Search This Blog

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ayurveda Quotes

Anyone who believes that anything can be suited to everyone is a great fool, because medicine is practised not on mankind in general, but on every individual in particular. ~Henri de Mondeville

Let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food. ~Hippocrates

When diet is wrong medicine is of no use.
When diet is correct medicine is of no need.
~Ayurvedic Proverb

A physician is obligated to consider more than a diseased organ, more even than the whole man - he must view the man in his world. ~Harvey Cushing

Happiness for me is largely a matter of digestion. ~Lin Yutang

Foolish the doctor who despises the knowledge acquired by the ancients. ~Hippocrates

He that takes medicine and neglects diet, wastes the skill of the physician. ~Chinese Proverb

Let nothing which can be treated by diet be treated by other means. ~Maimonides

The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease. ~Thomas Edison

Organic Foods

Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of creating and maintaining positive health by preventing the imbalances that lead to disease.

Ayurveda accomplishes this by taking into consideration the unique constitution of each individual as well as their environment. Therefore we are fed not only by food but also by the sights, sounds and emotions we experience. By establishing balance on a spiritual, emotional, intellectual, behavioral, physical, familial, social and environmental level individuals are able to maintain and preserve positive health for a potential lifespan of 120 years. For the purpose of this paper I am going to focus on the food we eat and how it affects our health.

All natural things (this includes all plants, minerals and animals) are composed of different combinations of the five elements; ether, air, fire, water, earth. The knowledge of this elemental makeup allows us to restore imbalances by using foods and herbs with the opposite qualities of the imbalance. Because herbs are whole foods they contain passive ingredients that balance the active ingredients reducing the side effects that are produced by taking synthetic medicines.

“No disease can be cured unless supplemented by the right diet. About 90% of disease can be prevented by the right diet alone.” C. Edward Coop

Our health depends on how we digest the food we intake. The tissues of our bodies are constantly being broken down and rebuilt. The foods we eat must be broken down into their 5 basic elements and transformed into new tissues. By eating fresh seasonal foods that compliment our age and body constitution at the proper times in a proper environment we support our bodies ability to stay healthy.

Eating food not only nourishes the body but also nourishes the soul and mind.

Healthy food is the most basic need for human survival, health and social stability. Food choices not only directly influence the health of eaters, but food choices profoundly influence the health of the planet. Healthy soil is central to all living things – all plants depend on the soil-food web for their nutrition and all animals and humans depend on healthy plants for their nutrition. In order for humans to absorb minerals they must first be linked with some form of carbon and reduced to angstrom size minerals which we can then absorb intracellularly. Some science shows that sea solids can work in this fashion to restore the depleted mineral balance found in most or our soil due to erosion and improper farming practices. Soil erosion has reduced nutrient bioavailability in plants showing a dramatic decrease in nutrients in conventionally raised food in America since 1940. A 40 year study conducted by an American Dr. Maynard Murray focusing on the deletion of minerals from America’s topsoil showed that plants grown with re-hydrated sea solids provided plants with a full spectrum of 92 minerals. These plants became impervious to disease even when deliberately exposed. The animals that ate these plants also became resistant to disease. Under the Himalayan mountain range lies an ancient evaporated sea which contains this same mineral spectrum in a much more pure state than now available from our polluted oceans.
Science proves that healthy soil grows healthy food and that healthy food nourishes healthy people and healthy people live in healthy communities. Primarily ingesting fruits grains and vegetables lowers the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and could prevent at least 20% of all cancer.

Every time a chemical nutrient is added or subtracted from a food the natural balance is disrupted. When the synergy of all five elements (panchamahabutas) is disrupted, thousands of years of biological programming is thrown out of balance. The eventual result of this is an early onset of chronic degenerative disease.

In the last century modern society has radically changed lifestyle and the source and preparation of food. Many people depend largely on conveniently packaged and processed foods that have dramatically altered the ability to receive whole nutrition. The alteration of the amounts of fat, sodium and carbohydrates in processed food as well as the use of artificial fertilizers, hormones, and antibiotics in food production has affected the nourishment we receive from the foods we eat. Diet-related chronic diseases are of epidemic proportions. Seven of the top ten causes of death are linked to diet. Fresh organically raised food contains prana, the vitality that gives us life. Highly processed food does not carry this prana and as a result we do not receive the vitality necessary to rebuild our tissues in the healthiest manner. Presently, 90% of foods Americans purchase every year are processed foods. In 2006 alone, 2800 new candies, desserts, ice cream, and snacks were introduced to the marketplace compared to just 230 new fruit and vegetable products. Given this information you might ask why people have not changed their habits. Part of the reason may be that this information is not widely broadcast. Another reason according the Dr. Neal Barnard, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine explains that meat and cheese, as well as sugar and chocolate, contain opiate-like substances that keep people hooked – and unhealthy.

Foods grown with chemicals and pesticides take in these qualities and redeliver them to us throughout our digestive process. Genetically modified food has had the basic structure and balance altered which has serious effects on our ability to achieve and maintain health-preserving balance. Over time these chemical substances bio-accumulate and contribute to our systems ability to create disease. Adding synthetic fertilizers herbicides and pesticides to the foods we grow upsets the natural balance and harmony of said food, the earth it is grown in and the humans who consume it. The natural rhythm of the plants metabolism is disrupted and as a result the plants fail to absorb the often times few valuable minerals still available in our topsoil. In addition most commercially grown produce has not been allowed to ripen in the field which means its nutrient value is lessened because of incomplete development. When we eat less vital plants we become less vital and more prone to disease. The same rush through production stimulated by artificial fertilizers, growth hormones and genetic engineering results in the plants themselves having less resistance to disease and pests requiring more use of pesticides and herbicides. These poisons seep into the plant via the surface and root system and become part of the cellular structure of the plant. Because pesticides bio-accumulate higher up the food chain, food such as milk, meat and eggs increase exposure to pesticides as they accumulate in fat cells.

