Ushna
Snigdha\Sneha – Ruksha
Sandra – Drava
Mridu – Kathina
Chala – Sthira
Sthula – Sukshma
Pichchila -Vishada


Panchamaya Koshas ~ The Five Sheaths

Panchamaya Koshas ~ The Five Sheaths
This knowledge is taken from Taittiriya Upanishad. It is said there, that our true nature is
hidden from our perception because of the five sheaths which enclose it.

Annamaya Kosha
The first yoga body, Annamaya Kosha, literally means "body sheath made of food, which is an illusion". This is our physical body. The physical is created and sustained by food. If the quality of food is high, the illusory nature of the body is more readily perceived. This is one reason why fresh and seasonal food such as fruits and vegetables are recommended as a yogic diet. Eating fresh food prepared immediately before eating results in increased vitality available to nurture this "food body". When we eat overcooked food, stale food, or even animals the food body then becomes de-vitalized and has difficulty refining the food into a quality necessary to be converted into the needs of the second body.

Pranamaya Kosha
The second body, which is hidden by a second sheath literally means, the "body sheath made of Prana which is an illusion". This subtle body's anatomy is made of energy channels called nadis, which terminate in spinning energy centres called chakras. The word chakra means wheel, implying an ever-spinning centre of activity. The subtle body is composed of our senses and emotional states. The energy flowing through these channels is sensory input from the five gross senses and the subtler senses associated with the mind. Hence these vortices and channels are always active during our waking state seeking sensory and emotional stimulation. When we are fed beautiful sense impressions – art, nature, live vibrant colorful aromatic food – they can be converted into the"prana" which keeps the body healthy. From this stimuli, the chakras become open and functional. When we are not interested, repulsed or fall asleep, the chakra's activity slows down or stops. The energies withdraw from the outer world and become replenished provided they can assimilate the sensory input provided. With negative input – violent movies, stale odours, and chemical food – there is less vitality available to be converted to prana.

Manomaya Kosha
The third body literally means, the "body sheath made of thought, which is an illusion". This body is the body of the mind. This body is made up of the refinements produced from the first two bodies as well as its own capacity to generate positive uplifting thoughts. When thoughts are beneficial, the mind is content and at peace. From this, more positivity is generated and the mind refreshes itself. The nature of this body is thought. Mantra can transform the mind to a higher level of perception and cognition. Mantra literally means "the word which when contemplated transforms the mind". Mantras given properly as a meal prepared lovingly will plug the mind into a higher and more creative mind, which thinks of the welfare of others.

Vijnanamaya Kosha
The fourth body literally means, "the body sheath made of wisdom, which is an illusion". This body is made of transcendent thoughts. It is awareness that is free of self-centeredness. It is concerned for the welfare of all. This is generated by a naturally-arising state of detachment from the grosser bodies. This body knows it is not the physical food body; therefore, one established in this awareness is indifferent to what happens to the body. For what happens to the physical body does not change the state of wisdom. Wisdom is the beginning of contact with transcendence. This state is accessed by meditation, reflection, and giving it proper food. The proper food is good company, spiritual literature, and selfless service to others. By regular diet of this nutritious food, the body of wisdom becomes more active and can fend off periods of unwholesome contact.

Anandamaya Kosha
The fifth body literally means, the "body sheath of bliss, which is an illusion".  This body is said to be as small as a mustard seed, seated in the secret chamber of the interior heart and to the right of the physical heart. This body is composed of happiness. It does not need anything to generate its happiness, as that is its natural state. The beneficial foods given to the four grosser bodies will be refined into the food, which makes up this body. But also it is by nature joyful. And that is not the end. According to Yoga philosophy there is hidden beyond this body the Truth of who You are.

 

Reference:
- Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy, Mukunda Stiles, New Age Books.


Kapha - 5 Sub-Doshas

Kapha = Water+Earth 

 1. Bodhaka Kapha:
The form of water that gives perception. It is located in the mouth and tongue as saliva and allows for the taste of food. Like 
Kledaka, it is also a part of the first stage of digestion and even helps to lubricate the other sensory openings within the head.

2. Kledaka Kapha:
The form of water that moistens. It is located in the stomach and is involved with gastric mucosal secretions as well as being involved with Rasa Dhatu. It is responsible for the liquefaction of food and for the first stage of digestion, absorption and assimilation of foodstuff. Taste is related to Rasa Dhatu and Bhodaka Kapha is directly connected to 
Rasa.

