Purusha

Why Panchakarma?

In Ayurveda, the state of perfect health and well-being is dependent on the body’s capability to metabolize all facets of life. Because of genetic factors and more commonly lifestyle factors, we have weak areas of our body that accumulate toxins, when unaddressed these become disease. Ayurveda understands, if you want to experience optimal health, it is crucial to maintain a strong digestion and eliminate toxins from the body.

Panchakarma is the purification procedure used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. The word Panchakarma means five actions and refers to five procedures intended to intensively cleanse and restore balance to the body, mind and emotions. It reverses the degenerative process quickly and its effects are often profound and long lasting. Ayurvedic practitioners use Panchakarma as a support to a variety of health imbalances and as a preventative. It can be particularly effective for those imbalances that are chronic, metabolic or stress related.

According to Ayurveda, every human being is unique and it is important to address health care based on the individual. The aim of Ayurveda is to ensure good health for a healthy man and to eliminate the disease of a diseased man. In both cases, Panchakarma detoxification is necessary to cleanse and balance the systems of the body and is highly individualized, based on the needs of the individual depending on the constitution, imbalance, age, digestive strength, immune status, along with many other factors.

Panchakarma therapy is known to clear the various microscopic and macroscopic structures of the body such as the respiratory system, lymphatic system, circulatory system, reproductive system, nervous system, among others that are effected by insufficiently metabolized toxins, processed foods and emotions. It removes free radicals, balances cholesterol and triglycerides, regulates blood pressure, and introduces antioxidant enzymes into the body. It can slow the aging process, enhance vitality and mental clarity and because of it’s capability of stress management,

Panchakarma may even prevent heart attacks, stroke paralysis, and cancer. It’s techniques have shown to create measurable brain wave coherence and to lower metabolic activity, thus allowing the body and mind to drop into a profound level of peacefulness. In this state of relaxation, it is possible to further cleanse toxins from the tissues as well as to release deeply held emotional tensions.

Many Ayurvedic experts believe that even healthy people need regular Panchakarma today because our environment is so polluted. According to research cited by Maharishi Ayurveda, up to 100,000 synthetic chemicals (including PCBs, dioxins, and pesticides like DDT/DDE) are used in modern industrial and agricultural processes. Traces of these chemicals pervade our food, water, air, and even our own bodies, and some are associated with allergies, reproductive disorders, certain types of cancer, and other diseases.

Toxins along with undigested food matter, is known as Ama. Ama clogs the body on all levels and, when left unchecked, it becomes the breeding ground for disease. Ayurvedic medical texts describe ama as cold, heavy, wet and sticky, it develops form environmental toxins and internal toxins generated by poorly assimilated food.

If you have high cholesterol, hardened arteries, tooth tartar, a coated tongue, joint pain, body odor, or excess mucus, you have the physical symptoms of ama. Energetically, it lurks in the system as fatigue. Mentally, ama creates dullness, irritability, and greed. According to Ayurveda, Panchakarma addresses the root causes of disease by removing years of accumulated ama (along with excess Vata, Pitta, and/or Kapha) and supporting your agni.

Traditionally Ayurveda recommends a Panchakarma at the junction between each season to clear out impurities generated during the previous season to help you transition smoothly in to the next. A Panchakarma in the early spring is always a goodbecause it can help reduce your sensitivity to pollen and prevent colds. The job of your Ayurvedic practitioner is to tailor a program to re-balance your body and mind.

Panchakarma is a three-stage process. The preparatory phase begins with en-kindling the digestive fire or agni, and loosing toxins while lubricating the body’s subtle channels with internal and external oleation and sweating techniques. According to Ayurvedic theory, these preparatory procedures liquefy the body’s impurities and push them toward the gastrointestinal tract.

After several days of Purvakarma, the practitioner will choose one or more of the five (pancha) actions (karma) of elimination to rid the body of the ama, this can also last up to several days. Once the elimination procedures are completed, it is very important to restore the body and partake in Rasayana (rejuvenation). These internal and external Rasayana techniques are just as important as the other stages of the Panchakarma, to ensure the body has not only been purified but strengthened,  limiting the possibility of future disease.