The effects of ingesting individual pesticides in the quantities that appear on produce are unknown. In the EPA’s effort to protect the public from the effects of eating foods that have been treated with pesticides they have set tolerances of the amounts that may legally remain in or on the food and animal feed. These tolerances have been set by, analyzing foods as they are harvested, processed, marketed, and prepared. EPA also requires a battery of toxicity tests on lab animals to determine a pesticide’s potential for causing adverse health effects such as cancer, birth defects, and adverse effects on the nervous system or other organs. As a result of these tests the EPA established a Reference Dose indicating the level that EPA judges an individual could be exposed to on a daily basis for a lifetime with minimal probability of experiencing any adverse effect. Recently the EPA has recognized that the diets of infants and children may differ substantially from those of adults and these guidelines may allow them to be exposed to proportionately more pesticides. Given these guidelines were established one chemical at a time and that most conventionally raised produce has more than one chemical found in the end product has caused some people to question whether these guidelines are sufficient to protect our health. Pesticides can be toxic to humans and animals. Seven of the most toxic chemical compounds know to man are approved for use as pesticides in the production of food. These toxins are referred to as Persistent Organic Pollutants. They are called persistent because they can not easily be removed from the environment. Pesticides are generally referred to as broad-spectrum, narrow-spectrum and systemic. The systemic pesticides are taken up by the plants absorption system and occur throughout the plant. They work by poisoning the pollen and nectar of the flowers of the plant and as a result not only kill pests but also kill needed pollinators like butterflies and bees. The systemic poisoning of plant flowers has killed scores of bees. In the winter of 2006/2007 we lost 25% of bee colonies. Bees play a vital role in the perpetuation and of plant cycles and evolution. While systemic pesticide use has not officially been blamed for the loss of bee colonies no once can rightly say they have been good for bees. Pesticides seem to pose one of the greatest risks to our health and environment. Studies have begun to show that even pesticide exposure in allowed limits can have neurological effects on developing fetuses. Common pesticides used in homes and lawns are now being shown in medical research to accelerate aging of the immune ands nervous system resulting in serious health problems years after exposure. Some agriculture pesticides are not required to be tested for subtle neurological effects (i.e. memory, depressions, behavior) – child-learning disorders – pregnancy developmental studies and immune system effects (i.e. lower white blood cell counts, increased infection rates and autoimmunity). The U.S. National Academy of Science concluded in a report on diet and cancer that “there is no epidemiological evidence to suggest that pesticides individually make a greater contribution to the risk of human cancer” but they also concluded that “the possibility that they may act synergistically and thereby create a greater carcinogenic risk cannot be excluded. There is evidence that farm workers exposed to high levels of pesticides have higher incidences of cancer and an increase in genetic damage was observed in Danish greenhouse workers handling plants treated with any of 50 different compounds. The U.S. EPA ranks pesticide residues among the top three environmental cancer risks.
A US study showed rural mid-western men with high amounts of the pesticide diazanon and the herbicides alachlor and atrazine in their urine are far more likely to have abnormal (diluted, deformed and sluggish) sperm.
A study by Belgian toxicologist Dr. Charles Charlier in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that women diagnosed with breast cancer were six to nine times more likely to have the pesticide DDT in their bloodstream compared to women who did not have breast cancer.
A landmark paper published in 1998 by Elizabeth Guillette and collegues using anthropological and standard pediatric assessments of children to asses the impact of pesticide residues from food and the environment on their health. She compared children in two nearby isolated villages in Mexico, one in which pesticides were routinely used in their farming practices, and one in which they were not used. Everything else in these two villages was the same, genes, lifestyles, diet, climate, culture etc. To assess the children’s cognitive development she measured eye-hand coordination, short-term memory, and the ability to draw a person. These are standard anthropological assessment tools.
What she found was an impaired cognitive development in the children of the village that routinely used pesticides, as demonstrated by these efforts by four and five year olds to
draw a person. The drawings on the left are by four and five year olds from the village where pesticides are not used, while those no the right are by children of the same age from the village in the valley where children are exposed to pesticide residues in their diet, homes and environment.

For over 20 years there have been studies showing the increased risk of many diseases such as cancer, weakened immune system, allergies, neurotoxicity, hyperactivity in children, brain allergies, endocrine disruption, decreased mental clarity and poor concentration. The cumulative effect of widespread, chronic, low-level exposure to multiple pesticides is only partially understood.

According to the U.S. EPA's 2002 list of impaired water bodies, over 635 miles of river
and streams in the Central Valley of California, including the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers and Delta, are so polluted by agricultural pesticides that they are unsafe for uses such as fishing, swimming, and drinking.

Farm runoff that reaches the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers contaminates drinking water supplies for millions of Californians in the Central Valley, the San Francisco Bay Area and Southern California.

Pesticides, pathogens, nitrates and salts have been detected in drinking water sources for at least 46 California counties. The Department of Pesticide Regulation detected pesticides in 96% of Central Valley locations tested, and over half of these detections exceeded unsafe levels for aquatic life and drinking water consumption.
California uses 20% of the pesticides use in America so it is fair to predict that the other 80% being used is increasing toxicity to some level.

Perhaps the amazing fact is that many of the studies showing the dangers of ingesting and inhaling pesticides were completed twenty years ago in the 1980’s, yet in the 1990’s pesticide use increased.

Could these toxic effects of conventional farming in America be responsible for the citizens of America walking around in a state of semi-consciousness? Why else would we or our government allow or tolerate farming practices that contribute so heavily to growing foods that contribute so readily to disease?

The best way to limit chronic poisoning from pesticides is to eat organic fruits and vegetables.

For the same 20 years studies have wavered back and forth over whether there is additional nutrition in organic food. Arguments have risen up as to whether studies were unbiased and truly scientific. There is much evidence showing sometimes they were not. A study called the Firman Bear Report conducted at Rutgers University found organic food much richer in minerals than “commercial produce”. In their study organic tomatoes had 5 times more calcium, 12 times more magnesium, 3 times more potassium and 8 times more manganese, 600% more organic sodium which does not affect blood pressure like table salt and 1900 times more iron.
A study at UC Davis by Dr. Maria Amodio and Dr. Adel Kader show organically grown kiwis had significantly higher level of vitamin C and polyphenols. “All the main mineral constituents were more concentrated in the organic kiwi fruit, which also had higher ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and total polyphenol content, resulting in higher antioxidant activity.
A French study showed similar polyphenol results in tomatoes, peaches and apples.
A 2001 report by Britain’s Soil Association looked at 400 nutritional research studies and concluded food grown organically had more minerals and vitamins.
Dr. Katherine Tucker director of the nutritional epidemiology program at Tufts University in Boston stresses that lower levels of minerals in food is a cause for concern. Magnesium, calcium and other minerals are very important for proper nutrition. She recommends eating unprocessed foods, meat from free-range animals, and grains, fruits and vegetables grown organically or at least using more natural farming methods. .

If there is a positive side to this perhaps it is that Americans are becoming better educated and increasing numbers of people are seeing the benefit in purchasing food directly from the farmers who grow it and are taking the time to prepare and cook it using slow traditional methods. This is demonstrated in the fact that after a century of decline, the number of small farms has increased 20% in the past six years. A study recently published in the American Journal of Agriculture Economics surveyed nearly 500 people and found food shoppers were willing to pay more for locally grown food. Their reasons for doing so were better food quality, better taste and freshness. This trend can be largely attributed to the work done by chef Alice Waters who started the “Slow Food Movement” in California in the 1970’s. She argues that “real food” is grown by people who take care of the land, and who refrain from using herbicides and pesticides. Real food is food that is grown for taste, and is grown in a way that pays people a good wage for their work rather than being grown at somebody else’s expense.

Sustainability means meeting present needs without jeopardizing the ability of future generations to meet their needs. In order to do this we must take into account the harm still being done to the soil and water by conventional agriculture and the people who live on food raised in that manner.

Ayurveda understands the connection between an individualized whole food diet and optimal health in human beings and the planet. It is my hope that with the spread of the knowledge of Ayurveda citizens across the globe will embrace sustainable and conscious eating and growing practices.

As a result our health and spiritual well-being will improve along with the health and spiritual well-being of our planet Earth.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Our own Ayurvedagram in India

As you enter AyurvedaGram, it steals you away into a whole new world of ethnic charm. Taking you back by over hundreds of years, this ethnic Ayurvedic Health Resort has been transplanted from Kerala into 7 acres of herbal garden at Bangalore, India's Garden City.

Backed by one of India's leading Ayurvedic Institution, Kerala Ayurveda Limited. (KAL), AyurvedaGram Ayurvedic Health resort is an Ayurvedic village with resident Ayurvedic physicians, Therapists, Health Centre, Dispensary, Yoga & Meditation Centre, heritage cottages, Veg Restaurant and an ever-attentive service staff.

AyurvedaGram Heritage Wellness Centre (earlier known as Ayurgram Health Resort) is rated amongst the Top Five Spas* or Ayurvedic Health resorts (Ayurvedic resorts) in the country and provides authentic Ayurvedic Treatments for specific aliments such as Arthritis, Obesity, Spondylitis, Cholesterol, Sinusitis, Peptic Ulcer etc using common ayurvedic therapies such as Panchakarma, Rejuvenation, Stress Management and several other Kerala therapies.

Whether you are looking for Ayurvedic treatment or a weekend get-away in a Ayurvedic Health Spa, Ayurvedagram Ayurvedic Health Resort has a whole range of programs to suit every individuals need.

Drive away from the City lights of Bangalore, to Whitefield ... and arrive at AyurvedaGram Heritage Wellness Center.

As you drive in through the Classic gates of AyurvedaGram, you enter a whole New World of ethnic charm. Taking you back by over 75 years - to Kerala's antique Nalukettus, Kovilakams (Palace), Manas & Illams- the traditional homes of Kerala. We have carefully transplanted these ethereal homes of Kerala's high & mighty, brick by brick, woodwork and all, to Bangalore - and recreated the royalty of Kerala, exclusively for your unique experience.

