Ayurvedic Practices

Bedtime Treat That Helps You Sleep

AyurvedicSleepSupport

Delicious and easy to make, this potent bedtime tonic (known as ojas rasayana) is revered in Ayurveda for nurturing deep and restorative sleep. The recipe makes about two servings and can be diluted with water if it’s too thick for your liking.

  • 10 almonds, soaked for 8 hours

  • 1 cup whole milk (dairy, almond, or rice)

  • 2 teaspoons ghee

  • 4–5 dates, preferably Medjool

  • 8 black peppercorns

  • ½ teaspoon cardamom

  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 pinch of cumin

  • 1 pinch of turmeric

  • 1 pinch of nutmeg

Liquefy all the ingredients in a blender until the mixture reaches a smooth consistency; then pour into a pot on the stovetop. Set the burner to medium heat, and bring the mixture to a very gentle boil. Stir and serve.

If you haven’t pre-soaked the almonds, you can simply blanch them in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and run the almonds under cold water, then remove and discard their skins.

For a delicious dessert, stir in 1 cup of natural yogurt after removing mixture from heat, spoon into small bowls, and drizzle maple syrup over each serving.

 

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.

Healing Music for Your Ayurvedic Type

HealingMusicDosha

Each of us has a unique connection to music. Most of us experience the effects of music on our mind and body daily. It’s a joy to think that we are all inherently musicians who can connect with the rhythms of life and spirit, if only we can find the music that most resonates with us. Ayurveda teaches that choosing music according to our type can deepen our ability to achieve a balanced state of health and wellness. Your Ayurvedic type depends on which dosha primarily governs your physiological and psychological functions. Identifying the dosha that determines your mind-body type is the first step toward finding the right music for you to play, compose, or simply enjoy. Once you’ve done this, you can follow these guidelines to select the kind of music that is most likely to nurture your total well-being.

Music for a Vata Type: In general, it's best for a vata person or someone who is experiencing a vata imbalance to listen to or play instruments with soft, low, and mellow tones, including string instruments such as the guitar, mandolin, bass, and cello and wind instruments, such as chimes and the didgeridoo. Learning to play Himalayan singing bowels and the harmonium can also be very healing and meditative for a vata type.

Music for Pitta Type: People with pitta-type constitutions should seek out soft, rhythmic music with a mid-range tone. Congenial instruments include the flute, clarinet, saxophone, and mouth organ. String instruments that are balancing for pitta types are the violin, dulcimer, and mandolin. All types of percussion that are gentle are also very soothing.

Music for Kapha Type: Kapha types should focus on energizing music with a solid bassline accompanied by higher tones. All types of drums, such as the Indian dholak and tabla and African conga and water drums, as well as bells, chimes, Incan panpipes, and the accordion, electric keyboard. and piano are all great instruments for a kapha person to learn to play.

 

 

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. 

Why and How to Perform Daily Oil Massage on Yourself (Abhyanga)

Ayurveda is a natural approach to holistic wellness that originated in India thousands of years ago. This traditional medical system uses herbs, nutrition, yoga, lifestyle regimens, and body treatments to achieve balanced health. An ancient Ayurvedic practice known as abhyanga(self-massage with warm oil) is an easy way to incorporate this intuitive health wisdom into your daily routine. The multitude of benefits it provides can enrich your journey to total well-being and help ensure its long-term success.

The Physical, Mental, and Emotional Rewards of Abhyanga

Abhyanga helps calm the nervous system, strengthen the joints and connective tissue, and stimulate the internal organs. One of the best things about this healing practice is its dependability as a consistent source of opportunities throughout the week to pay close, loving attention to our body. We all could benefit from more self-love, and self-massage is an excellent way to love ourselves while also reaping some serious health benefits.

By increasing the flow of blood and lymph throughout the body, daily self-massage delivers healing nutrients to our joints while relaxing the muscles surrounding them, thereby improving their integrity, flexibility, and range of motion. These benefits are particularly important for maintaining the functionality of joints that suffer a lot of wear and tear over time, such as those in our wrists, ankles, and hips. Self-massage further contributes to the repair of these tissues by increasing the number of circulating red blood cells that keep the tissues supplied with oxygen. 

In addition to benefiting our joints and muscles, the positive impact of massage on blood circulation supports lower blood pressure and more efficient heart function. By stimulating the flow of lymph, massage may help not only boost metabolism by efficiently clearing waste products from the body but also reduce the edema associated with pulmonary hypertension. The improved circulation of both blood and lymph further nurtures well-being by invigorating the brain and strengthening the immune system. 

By helping you overcome fatigue, abhyanga nourishes and soothes the nervous system and promotes undisturbed sleep, leading to increasing vigor and vitality in your everyday life Equally important, abhyanga helps you relax and offers the pampering that many of us enjoy after a hard week at work or during stressful situations. 

