Yoga

The First Step of Health: Forgiveness

You can heal yourself

“When you look deeply you begin to understand, the moment when you understand, compassion is born in your heart. And then it is possible for you to forgive.” – Thich Nat Han

The ancient sage Charaka was the founder of what may be the world’s oldest continually practiced medical system—Ayurveda. For over 5,000 years, this holistic approach to health has been practiced by millions in India and around the globe. Now this ancient wisdom is gaining traction in the West, as a result of the popularity of its sister science, yoga.

Ayurveda, yoga, and tantra constitute a sacred trinity of systems developed by ancient rishis (seers) to foster progress toward liberation: Ayurveda purifies the body; tantra, the mind; and yoga, the spirit. Practiced together, these three systems help an individual achieve an ideal integrated balance of physical health, mental focus, and spiritual enlightenment.

In our hectic modern time, we find it hard to do the things necessary to reach the harmony that Ayurvedic sages have taught us to seek. Although we know what it is we need to do, we often find excuses for harmful behaviors and procrastinate when it comes it to acting in ways that would lead us toward better health. Many of us get bogged down by the demands of modern life and fall into negative thought patterns. The National Science Foundation estimates that as much as 80 percent of our thoughts are negative. Every day, we struggle with self-criticism, thus impeding the development of health and overall well-being.

So what do we do to change this? Many who aspire to an Ayurvedic lifestyle start by setting unrealistic self-improvement goals, resolving to practice yoga five days a week, eat only healthy home-cooked Ayurvedic food, and meditate and do tantric breathing exercises for an hour every day. These ambitious good intentions are bound to prove overwhelming! I would like to suggest that you first take the step of finding forgiveness for yourself and those who have had a negative impact on your life. So how do we do this? It’s simple—we do it with love. More love, more compassion, from ourselves, for ourselves, and toward others. Start by making friends with yourself. Be willing to truly know who you are, what you’re doing or not doing, and why. And then team up with yourself to do whatever is necessary to bring yourself back into love, and the health and balance you seek will follow quite easily.

Once you commit to re-establishing self-love, focus on the necessary attributes for self-change. This Ayurvedic or yogic concept is known as tapasTapasis Sanskrit for “inner fire.” Tapas refers to austerity, determination, and the willingness to do whatever is necessary to bring yourself back into balance and health. In order to be successful in this we must identify and acknowledge our crimes against wisdom or our contributions to our own ill health. Then, instead of beating yourself up about it, realize your inner empowerment. Accept the reality that you’ve helped cause your illness or imbalances. Only then can the power of tapasfinally stop causing your illness. This realization can now bring you back onto the path of Dharma(the right way of living) and renewed health.

Thanks to this self-love and self-realization, you’ll now have the force behind you to do something about your health. Draw on your inner resources, your courage and resolve, your patience and perseverance. Reach out for support from your family and friends, Ayurvedic books, therapists, practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine, the internet—get all the information and assistance you can. Be willing to let go of the past to move forward into a future of wellness. Change your diet, change your job, change your life. Reach down inside yourself and find the tapasto heal yourself. In the end no one else can heal you; they can only assist you—you are the one who needs to do the work to heal yourself. You’ve got this!

Contact us to schedule an online Ayurvedic Wellness Session here.

 

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. 

Bhastrika Pranayama

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Bhastrika means bellows breath or the breath of fire. For this changing season, practice Bhastrika every day to help minimize spring’s kapha-aggravating potential while supporting the elimination of any accumulated excess during the winter. It is a great pranayama practice for kapha and vata; but in excess, it can aggravate pitta, so it should only be done in moderation for pitta conditions.

Practicing bhastrika cleanses mucus from the chest and sinuses, kindles gastric fire, improves circulation, brings vigor, vitality, and proper elimination. It improves the tone of the bronchial and heart muscles as well as the diaphragm, and helps to prevent heart and lung diseases. Its a very easy practice and can be incorperated in to your daily life no matter where you are. To practice bhastrika follow the below instructions:

  • Sit cross-legged, keeping the right hand on the right knee, the left hand on the left knee and the spine straight.