Since inception, AyurvedaGram- the Ayurvedic village -has become internationally reputed for authoritative Ayurvedic treatments and long term rejuvenation programs. Scientific implementation of pure traditional knowledge in a professionalway acceptable to the modern world is the secret behind this recognition. A perfect blend of time-honored diagnostic methods including pulse diagnosis, conventional therapies and effective herbal medicines from Kerala Ayurveda Limited. (KAL), Customized Yoga, Pranayama & Meditation and balanced Vegetarian diet as per the classical Ayurvedic scriptures is the core program at AyurvedaGram. The serene 7 acres of sprawling lush green with more than 200 species of rare medicinal herbs creates a tranquil refreshing atmosphere where the guest won't feel that he is in a Hospital! The entire campus has been designed to provide a healing atmosphere and ethnic ambience by physically transplanting various heritage houses and structures from Kerala, which recapture the rich architectural splendor and natural surrounds of that region.

AyurvedaGram is an effort to provide authentic ayurvedic experience in the splendid settings of the land, where it has been practiced for centuries. These have been aesthetically furnished to suit the needs of our valuable clients who came for better Health & Hospitality Naturally!

For more information please log on to:

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Pancha Karma: An Overview

Ayurveda, the ancient "Science of Life," is one of the oldest forms of health care in the world. It is a holistic science that places great emphasis on prevention and aims at bringing about and maintaining harmony of body, mind and consciousness. It encompasses diet and lifestyle guidelines, herbal formulas and preparations, yoga and meditation practices, as well as various therapies that support and enhance individual Ayurvedic programs.

Ayurveda defines health as the state where every aspect of our being is working properly and in harmony with all its other aspects. That is, the digestive fire (agni) is in a balanced condition; the three doshas —vata, pitta and kapha— are in equilibrium according to the individual constitution; waste products (malas) are produced and eliminated normally; and the mind, senses and consciousness are working harmoniously together. When the balance of any of these systems is disturbed, the disease process begins.
Basically, any aggravation of the doshas affects agni (the digestive fire) and produces toxins or ama. Other factors play a role in the formation of ama, as well. Some of these factors are poor digestion of food, improper food combinations and choices, poor drinking water, pollution, pesticides in food, emotional and physical stress or trauma, and so on. These toxins accumulate and spread throughout the body and eventually deposit themselves into the deeper tissues, organs or channels, creating dysfunction and disease.
One of the most unique aspects of Ayurveda is its cleansing and rejuvenation program known as panchakarma. Panch means "five" and karma means "action." Panchakarma consists of five therapeutic actions or treatments that are specific methods to safely and effectively remove ama (toxins) from different areas of the body without damaging or weakening the system.
Panchakarma is very unique in that it is tailored to meet each individual's needs according to their constitution and doshic imbalances. The therapies involved in this program work to loosen ama (toxins) from the deep tissues in order to be removed through the body's natural channels of elimination. Before one undertakes the process of panchakarma, a skilled Ayurvedic clinician must assess one's weaknesses and determine one's constitution and current state of doshas, as well as which tissues, channels and organs are involved in the imbalance and need to be addressed. Then the clinician can design a program specific to one's needs.
There are three phases of panchakarma: The preliminary therapies, called purvakarma; the five main therapies of panchakarma (vamana, nasya, virechan, raktamokshana and basti); and post-treatment procedures called paschatkarma. Both pre- and post-panchakarma therapies are essential to the success and long lasting effects of the panchakarma program.
Purvakarma therapies serve to prepare the body to get rid of stored ama (toxins). Snehana (oleation) is the first step of purvakarma and it consists of saturating the body with herbal or medicated oils: Abyantar snehana, or internal oleation with ghee or medicated oil, helps loosen ama and move it from deeper tissues into the GI tract where panchakarma's main therapies can eliminate it. External oleation is called Abhyanga (or bahya snehana) and it consists of vigorous massage over the whole body with medicated oils. The choice of oils depends on the particular needs and doshic imbalance of the individual.
Once the massage is completed, swedana (literally "sweat") is performed. The main objective of this therapy is to dilate the channels so that the removal of ama can be more easily achieved. There are several swedana treatments that can also be used as adjunct therapies during panchakarma, but the two most commonly used are nadi swedana and bashpa swedana. Nadi swedana is a localized application of steam with herbal decoctions and medicated oils. It usually focuses on specific areas of the body, such as sore joints or muscles, to improve mobility and reduce pain. Bashpa swedana applies steam evenly to the whole body (with the exception of the head) with the use of a sweatbox. This method is used to further detoxify the body after abhyanga. It is usually followed by herbal plasters and poultices called lepa to help draw toxins out of the pores of the skin.
Lastly, purvakarma uses shirodhara. It is thought in Ayurveda that deep relaxation provides an environment where deeply rooted imbalances can be overcome and where it is easier to restore the harmony and functional integrity of the doshas. Shirodhara is a subtle and profound treatment that consists in pouring warm oil in a slow, steady stream on the forehead. It pacifies vata dosha, calms and nourishes the central nervous system, promoting relaxation and tranquility, and improves mental clarity and comprehension.
The basic idea behind the function of purvakarma therapies can be understood with the following analogy. Suppose you oil a bowl thoroughly and then pour honey into it. The honey cannot stick to the bowl because the slippery quality of the oil does not allow it to. So the honey can be poured out of the bowl much more easily than if the bowl hadn't been oiled. Ama has the same sticky quality as honey, and so it moves easily after the body has been thoroughly oiled and relaxed with purvakarma therapies.
After snehana, swedana and shirodhara have been performed, ama is back in the GI tract and can be removed from it with the main panchakarma therapies: Vamana, nasya, virechan, raktamokshana and basti. Each of these therapies promote the removal of ama through the normal channels of elimination, either moving it upward, downward or through the periphery (skin). The Ayurvedic clinician will assess the imbalances and decide which therapies should be emphasized, depending on which doshas, tissues and organs are involved and where has ama lodged in the body.
Vamana (therapeutic emesis) and nasya (nasal administration of medicated oils and herbal preparations) usually relate to kapha; virechan (therapeutic purgation) and raktamokshana (therapeutic withdrawal of blood) relate to pitta, and basti (therapeutic herbal enema) relates to vata. So, for example, in the case of a person with a kapha imbalance, or excess ama in a kapha site, vamana and nasya will be emphasized to remove excess kapha.
Vamana should not be associated with nausea and sickness. The preparation for vamana with the use of herbs makes it a smooth and painless process that can restore balance and help with serious kapha conditions, such as lung problems, diabetes mellitus and more. Nasya removes ama from the nasal passages, ears and eyes, and cleanses and opens the channels of the head, improving oxygenation of the brain.
Virechan is a natural, herb-induced purging process that mainly cleanses the small intestine and pitta related organs (such as the liver and gall bladder), and removes ama and excess pitta from the body, balancing all metabolic functions. Raktamokshana is used to remove excess pitta-related ama from the blood, for certain blood-related and skin conditions.
Basti is probably the most powerful of all five karmas. It consists of introducing medicated oily substances into the colon to be retained and absorbed by the whole body. Its goal is the purification and rejuvenation of the colon, because the colon is linked to all the other organs and tissues of the body. The colon is an important organ for the absorption of nutrients; it is the primary receptacle for waste elimination; and it is the seat of vata dosha, which is the mover of the other doshas and thus of all physiological activity. Therefore, since it balances and nurtures vata dosha, basti karma has a wide-ranging influence in the body and affects all the doshas, channels and tissues.
Common enemas and colonics can help cleanse the colon, but the main difference is that they do not nourish the tissues and they only remove what is present in the colon. Enemas are temporary and localized, and according to Ayurveda, repeated flushing of water with colonic therapy may weaken the mucous membrane and dry the colon, further disrupting the eliminative function of vata. When basti karma is used in conjunction with purvakarma therapies, it does more than just cleanse the colon. It helps nourish all tissues and remove toxins from the whole body. In other words, basti removes the ama from the whole body that has been brought to the colon by purvakarma.
Individual panchakarma programs can be as short as a week and as long as a month or even longer in some cases. During this time, clients are advised to put aside the usual preoccupations with work and family and devote themselves to rest as much as possible, both physically and mentally. They should surround themselves with a warm, comfortable and pleasant environment, reduce sensory input and avoid experiences that provoke strong emotions. It is also advised to meditate and do specific yoga postures, if so desired. This is an essential aspect of panchakarma, since it will help the detoxification process go deeper.
The diet prescribed during and after treatment is also a key element in this therapy. Heavy food interferes with the cleansing process, so it is advised to eat small amounts of kitchari (a nourishing and cleansing porridge made with mung beans, basmati rice, medicinal spices and clarified butter or ghee) to provide the body with enough nutrition to keep it strong, as well as to keep the digestive fire kindled throughout the process.
According to Ayurveda, it is not enough to simply abstain from food to obtain the maximum benefits of a cleansing program. In fact, Ayurveda discourages long term fasting because the sudden onslaught of ama that can flood the system from fasting for more than a few days is often too drastic and can damage the tissues, weaken the digestion and have long term health repercussions. Plus, just fasting does not necessarily insure that the toxins that are deeply deposited will be removed. This is why panchakarma lubricates and prepares the body for the removal of ama. Furthermore, it focuses on the individual doshic imbalances and uses herbs and herbal preparations to support and enhance the cleansing process.
The set of procedures that follow the main therapies of panchakarma, called paschatkarma, are aimed at assisting the body in the re-establishment of healthy metabolic system and immunity. If these post-treatment procedures are neglected, the digestion may not normalize and the production of ama would continue. So, after the program is over, it is advised to keep eating light, nourishing foods, such as mung dal soup and rice and to gradually add vegetables and other foods. It is recommended to slowly and gradually return to regular activities to avoid taxing the nervous system, because the body is in a sensitive, somewhat vulnerable state after treatment.
The lifestyle program that should be adopted at this time to support the treatment is called dinacharya, or daily routine. The Ayurvedic clinician can give specific guidelines for dinacharya as well as other seasonal guidelines and recommendations. He can also provide rasayanas, which consist of herbal and mineral preparations with specific rejuvenating effects on body and mind. Rasayanas increase the vitality and energy of the person, nourish and rejuvenate the entire organism, and thus are an important part of the paschatkarma procedures.
Finally, it is worth mentioning here that because vata dosha (the energy of movement) initiates and drives all physiological movements, including that of the other doshas, it is considered in Ayurveda to be the main player in all of the body's processes. So, managing the functioning of vata is one of the main objectives in panchakarma and is a good preventative measure in our daily life. For this reason, with the exception of internal oleation, any of the therapies mentioned here can be used individually or in combination as a vata management program.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Amma - Her Message and Teachings