Ayurvedic oil massage loosens deep-seated toxins from joints and tissues and releases them into the excretory system for elimination. The removal of these accumulated toxins from the skin contributes to a healthier and clearer complexion. From an Ayurvedic perspective, the application of oil through massage equates to injecting “medicines” into the body. The massage promotes the absorption of beneficial compounds in the oil into the bloodstream, thereby supporting the body’s capacity to overcome illness.

Ideally, you should consult an Ayurvedic practitioner to determine the type of medicated oil that’s most appropriate for your constitution or imbalance. Otherwise, use only use raw sesame oil. Apply the warm oil all over your body for 15–30 minutes before taking a hot bath or shower to help the oil quickly penetrate the joints and deeper tissues.

Abhyanga Instructions

  • Begin by running hot water over the bottle of oil or set the bottle in a bowl full of hot water, gently warming the oil.

  • Pour about a tablespoon of the warm oil into your hand and apply to the scalp, vigorously working it into the tissue by moving your fingertips in small circles.

  • Transfer some of the oil on your head to your face and ears, massaging with a lighter touch.

  • Move to the neck, and with an open hand, massage both the front and the back of the neck, more rapidly, creating friction.

  • Apply more oil, and use this same technique, vigorously massaging your arms with straight up-and-down motions.

  • At the shoulders, elbows, and wrists, make circular motions and then resume massaging the whole arm with vertical strokes.

  • Then move to your chest and stomach, applying more oil if needed, and use gentle circular motions. When massaging the breastbone use straight up-and-down strokes.

  • After applying a bit more oil to your hands, gently reach around to the back and shoulder blades, and massage them without straining.

  • Move to your legs and buttocks, and repeat the same rapid up-and-down strokes you used on your arms. Use small circular motions at the hips, buttocks, knees, and ankles.

  • Then give your feet a thorough massage—it’s important not to rush through this part. Use an open hand to vigorously massage the soles and the top of your feet, moving your hand back and forth. Then use your fingertips to trace small circles all over the foot.

  • Let the oil soak into your skin for at least 15 minutes, but no longer than 45 minutes. Rinse off in a warm bath or shower.

  •  Remember to focus on self-love throughout the massage, inviting your body to absorb nourishment and care.

 

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.

 

3 Ayurvedic Practices for Longevity

Longevity is something most humans wish for. Its a constant battle. From the time of birth to until the time of death, the body is in a struggle with the aging process. Each day the body breaks down tissues and organs at a cellular level causing deterioration and degeneration. It is also at the cellular level that longevity can be support and rejuvenation must take place.

Each dosha plays a very important role in our health and longevity. The functions of all our billions of cells that constitutes our body are governed by the doshas. For example Vata is closely related to pranic life energy and governs all the bodies functions and movement. Pitta governs digestion, nutrition and transformation to a cellular level and Kapha maintains longevity and the structure in the cells. 

On a deeper level, to combat aging it is necessary to also balance the three subtle essences within the body. In Ayurveda, Prana is the first subtle essence is the life. It is the energy that governs respiration, oxygenation and circulation. Prana is closely related to the Vata dosha. It also governs all the motor and sensory function, natural intelligence of the body, functions of mind, memory, thoughts and emotions. The physiological functions of the heart is governed by prana, and from the heart the blood enters the body and oxygenates all the dhatus and vital organs. Prana governs the biological functions of the two other subtle essences, ojas and tejas. 

Ojas is the essence of the seven dhatus or bodily tissues. It is the related to Kapha and is the vital energy that controls the life-functions with the help of prana. It contains all five basic elements and all the vital substances of the bodily tissue. On a psychological level, ojas is respnosible for compassion, love, peace and creativity. Because ojas is related to Kapha, aggravation of Kapha displaces ojas and vice-versa. This pertains to all the doshas and its related subtle essence. Decrease ojas will create Vata-related reactions such as fear, general weakness, inability of the senses to perceive, loss of consciousness and death. Balanced ojas is necessary for biological strength and immunity. 

Tejas is the subtle essence of the fire that governs the metabolism through the enzyme system. It is related to Pitta dosha and angi, the central fire in the body that promotes, digestion, absorption and assimilation of food. Tejas is the further transformation of the ingredients of nutrition and is necessary for the nourishing and transformation of each dhatu. When tejas is aggravated, it burns away ojas and reduces immunity and overstimulates pranic activity

Just as it essential for health to ensure balance among the doshas it is just as important for longevity that prana, ojas, and tejas remain in balance. To create such balance, the Panchakarma rejuvenation process of Ayurveda is most effective. Rejuvenation must take place on a physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual level to be most effective. A yearly Panchakarma can create astonishing effects and is suggested to those who want to maintain health and longevity.

Ayurveda also provides simple techniques that can be used daily to support prana, ojas and tejas that can be incorporated into your lifestyle. When creating longevity it is importantto first avoid smoking, overexertion, cold drinks, most dairy products and hydrophilic substances, excess sexual activity, fried foods, red meats, excess alcohol staying up late or sleeping in. Its best to eat a nutrient rich plant based diet, primarily cooked foods with the balance of sweet, sour, pungent, salty, astringent and bitty tastes in each meal. 3-4 small meals a day with lunch being your biggest meal and daily light exercise is important. 

