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AYURVEDA 101

Ayurveda, which originated in India, is the oldest documented health care system – It is 2500 years old. Ayurveda is made up of two syllables – Ayu meaning life and Veda meaning knowledge. Hence, Ayurveda is a system of health care which concentrates on maintaining the health of a healthy person first and then treats the imbalances of a sick person. It also primarily indicates measures for self-evaluation of health status.

What is health according to Ayurveda?

Ayurveda, which originated in India, is the oldest documented health care system – It is 2500 years old. Ayurveda is made up of two syllables – Ayu meaning life and Veda meaning knowledge. Hence, Ayurveda is a system of health care which concentrates on maintaining the health of a healthy person first and then treats the imbalances of a sick person. It also primarily indicates measures for self-evaluation of health status.

Ayurveda is a system of health care

Basic Principles of Ayurveda

Ayurveda is based on certain basic principles. In addition to physical, chemical and biological aspects it gives special consideration to spiritual aspects of life in the understanding and treatment of human diseases. Four key factors guide the preventive, promotive and curative aspects of the practice of Ayurveda are –

Basic Principles of Ayurveda

These refer to the five basic elements of Earth(Prithvi), Water (Aap) Fire/Sun (Tejas). Air (Vayu) and Space (Akash). They are responsible for the creation of all animate and inanimate forms.

This factor regulates all the normal and abnormal functions of our body.

Dhatus refer to different vital body parts or organs. There are seven Dhatus. Rasa (body fluids), Rakta (blood tissue), Mamsa (muscular tissue), Medas (adipose tissue), Asthi (bone tissue), Majja (bone marrow), Shukra (sperm and ova).

Malas are excretory products – stools, urine, sweat, nails, hair, wax in ear and mucus in the nose. Ayurveda emphasizes three pillars of health: regulated AHARA (food), NIDRA (Sleep) and BRAHMACHARYA (sexual activities).

Who is a healthy person according to Ayurveda?

Ayurveda gives an elaborate and explicit explanation about the characteristics of a healthy person. A person who understands this definition can himself/herself make out his or her status of health and take corrective measures on their own. A healthy person in Ayurveda is called as SWASTTHA.

What is Swasttha?

“Samadosha samagnischa sama dhathu malakriyah prasannetmendriya manah swasttha ityabhidiyate.” – (Ref.: Sushruto sutra stona)

A person in whom all three Doshas (physiological factors) are balanced,
Agni (digestive activities) are balanced, all seven Dhatus (protective tissues) are balanced, all Mala kriyas (excretory processes) happen regularly and her/his Atma (spirit), all Gnanaendriyas (sensory organs) and Karmendriyas (motor organs), and Manas (mind) are in satisfied status such a person is termed as SWASTTHA (healthy person.) This Swastha status is dynamic. It gets disturbed and/or imbalanced by our Ahara (Food – what we eat, drink, breathe, smell.) Vihara (activities), Vichara (thought processes) and by change in Ritus (seasons). To maintain the status of Swasttha one has to perform certain regular, sustained, and routine activities in every day life called DINACHARYA and RITUCHARYA in different seasons. This regimen helps maintain one’s health. Dinacharya starts from waking up in the morning until going to bed at night. It is advisable to follow this routine to maintain one’s health and prevent
sicknesses due to a faulty life style. It also promotes immunity against
frequent episodes of common ailments.

“Bramhi mahurte uthishhteth Swastho raksharthmayushha.”

A healthy person has to wake up at “Bramhi mahurta” to adopt a healthy routine.

What is Bramhi Mahurta?

Bramhi Mahurta is two-and-half to three hours before sun rise. This may happen earlier in summer and a little late in winter. Approximately between 4.30 am to 5.00 am is the time to wake up from bed. As the environment around is tranquil, it’s the best time to start the day. There are hardly any automobiles on the road, and hence, lesser pollution which allows one to enjoy the fresh air, an important factor for health (Prana Vayu). As you wake up, sit beside the bed and offer prayers for the well-being of all creations of God for a few minutes. A good beginning to a bright day!

(Laghavam karma saamarthyam deeptogni medasa khshyaha vibhakta ghana gatratvam vyayamaad upajayate.)

Drink two to three glasses of warm water. This helps in evacuation of and removing excess acidity from the stomach. Defecation is very important on a daily basis. One should not avoid it for paucity of time. Evacuation has to take place normally without the help of any stimulants or beverages. That’s why it’s called nature’s urge.