Amma's life is her message. In other words, Amma does not teach anything that she herself does not practice. Living from moment to moment in a constant state of supreme happiness, Amma warmly embraces thousands of people day after day, wiping their tears, giving them her divine guidance and offering solace to all who come to her. Amma recommends the path of selfless-service through the example of her own life.

Amma says, "The beauty and charm of selfless love and service should not die away from the face of the earth. The world should know that a life of dedication is possible, that a life inspired by love and service to humanity is possible.

Meditation and studying the scriptures are like two sides of a coin. The engraving on that coin is selfless service, and that is what gives it its real value. Our compassion and acts of selflessness take us to the deeper truths. Through selfless action we can eradicate the ego that conceals the Self. Detached, selfless action leads to liberation. Such action is not just work; it is karma yoga."

Amma always points out that the purpose of one's life is to realize who we really are. She says, "By realizing our own Self we become full, with nothing more to gain in life. Life becomes perfect."

To attain this goal, Amma says that no particular path or spiritual practice can be recommended for all. "Just as a doctor gives different dosages or even different medications to patients with the same ailment according to their constitution, so does a Spiritual Master prescribe different methods to different people to reach the same goal. Spirituality is the practical science of life. Apart from taking us to the ultimate goal of Self-realization it also teaches us the nature of the world, and how to understand life and live fully in the best way possible."

However, Amma says that the path of devotion and selfless-service is the safest and most conducive path for many people.

Why Spirituality?

Amma says, "The real purpose of life is to experience what is beyond this physical existence. However, each one looks at life differently. Most human beings see life as a constant struggle for survival. Such people believe in the theory, "The fittest will survive". They are satisfied with the normal way of living- for example, getting a house, a job, a car, a wife, a husband, children and enough money to live. Yes, these are important things, and we need to focus on our day-to-day lives and to take care of our responsibilities and obligations, small and big.

But there is more to life, a higher purpose, which is to know and realize who we are. By knowing who we are, we gain everything. A feeling of complete fullness, with absolutely nothing else to gain in life. That realization makes life perfect. Regardless of all we have accumulated or are striving to acquire, for most people life still feels incomplete - like the letter "C". This gap, or lack, will always be there. Only spiritual knowledge and realization of Self can fill the gap and unite the two ends, which will make it like the letter, "O". The knowledge of "That" alone will help us feel well-grounded in the real center of life.

Spirituality is not blind faith; it is the ideal that eliminates darkness. It is the principle that teaches us to face any adverse circumstance or obstacle with a smile. Spirituality is the teaching for the mind."

Someone asked Amma, "Why should one follow the spiritual path?"

Amma replied, "This is like the seed asking, "Why should I go beneath the soil, sprout and grow upward?"

For more information please log on to:


