Ayurveda 101

What is Vata Dosha?

What is Vata Dosha

According to Ayurvedic philosophy, there are three doshas (a.k.a. humors) present in every cell, tissue, and organ of our body that govern our psychobiological functioning. These doshas—vata, pitta, and kapha—comprise the five potential states of matter (i.e., space, air, fire, earth, and water). All five of these elements are present in each dosha, but the two predominant elements in a dosha determine its defining qualities. When in balance, the three doshas create health; when out of balance, they cause disease. They are also responsible for the vast variety of differences and preferences that exist among individuals, and they influence all we are and all we do, from our food choices to the ways we relate to others.

As the forces that govern our physiology, the doshas regulate the creation, maintenance, and destruction of body tissue, as well as the elimination of waste products. They also act as psychological drivers, governing our emotions and mental state. When in balance, the doshas generate the understanding, compassion, and love that sustain mental health. When their balance is disturbed by stress, improper diet, and environmental conditions, they give rise to disturbances such as anger, fear, anxiety, confusion, depression, and disease.

Vata dosha is composed of akasa(space, or ether) and vayu(air). The root va, which means “to spread,” suggests vata’s responsibility for all movement in the body and mind. This includes the flow of breath, pumping of blood; waste elimination; movement of the muscles, bones, limbs, and diaphragm, and the gut’s secretor-motor functions, as well as expressions of speech and responses of the intellect, the nervous system, and the five senses. 

Known as the master dosha because without it all the doshas would be inert, vata exerts a powerful influence on our well-being. Its capacity to affect our internal energies both positively and negatively becomes evident when we consider the dynamic between air and space in the external world. When the movement of air is unrestricted by space (as on the open ocean), it can gain enough momentum to become a hurricane  with gale-force winds traveling at speeds of over 150 mph. When air is confined in a box, it can’t move and becomes stale. Whether it’s due to lack of movement or too much movement, a vata imbalance disrupts the harmony of the doshas. 

The primary site of vata is the colon, but it also resides in the thighs, ears, bones, and bladder. The predominant qualities of its elements, or pañcamahābhūtās, are cold, light, rough, mobile, subtle, clear, dry, and astringent. These attributes can manifest as physical traits such as agility and thinness or health conditions like insomnia, as well as finding expression in mental and emotional functions and characteristics such as imagination, sensitivity, spontaneity, intuition, exhilaration, fear, insecurity, and doubt.

 

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease.

 

Ayurveda 101

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Ayurveda is one of the oldest forms of health care—it is the tree of knowledge from which many popular medicines and therapeutic interventions have grown. Used for 5,000 years by many thousands of doctors on millions of patients, Ayurveda is the time-tested medical system of India. The term Ayurvedais Sanskrit and means the “Science of Life.” It encompasses a variety of natural therapies and philosophies that support and enhance individual balance, health, and wellness. It has made huge advances in surgery, herbal medicine, herbal extracts, medicinal uses of minerals and metals, human anatomy, physiology, psychology, nutrition, and exercise.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has defined health as a state of complete, physical, mental, and social well-being—not merely the absence of disease. Ayurveda goes a step beyond this by offering a complete philosophy of life. It gives equal importance to all aspects of life, including those that are subjective and intangible, when addressing disease and imbalance. Ayurveda’s success and longevity stem from its capacity to teach us how to live vibrantly by creating good health at every step along the way.

Ayurveda is multifaceted, and practitioners often undergo years of training. It is an extremely sophisticated system of observation that categorizes clients by distinctive anatomic and metabolic “types” also known asprakruti. According to Ayurvedic teaching, each person exhibits a distinct pattern of physical, mental, and emotional characteristics. The course of illness and remedies are determined in part by each client’s constitution and the environment in which he or she exists.

In Ayurvedic philosophy, our prakruti is made up of a combination of doshas. There are three doshas that govern our psychobiological functioning: vata, pitta and kapha. Each dosha comprises the five elements (panchamahabhutas) and are present in every cell, tissue, and organ of the body. All five elements are present in each dosha, but the two predominating elements determine the defining qualities of the dosha. The doshas are responsible for the huge variety of individual differences and preferences, and they influence all that we are and all that we do—from our choices of food to the ways we relate to others. 