  • Do a slight chin lock, contact the anus, and begin to do bellows breathing, which means inhaling and exhaling forcibly. This involves a rapid and forceful inhalation and exhalation powered by the movement of the diaphragm. The movement of air is accompanied by an audible sound.

  • You can do 30 constant, forceful bellows breaths and then rest.

  • When the required number of expulsions, say 30 for a round is finished, the final expulsion is followed by a deepest possible inhalation. The breath is suspended as long as it feels comfortable; then, a deep exhalation is done very slowly.

  • The end of this deep exhalation completes one round of Bhastrika. You may start with one or two rounds (30 each) and work yourself up to do more breathings each round.

Contraindications include pregnancy, high blood pressure, glaucoma, hydrocele, hernia, ascites and recent history of heart attack.

 

 

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.

Kapha Dosha Yoga Tips

The main qualities of kapha are unctuous, cool, heavy, slow, smooth, soft and stable. It is also dense, cloudy and viscous. A yoga practice for a kapha individual should be one creating space, stimulation, warmth and buoyancy. Kapha types have the most stamina and strength of all the doshas, but when out of balance, suffer from lethargy and excess weight. If you are predominantly kapha, a stimulating, energizing yoga practice is ideal. It's important to challenge yourself and create heat in your body, to counter kapha's natural tendency to feel cold and sluggish. Move through your flow sequences quickly (though always with conscious awareness) to lighten and warm your body. Most of the standing poses are invigorating, especially if you hold them for a longer time. Try maintaining your asanas for up to 20 breaths. Back bends are also heating, helping to open the chest and circulate the life-giving energy of prana throughout the body. 

Doing your yoga in the early morning hours of kapha (6-10am) will help keep you more energized and motivated throughout the day. At the beginning or end of your practice, you can practice bhastrika or bellows breath, which cleanses the body and energizes the digestive system. Kaphas can cultivate all of this by following some basic guidelines:

 

  • Practice at a vigorous pace and intensity.

  • Focus on the subtlety of the pose and how it creates an expansive presence in the body and energy field.

  • Practice in a warm space.

  • Use a strong forceful breath during practice.

  • When you are ready to release the pose, take one more breath.

  • Keep your chest and shoulders open and lifted as you practice.

  • Have a sharp upward gaze.

  • Feel a sense of lightness in your poses.

  • Pause for a moment between your inhalations and exhalations.

  • Challenge yourself.

  • Keep moving. Have short resting periods between poses.

  • Enjoy a restorative pose for final relaxation.

  • Be precise in your poses.

  • Pay close attention to your alignment.

  • Dont give up!

 

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.

Incorporating Essential Oils into Your Daily Yoga Practice

Using essential oils in your daily yoga practice can improve your practice, support the immune system, help you focus and lighten your mood. It is easy to simply add a few essential oils, and the impact is worth it and very enjoyable.  I suggest using DoTerra essential oils for their purity and effectiveness. Below are a few suggestions on how to incorporate the oils:

For a mood balancing practice, began with DoTerra's breath essential oil, this supports a connection and deepens your breathing. Place a drop or two in your palms and bring them in a tent to your face. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. After breathing and grounding into your practices.

Next place a few drops of Peppermint oil at the top of the mat. Create a circle on your mat, repeating the circle a couple times. Peppermint oil works a lot like a mantra; it helps you focus and has calming properties. It is invigorating and supports intelligence through out your practice. Just before ending your practice, use Balance essential oils on the bottoms of your feet, and then relax into corpse pose.

If you need to make your practice quick, sun salutations are the way to go. With this start by sitting in lotus position at the top of your mat. Use one to two drops of peppermint oil in the palm of your hand, rub it together and breath in deeply, allow yourself to connect to your breath and clear your mind. Then apply the oil to your chest and over your lungs, this helps open the airways and prepare your body for effective oxygenation.