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Yoga Therapy For Health

Adding Yoga to an individuals’ Dinacharya has many therapeutic benefits. Many of the benefits are tri-doshic in nature but there are also ways to use yoga to correct doshic imbalances or vikriti that an individual may experience. Using the yogic practices of asana, pranayama, and meditation in conjunction with the knowledge of an individual’s dosha, is a focused therapeutic approach to correcting doshic imbalances that may cause disease. David Frawley in his book Yoga and Ayurveda states, “An understanding of Ayurvedic constitutional types helps us to adapt yoga practices according to individual requirements. The asana pranayama and mediation practices appropriate for one doshic type may not be useful for another.”
Yoga asana is a powerful healing tool. It can be utilized to maintain balance in an individual or to correct doshic imbalances. Almost all asana can be useful to all dosha types, but frequency, hold, breathing techniques and energetic approach to each asana will change depending on an individual’s prakriti and vikriti.
There are seven different families of yoga asana, standing poses, balancing poses, seated poses, inversions, forward bends, back bends and twists. Certain poses may help to balance certain doshic imbalances, but that does not mean that any asana family should be completely removed from an individual’s practice. All muscle groups should be represented in your practice at least a few days of the week. In the book Yoga for Your Type it states, “An asana may not be good for a particular doshic type but that doesn’t mean they should never do it. It means they should practice the asana in a way which guards against any potential imbalances.” For example, individuals with a Pitta dosha should in general have a relaxing and cooling practice. Many standing and balancing postures can be heating therefore those with a Pitta constitution should hold the poses for short intervals and do less of them than their Kaphic counterparts.
Intention plays a big part in modifying poses to suit each constitution. Energetically each asana can benefit each dosha type depending on the intention with which it is performed. In the book Yoga for your Type it states, “This doshic equation of asanas should not be taken rigidly because the pranic effect of asana can outweigh its structural affect as we just noted. The form of the asana is not its main factor. Through the use of breath we can modify or even change the doshic effects of the asana. We must remember the importance of thought and intention in asana as well. Considering the asana, prana and the mind, we alter a particular asana or adjust the entire practice toward a particular doshic result.”
For example vata individuals must practice with a calm even grounded mind. Their practices should centered and relaxed, doing asana slowly without strain or abrupt movements. In the book Yoga for Your Type, the authors Frawley and Summerfield make the following recommendation for Vata type practitioners, “A gentle, slow practice evenly balanced on both sides of the body is ideal exercise for vata types. Vata are most in need of asana practice because asana alleviates accumulated Vata from the back and bones, where it causes bone and joint problems. Vata benefits from the massaging action of the asana on the muscles and joints, which release nervous tension and balances out the system.”
Pitta individuals should practice with the intention to surrender into the asana, in relaxed way that will remove heat and tension. They should remain receptive and detached but also avoid being overly critical. The recommendation Frawley and Summerfield make for Pitta is as follows. “Pittas benefit from asana practice to cool down the head and the blood, calm the heart and relieve tension. For example, Pittas tends to hypertension because of the fiery temperament that drives them to succeed or to win.”
Kaphic types should practice with effort and determination. They should practice with light, flowing, energetic movements, and an enthusiastic mind. Increasing the depth and speed of the breath when needed to create energy and reduce kapha. Kapha types get similar advice from Frawley and Summerfield in Yoga for Your Type, “Kaphas need movement and stimulation to counter their tendency to complacency and inertia. They are good at keeping a practice going for longer periods of time, once they get it going in the first place.”
Another factor in creating a therapeutic practice for each dosha is where the doshic imbalance can be seen in the spine. According to Mas Vidal in his Yoga Therapy text Doshic imbalance can be seen in spine. Vata will be displayed in the lower or lumbar spine and colon. Pitta will accumulate in the mid back and small intestines. Kapha will build up in the thoracic spine and chest. Each specific therapeutic dosha balancing practice should include asana that releases these dosha from the spine.
Many asana’s benefits are tridoshic in nature. Yet some poses remove more of one dosha than another. Some examples are Trikoasana (Triangle Pose), Padottanasana (Spread Legs Forward Bend), Ardha Chandrasana ((Half Moon Pose) and many more. The book Yoga for Your Type is an excellent reference for the doshic properties on the most commonly known asanas. Surya Namskar or the sun salutation is a twelve movement sequence that includes back bends, forwards bends and its benefits are tridoshic. The sequence eliminates doshas from the spine and is a heating sequence that helps to reduce excess fat, reduce weight, and improves digestion. This sequence can be prescribed for individuals of all Prakriti, it is extremely effective in producing spinal health and is excellent for reducing excess doshas from the spine region.
Most standing poses such as Parsvttanasana (Intense Sideways Stretch Pose), Padottanasana (Spread Legs Forward Bend), Trikonasana (Triangle) and many other standing poses will decrease all three doshas if modified slightly for each constitution. Vata types will practice standing poses with moderate holds and slow even breathing. Pitta will perform standing poses with short holds and long easy cooling breaths. While kapha will hold these asanas longer and may even repeat theses poses for more heat and movement. The breath will be normal or can even be performed Ujjayi to create more heat.
Balancing poses tend to be heating in nature and therefore are recommended in sequences for individuals trying to lower the kapha dosha. Examples of balancing poses are Vrksasana (Tree Pose), Eagle (Garudasana), and Natarajasana (Dancer’s Pose). Dancer’s pose is a challenging balancing asana that when performed creates opening in the chest and upper spine as well a heating in the body which makes it an excellent posture to reduce Kapha. Since individuals with vata imbalances need warming and grounding postures, balancing poses should be a small portion of a vata reducing practice. The heating nature of balancing poses also minimizes the use of them in a Pitta balancing practice, especially during the warmer summer months.
Seated postures are grounding and cooling, which makes them an ideal focus for both vata and pitta practices. Seated postures such as Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Sitting Pose), Virasana (Hero Pose), Yoga Mudrasana (Yoga Seal), Pigeon (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana), or Lotus and Half Lotus (Padmasana) are examples of seated asana. Some of these postures are also hip openers and can be very helpful in reducing vata that is stored with the hips, colon, and lumbar spine Vata practitioners should practice seated postures with long holds, and even slow and smooth breath. Pitta practitioners can hold these postures with an intention towards surrender and tension release for any period of time that allows for this intention. Kaphic individuals should focus their practice on more active heating postures, and when performing seated asana it is suggested that they still keep the intention of enthusiasm and activity in their practice by utilizing short holds and a warming ujjayi breath.
Anytime the head is below heart in an asana it can be considered an inversion. These asana are usually heating and strengthening for the upper body. Examples of inverted asana are the classic Adho Mukha Svasana (Downward Facing Dog), Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand), Halasana (Plow), and Sirsasana (Headstand). Pitta can perform these postures but because of the heating properties the holds must be short and the breath smooth and cooling. Vata can also be reduced by utilizing these postures with long holds and the intention of being still and stable. Stillness and grounding in these postures are very important to reduce vata instead of aggravating it by increasing stress and strain in postures done too forcefully or too much activity. These postures are ideal for reducing Kapha, but excess weight could cause difficulties for Kaphic practitioners so these poses can be modified to accommodate the ability of the individual. For over weight individuals start inverted asanas with short holds to build strength, working towards moderate holds with normal breathing. The intention should also be one of activity with the practitioner holding the intention of lifting and working these heating poses. Inversions purify the blood and nurture the organs in the upper body, the brain, lungs, and throat. The opening and strengthening of the thoratic spine in inversions like Sirasana (Headstand), Pincha Mayurasana (Peacock) and Adho Mukha Vrksasana (Handstand) are excellent medicine for the excess kapha that may accumulate around the head, neck, and chest.
Forward bends are the best asana for reducing Pitta. Their cooling properties, well as the tension release from the mid back are vital for individuals with excess Pitta dosha. These practitioners must perform these asana with long holds and even repetitions. The breath should be smooth, easy, and light, with an intention focused on surrender and tension release. Paschimottanasana (Full forward Bend), Upavistha Konasana (Open Legs Forward Bend), Supta Padangusthasana (One Leg Stretched up Lying Down), and Janu Sirasana ( Head to Knee Pose) are all examples of forward bending asana. Vata can be reduced in the spine by performing forward bending poses and because they are done on the floor if done with the intention of being still and grounded these poses can stabilize the normally spacey vata aggravated individual. Most forward bends increase Kapha in the body therefore these poses should be minimized and place at the end of a Kapha reducing practice. They should be done for short holds with a strong a heating breath to reduce impact of Kaphic imbalances.
Backbends are compressions of the spine. They increase the opening in the chest and lungs, therefore making them essential in a Kapha reducing practice. Gentle back bends done on the floor can be helpful to those with an excess Vata as well because of their grounding nature. Some examples of backbends are Bhujangasana (Cobra), Dhanurasana (Bow Pose), these a backbends are performed on the floor. Ustrasana (Camel) and Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose) are backbends that can be performed while standing or lifted. For the most benefit individuals with excess Kapha should perform standing and floor back bends with long, intense, holds with normal to Ujjayi breathing. Practitioners with excess Vata or Pitta should perform the backbends on the floor for their grounding and cooling qualities. The holds should be short to moderate in length and with slow, light, and smooth breathing. In Yoga for Your Type the Authors mentions this precaution for practitioners on the subject of backbends. “For example, backbends. Forceful or quickly done backbends can cause major Vata Aggravation, with serve strain to the nervous system perhaps more than any other asana. However, gentle partial back bends are great for reducing Vata that accumulates in the upper back and shoulders.” Demonstrating again that the intention, speed, and breath in the practice of an asana is just as important as the pose itself.
The last family asana to be discussed are twists. Twisting postures are cooling to the body and release tension in the mid back. Twists remove heat and should always be performed in the cooling portion of a practice. Balancing twists can be heating and increase Pitta and Vata so for these two doshas seated twists are preferred. Balancing twists include Twisted Prayer Pose and Garudasana (Eagle) poses. Seated twists include poses such as Bharadvajasana (Legs Side Sitting Twist Pose), Marichyasana (Sage Twist), and Jathara Parivartanasana (revolving Stomach Pose). All practices should contain some twisting asana for the tension release in the mid back but this is especially important to those with Pitta body types.