3. Avalambaka Kapha:
The form of water that gives support. It is located in the heart and lungs. It is the storehouse of 
Kapha (phlegm) and upon it depends the actions of the other Kaphas in the body. It is not only just the phlegm produced by the lungs, as that is an excess of Kapha generally but it also corresponds to the basic plasma of the body. Avalambaka kapha is primarily watery in constituent and is distributed by both the lung and heart actions. Another location of Avalambaka Kapha is the lower back.

4. Tarpaka Kapha:
The form of water that gives contentment. It is located in the brain, as cerebro-spinal fluid, the white matter, and in the heart. It governs emotional calmness, stability and happiness, as well as memory. 
Tarpanam means nourishing, including the senses. All sensory perception – auditory, tactile, optical, gustatory, and olfactory – are carried to Tarpaka Kapha by Prana Vayu. Functionally, Tarpaka is connected to the astral body, all past life memories, experiences and knowledge are stored within the matrix of Tarpaka Kapha. The practice of Yoga also increases the mental form of Kapha as contentment and bliss (Ananda).

5. Shleshaka Kapha:
The form of water that gives lubrication. It is located in the joints as synovial fluid and is responsible for holding them together.

References:
• Ayurvedic Healing, A Comprehensive Guide, David Frawley
• Secrets of the pulse, Dr. Vasant Lad


PITTA ~ 5 Sub-Doshas

Pitta = Fire +Water

1. Pachaka Pitta:
The fire which digests things. It is located in the small intestine, governs the power of digestion, absorption and assimilation, and it's the basis and support of all other forms of pitta. Pachaka pitta is often the first consideration in the management of pitta related conditions and is considered to be our primary source of heat as the digestive fire.

2. Ranjaka Pitta:
The fire that imparts color. It is located in the liver, spleen, stomach and small intestine, and gives color to the blood, bile and stool. It primarily resides in the blood and is involved in most liver disorders. Ranjaka pitta is also involved in the creation of red blood cells (RBC), so a dysfunction of Ranjaka may cause anemia.

3. Sadhaka Pitta
The fire that determines what is truth and what is reality. It is located in the brain and heart and allows us to accomplish the goals of the intellect, intelligence or ego, appreciation, self-esteem, confidence and courage. This also includes worldly goals of pleasure, wealth and prestige along with the spiritual goal of liberation. Sadhaka pitta also governs our mental energy, mental digestion (the digestion of ideas or beliefs) and our power of discrimination. Its development is emphasized in Yoga, particularly the Yoga of Knowledge.

4. Alochaka Pitta:
The fire that governs visual perception. It is located in the eyes and is responsible for the reception and digestion of light from the external world and also aids the acuity of the other senses.

5. Bhrajaka Pitta:
The fire that governs luster or complexion. It is located in the skin and maintains the complexion and color of skin. When aggravated, for example, it causes skin rashes or discoloration. Bhrajaka pitta also governs digestion of warmth or heat, which we experience through the skin.

References:
• Ayurvedic Healing, a comprehensive guide, David Frawley.
• Secrets of the Pulse, Dr. Vasant Lad


Sub-Doshas of Vata

The Five Sub-Doshas of Vata

1. Prana Vata ~ 'Forward-moving air'
Primary air or nervous force. extends from the diaphragm to the throat, centered in the brain, governing inhalation and swallowing, as well as sneezing, spitting and belching; it is in charge of taking things like food, water and air into the system. It governs the senses, mind, heart and consciousness. It is our portion of cosmic life energy and directs all the other Vatas in the body. It determines our inspiration or positive spirit in life and connects us with our inner self. The term 'Prana' is also used in a broader sense to indicate Vata in general, as all Vatas derive from it.

2. Udana Vata ~ 'Upward-moving air'
Extends from the throat to the top of the head, located in the chest and centered in the throat, it governs exhalation and speech, endeavor, enthusiasm, memory, vitality, complexion (one of the body's means of expressing its innate state of health). Udana determines our aspiration in life. At death it rises up from the body and directs us towards various subtle worlds according to the power of our will and the karma that move through it. When fully developed it gives us the power to transcend the outer world, as well as psychic powers. The practice of Yoga is involved primarily with developing Udana.

3. Samana Vata ~ 'Equalizing-air'
Extends from the diaphragm to the navel, centered in the small intestine and the nervous system behind the digestive system. It is in charge of digestion and assimilation, and helps keep Prana and Apana in balance. Samana vats helps to keep balance and equilibrium in all the bodily systems.

4. Vyana Vata ~ 'Pervasive air'
Pervades the entire body from its seat in the heart, distribution of nourishment by causing blood and other fluids to circulate, and producing locomotion, extension and contraction, perspiration and other such actions (discharge of impulses and secretions).

