Nourishing The Body, Mind, & Soul - An Ayurvedic Perspective

 

Nourishing The Body, Mind, & Soul
Ayurveda is considered the world’s oldest and most complete system of natural healing. It’s said that the knowledge of Ayurveda is eternal and is revealed in order to help relieve the suffering of humanity. Perhaps the most universal aspect of Ayurveda is to establish balance, peace of mind, and happiness.

“The natural force within each of us
is that perfect healer of all.”

- Hippocrates

According to the classic texts, three aspects of the mind include:

  1. Dhi, the ability to learn and acquire knowledge
  2. Dhriti, the ability to process and retain information
  3. Smriti, the ability to recall, memory

 

Recalling Our True Nature
In nearly all ancient cultures, nature has often been considered the greatest healer. Interestingly, in Ayurveda “prajnaparadha” [crime against intellect] is considered the root cause of all disease. Perhaps the greatest crime from a vedic perspective is to separate one’s true identify with that all of creation. Therefore, by thoroughly recalling the wholeness of life springs forth the source of all healing and bliss - within.

Introduction To Ayurveda - Living In Balance With Ayurveda 

Ayurveda and Yoga consultant and educator Myra Lewin provides an introduction to Ayurvedic living and bringing yourself back to balance. Ayurveda an ancient science of life that incorporates diet, lifestyle, spirituality, and healing.

 

"True Nourishment"

Nourishing the mind begins with a healthy daily routine. According to the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda, health rests upon a foundation supported by three pillars – the three pillars being sleep, diet, and overall balance of life. If any one of these three pillars becomes weakened, it’s thought that the overall health and well-being of a person may be affected. Therefore, in order to function optimally especially during modern times, let us look at specific ways to help maintain balance.

Sleep:
It’s nearly impossible to be healthy without adequate sleep. Sleep is essential for the maintenance and repair of the neurological, endocrine, immune, musculoskeletal and digestive systems. Rather, sleep is necessary for all systems of the body. Period.

Just some of the obvious benefits of a great night sleep:

  • Enhances memory and mental clarity
  • Improves athletic performance.
  • Boosts mood and overall energy.
  • Improves immune function.
  • Increases stress tolerance

 

HOT MILK – The Natural Sleep Aid
Hot milk – milk is a wonderful source of tryptophan which helps induce sleep. If consumed an hour before bed with a pinch of nutmeg, it can provide sound and restful sleep.
Click Here – To Learn 8 Tips For Sound Sleep

Healthy Digestion:
Ayurveda has described the underlying function of digestion and metabolism in our body as Agni [“Fire”]. Regarding the importance of Agni, the father of Ayurveda – Charak stated that when Agni of the individual is balanced then that person would be absolutely healthy and would lead a long, happy and healthy life.

Practical Tips For Healthy Digestion
Although simple, these principles if followed routinely, are often enough to help improve your digestion and overall health. Often it’s the simple things that are most effective and oddly enough - most overlooked. That said, let’s quickly take a look at the basics.

  • All food should be freshly prepared, nutritious, and appetizing
  • Food should generally contain all 6 tastes balanced to one’s needs
  • We should leave 4-6 hours between meals with no snacking in between
  • Eat your largest meal during the day when the sun is at its peak
  • Relax and enjoy your meals in a calm soothing environment

 

GHEE - Heal The Gut & Nourish The Mind
Healthy digestion is considered the fundamental pillar of good health. According to Ayurvedic literature, ghee increases the digestive function and thought to nourish nearly all tissues of the body – specifically the gastrointestinal tract by reducing inflammatory conditions, reducing seepage of undigested food particles, and aids in repair of the mucosal wall.

Click Here
– To Learn More About Ghee
Click Here - To Learn Simple Tips For Healthy Digestion

Overall Balance:
Knowing nature to be whole and complete, good health implies restoring that natural state of completeness and wholeness. According to the science of Ayurveda, health is a natural state when there is perfect balance of your body, mind, and spirit.

Ayurveda gives prime importance to:
- balanced doshas
- balanced digestion
- optimal function of bodily tissue and waste elimination
- balanced state of mind, clarity of the sense, and happiness
Click Here - To Learn More About Achieving Balance

Happiness & Bliss...

“When the emotional heart is balanced, one gains pure knowledge,
the desires of the mind are always righteous, and one experiences unbounded bliss.”
– Sushruta Samhita

The science of Ayurveda commonly talks about “Ojas” as being the end-product of perfect digestion. However, digestion in terms of Ayurveda has a profound meaning. This implies properly digesting all that nourishes us; including everyday experiences of life [i.e. thoughts, feelings, emotions, etc.]. Nearly all Ayurvedic treatment is designed to increase the abundance of superior quality of ojas and to avoid reducing ojas – as ojas is considered central to restoring health and preventing illness. Similarly, ojas is thought to be the most important element which designs and shapes the influence our experiences creates upon the mind.

Click Here - For A Guide To Happiness

Nourishing The Soul
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.

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 …

Click Here – To Learn More About The Benefits Of Meditation

Want More?
Click Here - For Healthy Living With Ayurveda


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.