The doshas also govern the biological and psychological processes of our body, mind, and consciousness. They regulate the creation, maintenance, and destruction of bodily tissue as well as the elimination of waste products. They even govern our emotions and mental state. When in balance, the doshas generate understanding, compassion, love, and health. When their balance is upset by stress, improper diet, and environmental conditions, they give rise to disturbances such as anger, fear, anxiety, confusion, depression, and disease. Thus, when in balance, they create health and well-being; when out of balance, they cause disease and distress.

The goal of Ayurveda is to protect the health of a healthy person and restore health of a sick person by maintaining or bringing the body back into constitutional balance (doshic balance). Many factors can disturb the balance of the body such as stress, unhealthy diet, toxins, weather, work, strained relationships, and lifestyle choices. Such disturbances are expressed in the body as disease. Inherent in Ayurvedic principles is the concept that you are capable of taking charge of your own life and healing. When we becomes ill, the illness is not likely to completely resolve unless we change the behaviors that caused it. Understanding genetic makeup and getting to the bottom of these factors is an important process of the Ayurvedic medical science.

An Ayurvedic practitioner creates specific health programs according to each individual's doshic patterns, addressing each person’s illness as unique to him or her. Ayurvedic treatments may include internal and external medicinal remedies, diet plans, exercise, daily lifestyle programs, external body therapies, yoga, meditation, and detoxification and rejuvenation practices. Through a combination of these techniques and understanding of an individual’s unique constitution, Ayurveda can provide a complete system of healing with long-term solutions.

 

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. 

Yummy Radishes!

Today I was working in our beautiful organic garden, and as we harvested our delicious multicolored radishes, I thought, Wow, what an underused vegetable—why don’t more people enjoy them? And even more important, why are their health benefits so seldom mentioned? This unassuming root vegetable actually packs more nutritional punch than you may suspect, including the power of sulphur-based plant chemicals to stimulate the flow of bile, which makes them a valuable tool for optimizing the digestion of fats and cleansing the blood and the liver. Radishes have also been used to dissolve gallstones and kidney stones. 

Radishes contain manganese, vitamin B6, folate, riboflavin and copper, as well as three minerals—potassium, magnesium, and calcium—that support healthy blood pressure. (The National Institute of Health’s DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) recommends increasing our intake of foods that provide these nutrients.) As a potassium-rich food, radishes also help reduce water retention by lowering salt levels and boosting urine output. 

Radishes are also a very good source of vitamin C—providing 25 percent of the daily recommended value.  In addition to helping rebuild tissues and blood vessels and keeping bones and teeth strong, vitamin C fights disease and helps protect our cells from an onslaught of destructive free radicals. The natural antioxidant action and immunoprotective effects of this one vitamin play an important role in reducing the risk of potentially lethal health threats, including cancer, heart disease, and stroke.

Radishes can also help relieve congestion and prevent respiratory problems, such as asthma or bronchitis. They have antibacterial, antifungal, and detoxifying properties and contain compounds that soothe rashes, dryness, and other skin disorders.

Most people eat radishes raw, but from an Ayurvedic perspective, it’s best to eat them freshly cooked. Radishes greatly increase the pitta energy in the digestive tract, which is good for both vata- and kapha-dominant types, because it clears food stagnation and has a laxative effect. While pitta individuals may find heavy consumption of radishes overstimulating, they can eat them in moderation. Raw radishes may be difficult to digest and cause gas in vata individuals, so they should stick to cooked radishes to enhance their diets with this vegetable’s vata-balancing qualities.

Yummy Recipe: White Radish with Mung Dhal & Radish Greens

INGREDIENTS:

For the seasoning

2 tbsp oil
 tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
2 to 3 dry red chilies, broken into bits
½ tsp asafetida
½ tsp turmeric powder
radish greens cut from the radishes, finely chopped

500 gm or 2 white or pink radishes, finely chopped
100 gm (½ cup) mung dhal
1 tsp sugar
1¼ tsp salt or to taste
3–4 tbsp grated fresh coconut (you can also use frozen)

METHOD:

In a small or medium-sized saucepan, pour in enough water for cooking the mung beans and add them to the pot. Bring to a boil over a medium heat, and simmer until cooked halfway, about 12 to 15 minutes.