Once you are finished with this step use one drop of wild orange on your wrists and at the back of the neck. Inhale deeply and start your sun salutation practice. Once you are complete with the sun salutations, end your series by applying lavender oil at the bottom of your feet and resting in corpse pose.

Additional Tips:

Some people like to help the body detox during a yoga practice, if this is you, take two drops of Lemon essential oil in your water before and after your session to help flush toxins and cleanse the body.

For meditation, use Sandalwood and or Frankincense to balance the left and right hemisphere of the brain.

To clean your mat, use 4 oz of Water in a Glass Spray Bottle and add 10 drops of both Lavender and Melaleuca

 

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.

Connecting Yoga through Breath

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A proper understanding of the connections between yoga and Ayurveda are essential for the effective treatment of illness. Classical texts on yoga such as the Hatha-Yoga-Pradipika describes several asanas and enumerates their benefits on the basis of Ayurveda. Ayurvedic practitioners developed yoga as a form of physical exercise that would support the diseased internal organs and structural imbalances. Using the concepts of doshas, the same terminology for disease, and the same lists of body qualities and functions, asanas where created.

Most yoga practitioner restrict themselves by stating that an asana can help restore balance among all three doshas or some diseases that are explained in Ayurveda.  Ayurveda mentions that all forms of therapy or treatments can be classified under two broad headings: Those that nourish the body, brmhana, and those that remove from the body, langhana. Most methods of therapy suggested in Ayurveda fall under langhana, including both palliative and eliminative methods, because, in both, we are mostly reducing some body quality that is out of balance. 

One reason for is, most treatments in Ayurveda starts with the reduction or removal of imbalances is that balance in the being is a natural consequence of this process. Another reason is that treatment is basically dependent on the status of agni or digestive fire. The importance of agni is acknowledged in both yoga and Ayureda. The primary purpose of all treatment and important goal of practicing asanas, is to keep the agni functioning well. 

Through both movements are breathing are integral to the practice of asanas, breathing is of greater importance than movement in addressing many disorders of the body function such as hypertension or diabetes, or psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety. Therefore, we need to choose a body position in which the person is able to breathe freely, emphasizing the appropriate component of the breathing cycle.  

Breathing is one of most important aspects in yoga that is directly related to agni rather than specific types of movements. Inhalation helps to increase agni and activates metabolism, similar to that of fanning the flames of a fire. Exhalation, being a natural process of elimination, helps remove toxins and waste that dull the agni, enabling the function of agni to work better. In many functional disorders, it is important to ensure that exhalation is proper, even if inhalation is the component of breathing to be emphasized.

For brahma, the nourishing aspect of Ayurvedic therapy to be effective, the agni has to be functioning properly. Otherwise, even if we consume nourishing foods, herbs etc, they will not be of use to our body, because agni is what allows the food to transform into body tissues. In many disease states, langhana is usually required first to remove the blockages in the functioning agni. Only then will brhama be possible at all. This is why Ayurvedic texs suggest that even in a situation where brmhana is necessary, its may be good to start with mild langhana first. How ever the opposite does not apply: brmhana is not to be done for a person who requires lanaghana.

Classical yoga texts explain the connection between the various types of pranayama (breathing exercises) and the three doshas and various other body qualities and functions. Specific types of pranayama can be used in decreasing the qualities of particular doshas when they are out of balance. Also, these texts related to breathing to the qualities of heat and cold in the body. They classify the types of pranayama as heating and cooling and also suggest that inhalation through the right nostril is heating, while inhalation through the left nostril is cooling. These specific connections between breathing, and the body qualities is one of the most important reason why breath is more important to the management of health, then asanas. 

What ever classification of yoga we adopt, a clear understanding of the relationship between body and mind and their relationship between body and mind and their relationship with breathing and food is essential in order to apply yoga and Ayurveda effectively in the treatment of any illness. 

