The Benefits Of Meditation + Overcoming 5 Most Common Struggles of Meditation

 

The Benefits Of Meditation
It seems that research centered around the benefits of meditation have now been rolling in steadily validating the ancient wisdom common to both Ayurveda and Yoga. Ayurveda is an ancient science which literally means ‘the science of life’. A basic fundamental premise to both Ayurveda and Yoga is that - both a sound mind and sound body are integral to one’s overall health and well-being.

“Meditation is mind without agitation.”
- Narasimhan

Just Some Of The Potential Benefits Of Meditation:
- greater clarity and inner calmness
- increased creativity and happiness
- improved sense of emotional stability
- reduced level of anxiety and depression
- improved brain function and memory
- reduced level of stress
... the list can go on and on ...

Interesting Video ~ The Scientific Power Of Meditation! 

Overcoming The 5 Most Common
Struggles With Meditation:

 

1. “I can't stop thinking.”
When people first begin to meditate, they often have the misunderstanding that one is not suppose to have any thoughts [while meditating]. Due to this false belief there is commonly a notion that one is doing something “wrong”. Unfortunately, it is this very act of judgement which can result in one meditating less.

Instead ...
Consider meditation an act of simply observing your thoughts as they arise and allowing them to flow without fully attaching and identifying to them.

2. “It’s impossible for me to sit still.”
One of the initial challenges of meditation is simply remaining still. Whether this stillness is of the body or stillness of the mind - many people find this to be a great challenge.

Instead ...
Simply consider focusing on the breath. Whether this focus on the breath is for one hour, one minute or even a few seconds - this focus on the breath will help to create a sense of being centered and will naturally create its own stillness.

3. “I fall asleep soon after I close my eyes.”
It is no surprise that many of us are overworked and sleep-deprived. Likewise, as the body begins to sense a level of relaxation - it naturally wants to further enter into a deep level of relaxation [i.e. sleep].

Instead ... 
If you do need sleep - by all means, sleep. However, as you continue a regular practice of meditation you will likely develop a greater sense of overall well-being including more profound sound sleep at night. As the quality of sleep improves at night this will provide for greater awareness during the day - which will allow you to meditate with a level of passive alertness without the tendency to falling asleep during meditation.

4. “I just don’t have time to meditate.”
Unfortunately, this may not only be the most common struggle but rather the most common ‘excuse’ not to meditate. Recently, I saw a clever post online which said, “if you have time for FB, you have time to meditate”. Taking into consideration that there are nearly 2 billion people on FB - there are 2 billion people who have time to meditate.

Instead ...
Consider setting up an alarm for the time you have carved out to meditate, or physically write it in your day planner; usually early morning or the evening. Also, instead of setting aside a large span of time to meditate - begin with just a few minutes dedicated to sitting quietly to meditate and do your level best to stick to this routine. Soon, after you begin to realize the actual benefits of meditation, the time you dedicate for meditation will increase exponentially!

5. “I don’t want to sit around and ‘do nothing’”
One of the most ‘real’ challenges in our ever increasingly fast-paced society is the concept of doing more and more and it would only seem counter-productive to ‘do nothing’.

Instead ...
Consider the act of sitting quiety and ‘doing nothing’ as a way of gaining new perspectives and insight which ultimately creates clarity of the mind. Likewise, as mentioned above, meditation has been shown to improve brain function and memory which will help to approach the ‘to-do list’ more effectively.

Parting Comment:
Make sure to bring that sense of peace and calmness from your daily meditation into your daily activies. Dr. Andrew Weil nicely explains ... “Remember the breath while walking - as with any meditation technique - should not be pursued with a grim determination to ‘get it right’. The point is to cultivate openness, relaxation and awareness, which can include awarness of your undisciplined, wandering mind.” - Dr. Andrew Weil


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]


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.

 

 


The Real Power of Mantra

 THE REAL POWER OF MANTRA
Amantram akṣaram nāsti, nāsti mūlam anauṣaḍham
Ayogyaḥ puruṣo nāsti, yojakas tatra durlabhaḥ

There is no syllable that is not a mantra, no root that is not medicine;
There is no person who is not born with a use, but it takes skill to find these things.

In everyone’s horoscope, there are key sounds, or mantras, that reflect various aspects of the personality. They are based on the individual placement of planets at the time of ṭheir birth. Vedic astrology makes use of these (what are sometimes called sacred or ‘primordial sounds’ ) for naming people and businesses, for meditation, and even for finding compatible partners.   