5. Apana Vata ~ 'Downward-moving air'
Operates from the navel to the anus, centered in the colon. In charge of: elimination, urination, menstruation, parturition and sexual activity. Apana, the descending air, carries life-force down and brings about the devolution or limitation of consciousness. Apana supports and controls all the other forms of Vata, and derangements of it are the basis of most Vata disorders (as the colon is Vata's main seat). As a downward moving force, when it is aggravated it causes decay and disintegration. Therefore, the treatment of Apana is the first consideration in the treatment of Vata.

 References:
• Robert E. Svoboda, Ayurveda Life, Health and Longevity
• David Frawley Ayurvedic Healing, A comprehensive guide


Yoga and Ayurveda for a healthy and balanced life

History:
Yoga and Ayurveda both arisen from the Vedas, the ancient Indian books of wisdom. Both Yoga and Ayurveda share the same philosophy of creation (Sankhya), this is why they are called "sister sciences". Later, Charka and Sushruta Samhitas have arisen (around 400-200 BCE). Charka Samhita deals more with medicine, while Sushruta deals more with Surgery (Shalya). Ashtanga Hridayam of Vagbhata and Ashtanga Sangraha were written later (around 4th century AD). Yoga, which was first introduced in Rig Veda (as Ayurveda), and later by Srimad bhagavatam and the Bhagavad Gita, is a bit different from the Yoga as we know it today. Hatha Yoga was first written by Yogi Goraknath, and later Rishi Patanjali introduced "Patanjali Yoga Sutras" which is much known today. More texts on Yoga have been written as Gheranda samhita and more.

Integrating the two methods into health
Ayurveda and Yoga hold different but mutually supporting roles for each other. Ayurvedic guidelines help to create the lifestyle and understanding of the external world necessary to support and preserve health. Yogic guidelines support the spiritual perspective revealing that there is more to life than health, financial success and family life. They constantly remind of the importance meditation and prayer as the primary means of developing contact with Spirit as the means to contentment. From my observation, Yogic diet is primarily concerned with the three Gunas (Sattva, Rajas, Tamas) and Ayurveda is more concerned with the 6 tastes (Sweet, Sour, Salty, Pungent, Bitter and Astringent).

Yoga for the Doshas

Vata Composed of Space and Air
A being ungrounded (by their elements), we wish to introduce balancing and grounding practice.
Routine is very essential for Vata.

Asana: Some beneficial poses for Vata
- Vrikshasana (Tree Pose)
- Garudasana (Eagle Pose) and
- Natarajasana (Dancer King)

Pranayama:
- Ujjayi Pranayama
- Anulom vilom.
* Be careful not to exert, always do pranayama according to capacity, for Vata no more than 5 minutes.

Meditation:
- Mantra repetition of self-inquiry 'Who am I?"
- So-Hum meditation.

Pitta – Composed of Fire and Water
Pittas should have a Yogic routine to maintain their good Agni, and to help their tendency towards inflammation.

Asana:  Some of the asanas beneficial to Pitta
- Sharvangasana (Shoulder Stand)
- Halasana (Plow Pose)
- Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
- Veerasana (Warrior Pose)
- Chandra Namaskar will be good as well.

Pranayama:
- Shitali Prnayama or
- Shikhari Pranayama which are cooling.

Meditation:
- Soothing mantras such as Om
- Bija Mantras (Lam and Ram, for mooladhara and Manipura chakras respectively).
- Trataka on a ghee lamp.

KaphaComposed of Water and Earth
Kaphas need vigorous exercise, which will benefit the heart and lungs. Sweating will be good.

Asana:
- Sharvangasana (Shoulder Stand)
- Setubandhasana (Bridge Pose)
- Simhasana (Lion Pose)
- Matsyasana (Fish Pose)

*Asanas should be held for longer than Pitta and Vata.

Pranayama:
- Kapalbhati
- Bhastrika
- Surya Bheda.
*All those pranayamas encourage heat and balance Agni.

Meditation:
- Kirtans
- Bhajans
- Satsanga

* Practice of Jala Neti will be good for Kapha as they have mucous problems.

 Please Note:
All mentioned above are just guidelines.
All these practices should be performed under the guidance of a qualified Yoga teacher.

References:
Dr. Robert E. Svoboda. Ayurveda, Life Health and Longevity.
Dr. Vasant D. Lad. Textbook of Ayurveda Vol 2.
Mukunda Stiles. Ayurvedic Yoga Therapy.
Swami Muktibodhananda Saraswati, Hatha Yoga Pradipika.
David Frawley (Vamadeva Sashtri) website.