Mung Dal Soup: Highly Nutritious and Detoxifying

A highly nutritious Ayurvedic recipe which detoxifies, kindles digestive fire and sharpens the mind. It promotes weight loss, reducing swelling and water retention. Mung beans are available from health food shops, Indian grocers and sometimes supermarkets. They come in green or yellow varieties. Green is more detoxifying. Eat only mung bean soup for 3-7 days and nothing else! You can eat as much as you need to satisfy your appetite, once the previous meal has digested (leave 3-4 hours  between each meal).  Make up a fresh batch for each day, reheating only as much as you need for each meal so the meal is as full of ‘prana’ (energy) as possible. A food thermos works very well if you don’t have a kitchen at work. Try not to use a microwave!

Mung beans are less gas-producing than other beans, help remove toxins from the body (including heavy metals!) and stimulate the digestive fire. This dish will balance all threedoshas. The following soup recipe is highly nutritious and naturally detoxifies the body. It works by cleansing the liver, gall bladder and vascular system of any ama (undigested toxins).

400g mung beans (whole green or split green or yellow)
2 litres water; ½ tsp. turmeric powder
2 pinch asafoetida; Lime or lemon juice; fresh root ginger
2-3 cloves garlic; an inch of fresh root ginger
1 tsp. cumin seeds 
1 tsp. coriander seeds; rock salt or herb salt
Makes 5 generous portions

Wash the mung beans and soak for at least four hours or overnight. Heat ghee or olive oil in a pan and add teaspoon of turmeric and 2 pinches asafoetida (to prevent gas). Sauté for a few seconds then add the beans, fresh water and fresh root ginger. For one part soaked mung you need about four parts of water. Simmer for 30-40 minutes adding more water if necessary, until beans are soft. In  a pressure cooker this takes 8 minutes once the vessel has come to pressure. You can then turn off the heat and leave the pot to cool for a further 10 minutes before opening it. Once the beans are cooked, heat ghee or olive oil in another pan, add 2-3 cloves chopped garlic (if you wish) and sauté lightly for a minute until soft. Add chopped fresh root ginger, then one teaspoon of cumin and coriander seeds plus any other herbs or spices (except chillies) eg: cardamom, black pepper, cumin seeds and briefly sauté. Add these sautéed spices plus some rock salt into the beans and simmer for a further few minutes. Serve soup warm with a squeeze of lime juice and some fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped. You can also add green leafy vegetables, pumpkin, leeks,  courgette, fennel, parsley, mint, coriander, or basil for variety, yams, carrots and other seasonal veggies. You can also add 1 tsp. of ghee or – if you are vegan or do not like the taste of ghee – 1 tsp. of an omega 3/6/9 oil. Omega oils should be added to food after it has cooled down a bit, as these oils are not heat stable and thus also not suitable for cooking.

Yoga and Depression

Each year more than 25 million Americans are treated with antidepressants. Effective? In some cases yes, but with added stress and side effects such as, weight gain, lethargy, and sexual dysfunction, have brought into question whether medication is the only solution. It may not be. Recent studies have shown evidence that the practice of yoga—postures, breathing techniques, meditation—has beneficial effects on the emotional well-being and mental acuity of depression sufferers. And, best of all, without any of the side effects. 

A recent study in Scandinavian, conducted by Eric Hoffman, Ph.D., measured brain waves before and after a two-hour Kriya Yoga class. It found that alpha waves (relaxation) and theta waves (unconscious memory, dreams, emotions) increased by 40 percent. This means the brain is more deeply relaxed after yoga and the subjects are in better contact with their sub-consciousness and emotions. The Scandinavian study is significant for depression sufferers because after the yoga session, alpha waves increased in the right temporal lobe. 

Previous research has shown that depressed, introverted people typically have more alpha activity in the left frontal-temporal region, while optimistic, extroverted people have more alpha activity on the right. That theta waves also increased supports the notion that yoga works to alleviate depression not only by increasing brain chemicals that contribute to a feel-good response—such as endorphins, enkephalins, and serotonin—but also by providing greater access to feelings. 