Like all medical procedures, Panchakarma must always begin with an initial consultation by a qualified Ayurvedic Physician who can determine the individuals constitution, nature of the health problem if any and the appropriate degree of the intensity of the techniques used in the Panchakarma. Specially trained technicians must administer these procedures in a definite sequence in a specified period of time.

Participation in a clinical Panchakarma requires close supervision by an Ayurvedic expert at all times. If your body is not properly prepared for cleansing, or if your techniques are incorrectly administered, you can overwhelm your nervous system or dislodge more toxins then your body can handle, along with other precautions to consider.

Ayurveda has evolved for other thousands of years, it is important to understand and preform each stage of Panchakarma proficiently with the time and grace according to its traditional practice. Most people want a get quick cleanse, but Panchakarma is gentle, soft and slow, though Panchakarma, Ayurveda is trying to create a gentle deep wave of cleansing, not a tsunami, so it may have long lasting profound effects.

Panchakarma may help with most minor and major illness including:

  • Nervous system disorders
  • Stress, Insomnia, Anxiety
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Sports injuries and Arthritis
  • Frequent Illness
  • Allergies, Asthma
  • Infertility & Sexual Health
  • Hormonal Imbalances
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Drug Detoxification
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Weight Gain or Loss
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches and Migraines
  • Digestive disorders
  • Skin Conditions
  • Psoriasis
  • Auto Immune disorder
  • Candida
  • Joint immobility
  • Arthritis
  • Circulation related imbalances
  • Thyroid Conditions
  • Crohn's Disease & IBS
  • Constipation
  • Insomnia
  • Heart Disease
  • Osteoporosis
  • Blood Pressure
  • Menopause
  • Emotional Health
  • Senior Health
  • Parasites
  • Depression and Bipolar
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

 

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 and Sports Medicine

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Sports medicine, as a separate medicinal specialty, has a recent origin. Sports medicine is difficult to define because it is not a single specialty, but an area that involves health care professionals, researchers and educators from a wide variety of disciplines. Its function can not only be curative and rehabilitative, but also used as a preventative, in which may actually be the most important of all. One may ask how a medical system such as Ayurveda that is more than five thousand years old, can make any contribution in a field like sports medicine.

When we observe Ayurveda we find there can be a very significant contribution to sports medicine as a whole. Three primary factors that influence athletic performance are genetic endowment, state of training and nutrition. Ayurveda offers comprehensive and detailed studies of these factors and provides support to gain optimal wellness in each area.

Ayurveda understands that physical fitness training is also influenced by many factors such as age, mental stability, environmental stresses, economical circumstances and so forth. Sports medicine is not just challenged by the musculo-skeletal but a combination of all of these factors. The approach in Ayurveda is holistic, where as it combines modalities to have profound impact on not just the physical problems but the much more important psyche of the sportsperson. It can effectively work towards stress relieving and in developing concentration. Ayurveda also has certain management protocol for a person who has been debilitated due to a disease, these could also be used effectively by those who are recuperating from an injury.

Injuries in sports are increasing with its popularization. The following are the most common injuries; injuries to ligament, injuries to tendon and injuries to muscle.  Ayurveda has very effective remedies that can either be used principally or as a supportive therapy in numerous orthopedic problems encountered by sports persons. One therapy is known as Marma Point Therapy. The use of pressure points called marma forms an important part of this therapy in Ayurveda. Just as acupuncture points are used by Chinese medicine, marma points are used by Ayurvedic physicians to heal, and support strength. Ayurveda also has very simple herbal formulations that can hasten the process of recuperation after a surgery, rehabilitation of an injured muscle, bone, performance levels.

For enhancing the physical prowess of a person, Ayurveda offers herbal supplement support . Ayurvedic herbal formulas are said to have components that can enhance the performance level. These were widely used in ancient times by warriors to enhance their performance during war as well as from getting tired easily.  Some of these are Mahakashaya Brimhaneeya dasaimani (Muscle builder), Jeevaneeya Dasaimani (Vitiliser) Balakara Dasaimani (Promotes strength) and Sramahara dasaimani (Promotes cheer). These formulas are non-steriodal and probably act by increasing the secretion of the biological hormones and enzymes in the body.

Even though good diet cannot guarantee success, poor diet can certainly undermine training. Ayurveda gives comprehensive descriptions of food substances that can increase muscle mass and physical prowess. In Ayurveda Nutrition, food should be taken according to eight factors such as nature of food, processing of food, combination, quantity, place, time dietetic rules, constitution also known as genetic make up. An Ayurvedic practitioner can develop a detailed nutritional plan that will support these eight factors in accordance with the individual goals.

As one can see, Ayurveda incorporate several principles that can be effectively used for improving the sports medicine as practiced today.  A relationship between modern sports medicine practitioners and Ayurvedic practitioners should be initiated to develop a more natural and effective way of approaching sports medicine.

 

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.

Tips for Vata Yoga

People with Vata derangement typically move quickly, sometimes with little awareness, and often push themselves harder than their bodies can take. Vata dosha is characterized by the qualities cold, mobility, lightness and expansiveness. A yoga practice for a Vata individual should be one creating warmth, serenity and nourishment. Vatas can cultivate this by following some basic guidelines:

  • Practice at a slow, smooth and steady pace.
  • Explore fluidity in your poses. Use gentle movements such as spinal and pelvic undulation, rotation in the joints, counter-poses, and flexion and extension.
  • Hold each posture for a short amount of time, but do multiple repetitions.
  • Draw into and move from your power center or hara. The hara is the area below the navel and above the pubic bone.
  • Focus on the foundation of the pose to create stability.
  • Internally rotate the femurs and press into the outer edges of your legs.
  • As you move, imagine you are moving through a substance like warm water or warm mud.
  • Focus on lengthening your inhalation.
  • Stay connected to the earth. Ground down through your big toes.
  • Fix your gaze below or at the horizon.
  • Engage your entire body by hugging your muscles to the bones.
  • Do not over extend or deplete yourself. Your practice should be strengthening, not draining. Vatas easily exhaust themselves and when the vata imbalance becomes severe, a restorative practice is best.
  • Be present in your practice.
  • Stay warm.
  • Conclude your practice with a long relaxation.

When Vata has gone out of balance, too much air has accumulated in the mind, body, environment. The result is a sense of un-groundedness. The best way to balance excess Vata is to bring more earth and stability into the physiology. Think relaxing.

  • Go to bed and awaken at the same time every day.
  • Meditate twice a day to quiet the mind.
  • Practice yoga to connect with your body.
  • Wear relaxing fragrances.
  • Eat three meals per day and favor, sweet, sour and salty taste.
  • Perform a slow daily self massage with warm Relaxing herbalized oils.
  • Drink Relaxing herbal tea.
  • Look for opportunities to create rhythm and routine in your life.
  • Finish things once you start them.

Purusha

From the book Yoga and the Sacred Fire by David Frawley

One could say that the essence of our humanity is that we are ‘sentient’ beings, conscious entities possessed of feelings and capable of suffering. We cannot accept that human beings are enslaved, experimented on, used for food, killed or tortured or any other such demeaning actions that we might allow for animals. It offends our sensibilities when we see a human being treated as a mere thing or ‘object’. We respect our dignity and inviolability as a conscious ‘subject’. This is because we recognize existence of a consciousness principle in the human person. 

We see the human as an independent being, possessing free will and entitled to his or her own life and happiness. We feel that humans should be treated fairly and allowed to live as they see fit, which we refer to as ‘human rights’ in our various law codes. There is nothing inherently wrong with this line of thought except that it does not go far enough. Our mistake is thinking that such a consciousness principle and the rights that go along with it are unique to our species and do not belong to the rest of the universe.

Consciousness is not something that our species owns. It is as universal as light. Some form of consciousness or feeling exists in all beings down to the rocks. However, once we recognize the all-pervasive nature of consciousness then we must treat all creatures ‘humanely’—with a similar care and regard that we would afford a fellow human being. The same consciousness principle that makes us feel human is a universal principle that fills the world with light and allows other creatures to live and move as well. 

The universe itself is a person, though without the limitations and prejudices of our human personality. This is what the science of Yoga calls the ‘Purusha’. The Purusha, meaning a person or conscious being, is a Sanskrit term for the Cosmic Being behind the universe, the spirit within all things. The entire universe is a manifestation of the Cosmic Person. This Cosmic Person endows every creature with personhood or a sense of self, not only humans but also animals and ultimately all of nature.

The goal of classical Yoga—as defined in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the prime ancient textbook of Yoga—is the realization of the Purusha or cosmic being as our true Self.[i] This is a different definition than most people today consider, with the physical image of yoga that has become popular in our culture, but it is the actual foundation of the Yoga tradition. The Purusha or true Self is the ultimate goal of all Vedic practices and all Vedantic philosophy, examination and inquiry. Yoga is a path of Self-realization in the deeper sense of this Cosmic Self, not simply knowing our human self but realizing the entire universe within our own minds and hearts.[ii] Our true Self is the universal Self or Purusha that exists within all nature.[iii] The greater concern of Yoga practice is uniting our limited consciousness with the unbounded infinite awareness that is the Self of all. 

This yogic view of the Self is very different than usual views that emphasize the bodily self, the psychological self, or the religious soul as our true nature. Our ordinary view of the bodily self is of an entity that is born and dies along with the body and is as separate from the world as our flesh is from the ground. Our view of the psychological self is of an entity created by our personal history during this physical life. It has the unique characteristics of our upbringing and education along with the particular capacities that we develop through our own efforts, making us different than every other person. Our usual religious view of the soul is of an entity created by God, dependent upon the body and its resurrection, which can perhaps commune with God in some heavenly world but retains its separate identity and cannot become one with that supreme Reality.  

In the yogic view, our true individuality is an inner consciousness that unites us with all – not a physical, mental or religious entity that keeps us apart. Our self is mirrored in all the selves in the universe. If we look deeply, we can see that everything in the universe has a personality or spirit within it, whether it is the Sun, the mountains, animals or human beings. Every form in nature from the rocks to the clouds is a face of Consciousness. All faces of all creatures, we could say, are masks of God. 

This Cosmic Person exists in an embodied form as the soul within all creatures. We could say that plants and animals are evolutionary precursors of human beings or younger forms of ourselves, people in the making as it were. The Cosmic Person also exists in disembodied forms as the spirit behind the forces of nature. We could say that the Sun and Moon are cosmic, older or vaster forms of ourselves – spiritual powers and personalities. The whole universe is the cosmic human being taking many different appearances and assuming many different functions both individually and collectively as part of its manifold expression.

This view was known to the sages of the Rig Veda, in which the teaching of the Purusha first arose:
The Cosmic Person (Purusha) is all this, what has been and what will be. From his mind, the Moon was born, from his eye came the Sun. From his mouth arose the powers of fire and lightning. From the wind his breath was born. 
From his navel came the atmosphere, from his head Heaven, from his feet the Earth and from his ears, the directions of space. Thus all the worlds were formed.

The human being is a replica of the greater universe, which itself has an organic structure like the human body. We are an expression of the ‘self-conscious universe’ holding both spirit and nature within ourselves. This means that we exist in all things, not as a separate species but as part of the underlying fabric of awareness. Through the unity of consciousness, the human being is the universe and the universe is a human being.  We could say that the material universe is the body of consciousness, while consciousness is the soul of the world. 

This Cosmic Person is both man and woman, the Great God and the Great Goddess, both the cosmic masculine and cosmic feminine powers. It is not simply the essence of humanity but the prototype for plants, animals, stars and planets. The Cosmic Person is the universal form, the prime archetype behind all beings, the ‘I behind the I ‘in all creatures. 

This Purusha or consciousness principle of Yoga, however, is no mere philosophical concept, theological belief or abstract Absolute. It is the very fire within our hearts that is the light of the entire universe. The Purusha is Jyotirmaya or ‘made of light’. To truly practice Yoga we must begin with an understanding of this being of light as our goal. However, few Yoga students today are aware of the Purusha, much less its connection to fire, though that has always been the key to the inner process and higher experience of Yoga. Most meditators aim at understanding the psychological self, not realizing that our true Self is the cosmic light expressing itself in all of nature, in which our personal psychology gets consumed as an offering in but an instant.