To summarize the affect of asana can therapeutic for all three dosha types. When used with the correct intention, length of hold and breath asana can be a huge benefit to any body type. This can be applied to another other yoga techniques as well. Take Pranayama techniques, when used wisely by the practitioner, they can also have therapeutic benefits that can be customized to suit the various imbalances in the mind, body, and spirit.
David Frawley defines Pranayama in the following way, “Prana is the vital force and ayama means expansion. Therefore pranayama means the “expansion of the vital force”.” The expansion of prana can be used to treat diseases of the respiratory, circulatory and nervous systems. Correct functioning of these systems depends on the proper flow of prana. Toxins create blockages in the nadis causing the flow prana to be reduced. Under these conditions patients will demonstrate symptoms such as lack of energy and chronic fatigue, and weak immunities. Through pranayama we can clear the way for prana to flow freely throughout the body. “Frawley states in Yoga and Ayurveda “Yogic views of anatomy, physiology and psychology were originally formulated in terms of the doshas. The doshas tell us how the various organs and systems of the body work from a yogic perspective of prana. They provide the keys to the nadis and the chakras of the subtle body.”
There are many different ways to perform pranayama but the techniques must be chosen with the individual’s dosha and vikriti in mind. ”Pranayama treats all the doshas. The right practice of pranayama normalizes vata, the master dosha and expression of prana. Pranayama is the one of the main practices to reduce kapha, which has a tendency to stagnation and the production of mucus. In addition special cooling pranayama counter Pitta and remove heat.”
The heating and cooling nature of pranayama is an important factor in treatment of doshic imbalances. Therefore breath through the right nostril that energizes the solar nadi the pingala should be utilized to increase Pitta and heat. In opposition breath through the left nostril activates the lunar nadi the Ida and increases kapha or water.
Breath retention also plays a factor in choosing the correct techniques for the appropriate dosha. The retention of breath after an inhalation is a strengthening and increases brimhana the tonifying effect of pranayama. It is used to reduce aggravation vata and build ojas. On the flip side breath retention after exhalation is detoxifying and lowers kapha and increases the langhan or reducing effects of pranayama.
With these principles in mind we can begin to recommend pranayama to our students and patients. For example a student complaining of excess heat, fevers, loss of body weight, or mental hyperactivity such as insomnia, or anxiety would want to focus on alternate nostril breathing focused on the cooling side the left nostril breathing. For stronger cooling effects use the Shitali method of inhalation through an open mouth and upwardly curled tongue with breath retention, and then exhaling through the nose. Or the Sitaki pranayama method which is similar to the Shitali method that adds a “see” sound on inhalation through the curled tongue but excludes breath retention.
Patients with excess weight, low energy, fatigue, depression should focus on alternate nostril breathing from the right nostril to energize the solar nadi the pingala to create heat. These methods are best used in the morning to move and reduce kapha in the body. For stronger heating methods use the Kapalabhati or Bhastrika methods. Kapalabhati breath or the “breath of fire” cleanses the nasal passages. This method involves taking deep forceful exhalations while at the same time contracting the abdomen muscles with strength. The inhalation is allowed to happen normally. In the Bhastrika method the left nostril is closed and ten deep inhalations and exhalations are done on through the right nostril. After ten breaths switch and complete ten deep forceful breaths through the left nostril. This method creates heat, clears mucus, and helps to reduce excess fat.
For vata balanced breathing is best. Pranayama techniques such as Ujjayi breathing and right nostril breathing in the morning work well. Ujjayi breathing is deep breathing with a small subtle sound at the back of throat to lengthen and deepen the breath, and strengthen the respiratory system. It is warming and reduces kapha and vata and improves agni. Frawley references both yoga asana and pranayama as an essential tool in therapeutic treatment. “Yoga has a place in both levels of Ayurvedic treatment. Yoga is a therapeutic tool of Ayurveda for both disease treatment and a variety of aliments, particularly structural problems or low energy conditions. However, yoga is probably more important for lifestyle management than for treatment of disease. Yoga postures, pranayama and meditation are among the best tools for keeping our doshas in balance.”
Meditation is a practice recommended by both Yoga and Ayurveda and in most cases its practice is therapeutic and tri-doshic in nature. There are many different methods of meditation including the use of mantra, visualization and prayer. Frawley discusses the Ayurvedic approach to meditation this way in his book Yoga and Ayurveda, “Because of the mind’s connection with prana, the role of pranic practices in meditation cannot be ignored. Because of prana’s connection to food, the physical body cannot be forgotten either. The Ayurvedic approach to meditation is always integral and includes the body, breath and senses.
Devotional meditation is mediation or concentration upon a form of god. The focus of this meditation is based on an individual’s religious background and is often deeply personal to each practitioner. It can range in nature from an avatar of a revered teacher or any other relationship with the divine.
Knowledge meditation’s aim is self-knowledge. It can be done passively or actively. The passive form of knowledge meditation is performed with a receptive attitude with the mediator taking the role of the witness in observing the self. Active knowledge meditation entails direct questioning of one’s true nature. With questions like “Who am I?” These various mediation techniques can be recommended to help balance each dosha type.
Mediation for vata types can help to ground restless thoughts and it can help to reduces the feelings fear and anxiety they often experience. It can assist them to overcome their natural tendency for over activity and stress and also can sooth nervous digestion and insomnia problems. Vata types need an inner ward focus to their meditation. An unfocused or passive form of meditation has the tendency to aggravate Vata and make them feel even more spacey. Therefore mantra and visualization are recommended.
Vata types should perform asana or some relaxing form of exercise like walking, to work out any excess restless before they sit down to practice. This will help them sit still with more ease. Use visualization including grounding anti-vata types of images of earth and water like lakes, oceans, mountains or flowers. Colors such as the golden colors of dawn or fire are wonderful anti-vata color therapy. For mantra they should reaffirm the feeling of peace and fearlessness, and use anti-vata mantras of HRIM, SHRIM, and RAM. The mantra should be said out loud but low and calm voice to keep the vata energized but anxiety free.
For devotional meditation vata types should focus on divine parental relationships. Their relationship to the divine should be one that is protective, supporting, and nourishing in nature. Images of the divine mother and father are helpful. Vata type’s knowledge meditation should concern the unchanging or eternal aspects of the Self, such as concepts including the changeless nature of universal law.
Meditation for Pitta individuals should be a form of surrender. In this way Pitta types can release the tension and aggression that Pitta’s generate with their tight need for control. Excellent concentration will help Pitta types’ to focus more easily. Allowing them to use their strengths of strong concentration and drive to center their attention on peaceful anti-pitta mantra and visualization.
It is recommended that Pitta come to mediation as cool and relaxed as possible. Therefore unlike Vata and Kapha types no exercise prior to mediation is necessary. To promote a more peaceful and still meditation a cooling pranayama such as shitali or alternate nostril breathing can be done prior to meditation.
Visualization for Pitta should concentrate on non-fiery images and colors such as oceans, mountains, rain, snow, and white, blue, or dark green. Pitta affirmations include forgiveness, compassion, for all creation, and a release of anger and aggression. Anti-Pitta mantras include SHAM, SHRIM, or OM. Mantra in Pitta should be repeated silently, and in a slow and relaxed pace.
Devotional meditation should be centered on peaceful and calming forms of the divine. Pitta types may be drawn to the more destructive and wrathful gods but they should avoid this attraction and choose more soothing and forgiving forms of the divine. In knowledge mediation Pitta types must turn their keen intellect and critical minds outward seeking answers outside their own opinions and judgments, and find the light of acceptance and peace within their own hearts.
Meditation for Kapha types is a practice of letting go of emotional attachment and mental stagnation. Group meditation or meditation with mantra, pranayama combined to maintain a wakeful and aware practice is good of Kapha types. The combination of more active forms of meditation can counter the Kaphic tendency toward lassitude. Like Vata types, Kaphic individuals need some physical exercise prior to mediation. Walking meditation or asana before meditation is ideal for Kapha types. Heating and balancing pranayama prior to and during meditation will increase awareness and dispel stagnation.
Visualization for Kapha types should focus on images that increase the fire, air and space elements, images of sun, wind, or sky are excellent examples of anti-kapha imagery. Also the colors of gold, blue, and orange can be used in anti-kapha color therapy. Useful mantra for Kapha types are the sounds of OM, HUM, AIM. They should be done out loud to begin, and then repeated also with only the breath.
Since love and compassion comes naturally to most Kapha types devotional worship can be easy for them. But unlike Pitta types, Kapha individuals should worship the more stimulating or passionate forms of divinity like Shiva, or Kali. This type of devotional imagery if not done with excessive emotion, but with a purity of the heart, can release emotional attachment and lethargy. Knowledge meditation for Kapha types should be centered on ideas of formless, change, the transient nature of creation, and the formlessness of infinity. These concepts will assist Kaphic individuals to let go of attachments, and increases space in the mind. Kaphic types must always strive to go beyond their personal limitations, to take the next steps in their own great journey, and not be tempted to linger in one place no matter how pleasant the distraction.
Whatever your dosha meditation is essential part of good physical, mental, and spiritual health. In his book Yoga and Ayurveda Frawley writes of the importance of mediation in Yogic and Ayurvedic philosophies, “Ayurveda and yoga culminate in the art of mediation. The Ayurvedic knowledge of the doshas and pranas help us use meditation for healing and balancing purposes. The Yogic knowledge of the mind and the gunas help use to use meditation for Self-realization. Meditation is like the pinnacle of the pyramid of Vedic Knowledge. It culminates in a sharp point that penetrates into the infinite, but rests on a broad base that goes deep into the earth.”
Knowing your dosha or your patient’s dosha is a power tool of self- healing. Once the knowledge is gained your lifestyle practices of diet, exercise, cleansing, purifying, can be customized to your own unique needs. Merging the sciences of Yoga and Ayurveda gives the individual practitioner or healer a full tool box of skills and with which to correct doshic imbalances. Together they create a flexible wellness system that can change not only with the individual’s life changes such as the seasons, life changing events, injuries, and illness but also with their own distinctive imbalances and health issues as they grow and age.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Quotes and Quotes