Another study, conducted jointly by the Philadelphia-based Jefferson Medical College and Yoga Research Society, found that practitioners experienced a significant drop in cortisol levels after a single yoga class. High cortisol levels are characteristics of stress and serious depression. A marked decrease in cortisol and increase in the hormone prolactin—which is believed by many professionals to be the key in producing the anti-depressant effect of electroshock therapy—was also demonstrated in tests conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in India, using the breathing technique Sudharshan Kriya (SKY). In several major controlled studies involving adults with major depressive disorder, SKY produced dramatic relief from depression accompanied by beneficial changes in brain and hormone function. 

What about long-term effects? So far, most of the longer studies have been done in the area of mindfulness-based training; the most recent one was published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology (vol. 68, 2000). Here, mindfulness-based stress reduction was combined with group cognitive therapy as an eight-week treatment in the prevention of recurrence of major depression. In follow-up testing a year later, the treatment group had a significantly lower relapse rate than did the control group. 

The combination of Ayurveda, Yoga and Meditation to holistically solve depression related problems has been successful and has helped several people from eliminating years of dependency on medication. Allowing one to live a happier, fuller life.

Wisdom in Action

According to Ayurveda, it is not only important to be moderate in your actions, but also to be wise in your actions. In this we do not bring harm to ourselves or to others through anything we think or do. These are known as the lessons of yama or ethics and niyamas or self-restraint. This include:

  • Do not hurt anyone through thought or action. This is the principle of nonviolence.
  • Always be truthful to yourself and others-that is, tell the "sweet" truth: do not attack with truth.
  • Do not steal, this also includes acts of envy. To want what someone else has, even another's charm or grace, is a form of stealing.
  • Do not judge others since you are not in their shoes. We make choices based on our experiences, and not having had the totality of anyone else's experiences, we are not in a position to judge anyone's decisions but our own.
  • Be balance in all activity, including the actions of the five senses. In other words , do not overindulge any sensual appetite. Attune yourself to the body's natural intelligence, and you can easily recognize the signs of imbalance that signal excess.

The lessons of Niyama include the cultivation of purity of mind and body which is the cultivation of balance and health, of contentment and of surrender and devotion to the divine. In short the implicit of this message is to "love thyself". If we do not know how to do this for ourselves, we cannot know hoe to extend love to another. If we are always attacking ourselves with negative thoughts, we are not likely to hesitate to attack someone else. In this sense, all love truly begins and ends with the self. What we do to the Self, by virtue of the fundamental law of action. 

Ayurvedic Daily Routine

According to Ayurveda, routine plays a very important role in health. A natural life is regulated according to the individual constitution. It is best to have daily regimen governing all daily actions such as the time one wakes up in the morning and the time one begins body purification. 

In the morning before sunrise, one should wake up, excrete waste, clean teeth, mouth, eyes, nose and throat. After its good to drink a warm glass of water to help clean the kidneys and large intestine. During sleep and in the morning is the body’s natural time of purification. It is good to hold practice that will help this. 

One should then massage the body with oil and take a bath. This will produce a sense of freshness and alertness. After bath, put on comfortable clothes for exercise and meditation. Breathing exercises are also important in the daily regimen. After exercises, rest comfortably on the back with arms and legs outstretched and breath from the lower abdomen.

Breakfast may follow exercise and meditation. Lunch should be eaten before or around noon, if possible dinner before sunset. Its is best to go to bed by ten o’ clock. This regimen follows the flow of energy within the body and in the external environment. It is necessary at all times to remain aware of the flow in order to get the maximum benefit from your daily routine. 

Daily Routine

  • Awaken Before Sunrise.
  • Evacuate bowels and bladder after waking.
  • Bathe every day creates a sense of bodily freshness.
  • Drink a warm glass of water, can add slice of lemon.
  • Exercise, breathing techniques and meditation.
  • Take breakfast before 8:30.
  • Take a short 15 min walk after breakfast.
  • Eat in silence with awareness to food.
  • Eat slowly.
  • Massage the gums with the finger and sesame oil.
  • Sleep before 10:30pm.