Such short ‘seed syllables’ or bīja mantras are practicable for Westerners because they are not particularly difficult to pronounce. But probing the heart of the Mantric tradition requires a deeper understanding of Sanskrit, because the majority of mantras in that language are lengthier and more complex than the single-syllable we are used to in the West. Want to get in touch with Gaṇeśa? His seed mantra, oṃ gaṃ gaṇapataye is great, but the longer gaṇapati atharva śīrṣam, which takes about ten minutes to recite, may introduce you to a deeper level of this deity.

Want to create understanding and harmony in your life? The Viṣṇu Sahasranāma can help, but you have to invoke the thousand names of Viṣṇu with some degree of intelligibility.  It is true that intention is ultimately most important, but the power of a mantra really shines when it is also properly articulated. For example, ananda means “lack of joy, misery” while ānanda denotes the opposite: “rolling in joy, bliss.” Do you think flipping how you pronounce these could have an effect on your spiritual practice?

In my classes on Sanskrit for Yogis, we joke that the word cakra  (pronounced ‘chuh-kruh’) is only a shaakraah in California. That is, there are variants in Sanskrit pronunciation wherever you go - even in different regions of India (think prakriti vs. prakruti). But attaining a rudimentary understanding of ‘correct’ pronunciation frees us to play and be creative when we like --  to call a cakra a shaakraah with delight --- and with the inside understanding that we know what to call it when the time is right. 

Different Kinds of Mantras
In Āyurveda, there are mantras for healing various organs and systems in the body. For example, hrūm is a bīja mantra for the liver,  while ṛm works for the ears and hrīm for the eyes.  A slightly longer version of these also exists, like Oṃ hrīm sūryāya namaḥ for the eyes, and Oṃ dvam dvāra vāsinābhyām namaḥ for the ears.

There are also longer mantras like the mahā mṛtyunjaya that are recited 108 times per day to help with difficult to treat diseases:

Oṃ tryambakam yajāmahe sugandhim puṣṭi vardhanam
Urvā rukam iva bandhanān mṛtyor mukṣīya māmṛtāt

This famous mantra actually comes from the Ṛg Veda and is embedded in the Śrī Rudram- an ancient paen to Rudra and a powerful healing hymn that takes about thirty minutes to recite in its entirety.

There are also Tantric-based mantras like the cakra bīja sounds:
Laṃ- 1st cakra
Vaṃ- 2nd cakra
Raṃ- 3rd cakra
Yaṃ- 4th cakra
Haṃ 5th cakra
Kṣam or Oṃ- 6th cakra

There are also short, medium, and long mantras for each of the planets.
Having trouble with Saturn? Try the Shani bīja: oṃ śam śanaiścarāya namaḥ. Or his Purānic mantra:

Oṃ nīlāñjana samābhāsam, ravi putram yamāgrajam
Cchāyā mārtaṇḍa sambhūtam, tam namāmi śanāiścaram 

Want to please all nine planets in one swoop?
You can do that too, with long or short mantras like this one:

Brahmā murāris tripurānta kārī, bhānuḥ śaśī bhūmi suto budhaś ca
Guruś ca śukraḥ śanī rāhuḥ ketuḥ, sarve grahāḥ śānti pradāḥ bhavantu

The mantra om namo bhagavate vāsudevāya is a sacred invocation said to cleans all twelve houses of your horoscope with its twelve syllables. A concentrated form of the Viṣṇu Sahasranāma, thousand names of Viṣṇu, it invokes the sustainer of the universe to ensure peace and harmony in the home and in our relationships.

Probably the most popular and most numerous mantras are those dedicated to deities, like the aforementioned Ganesha and Viṣṇu, as well as mantras to the divine mother, avatars like Rāma and Kṛṣṇa, and even natural forces like Vāyu and Agni- Wind and Fire personified.

Literally thousands of mantras exist to honor the various aspects of Nature and the deities that represent them, and to learn these takes dedicated study under a guru and a lineage. The common thread that unites them, however, is Sanskrit. And though few of us will become Sanskrit scholars, a little effort goes a long way towards making the words you speak mantras, and the mantras you say powerful and imbued with meaning.  

**For more on healing, planetary, and other mantras, as well as the Sanskrit know-how behind them, refer to the author’s Sanskrit Without Stress DVD program.To learn about your primordial sound and how to read your life map, refer to Decoding Your Life Map With Vedic Astrology.  

 

 

 

 


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.


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.


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.