Ayurvedic Medicine

Dinacharya, Daily Self Care

DInacharya

Dinacharyais the Ayurvedic daily ritual of self-care. According to Ayurveda, routine plays a significant role in health. A healthy life can best be maintained by creating a daily regimen tailored to a person’s constitution. Governing  all daily actions, such as the time you wake up in the morning, the time you eat, the  time you begin daily body purification, and the time you go to sleep, is the essence of dinacharya.

Ayurvedic dinacharya has been practiced for thousands of years and has many benefits. It cleanses the body and prevents the buildup of toxins, it helps to keep the senses and mind clear, and it’s very nourishing. Repeating a routine every morning sets the rhythm of your day and gives you a feeling of stability and steadiness. It promotes a healthy organization of the energy channels and the seating of prana (life force) in the body, creating calmness in mind, limiting stress, and minimizing decision fatigue.

The new science of circadian medicine suggests that our genes have lost their ability to perceive and harmonize with the natural circadian cycles of nature. In our modern high-tech world, following the dictates of our body’s circadian clock is becoming more and more of a challenge, and some people are starting to have symptoms of a “nature deficit disorder.” While modern scientists are only now beginning to recognize the relationship between our overall health and the cycles of nature, Ayurveda has emphasized the primacy of this connection for millennia. Current research on this connection may revolutionize modern medicine as we know it, and Ayurvedic practices can be a foundation for this research to build on.

Ayurveda aims to reconnect our bodies to these natural circadian rhythms through the practice of dinacharya. At first, the challenge of establishing a daily self-care routine may seem overwhelming, but you can take things gradually and ease your way into it.

Starting the day right is the most important aspect of dinacharya. According to Ayurvedic teachings, you will have the best health if you wake up before sunrise and excrete waste shortly after. The early morning hours are the body’s natural purification time. Various dinacharya practices that are performed first thing in the morning—including tongue scraping, oil pulling, nasya(herb-infused nose oil) applications, and drinking a glass of warm water with a fresh-squeezed lemon or lime—support this time-sensitive purification process.

Next, to provide a sense of alertness and freshness, you should rub your body with oils and take a bath or shower. Then put on comfortable clothes, exercise, and practice yoga for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Light exercise is necessary each day to keep the digestive system at peak functioning by creating internal heat. Choose the form of exercise that’s best for your constitution, and avoid overexercising. Afterward, rest comfortably on your back with arms and legs outstretched, and breathe from the lower abdomen to calm the central nervous system.

Daily self-enhancing practices are considered crucial in Ayurveda. They don’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. Taking a break as short as 10–20 minutes to refresh your mind and spirit with activities like meditation, pranayama(regulation of the breath), yoga, journaling, or prayer provides immense health benefits. The more time you allow for these types of practices, the greater the rewards.

Eat regular meals daily! Irregular meals and excessive snacking can weaken the digestive fire. The natural course of the day sets the rhythm of our digestive system. Having scheduled eating times is essential, with lunch being the largest meal of the day and occurring between noon and 2 p.m. When the sun is at its highest, our digestive system is also at its peak, so naturally, this is when the largest meal should be eaten; it’s also the best time to eat raw foods and animal proteins. If possible, have dinner before sunset, as the digestive system slows down as the sun goes down. Breakfast should be eaten before 9 a.m. and should consist of something simple and easy to digest. Remember to favor warm, cooked, light meals that are appropriate for the seasons and the doshas you want to balance.

It is best to go to bed by 10 p.m. Keep this regular bedtime as it lets the body know that it is time to wind down and recuperate. To promote healthy sleep, drink a glass of warm cow’s milk or almond milk with cardamom or nutmeg shortly before bed. You can enjoy this while listening to relaxing music. Stay away from stimulating conversations, music, and television for at least one hour before sleep. This suggested regimen follows the flow of energy within the body and its relation to the external environment. Continuous awareness of this natural energy flow is the key to getting the most from your daily routine.

Check out our video 10 things to do before 10 a.m. for dinacharya tips!

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.

 

Marma Points of Ayurveda

Based on centuries of intuitive wisdom and field-tested knowledge, marma chikitsa (therapy) is an essential hands-on Ayurvedic practice that often delivers profound mind-body benefits. This practical application of ancient Ayurvedic principles is defined by the renowned Ayurvedic physician Dr. Vasant Lad as “the precise art of touching an individual in exactly the right place at a critical moment in time for the purpose of healing.”  

Similar to the acupoints described in Chinese medicine, marma points, or marmaṇi, are specific locations on the body where our mental and physical energies can be accessed and adjusted or redirected. These access points occur in areas where veins, arteries, bones, tendons, or joint intersect. In Sanskrit the word marmameans “mortal or vulnerable point,” suggesting that these areas may be tender, weak, or sensitive. 

Located along the nadis—the energy channels that prana(the life-force) flows through—marma points are used in Ayurvedic medicine to promote communication between the body and mind as well as between cells, maintaining and coordinating their functional activities and transmitting healing energy to organs and tissues. 