We are posting a couple of quotes that can be food for thought and inspiration. Enjoy!

Sun Salutation:

"With praying hands I face the sun, feeling love and joy in my heart. I stretch up my hands and let the sun fill me with warmth. I bow before the sun's radiance and place my face to the ground with humble respect. I lift my face to the sun and then remember, to achieve such heights, I must be as the dust of the earth. I stretch up towards its light trying to reach the greatest heights and again surrender. I stand tall as I remember the true sun is within me."

(ancient verse, author unknown)

Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behaviors. Keep your behaviors positive because your behaviors become your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.


Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.

A Course In Miracles

There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.

Albert Einstein

Since you alone are responsible for your thoughts, only you can change them. You will want to change them when you realize that each thought creates according to its own nature. Remember that the law works at all times and that you are always demonstrating according to the kind of thoughts you habitually entertain. Therefore, start now to think only those thoughts that will bring you health and happiness.

Paramahansa Yogananda

Make a gift of your life and lift all mankind by being kind, considerate, forgiving, and compassionate at all times, in all places, and under all conditions, with everyone as well as yourself. This is the greatest gift anyone can give.

David R. Hawkins

The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.

Thomas Merton

A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.

Albert Einstein

Just like a sunbeam can't separate itself from the sun, and a wave can't separate itself from the ocean, we can't separate ourselves from one another. We are all part of a vast sea of love, one indivisible divine mind.

Marianne Williamson

If you realized how powerful your thoughts are, you would never think a negative thought.

Peace Pilgrim

With unfailing kindness, your life always presents what you need to learn. Whether you stay home or work in an office or whatever, the next teacher is going to pop right up.

By Charlotte Joko Beck

Everything in your life is there as a vehicle for your transformation. Use it!

Ram Dass

Everything you see happening is the consequence of that which you are.

David R. Hawkins

It is a great art to have an abundance of knowledge and experience - to know the richness of life, the beauty of existence, the struggles, the miseries, the laughter, the tears - and yet keep your mind very simple; and you can have a simple mind only when you know how to love.

Jiddu Krishnamurti

Many more to come. What do you think ????

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Ayurveda and the Mind

According to David Frawley in Ayurveda and the Mind: The Healing of Consciousness:

“To be healthy is important but health is not an end in itself. It is not enough merely to prolong our lives and have better energy to do the things we want. We must consider what we are using our energy for and why. The quality of awareness is the real fruit of what we do (p. 9).”

In Frawley’s estimate, mental health (or awareness) serves as the basis of all other health. And yet, more often than not, the majority of a practitioner’s time is spent on the physical health of a client. What, then, is the place of mental health in modern Ayurvedic practice, particularly in the West? What is the role of practitioner in this aspect of wellness and healing? And what would it look like to integrate mental health as a key component of treatment in contemporary Ayurvedic practices?

Purpose of Paper
Ayurveda acknowledges four levels of healing to include 1. treatment of disease 2. prevention of disease 3. enhancement of life and 4. development of awareness. As previously stated, much emphasis is often placed on the first three levels of healing in the contemporary practice of Ayurveda in the West. However, there is less emphasis on the fourth level of healing: development of awareness.

The purpose of this paper is to explore this level of healing to identify and articulate how this process can be better integrated into the modern practice of Ayurveda in such a way as to empower clients to not only prevent and treat disease, but to transcend the types of experiences that lead to disease in the first place. More specifically, this paper asserts the importance of a more psychological approach to health as opposed to the typically physical or physiological approach to health that is commonly practiced in Ayurveda in the West. Given that the full scope of Ayurvedic practice includes both the physical and mental diseases, we have to look at the mind and consciousness in order to truly understand Ayurveda and be effective practitioners.

Ayurveda and Human Psychology
Why does the psychological dimension of health need to be considered equally (or perhaps even more than) the physiological dimension of health? According to Ayurveda, disease is caused by three factors: 1. doshic imbalances 2. rajas and tamas of the mind and 3. karmic impressions. Ostensibly, these three factors are inter-related and inform and impact one another. There is a general thread of connection between the three. Typically, doshic imbalances occur as a result of rajas and tamas of the mind (which leads to poor decision/choice-making in one’s life). Further, rajas and tamas of the mind is often caused due to karmic impressions from past and current lives. The legacy of our karmic samskaras directs how we will comport ourselves in our lives.

In looking at the aforementioned “domino effect” what becomes clear is that the state of our mental health impacts our physical health. When an individual is unable to have a certain mental discipline and hence, makes poor lifestyle and dietary choices, physical illness inevitably follows.

As previously mentioned, Ayurveda in the West often focuses on working with and educating a patient on how to modify diet and lifestyle in order to treat and prevent disease. However, it is equally important for practitioners to understand human psychology and the how the mind works in order to ensure effective communication with the client and to ensure appropriate adherence to treatment..

How we deal with a pitta person who may be prone to irritation and anger will be different from how we relate to an anxiety-prone vata person. Dealing with a passive kapha dominant individual will also be tempered by an understanding of his/her psychology. Specifically, understanding the psychology and mental make-up of these different types of “constitutions” will significantly impact how we make our recommendations and whether they will have any impact, and if they are even appropriate to begin with.

Ayurvedic practitioners must have the counseling skills to both understand a client’s psychology and to help patients implement the necessary changes to effect well-being. Generally, Ayurvedic treatment fails because the practitioner has not properly understood the patient’s psychology to ensure that the patient will stay with the necessary treatment plan. Further the practitioner has not adequately examined the types of mental/thought patterns the individual repeatedly engages in that cause the poor choice-making to begin with.

