What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is the science of life and well-being.
The oldest documented body of holistic medical knowledge, it is a system of plant, oils and herbs originating in India over 6,000 years ago.
Ayurveda was codified into a text called the Charaka Samhita by the legendary physician Charaka in the 2nd Century BC. The Charaka Samhita travelled with traders and scholars to China, Egypt, Arabia and Europe, influencing and laying the ground-work for plant-based healing all over the world.
After centuries of testing, Ayurvedic science has proven effective. Ayurvedic treatments satisfy every aspect of a person's well being - physical, mental and spiritual.
Ayurveda is the Knowledge of Life.
Today, in the search for more complete healing and harmonious well-being, the holistic wisdom of Ayurveda is gaining international popularity as an alternative and a complement to modern allopathic medicine.
The daily routine – Dina Charya (by Dr. Vasant Lad)
“A daily routine is absolutely necessary to bring radical change in body, mind, and consciousness. Routine helps to establish balance in one's constitution. It also regularizes a person's biological clock, aids digestion, absorption and assimilation, and generates self-esteem, discipline, peace, happiness, and longevity.” - Vasant Lad, B.A.M.S., M.A.Sc., Ayurvedic Physician
1. Wake Up Early in the Morning
It is good to wake up before the sun rises, when there are loving (sattvic) qualities in nature that bring peace of mind and freshness to the senses. Sunrise varies according to the seasons, but on average Vata people should get up about 6 a.m., Pitta people by 5.30 a.m., and Kapha by 4.30 a.m. Right after waking, look at your hands for a few moments, then gently move them over your face and chest down to the waist. This cleans the aura.
2. Say a Prayer before Leaving the Bed
Say or think any prayer or words that touch your heart, to inspire you for another day and bring appreciation that you may witness another day.
Example prayer: "Dear God, you are inside of me, within my very breath, within each bird, each mighty mountain.
Your sweet touch reaches everything and I am well protected.
Thank you God for this beautiful day before me.
May joy, love, peace and compassion be part of my life and all those around me on this day.
I am healing and I am healed."
After your prayer touch the ground with your right hand, then the same hand to the forehead, with great love and respect to Mother Earth.
3. Clean the Face, Mouth, and Eyes
Splash your face with cold water and rinse out your mouth. Wash your eyes with cool water (or one of the eye washes mentioned below) and massage the eyelids by gently rubbing them. Blink your eyes 7 times and rotate your eyes in all directions. Dry your face with a clean towel.
Tridoshic eyewash: try triphala eyewash -1⁄4 tsp. in 1 cup water, boil for 10 minutes, cool and strain.
Pitta eyewash: use cool water or rose water from organic rose petals - most commercial rose water has chemicals in it that will sting the eyes.
Kama’ Rosewater is excellent quality.
Kapha eyewash: try diluted cranberry juice, 3-5 drops in a teaspoon of distilled water.
4. Drink Water in the Morning
Then drink a glass of room temperature water, preferably from a pure copper cup filled the night before. This washes the GI track, flushes the kidneys, and stimulates peristalsis. It is not a good idea to start the day with tea or coffee, as this drains kidney energy, stresses the adrenals, causes constipation, and is habit-forming.
Sit, or better squat, on the toilet and have a bowel movement. Improper digestion of the previous night's meal or lack of sound sleep can prevent this. However the water, followed by sitting on the toilet at a set time each day, helps to regulate bowel movements. Alternate nostril breathing may also help. After evacuation wash the anal orifice with warm water, then the hands with soap.
6. Scrape your Tongue
Gently scrape the tongue from the back forward, until you have scraped the whole surface for 7-14 strokes. This stimulates the internal organs, helps digestion, and removes dead bacteria. Ideally, Vata can use a gold scraper, Pitta a silver one, and Kapha copper. Stainless steel can be used by all people.
7. Clean your Teeth
Always use a soft toothbrush and an astringent, pungent, and bitter toothpaste or powder. The traditional Indian toothbrush is a neem stick, which dislodges fine food particles from between teeth and makes strong, healthy gums. Licorice root sticks are also used. Roasted almond shell powder can be used for Vata and Kapha, and ground Neem for Pitta.
To strengthen teeth, gums, and jaw, improve the voice and remove wrinkles from cheeks, gargle twice a day with warm sesame oil. Hold the oil in your mouth, swish it around vigorously, then spit it out and gently massage the gums with a finger.
Chewing a handful of sesame seeds helps receding gums and strengthens teeth. Alternatively, chew 3-5 dried dates and an inch of dried coconut meat. Chewing in the morning stimulates the liver and the stomach and improves digestive fire. After chewing, brush the teeth again without using toothpaste or powder.