Stimulation of a marma point that relates to a particular tissue can be used to not only help maintain the normal functioning of that tissue but also to address a specific imbalance (vikruti) in our elemental makeup by either increasing or reducing the predominance of a particular dosha, thus restoring our constitution (prakruti) to its natural intended state. The activation of marma points also produces a powerful response in the mind, helping to calm it while increasing the clarity of perception and empowering more effective communication. 

Often these points are used as a mechanism of pain relief. Pain is generated when tension and stagnation in the body block the flow of prana to a particular part of our body, disrupting the delicate equilibrium of the doshas associated with that area. Marma chikitsa alleviates this pain by stimulating the flow of prana to the affected area, pacifying the accumulated dosha. 

There are 117 primary marma points that are classified according to their location; constituent elements; degree of vitality; and associated doshas, tissues (dhatus), bodily wastes (malas), organs, and physical channels (srotamsi). The power of the marmaṇi is intimately connected with the basic components of the vital essence of life (ojastejas, and prana). Marma chikitsa is rarely used in isolation; more often it’s employed as a part of a comprehensive, multifaceted treatment program. To design this type of program, an Ayurvedic practitioner must have a broad and deep understanding of the etiology and symptomatology of disease and the stages of pathogenesis as well as sensitivity and skill in Ayurvedic diagnosis. However, marma chikitsa can also be used for immediate pain relief, long-term pain management, and first aid. Although marma therapy alone may not eradicate the disease process completely, it can give temporary symptomatic relief and may prevent serious complications from arising. 

Marma points reflect the qualities of the region of the body where they reside and the internal and external features of the corresponding doshas and subdoshas. Sushruta, an expert Ayurvedic surgeon in ancient India, described marmaṇi according to the six major parts of the body: the four extremities, the trunk, the head and the neck. He also defines the points in relation to the five principal components of the body’s physical structures: mamsa(muscle), sira(veins), snayus(ligaments), asthi(bone) and sandhi(joints). 

The marmaṇi on the scalp are connected to the brain as well as to organs situated in other parts of the body. On the chest and upper back, the points are connected with the heart and lungs. The points on the lower back are connected with the kidneys, stomach, and the digestive organs. Each of the areas where marmaṇi reside is associated one of the five constituent elements of the body (space, air, fire, water, and earth), and each marma point activates the energy of the element associated with its location. 

The language of the doshas is absolutely key to understanding the Ayurvedic viewpoint on health and disease. Knowing how marma points affect the dosha that predominates in a particular region of the body is crucial to achieving excellent therapeutic results. For example, chest and lung marma points stimulate kapha, umbilical points affect pitta, and colon points will influence vata. 

There are eight great marma points that are essential to life. These marmaṇi house the greatest concentration of vital energies of all the points. Sushruta described how injuries at these marma points, whether superficial or deep, can disrupt the flow of prana, decreasing vitality and even causing life-threatening damage. These points are known as the sadyah pranahara marmaṇimurdhani(crown), brahmarandhara (anterior to crown), shivarandhra(posterior to crown), ajna(third eye), shanka(right and left temple), hrdayam(heart), habhi (umbilicus), and uda(anus). The illustration below shows these eight marmaṇi, as well as five other vital points—kanthagrivabastivrushana, and yoni jihva—that can cause death or serious injury when traumatized. 

Sadyah Pranahara Marmani

 

 While marma points are the most vulnerable areas of our body, they also hold great potential to improve our health and well-being. Each of the following marma points provides access to specific health benefits:

  •  Anja – benefits the eyes and nose, regulates hormones, and improves pituitary function 

  • Shivarandhra – stimulates memory, calms the mind, and balances emotions

  • Hrdayam – directs the healing energy of love to the heart

  • Nabhi – enkindles gastrointestinal agni(digestive fire)

  • Murdhani – stimulates blood flow in the cerebral cortex and the circulation of the cerebrospinal fluid

  • Brahmarandhara – relieves headache and optimizes the functioning of the pituitary gland

  • Shankha – strongly pacifies pitta, relieves stomach pain and excess acidity, improves speech

  • Griva – boosts circulation of plasma and lymphatic fluid, benefits the throat and thyroid 

  • Guda – balances strength, vitality, and stability 

In general, stimulating the marmaṇi enhances the flow of prana. The manipulation of marma points can be quite effective when used on its own to treat mild and short-term illnesses and  dysfunctions. As the complexity of a disease increases, other Ayurvedic therapies become essential. These may include herbal or dietary recommendations, panchakarma, and exercise and lifestyle changes. 

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. 