Supporting Ojas can be simply done with Ghee. Ghee is a product made form unsalted cultured butter and is an excellent appetizer en-kindling agni and enhances the flavors of foods. It helps digestion because it stimulates the secretions of digestive juices. It enhances intelligent, understanding and memory. It does not increase cholesterol as do many other oils and it has anit-Vata, anti pitta and anti- Kapha properties. Thus it aids in the balance of the Tridosha. It is a rejuvenate for all the tissues.

Incorporating ghee into your diet is easy, you can start with replace your cooking oils with pure ghee. If you would like a more direct effect take a teaspoon of ghee each morning followed by a cup of warm water on empty stomach.  Another way to support ojas, is to eat daily a date that has been soaked in ghee. Please make sure you are using organic grass-fed cultured ghee.  A lot of the ghee you find in Indian markets is not the medicinal ghee and will not be effective. 

Prana is best managed with pranyama and by eating an organic nutrient rich freshly cooked plant based meals. Pranyama is a yogic breathing exercise that brings healing and balance. As with yoga, there are different types of Pranyama. Ayurveda indicates which is suitable for a person based on their constitution. A pitta constitution should perform left nostril breathing. For this exercise, inhale through the left nostril and exhale through the right using thumb and middle finger to close and open alternate nostrils. A person of Kapha constitution should do right nostril breathing, inhaling through the right nostril and exhaling through the left. For a vata person, they should perform alternate nostril breathing, start by exhaling out of one nostril and then inhaling with the same nostril, then switch and exhale and inhale with the alternate nostril. Practice for 10-20 mins a day.

Tejas is the root of our digestive fire, it is believed in Ayurveda that the digestive system is the root of all imbalances. Improper diet, bad living habits and overuse of drugs will cause an imbalance in tejas. Substances that are hot, sharp and penetrating directly enhance tejas. Any tejas disorder can affect either prana or ojas. A great practice to enhance your tejas daily is to drink a warm glass of turmeric tea first thing in the morning. Ayurvedic turmeric paste with honey is an easy way to make tea.  

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 store this in a jar. 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.

 

Benefits of Ayurvedic Massage

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Ayurveda is an approach to health, wellness, and medicine that originated in India. A traditional form of holistic medicine that utilizes herbs, yoga, nutrition and massage techniques to support symptoms of illnesses and for health maintenance. Ayurvedic massage is an ancient practice enjoyed today in all parts of the world, providing a multitude of benefits to recipients. Understanding the benefits of Ayurvedic massage will offer you another choice when it comes to your long-term approach to health and wellness.

Muscle Relaxation
 It relaxes your muscles and relieves stress and tension at the same time while receiving an Ayurvedic massage. An Ayurvedic massage can help ease tension from the shoulders and neck, eliminating or reducing tension headaches. Those experiencing migraines or pain from joint illnesses, such as rheumatism or other forms of arthritis, also enjoy some pain relief and reduced stiffness after an Ayurvedic massage.

Flexibility
Ayurvedic massage utilizes gentle muscle and joint manipulation heating techniques that help improve range of motion and flexibility through out the whole body. It loosens up stiffness and blockages of tight muscles, ligaments, and tendons.  Individuals diagnosed with back injuries or forms of chronic back pain may also benefit from these massage techniques with the use of herbal oils specific for your condition.

Enhance Joint Function
Ayurvedic massage helps increase the flow of blood and vital nutrients to joints, restoring fluids to areas requiring motion, such as the ankles, knees, hips, and wrists. This is especially valuable for individuals diagnosed with arthritis or those healing from joint injuries or surgery. Ayurvedic massage is also believed to help flood the joints with nitrogen, sulfur, and phosphorus, all essential minerals vital for the healing of bone fractures, according to Ayushveda.

Increase Circulation
According to the Ayurveda Encyclopedia, Ayurvedic massage improves blood circulation to all areas of the body, and enhances the number of red blood cells and help injured tissues to heal. Increased blood flow also contributes to lower blood pressure and increase the effectiveness of heart function. Ayurvedic massage may also help to increase metabolism by eliminating waste products from the body and enhances the flow of and provides efficient use of lymph fluids through the body. Ayurvedic massage is also known to help relieve symptoms of hypertension in some.

Emotional Relief
Massage helps you relax and offers the pampering that many of us enjoy after a hard week at work, or during stressful situations. In addition to providing relief of tension, Ayurvedic massage offers you a sense of calm as blood and lymph fluids flood through the body, strengthening your mind and immune systems.

Detoxification
Ayurvedic oils massage loosens the deep seated toxins from joints and tissues and releases them into the system to be eliminated. Besides this, this accumulated toxins from the skin are discharged, giving you healthy and clearer skin.

Insomnia
Supporting you to over come fatigue Ayurvedic massage can nourishes and calms the nervous system and promotes undisturbed sleep providing relief of insomnia, resulting in an increase in vigor and vitality for your everyday life.