There is no need to resort to artificial methods to force evacuation, as it later becomes addictive and causes a strain on the rectal muscle. Straining causes laxity in rectal muscle and may lead to hemorrhoids (Piles). If the evacuation is difficult and stools are very hard, mix a teaspoonful of ghee to warm water and drink it in the morning. This helps in lubrication and softens the stools. Once you are relieved of the previous day’s stock, you are free to take food for the next day. Otherwise this may lead to bloating of the abdomen and indigestion. According to Ayurveda, indigestion (low appetite) is the mother of all diseases (Rogah Sarvepi Mandegnou).

Understanding Vyayama

After passing stool, its time for some physical activity in the form of exercises or Yogasanas. Exercise is an important daily routine. It is indispensable for health. Exercise is defined as an action that facilitates the natural processes in the body. An individual can choose the kind of exercises according to one’s age, bodily strength, condition and climate and one should relish it. If one is a beginner, he or she should ideally start in winter (November December-January-February). Proper measure is recommended for each individual. Walking is one of the best physical activities, according to Sushruta. One can walk according to one’s body strength and season in terms of time or kilometers. Yogasanas should be learnt from a qualified instructor or teacher. Books and/or videos may not instruct as per the needs of individuals, as they contain general instructions for a healthy person of a certain age. By performing physical exercises one’s body becomes light, improves in dexterity, grows firm, the appetite increases, fat reduces, accumulation of fat in specified parts reduces, the body remains trim, well-proportioned and lustrous.

Who is a healthy person according to Ayurveda
Is it good to apply oil on the body everyday

Is it good to apply oil on the body everyday?

Abhyangam

Post-exercise it is advisable to apply oil to the whole body after resting for a while preferably every day, if not at least once in a week as we are getting busier in this machine age. By applying oil to the whole body every day one can delay the ageing process and retain youthfulness, reduce aches and pains, and the strain our body undergoes; application of oil also improves eye sight (vision), provides strength to muscles, gives glowing skin and leads to a restful sound sleep. One must apply oil to the hair on the head, ears and sole of their feet, especially everyday.

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(“Abhyangam acahareth nityam sa jara shrama vataha drishti prasada pushtyayu sutwak swapna dhardya kruth. Shira shravana padeshu tam visheshena sheelayeth”)

Application of oil on the head prevents baldness and premature graying as it facilitates thick growth, soft hair and cures stress-induced headache. A gentle head massage with oil is soothing to the body and mind. Ah! What an experience after a good “tel malish !”.

Putting drops of oil in the ear prevents earache and deafness. Rubbing the feet with oil keeps the soles soft, removes dryness, numbness, heals cracks in the feet, reduces heat in the body thereby bringing down burning sensation in the soles and removes exhaustion. A good foot massage with oil puts you to sleep in minutes. A word of caution: If some one has discharge in the ear, please do not apply oil.

Sesame oil is the best oil for application over the body. Warm the oil a little before applying This is beneficial and health-promoting practice. An age old tradition, it is very essential for the modern day stress-related problems. It is worth spending half-an-hour daily towards maintaining one’s health. Vigorous rubbing of oil is not necessary; a gentle application will suffice. After this wonderful experience the body and mind needs a bath with hot or tepid water to refresh.

Understanding Snana: (Bath, shower)

A daily bath in the morning is recommended in the Ayurvedic classics as Hygienically sound. Among the virtues of a daily bath are: it gives strength, increases appetite, invigorates digestive process, nourishes the body promotes long life, increases vitality, improves semen and cheers the mind. It also cleans the body, clears the skin of dirt and itches, reduces morbid heat in the body, removes drowsiness and fatigue, eliminates thirst and inflammation, helps reduce fat, and improves eye sight.

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A bath generally means bath over the head. Cold water is to be preferred, except in winter and spring when warm (tepid) water may be used. When one is fatigued by manual labour or tired after a journey, hot water is advantageous; but habitual bathing in hot water is bad for the eyes. That’s why it is clearly mentioned that take hot water bath if needed only below neck.

Ayurveda Wellness Retreat

Rithucharya (Seasonal Routine)

The Indian calendar is divided into six seasons of two months each. Hemantha (winter, roughly November December), Sisira (cool season, January-February) also called winter’s close, Vasantha (Spring, March-April), Grishama (summer, May June), Varsha (rain, July-August) Sharad (autumn, September-October). Each season has a characteristic impact on the human body, and therefore, our conduct must be appropriate to the season, so that the impact is not injurious to health. Seasonal conduct is also a necessary part of hygiene and preventive medicine.

The Three seasons

Three seasons belong to Adana Kala thats Sisira, Vasantha and Grishama (the cool season, spring and summer). when the heat is the maximum and the sun saps the body of energy, making us feel weak, the Adana is called Uttarayan when the Sun travels northwards; it is hot and fierce and therefore, the air is too warm and coarse, making the earth parched and dry. Three seasons come under Visarga (Varsha, Sharad and Hemantha). The period is called Dakshinayan, the opposite of Uttarayan. In this period the sun courses southwards and the moon has the upper hand; the sun becomes weaker, is often covered by clouds, the air gets cooler and the earth moist. It is in this latter period that living beings acquire strength called Utsarga. The assumption is that during colder months, bodily strength increases. Winter and cool seasons are best so far as strength and vigour are concerned. Rains and summer are the worst for our strength is at its lowest. Autumn and spring are moderate season. Dietic and hygienic regulations change according to these changes in the seasons.

Hemantha (including Winter's Close Sisira)

During the cold months, the cool air drives body heat into the inner regions; the heat gathered in the stomach area increases the keenness of the digestive fire (Jatharagni). More than normal food, therefore, is required to prevent the digestive power from consuming the body ingredients themselves. Food that is fatty, heavy and rich, sour or saltiest in taste, preparations from milk sweets dishes prepared in oil,are indicated. Use of hot or warm water is indicated for bathing and drinking.

Application of oil on the body and massage is required to keep the body muscles in good working condition. Wear warm clothes and stay in warm places to protect yourself from the cold, but if the day is sunny, expose yourself to the sun rays for some times. Light food which is pungent, bitter or astringent in taste would contribute to the increase of aches and pains in the body. Sleep during the day time will be harmful; and so would be exposure to cold wind especially to the head, chest and feet. Keep these three parts warm. Water infused with ginger will be beneficial as it prevents afflictions of cold.

Vasantha (Spring)

During the close of winter, kapha begins to accumulate and by spring exposure to the sun rays, it tends to get excited, resulting in many ailments like chronic cold. To prevent this tendency, mild emetics are recommended, especially in the month of March and April. Daily application of strong medicated inhalation would be helpful. Food taken must be light and easily digestible. Bathing in cold or lukewarm water and drinking cold or tepid water are advised. Clothing must be warm. Physical exercise and massage would be helpful.

Greeshma (Summer)

This is the season when kapha would decrease. Consume foods which are cold, fluid, oily and tasty. Milk, sugar, ghee and rice are especially recommended. Light clothing, preferably cotton garments, sleeping in the open, walking in cool places (river banks, gardens, forest land) and bathing in cold water would be appropriate to the season. Application of sandal paste and exposure to moonlight are beneficial measures to cool the system. Sleep during the day time would be advisable. But physical exercises, alcohol, saline, sour and pungent food need to be avoided as far as possible. Exercise very little. Stop the workout before you get tired.

Varsha (Monsoon)

Cleansing of the body by oil enema is recommended especially in the month of Sravana (July-August). The digestive power becomes dull in this season. Hence, food taken must be light, and a diet needs to be observed. Use of honey in food and drinks would be beneficial. Cotton clothes are recommended. Physical exercise, sleep in day time is to be avoided. Indian rainy season is not a period of continuous rain. It tends to be occasionally warm. At times, it seems like winter and at times, like summer. Conduct must vary according to seasons.

Sharad (Autumn)

Mild purgation is advisable as Pitta gets aggravated in this season. Food taken must be moderate, cold and easily digested. Bitter and sweet tastes are to be preferred. Eat less than the normal quantity. Exposure to moonlight is recommended. Avoid curds and meat of animals of marshy areas. Eat fatty and oily food and apply oil to the body. While all these are general principles, they need not apply to every individual uniformly. Conduct should naturally take into consideration the constitutional peculiarities of each individual, the availability of food and drinks, the individual’s habits regarding them, the nature of the land in which one resides and the incidence of ailments that occur due to seasonal variations.

Rithucharya

Apply these measures sensibly, understanding one’s health condition and age. By following these measures of daily conduct and seasonal conduct, one can ward off many ailments due to the influence of seasons, unhealthy food habits and activities. In spite of following these or not following them properly or in part only, when one may fall ill; then it is appropriate to use simple remedies, which are readily available in a majority of homes and in their surroundings which are safe, cost-effective and time-tested. Use home remedies to tackle simple ailments at home at the very first instance as it reduces the intensity of the problem and complications.

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Near Uttaranchal Gramin Bank, Laxman Jhula, Rishikesh,
Uttarakhand 249302, India
Phone: +91-8286854811, +91-9760882864, +91-8698862884
Mail: info.1111yogart@gmail.com

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