Diet and Digestion

  • One teaspoon of grated fresh ginger with a pinch of salt is a good appetizer.
  • Drinking real buttermilk with a pinch of ginger or cumin help digestion.
  • A teaspoon of ghee with rice helps digestion.
  • A glass of raw, warm milk with ginger taken at bedtime is nourishing to the body and calms the mind.
  • Over eating is unhealthy.
  • Largest meal of the day should be at lunch.
  • Drinking a lot of water immediately before or taking food adversely affects digestions.
  • Prolonged fasting is unhealthy.
  • Excess intake of cold drinks and food reduces resistance and creates excess mucus.
  • Taking a nap after lunch will increase body weight and drowsiness.
  • Eating close to the same time everyday will optimize digestion.

Physical Hygiene

  • Do not repress the natural urges of the body, defecation, urination, coughing, sneezing, yawning, belching and passing gas.
  • During fever do not eat and observe a ginger tea fast.
  • Rubbing the soles of the feet with sesame oil before bedtime produces a calm quite sleep.
  • Application of oil to the head clams the mind and induces sound sleep.
  • Self oil massage promotes good circulation and reduces anxiety and pain.
  • Do not sleep on belly.
  • Bad breath may indicate constipation, poor digestion, and toxins in the colon.
  • Body odor indicates toxins in the system.
  • Laying on the back for 15mins clams the mind and relaxes the body.
  • Dry hair immediately after washing to prevent sinus problems.
  • After sex, milk heated with raw cashes and raw sugar promotes strength and maintains sexual energy.
  • Avoid physical exertion such as yoga or running during menstruation.
  • Avoid over exercise.

Mental Hygiene

  • Fear and nervousness dissipates energy and aggravates Vata.
  • Possessiveness, greed and attachment enhance Kapha.
  • Worry weakens the heart.
  • Hate and anger create toxins in the body and aggravates pitta.
  • Excessive talking dissipates energy and aggravates Vata.
  • Create positive thoughts and affirmations.
  • Practice of meditation and breathing techniques, they balance the mind and body, increases energy and vitality

 Ayurveda comprehensively illuminates the basic laws and principles governing life on earth. To understand Ayurveda is to understand the forces that engender our well-being as well as those that lie at the root of disease. The mind, body and consciousness are harmoniously working as one. When the balance of any of these systems is disturbed all are responsible for physical and psychological pain and misery. It is now time to look into the living book, which is your body, mind and consciousness. True knowledge resides in this temple. In applying your experience in that sanctuary the knowledge is set forth here, you will find the only authentic and trustworthy demonstration of the truth Ayurveda holds. The journey is long, but we will always return to the place whence we began.

Why Meditation?

 "In meditation, when the mind is calm, alert and totally contented, then it is like a laser beam - it is very powerful and healing can happen."  Sri Ravi Shankar


So what is it to be healthy? To attain a perfect state of health, one also has to remain mentally calm, steady and emotionally stable. In Ayurveda Swathya means health. Its definition includes being in one's self. Swathya or health is not just confined to the body or the mind; it also connects with the spirit or consciousness. The clearer the consciousness is the more well-being is gained. It has been said that the root of an illness can lay in mind/consciousness. So by attending to the mind, clearing if of disturbances the recovery to health speeds up.  

The practice and philosophy of Ayurveda are not only to restore balance and ease the aches and pains of the body but also those of the spirit. Since ancient times, the message of Ayurveda has been to keep in a state of balance and to avoid extremes so that the existence of the Divine can be felt on the central nervous system. Meditation has great benefits for the human system as a whole. Many people vouch for the fact that meditation has caused marked improvements in their health situations both physical and mental. This has also been proved correct scientifically. Mediation is a process by which there are marked changes in the patterns of the brain waves, having long-term healing effects. Scientists have started realizing the importance of mediation in various healing procedures. Many doctors are now starting to recommend the process of meditation in the cases of people suffering from chronic disorders and also in the cases of terminally ill patients. 

Meditation gives complete rest to the entire system, especially to the brain that keeps functioning during the time we sleep. It invigorates and relaxes the mind so that it can start again afresh. Through meditation the body's metabolism is given attention helping lower the heart rate and blood pressure, which is directly related to the reduction of cholesterol levels in the body, thus reducing the chances of cardiovascular diseases. Stress-related disorders are greatly impacted with the practice of meditation. Stress releases lactate and cortisol in the bloodstream, having a damaging effect on various organs. Meditation helps reduce the production of these chemicals. Keep the body vital and strong. 

Prana (or breath) is the vital life energy and is the very basis of health and well-being. Practicing breathing through meditation will provide you with energy, alertness, good humor riding your body of lethargy, dullness or weak enthusiasm. It has been profoundly useful for patients suffering from respiratory disorders because the process of breathing gets stabilized and relaxed, promoting clear and even flow of breath to the entire system. People suffering with asthma, allergies, and sleeping disorders are greatly impacted by the daily practice of breathing meditations. 

So many people misunderstand meditation and when the hear the word "meditation" they want to run the other way. Most people think "oh there is no way I can sit for that long, or I am too busy, sick or have a too an active mind." They key is to start slowly. In Dr. Frawley mentioned in his book "Ayurveda and the mind" Mantras serves like a boat to take us across the ocean of the unconscious. Mantra prepared meditation is easier, safer and stronger than trying to meditate directly. For beginners, guided meditation is very beneficial. Below is a couple simple meditations and mantra. Give it a try and see how meditation can significantly impact your life!

Simple Daily Meditation
Allow the mind to relax; please follow theses easy instructions. Sit on the forward third of a chair or a cushion on the floor. Arrange your legs in a position you can maintain comfortably. In the half-lotus position, place your right leg on your left thigh. In the full lotus position, put your feet on opposite legs. You may also sit quietly with your legs tucked in close to your body, but be sure that your weight is distributed on three points: both of your knees on the ground and your buttocks on the ground cushion. On a chair, keep your knees apart about the width of your shoulders, feet firmly planted on the floor.

Take a deep breath, exhale fully, and take another deep breath, exhaling fully. With proper physical posture, you're breathing will flow naturally into your lower abdomen. Breathe naturally, without judgment or trying to breathe a certain way. Keep your attention on your breath. When your attention wanders, bring it back to the breath again and again -- as many times as necessary! Remain as still as possible, following your breath and returning to it whenever thoughts arise.  Be full, vitally present with yourself. Simply do your very best. At the end of you're sitting period, gently swing your body from right to left in increasing arcs. Stretch out your legs, and be sure they have felt before standing. Practice this peaceful meditation every day for at least ten to fifteen minutes (or longer), and you will discover for yourself the treasure house of meditation.

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.

Yoga and Ayuveda

Ayurveda and yoga are sister Vedic sciences that have been united for thousands of years for the sake of healing body, mind, and consciousness. Generally speaking, Ayurveda deals more with the health of the body, while yoga deals with purifying the mind and consciousness, but in reality they complement and embrace each other.

The ancient rishis (seers) were the original masters of all Vedic sciences. They understood that good health is a great asset on the path toward Self-realization. If the body is neglected it can easily become an obstacle to spiritual practice. Anyone who has practiced meditation for any length of time would agree to how difficult it can be to sit still for long periods of time without feeling discomfort and fatigue. Both yoga and Ayurveda are mutually supportive and offer many ways to prevent and heal various disorders as well as to cleanse and rejuvenate the body.

Besides sharing a philosophical foundation, both systems have many similarities in relation to attitude, nutrition, diet, hygiene, exercise, cleansing practices, as well as spiritual practices. Traditionally, a student of yoga would first live close to and serve the guru for many years, during which time he would learn healthy habits. The basic Ayurvedic principles for health and longevity were past on in the lineage in oral form to serve as a foundation for a life of sadhana (spiritual practice).