In a wok or kadhai, heat the oil over medium heat. Reduce the heat before the oil smokes, and add the mustard and cumin seeds. When the seeds pop, add the chilies, asafetida, turmeric, and radish greens. Stir fry for 30 seconds.

Add the finely chopped radishes, cover, and cook over a medium-low flame, stirring from time to time until the radishes are half-cooked, about 7 to 8 minutes. Stir in the mung dhal, mix well, cover, and cook until the radishes are fully cooked, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the coconut, mix well, and switch off the burner. Serve hot with rotis or rice.

*Note that raw brassicas contain chemicals called goitrogens that can block the thyroid function. These chemicals are easily inactivated by steaming or cooking, so always ensure you eat these nutrient-packed foods freshly cooked. 

 

 

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure, or prevention of any disease. 

The Amazing Healing Properties of Turmeric

Turmeric is a root plant or rhizome closely related to ginger. Commonly used in curries, turmeric has a warm, slightly bitter taste for coloring or enhancing the flavor of curry powders, cheeses, mustard and more. Many of my Ayurvedic teachers have stated that Turmeric is an answer to most common aliments such as stomach ache, soar throats, cuts, infections, skin problems and many others.

According to Web MD, the list of health-related uses for turmeric is long. It is ingested for stomach problems, such as gas, bloating or diarrhea; arthritis; menstrual pain; fever and such for thousands of years in some areas. A juice version is used as a topical agent and a turmeric paste (warm milk with some powder) is employed as an antiseptic in wounds.

Countless studies have shown the healing powers from turmeric properties. Recent research on the effect of aromatic turmerone, a turmeric extract, shows that the plant extract may help regenerate damaged brain cells after things like a stroke. There are many studies conducted on curcumin, an active ingredient in turmeric. Many have dealt with anti-inflammatory abilities in curcumin. In one study, turmeric worked about as well as ibuprofen for reducing arthritis pain. There have also been clinical studies on the benefits in diabetes and pre diabetes, positive effects on cancer, prostate cancer in particular.  Also many that shows it aids in weight management, liver detoxification, and digestive disease such as chrohn's disease.

Turmeric can easily be incorporated in to your daily life. It has many essential vitamins such as pyridoxine, choline, niacin, riboflavin and more. It also contains minerals of calcium, potassium, copper, iron, magnesia, magnesium and zinc. Turmeric in the diet increases the productions of enzymes that digest fat, sugars, and stops cholesterol from forming gallstones. It is an immune support and is antiseptic that kills yeast and parasites when used internally. It is also used for headaches, bronchitis, colds, lung infections, fibromyalgia, leprosy, fever, and menstrual problems. Other uses include depression, Alzheimer’s disease, water retention, and kidney problems

You can take Turmeric as a daily supplement and introduce it to you're cooking. It is delicious in soups, stir fry, curries and as a daily tea. Ayurvedic turmeric paste is a great way to use turmeric to make teas. The paste of honey and turmeric can store easily in a jar. For paste use 1/3 cup  or 80 ml good, raw honey 2 1/2 teaspoons dried turmeric. Work the turmeric into the honey until it forms a paste. You can keep this on hand, in a jar, for whenever you'd like a cup of tea. 

Ayurvedic Daily Turmeric Tea Recipe

  • Heaping Teaspoon of Turmeric Paste
  • Paste Squeeze of lemon
  • Lots of freshly ground black pepper

For each cup of tea, place a heaping teaspoon of the turmeric paste in the bottom of a mug. Pour hot (but not boiling water) into the mug, and stir well to dissolve the turmeric paste. Add a big squeeze of juice from a lemon, and a good amount of black pepper. (pepper is invigorating and helps support the digestion of the turmeric) 

 

 

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease.