Two main objectives of Ayurveda are to maintain health and cure diseases. Rasayana Chikitsa or Rasayana Therapy, also known as Rejuvenation Therapy aims to restore body’s vitality to its fullest. In other words, Rasayana Chikitsa aims to retain the youthfulness of body and mind.
Basically, Rasayana Chikitsa can rekindle the lively radiance, and can contribute immensely in keeping away the old-age decline in life.
Who can benefit from Rasayana Chikitsa?
People suffering from stress, insomnia, shallow breath, weak senses, rough and dry skin, weak appetite, weak memory, chronic digestive problems, migraine, obesity, constipation, weak memory can all benefit from this treatment. However, this does not imply that only individuals with such health problems should resort to Rasayana Chikitsa. If you are planning to improve your vitality, and wish to have a fresh and energetic body, this therapy can be of help.
Types of Rasayana Chikitsa
The two types of Rasayana therapies are – Kudipraveshikam and Vatatapikam
The Kudipraveshikam therapy is done with utmost diligence on strict measures and diet, under expert guidance. This is also known as kayakalpam. The major treatments will be carried out in a specially built hut, surrounded by walls that shut off wind and light.
The duration can range from two months to four months. However, this treatment is only performed if you are free of any major illness. Generally, anyone in the age group 25 to 70 years can undergo this procedure.
The Vatatapikam procedure is less rigorous and places less restriction on diet in comparison to the Kutipravesha procedure. This is particularly prescribed for individuals who find it difficult to follow a strict diet, and for people who are weak with some illness. The medicines to be used for this procedure are generally decided by the physician based on the condition of patient’s health.
Duration of this procedure is 21 to 60 days.
Herbs/medicines used for the procedure
Among the herbs used for the procedure are:
Bala, Kashmari, Varahi – dietary adjuvants that increase tissue and organ strength
Pippali, Lasuna – For respiratory and tissue strength
Haritaki – eliminates waste products and boosts digestion
Brahmi, Vacha, Shankhapushpi, Madukaparni – increase intellect and memory
Guggulu – helps in further digestion of waste products
Amlaki – decreases catabolic process and postpones ageing.
Bhallataka – have a powerful immune promoting substance which overcomes rheumatoid arthritis and certain types of malignancies.
Punarnava – promotes kidney functioning
Shatavari – Useful for infertility, increases libido, helps deal with menopause, promotes lactation in lactating mothers.
The other herbs included are Pravala, Kapichacchu, Suvarna, Chyavanprasha and Vardhaman pippali rasayana.
Method of treatment
The treatment method apart from therapy sessions on consultation with an Ayurvedic doctor, oral herbal medications, and an ayurvedic diet, may include yoga and breathing sessions, and meditation.
The therapy begins with cleansing of oral cavity, nose, eyes and ears, prior to application of oil on the whole body for the first week. A one hour full-body massage is done with hands or with foot. A 15 minute full body massage is followed by 45 minutes of sudation with boluses of medicated powder for next three days. Enemas may be given with appropriate medicated oils or decoctions on alternate days after the first week.
The full body massage is followed by continuous synchronized pouring of warm oil on the body in a specific manner, or a body scrub using a coarse herbal medicated powder for 50 minutes on the 8th, 9th and 10th days.
The next two days, fifteen minutes steam chamber treatment may follow the full body massage. Thereafter, a full body massage is followed by Shirodhara, wherein constantly warm medicated oil is poured on the forehead for the last three days of the treatment.
All this is done apart from regular oral herbal medications and an ayurvedic diet. This is the general treatment plan followed in a Rasayana Therapy in case of a normal healthy person. But, doctors usually check and diagnose the patient’s health condition before finalizing the treatment plan.
Benefits of Rasayana Therapy
The benefits of rejuvenation therapy are manifold. Apart from improving overall health of the person undergoing treatment, the therapy promotes good health, is beneficial in increasing concentration and memory power, renders a youthful skin with a natural glow, calms and de-stresses the mind, relieves anxiety, depression and stress issues. Builds better immunity, and offers optimum strength to the body by improving the capacity of all sense organs.
Seasonal Allergies can result in various types of ailments like cold, cough, constant sneezing, or itching or rashes in various parts of our body, watery eyes, sore throat etc, and can flare up in many other forms, particularly during spring or winter season.
Ayurveda believes that allergy is the result of aggravation of a specific dosha (vata/pitta/kapha) due to a particular substance (the allergen), depending on which dosha has been triggered in the individual case. Sometimes, it is possible for more than one dosha to be involved too.
Often, allergic reactions are reflective of our own constitutions.i.e., a pitta predominant person may develop a pitta type of allergy, while a kapha predominant person may suffer from a kapha kind of allergy, when our predominant doshas are vitiated.
Bronchitis is known as ‘Shwasa Pranali Shoth’ in Ayurveda, wherein the bronchial tubes that carry air to lungs gets inflamed. The disease is characteristic of cold and damp climates, and is often caused due to certain germs. But, Ayurveda believes that the root cause of bronchitis is an impaired digestive system, which if cured, can also cure bronchitis.
Seasonal bronchitis, or bronchitis caused due to allergens (due to environmental factors) are referred to as allergic bronchitis.
Allergic bronchitis may last from a few weeks to months, with the symptoms fading away with seasonal change or when there is less exposure to the allergen, depending on what triggers it in the first place.
Allergic bronchitis may include one or more of these symptoms:
Cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, chest tightness, excess mucus production.
Although identifying the type of allergy you suffer from, is the first important step, there are several treatment strategies that can be helpful for all kind of doshas.
General strategies to be followed
These general strategies are the baseline to prevent onset of allergic bronchitis or manage it in a better way:
Avoid the allergen – Obviously, avoiding exposure to a particular allergen may give your body relief from the overactive immune response, which is the root cause of your allergy. For instance, if you are allergic to pollen, stay out of its way for a while, or if you are allergic to cat dander, you could stay away from it or avoid contact with synthetic fibres if you are allergic to that, or stay away from cold weather during spring/winter if it’s a seasonal allergy.
Take Triphala – Triphala is the traditional ayurvedic formula that balances all the three – vata, pitta and kapha. It is known for its ability to gently cleanse and detoxify the digestive tract fore better immune response, while also replenishing and nourishing the tissues.
Follow dosha-pacifying diet: If you have more kapha type symptom, follow kapha-pacifying diet, as allergic bronchitis is often associated with kapha dosha.
Dietary cleanse: A dietary cleanse helps to clear toxins and balance doshas and kindle a strong digestive fire, to support digestive health and proper immune function and lessen allergies. A half or full day fast, or short juice cleanse, or a mono-diet as advised by the physician may be of help, as Ayurveda has several effective cleansing techniques.
Lubricate nasal passage: Nasya and Neti Pot helps in clear breathing by offering direct support to nasal passages, by helping to clear the impact of allergens on delicate tissues.
Gargle with liquids: Gargle with a bit of honey in lukewarm water, or do saltwater gargling with lukewarm water, as it can be clarifying and soothing.
In acute and chronic stages, presciptions such as Sitopladi Churna, Rasa Sindoor, Praval Pishti, may be recommended thrice a day with ghee or milk cream. Some other useful medicines that physician may recommend include Shringyadi Chura, Kahachintamani, Kaphaketu and Khadiradi Vati.
Natural Remedies from Ayurveda
Prepare powder of equal quantities of black pepper, long pepper and dry ginger, and consume half teaspoonful thrice a day with honey.
Dissolve a teaspoonful of turmeric with milk and take thrice a day.
A teaspoon of honey and ginger juice dissolved in 150ml of hot water will cause expectoration of trapped phlegm.
Juice of vasa is beneficial if taken twice or thrice a day.
Tulsi (Basil) is excellent for bronchitis. Boil water with tulsi leaves and use it as gargle. Else, make a decoction of tulsi, black pepper and ginger in equal quantities and drink it thrice a day.
Diet and Lifestyle
- Avoid sour substance, pickle and curd. Avoid cold items like ice creams or cold drinks, and fruits like banana or guava too.
- Have warm foods that are easy to digest, and ensure to include plenty of green leafy vegetables.
- Strictly avoid tobacco and alcohol.
- Restrain from exposure to cold wind, rain, excess humidity, dust, and allergic pollens.
- Avoid physical exercises that are heavy, and limit to walking/stretching/yoga.
Ayurveda associates every season with doshas or certain set of qualities. Ayurveda believes that vata dosha governs winter (associated with cold, dry and dark), while the spring season begins wet and cold in March, and ends up wet and hot in June and is characterized by kapha dosha.
Ayurveda holds the transition between seasons as being highly critical for health. For instance, during the winters or the vata season, we generally consume foods that are heavy, oily, sweet or dense, but, this is surely not favourable for Kapha season or the spring season.
Hence, mentioned here are basic guidelines from Ayurveda involving diet and lifestyle adjustments, and some quick tips to take care of your body during the kapha or spring season:
Kapha Dosha governs structure and fluid balance in the body. The main role of kapha is stability and structure.
Symptoms of increased kapha: If you have some or all of the below mentioned symptoms, you may be having excess kapha in your body.
Some symptoms are – lethargy, heaviness, excess sleep, cold skin, cough, slow digestion, lack of motivation.
For reducing excess kapha: Fast once a week for twenty four hours. Foods with pungent, bitter and astringent tastes are best for kapha. Reduce sweet, sour and salty foods. Maintain lunch as your largest meal, and ensure that you get good physical exercise. Take regular baths and saunas to promote sweating.
Quick tips for kapha balance:
Eat hot food and drink hot and stimulating beverages.
Keep lunch as your largest meal of the day.
Consume more green leafy vegetables and legumes. Include ginger, clobes and cinnamon to your food. Avoid dairy products as they produce mucus.
Using raw honey helps liquefy kapha and gets it out of your system.