Ayurveda and Western Psychology
According to a 2005 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), of the 2.4 billion drugs prescribed in visits to doctors and hospitals in 2005, nearly 118 million were for anti-depressants. In fact, according to the same government study, antidepressants have become the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States above drugs to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, or headaches (Cohen, CNN Website)

It is clear that, in the United States, there is more psychological pain and illness than physical illness. Sadly, although modern medicine is well-equipped to treat physical disease, it is less effective at treating mental and emotional illness.

In fact, according to the same CDC study, depression has become a public health issue. It is estimated that 25% of Americans will have a major episode of depression in their lifetime, and that a startling 8% of adolescents will experience a major depressive episode. Added to the epidemic-like nature of depression are other mental/emotional illness such as attention deficit disorder, anxiety disorders and obsessive compulsive disorders. In response to the mounting occurrence of these illnesses, we have seen the increasing production of psychotropic drugs for treatment, many of which are addictive and also have very real (and detrimental) side-effects.

The good news is that Ayurveda -- with its grounding in Vedic/Samkhya philosophy and its understanding of the mind -- is well-positioned to help individuals move through the debilitating experiences of these mental/emotional illnesses, without the use of any pharmacological intervention. The tough news is that Ayurvedic practitioners have to be ever more educated and knowledgeable about the importance of human psychology, given the current state of mental affairs in the U.S. and throughout the West (and in rapidly Westernizing socieities).

Many patients who seek out Ayurveda are also seeking out some psychological or spiritual assistance. Often, they come to alternative modalities when they have exhausted their other options. And they specifically seek out Ayurveda because of its grounding in spiritual philosophy. As such, these patients will expect that the Ayurvedic practitioner can address not only physical issues, but emotional, psychological and spiritual issues as well. And as a consequence, the role of Ayurveda in mental health becomes all the more important.

Incorporating Psychology into the Western Ayurvedic Practice
Although Ayurveda has a very strong grounding in Vedic philosophy, there is little information immediately available that links Ayurveda and psychology. Scattered passages exist in books such as the Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita, however, they are poorly organized and not directly relevant to the issues that practitioners encounter. As a consequence, most practitioners are left to “piece together” a psychological profile based on limited understanding. Clearly, there is more work to do to link Ayurveda and psychology, particularly as they apply in a Western context. Fortuntely, there is ample evidence to suggest that yoga, meditation and pranayama are three key ways to create the link between Ayurveda and psychology.

Yoga & Ayurveda
One area where significant work has been done is linking Ayurvedic psychology with yoga. In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras and in the Bhagavad Gita, ashtanga yoga is fully articulated as a means of working with the mind and hence, calming chitta. The Ayurvedic concept of enhancing a client’s sattva for stability, harmony and virtue is primarily an outgrowth of classical yoga. In fact, according to Frawley, yoga is a form of psychological inquiry, and as a consequence, Ayurvedic practice must incorporate the practice of yoga. (American Institute of Vedic Studies Web Site)

Presently, most Ayurvedic and yoga practitioners engage in their arts without intersecting with one another. Ayurveda must be properly integrated with the practice and philosophy of yoga to have a fully developed psychological grounding and to be able to adequately treat imbalances of the mind.

Meditation & Ayurveda
Ayurveda is based on the Samkhya model of the mind in which the mind is divided into four “entities.” Most significant is “chitta” which is considered the entity that experiences mental disturbances. It is essentially the conditioned mind, or the mind of memory. The other “entities” include buddhi (the higher discriminating intelligence), manas (external sensory perception) and ahamkara (ego).

In order to calm chitta and develop mental health, it is essential to develop buddhi, manage manas and decrease ahamkara. In this way, we are able to foster right thought and action that ultimately leads to right life, lifestyle and livelihood. Key to increasing buddhi is the practice of meditation, which must also be integrated into the Ayurvedic treatment program in order to achieve overall patient wellness. Ayurvedic practitioners must be trained in and conversant in various forms of meditation and how to fold them into an overall treatment program for a client.

Pranayama & Ayurveda
As previously articulated, healing the mind can be achieved through the practices of yoga and meditation. Another key practice for healing the mind is pranayama which consists of a variety of breathing techniques. Since prana (or life force) is at a deeper level of awareness than the cognitive mind, we have to turn to that very level in order to actually reach the mind. Any treatment of doshic imbalances is necessarily a treatment of pranic imbalance; therefore, diet modifications, herbs and panchakarma are also essential aspects of pranic healing, and hence, mental healing.

It is critical for Ayurvedic practitioners to be well-versed in the art of pranayama and how it can be incorporated into treatment programs in order to ensure a comprehensive therapy. Without an emphasis on these types of practices, practitioners run the risk of addressing the physical symptoms and then sending the patient back into a very rajasic lifestyle and world that continuously disturbs the mind and mental peace. Without a sense of this peace, there is little hope that an individual can maintain a steady state of good health; moreover, it creates a challenging environment for the individual to make the right choices that engender positive health to begin with.
Beyond the Mind
Through this paper, I have attempted to demonstrate the importance of understanding and examining the mind in order to truly bring about wellness within the Ayurvedic model. That being said, there is even a limitation to that approach. If we only stay at the levels of mind and body, we lose the true essence of what it is that Ayurveda can help us achieve, and that is a connection with our highest self. At the end of the day, Ayurvedic practitioners need to be able to help patients move their mental energy towards Sattva and past the boundaries of body and mind to access the true self (the Atman or the soul) in order to find peace and harmony. Only then can healing be created and sustained.

Through the practices of yoga, meditation and pranayama, we begin to open doors and are able to peek into a different way of being – a way that promises a greater degree of stability, wisdom and presence. As Vasant Lad says: "Without identification, justification, evaluation and notification, you can see a clear-cut gap between two thoughts, a space between two memories, a distance between two emotions. In that space there is a door. Enter into that door." (p.5)

Given our lifestyles and the environments in which we live, we have completely lost our way towards that door. We are surrounded by so much “noise” around us that has penetrated within us and created significant disturbances inside. We are unable to distinguish the things that matter from the things that don’t.

“Identification, justification and evaluation have become the survival skills in our world of complexity and fragmentation, of inter-dependence and individuality. Those are the core-skills we learn at school, and later in life we perfect them to become 'successful'. Letting go of those qualities of the mind seems like suicide.” (Kowalski, Blue Emperor Web Site)

At the same time, we are beginning to come back to our senses, one by one, to realize that we can turn down the volume. We can find our way back to the doorways and portals that lead us to tranquility and quiescence. Through meditative and yogic practices, we are able to return to ourselves, to our true nature.

Ayurveda, with its comprehensive scope, is uniquely poised to integrate yogic ad meditative practices, along with physical therapies, to treat the entire person. It is incumbent upon us as practitioners, then, to understand these practices and to practice them ourselves in order to be role models. Further it is essential that we also understand how to incorporate such practices into our treatment offerings in order to offer a more holistic approach to healing. Without such an approach, we run the risk of becoming a fad no more sustainable or enduring than botox injections. The world (particularly the West) is calling for a more complete approach to our overall wellness, and Ayurveda is ultimately ideally positioned to heed that call, as long as we as practitioners truly understand what it means to heal the whole person: body, mind AND spirit.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Take Control of your Health with Ayurveda

We are posting a series of videos pertaining to taking control of your health with Ayurveda. Dr. Suhas Khirsagar explains why it is critical that we take care of our health and how we can empower ourselves to bring wellness and happiness into our lives. Please follow the links as the lecture is divided into several parts. Enjoy the Show!

Taking Control of Your Health. Video 1.

Taking Control of Your Health. Video 2.

Taking Control of Your Health. Video 3.

Taking Control of Your Health. Video 4.

And as always - Enjoy The Show! Create a Beautiful Day - Today!