15 Reasons Why You Should Take Triphala Daily

Triphala is known as one of Ayurveda’s most used herbal formulation. Triphala powder is a composed blend of three dried fruits., Haritaki, Bibhitaki and Amalaki. The blend is distributed into equal parts to ensure maximum efficiency. The principle of Ayurveda suggests that healthy stomach leads to a healthier life. Thus, to remain fit and healthy, it is very necessary for a person to keep his or hers stomach fit and healthy. This herbal formula is popular among Ayurvedic practitioner and its users as it is an effective bowl cleanser. The herbal formulation offers great support to the digestive system that helps insure that the process of digestion is completed at its best, ensuring optimal working of the digestive tract. 

According to various general theories, Triphala is an effective laxative that helps in keeping the digestive system fit and working, However, in experts’ opinions. Triphala powder is not just a laxative but also as a nutritional food supplement as it has great nutritional values. Unlike other laxatives, Triphala dose not put direct effect on the liver and gall bladder to force them to secrete digestive juices to digest food. Instead, it works like a sponge that swells by absorbing fluid. Thus, it helps in cleaning not only the intestinal tract but also the liver and blood. 

Top 15 Benefits of Triphala

  1. Improves and normalizes the digestive functions.
  2. Alleviates and corrects constipation.
  3. Tones the gastrointestinal tract.
  4. Cleanses bowel.
  5. Purifies the blood.
  6. Removes excess fats out of the body.
  7. Liver and Blood Cleansing. 
  8. Builds body immunity and contains high amounts of Vitamin C
  9. Maintains good male and female reproductive health. 
  10. Nourishes and strengthens the respiratory tract and lungs. 
  11. Improves eye sight.
  12. Nurtures the voice quality. 
  13. Enhances hair color and strengthens hair roots.
  14. Rich in powerful antioxidants, polyphenols which reduces oxidative stress on the body.
  15. Contains anthraquinone that help stimulate peristalsis.


In order to get the optimum results, it is recommended that a person should take no more then 1 1/2 tea spoons at in the evening, 45 minutes after having dinner or just before bed. It is best to boil for 5 mins in 1 cup of water, but it also can be taken with a spoonful of honey or in milk. Boiling the herbs allows for the molecules to break down further for better absorption. Tablet forms are also available. For best results see an Ayurvedic Practioner for additonal health management suggestions.

Ojas, The Pure Essence of all Bodily Tissues

In yoga and Ayurveda we speak a lot of ojas, most people do not understand this term, nor do the recognize the importance of ojas. In Ayurveda, we believe ojas to be the pure essence of all bodily tissues. Ojas is the essence related to vitality and immunity in an indvidual. It is like honey. As the honeybee collects the minute molecules of the essence of hundreds of flowers and accumulates them in the honey comb for survival, ojas, circulated via the heart and throughout the body to maintain the natural resistance of the bodily tissue.

In short it can be described as our immune system. Ojas fights against aging, decay and disease. It is a superfine biological substance that gives strength to all the bodies tissues. Although often hear it  as a romantic or poetic subject, ojas is a protoplasmic, biological substance that includes albumin, globulin, and many other hormones. It is formed durning biosynthesis of the bodily tissues. Modern medicine talks about the immune system which includes the hematopoietic, endocrine, nervous, and digestive systems. The Ayurvedic concept of ojas corresponds to the modern medical concept, including gamma globulin, which maintains the immunity of the liver.

Immunity depends on the quality of the digestion, liver functions, and the integrated functions of all hormones in the endocrine system.  It also includes the nervous, skeletal, and muscular systems. When all these systems preform their physiological functions, ojas is maintained. Therefore, ojas is the potential source of strength and power, and natural resistance against illness, this is natural immunity. There are two types of immunity, natural or acquired immunity. When you receive a vaccination, this is an example of an acquired immunity. Ojas is our body's  natural resistance to fight infection.

Ojas has the capacity to counteract the etiological factors or cause of disease. Ojas is influenced directly by agni, or digestive system, which determines the quality of assimilation and nutrition. These qualities of ojas also depends upon lifestyle, stress, traumas and the qualities of relationships. For example if our relationships are not good our ojas will not be good.

So how do we support our Ojas? Building ojas is an art. Perhaps one of the best ways to consistently build ojas is to eat a diet of fresh, unprocessed whole foods in the appropriate season. Through the process of healthy digestion, microscopic amounts of the essence of these foods accumulate over time and become ojas. Ghee is an effective ojas building substance that can be added to your daily diet. 

Certain herbs in Ayurveda are also prized as great ojas-builders. Traditionally, a concoction of these herbs, including Ashwagandha and Shatavari, were blended with ojas-building foods like dates, almonds, coconut, saffron, ghee, honey and cardamom in a milk base. This mixture was warmed and taken before bed as a sleep aid and an ojas-builder to boot.

Other effective ways of building ojas includes healthy lifestyle routines, such as, sleeping habits (early to bed, early to rise and not in excess), yoga, medication, breathing exercises, walking in nature, laughing, expressing and showing love and affection, creativity, taking time and not rushing, doing things that make you happy,  giving to others, daily self oil application, and daily self love.