(Note: One handful of sesame seeds contains the necessary daily intake of Calcium)
10. Nasal Drops (Nasya)
Putting 3 to 5 drops of warm ghee or oil into each nostril in the morning helps to lubricate the nose, clean the sinuses, and improve voice, vision, and mental clarity. Our nose is the door to the brain, so nose drops nourish prana and bring intelligence.
Vata: sesame oil, ghee, or vacha (calamus) oil.
Pitta: brahmi ghee, sunflower or coconut oil.
Kapha: vacha (calamus root) oil.
(Note: do not do nasya if your are pregnant.)
11. Oil Drops in the Ears (Karana purana)
Conditions such as ringing in the ears, excess ear wax, poor hearing, lockjaw/stiff jaw, and TMJ, stiff neck are all due to Vata in the ears. Putting 5 drops of warm sesame oil in each ear can help these disorders. Then give the ears a light dusting with your constitution herb. Wrap it in a few layers of cheesecloth then tap against the ear.
Vata: Mahanarayan oil, dust with Dashamula.
Pitta: Brahmi oil, dust with Sandalwood powder.
Kapha: Neem oil, dust with Vacha powder.
12. Apply Oil to the Head & Body (Abhyanga)/Daily Self Oil Massage
“The body of one who uses oil massage regularly does not become affected much even if subjected to accidental injuries, or strenuous work. By using oil massage daily, a person is endowed with pleasant touch, trimmed body parts and becomes strong, charming and least affected by old age.” Charaka Samhita Vol. 1, V: 88-89
Abhyanga nourishes the skin, plasma, lymphatic system, blood circulation, fat tissues and muscles.
For already healthy people this is the best form of maintenance.
Wearing clean clothes brings beauty and virtue.
14. Use of Perfumes
Using natural scents, essential oils, or perfumes brings freshness, charm, and joy. It gives vitality to the body and improves self-esteem.
For Vata the best scents to use is Hina, Amber, Lavender, Ylang Ylang.
For Pitta try using Khus, Sandalwood, Jasmine, Rose or Rose Attar, Rosewood, Ylang Ylang and Lavender.
For Kapha use for example Amber, Orange, Grapefruit, Mandarin, Rosemary. (See Kama’s list of Essential Oils)
Regular exercise, especially yoga, improves circulation, strength, and endurance. It helps one relax and have sound sleep, and improves digestion and elimination. Exercise daily to half of your capacity, which is until sweat forms on the forehead, armpits, and spine.
Vata: Sun salutation x 12, done slowly; Leg lifting; Camel; Cobra; Cat; Cow. Slow, gentle exercise.
Pitta: Moon salutation x 16, moderately fast; Fish; Boat; Bow. Calming exercise.
Kapha: Sun salutation x 12, done rapidly; Bridge; Peacock; Palm tree; Lion. Vigorous exercise.
After exercise, sit quietly and do some deep breathing exercises as follows:
Vata: 12 Alternate Nostril breaths;
Pitta:16 cooling Shitali breaths (curling up your tongue lengthwise and breathing through it);
Kapha: 100 Bhastrika (short, fast, pumping breaths).
It is important to meditate morning and evening for at least 15 minutes. Meditate in the way you are accustomed, or try the "Empty Bowl Meditation". Meditation brings balance and peace into your life.
(Go to www.ayurveda.com to download instructions for “Empty Bowl Meditation)
18. Now it is time for your breakfast!
Your meal should be light in the hot months or if your agni is low, and more substantial in the cold.
Enjoy your day!
Courtesy of Dr. Vasant Lad, The Ayurvedic Institute 2002
Learn more about: The benefits of a daily massage: Abhyanga Ayurvedic Oil Massage
Abhyanga: Ayurvedic Oil Massage - By Dr. Claudia Welch
“Abhyanga is the anointing of the body with oil. Often medicated and usually warm.
The oil is massaged into the entire body before bathing. It can be beneficial for maintaining health and used as a medicine for certain disorders. Abhyanga can be incorporated into a routine appropriate for almost everyone.
The Sanskrit word sneha means both “oil” and “love,” and the effects of Abhyanga are similar to the effect of saturation with love. Both experiences can give a deep feeling of stability, warmth and comfort. Sneha--oil and love--is sukshma, or “subtle.” This allows sneha to pass through minute channels in the body and penetrate deep layers of tissue.
Ayurveda teaches that there are seven dhatus, or layers of tissue in the body. Each is successively more concentrated and life-giving. It is taught that for the effects of sneha to reach to the deepest layer, it should be massaged into the body for 800 matras, roughly five minutes. If we consider that the entire body needs this kind of attention, a 15-minute massage is a minimum amount of time.
Benefits of External Oleation. Outlined in: Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita and Ashtanga Hrdayam Benefits of applying oil to the body (Abhyanga): Produces softness, strength and color to the body
- Decreases the effects of aging
- Bestows good vision
- Nourishes the body
- Increases longevity
- Benefits sleep patterns
- Benefits skin
- Strengthens the body’s tolerance
- Imparts a firmness to the limbs
- Imparts tone and vigor to the dhatus (tissues) of the body
- Stimulates the internal organs of the body, including circulation
- Pacifies Vata and Pitta and Harmonizes Pitta
Sushruta says that massage “reduces the fat and the aggravated Kapha of the system, smoothes and cleanses the skin and imparts a firmness to the limbs.” (Sushruta Vol.2, 24:28)
He also says, “Anointing (Abhyanga) the body (with oil, etc.) imparts a glossy softness to the skin, guards against the aggravation of the Vayu [Vata] and the Kapha, improves the color and strength and gives a tone to the root-principles (Dhatus) [tissues] of the body.” (Sushruta Samhita, Vol.2, ch24:15-17)
By using oil massage daily, a person is endowed with pleasant touch, trimmed body parts and becomes strong, charming and least affected by old age. Charaka Samhita Vol. 1, V: 88-89
Directions for Abhyanga:
- Put about ½ cup oil in an 8 oz. squeeze bottle. Make sure the oil is not rancid. Use either Kama’s Sesame, Swagandhadi or Jwalini oil
- Place the bottle of oil in hot water until the oil is pleasantly warm.
- Sit or stand comfortably in a warm room, on a towel that you don’t mind ruining with oil accumulation. Make sure you’re protected from any wind.
- Apply the oil to your entire body
- Massage the oil into your entire body, beginning at the extremities and working toward the middle of the body. Use long strokes on the limbs and circular strokes on the joints. Massage the abdomen and chest in broad, clockwise, circular motions. On the abdomen, follow the path of the large intestine; moving up on the right side of the abdomen, then across, then down on the left side. Massage the body for 5-20 minutes, with love and patience.
- Give a little extra time and attention to massaging the oil into your scalp, ears and feet, at least once a week. Apply oil to the crown of your head (adhipati marma) and work slowly out from there in circular strokes. Oil applied to the head should be warm but not hot. Put a couple drops of warm oil on the tip of your little finger or on a cotton ball and apply to the opening of the ear canal. (If there is any current or chronic discomfort in the ears don’t do this without the recommendation of your health care practitioner). When you massage your feet, be sure to wash them first when you shower, so you don’t slip.
- Enjoy a warm bath or shower. A dusting powder like Kama s UBTAN - can help rinse off the oil without drying out the skin. You can use a mild soap like Kama s NIMBA or AROGYA on the “strategic” areas.
- When you get out of the bath, towel dry. Keep a special towel for drying off after your Abhyanga because it can eventually get ruined, due to the accumulation of oil.
- Put on a pair of cotton socks (organic, if you can find them) to protect your environment from the residual oil on your feet.
- Apply a dosha-appropriate essential oil to your wrists and neck.
WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT AYURVEDA?
THERE IS MUCH TO LEARN FROM:
- Delight Academie | Delight Yoga
- Victoria (Tory) Hyndman | Delight Yoga
- Dr. Claudia Welch - Ayurveda, Health and Eastern Medicine
- Dr. Robert Svoboda
- Atma Ayurveda with Susan Pulley - Atma Ayurveda
- Centrum voor Ayurveda
WE RECOMMEND TO START LEARNING AYURVEDA:
- The Book of Ayurveda: A Holistic Approach to Health and Longevity by Judith H. Morrison.
- Ayurveda: Life, Health, and Longevity by Dr. Robert E. Svoboda.
- Hidden Secret of Ayurveda by Robert E. Svoboda.
- Ayurvedic Cooking for Self Healing by Usha and Dr. Vasant Lad.
- Absolute Beauty by Pratima Raichur
- The science of self-healing by Dr. Vasant Lad
- Ayurveda for Women by Dr. Robert Svoboda
- Healthy living with Ayurveda by Anuradha Singh
- The Perfect Health by Deepak Chopra
- Ayurvedic beauty care by Melanie Sachs
- Not just a pretty face by Stacy Malka
- Balance your hormones, Balance your life by Dr Claudia Welch, MSOM