Nowadays, the teachings of yoga are easily available to all, and whether prepared or not we can leap headlong into its practice. This has its blessings, in the sense that more people can be turned on to the teachings, although much is often lost without the parampara, or close guidance at the feet of an accomplished master. With this in mind, modern yoga practitioners would most certainly benefit from a basic knowledge of Ayurveda to help establish a healthy daily routine and adjust their practice according to the constitution, dosha imbalance, season, and so on, to prevent disease and promote longevity.

First, let's take a look at the similarities between yoga and Ayurveda: Both are ancient Vedic teachings. Yoga originates in the Yajur Veda, while Ayurveda originates in the Atharva Veda and Rig Veda. Both recognize that keeping the body healthy is vital for fulfilling the four aims of life: Dharma (duty), Artha (wealth), Kama (desire), and Moksha (liberation). Both recognize that the balance of doshas (humors), dhatus (tissues), and malas (waste products) is essential for maintaining good health. Both share virtually the same metaphysical anatomy and physiology, which consists of 72,000 nadis (subtle channels), 7 main chakras (energy centers), 5 bodily sheaths, and the Kundalini Shakti (energy). 

Both advocate the use of diet, herbs, asana, pranayama, meditation, mantra, astrology, prayer, puja, and rituals for healing the entire being. Both encourage physical health as a good foundation for mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Both share the same view on psychology. Ayurveda embraces all six of the main schools of philosophy including the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and Vedanta (a non-dual philosophical and spiritual path). They both understand that the attachment to the body-mind complex is the root cause of all suffering and that the ultimate state of health is experienced when we abide in our true nature, which is total peace, regardless of the state of the physical body. Both use cleansing methods for the body, all of which encourage the removal of waste products and toxins through their natural routes of elimination. Ayurveda has panchakarma (five cleansing actions) and yoga uses Shat Karma (six purification measures) 

The use of asana, pranayama, and meditation for healing is known as Yoga Chikitsa, or Yoga Therapy and has been used for thousands of years by Ayurveda. In Yoga Chikitsa, a group of yogic exercises are chosen that will best support the individual and are practiced daily. This can be done over an extended period of time in conjunction with an Ayurvedic regime and herbal and dietary therapies. Yoga Chikitsa also plays an integral role in the Ayurvedic cleansing and rejuvenation process known as panchakarma. For a well balanced personal yoga practice, it is important to take into consideration the individual's body structure, prakruti (original constitution), and vikruti (present constitutional imbalance). The following are general recommendations according to the predominant dosha.

Vata predominant individuals should remember to focus on calming, grounding, stillness, strengthening, and balancing while doing their practice. Vinyasa or flow styles of yoga tend to move too quickly from one pose to the next and can aggravate the hyper-mobile quality of vata over time. Flow sequences can be made to be more vata pacifying if they are not excessively long, the length of time poses are held is extended, and transitions are done slowly and consciously. Those with lower back problems may find that bending the knees in standing forward bends can prevent discomfort. Back bends should be done slowly, carefully and within one's own limits.

Pitta individuals should maintain a calm, cool, and relaxed intention while doing asanas. Pitta types may benefit from trying to cultivate an attitude of forgiveness, and of surrendering or offering the fruits of their practice to the divine of to those in need of positive healing energy. Because asana practice tends to generate heat in the body, it is best to do them at cooling times of the day, such as dawn or dusk. Also, it is useful to place some emphasis on poses that help to release excess heat from the body, such as poses that compress the solar plexus and poses that open the chest like.

Kapha types tend to be sedentary and often dislike vigorous exercise. For this reason, their practice should be energetic, warming, lightening, and stimulating, providing they are physically capable. Vinyasa or flow style yoga is good for kapha because it is dynamic and moves quickly from one pose to the next, it induces sweating and gets the heart pumping.

Yoga poses that address specific doshic problems can be easily added to an Ayurvedic regime and integrated into an existing yoga routine, or they can be organized as a small session with the help of an Ayurvedic clinician who knows each individual case well and can help set up a well balanced program according to the needs of each client.