Its best to wake up before sunrise, as waking up after sunrise makes you more lethargic.
Kapha time of the day is usually between 6am to 10am. Exercise briskly during this time.
Avoid napping during the day, and remain seated for 5 to 10 minutes to get the food processed by your digestive tract. Napping slows down metabolism and reduces fire needed for digestion. Sip hot water all through the day.
Use barley, buckwheat, corn, rye and millet and cut down on wheat and rice. Avoid heavy meats and fried foods.
Eat light breakfast, good lunch and very light dinner.
Indulge in stimulating and rejuvenating body therapies.
Practise yoga asanas in the morning including the Sun Salutation, Locust, fish, Bow, Boat, Lion and Camel and inversions. These postures help open the chest, relieve congestion, stretch the throat and help drain the sinuses.
Yoga postures can be followed by some Pranayama, particularly ‘Bhastrika’ which will cleanse kapha dosha. After breathing exercises, sit for some quiet meditation.
On knowing your true nature, you can take complete charge of your health and well-being.
One in every few of us experience explosions in their heads on regular basis and most of them deal with this experience through over-the-counter medications. These are called migraines, a neurological disorder, which can leave one in pain for up to two days at a stretch. The pain can be experienced on one side of the head, the forehead and the eyes.
Chronic migraine sufferers usually get a migraine attack due to sound, light and pain, heat or stress too.
Yoga may not be a complete cure for migraines. But, on regular practice, there will be free flow of vital energy in the head. Hence, dealing with pain and associated nausea symptoms will get easier, and it reduces the stress of living with it.
Some specific yoga poses for migraine relief are:
Nasikagra Drishti (nose-tip gazing):
- Sit cross legged on the floor. Make a fist with your right hand, such that the thumb sticks upward, while extending your arm in front of you.
- Focus both eyes on the tip of the thumb. Bend the arm slowly and bring the thumb to the tip of your nose, while keeping your eyes fixed on it.
- Stay on this pose for a few seconds and slowly straighten your arm completely, with your gaze still locked on the finger tip.
- Continue this five times.
Bramhari Pranayama (Buzzing bee breath):
- Sit comfortably with your back supported against a wall or a chair. Close your ear flaps using your thumbs and spread the rest of your fingers over your skull.
- Close your eyes and take a deep breath. As you exhale, create a sound like the buzzing of a bee (a sound like ‘E’ or ‘Hung’).
This can be repeated up to 10 times. Hastapadasana (Forward bend)
- This pose invigorates the nervous system, increases blood supply and calms the mind.
- Stand straight with feet together, balance weight equally on both feet, and breathe in and extend arms overhead. Breathe out, bend forward and down towards the feet.
- Remain in this posture for 20 to 30 seconds and continue to breathe deeply. Keep the legs and spine erect, and rest hands either on the floor, or beside the feet or on the legs.
- When breathing out, move the chest towards the knees, lift hips and tailbone higher and press the heels down. Relax your head and move it gently towards the feet. Continue to breathe deeply.
- Breathe in, stretch your arm forward and up and gently come up to standing position. Breathe out and bring the arms on the side.
Shishuasana (Child pose)
- The child pose calms down the nervous system and effectively reduces the pain.
- Sit on your heels, and keeping your hips on the heels, bend forward and lower your forehead to the floor
- Keep arms alongside your body, with hands on the floor, and palms facing up. Gently press your chest on the thighs and hold.
- Slowly come up and sit on the heels and relax as in the original postion.
Few other yoga poses that helps in dealing with migraine are:
Marjarasana (cat pose) – improves blood flow and relaxes the mind, thereby relieving headache.
Paschimottasana (two-legged forward bend) – Relieves stress, calms brain and relieves headache.
Adho Mukhasvanasana (dog pose) – increases blood flow to the brain and relieves headache.
Padmasana (lotus pose) – relaxes the mind and alleviates headache.
Yoga improves your resistance against migraine in a better manner, but, should not be used as an alternative to medication. However, practice of these simple yoga postures can lessen the impact of migraine, and may eventually stop them.
Latest research shows that the common elderberry, which has been used for centuries to treat various conditions, can provide protection from cold and flu-like symptoms after long-haul flights.
According to lead author, Evelin Tiralongo, from Griffith University, a clinical trial showed that an elderberry supplement can provide protection to holidaymakers from cold and flu symptoms on long-haul flights. The holidaymakers were divided into active group and placebo group. The placebo group were not given elderberry as supplement, while the active group were given 300mg of standardised elderberry extract capsules. While the placebo group reported significant increase in cold episodes, with more symptoms, in active group it was not significant.
The clinical trial involved 312 economy class passengers travelling from Australia to overseas destination. The results were presented at Annual International Integrative Medicine Conference.
The elderberry extract was seen to be effective in working against respiratory bacteria and influenza viruses. Episodes of cold, duration of cold and symptoms of participants were recorded before, during and after travel.
Early this year too, there have been medical researches that suggest use of elderberry may reduce swelling in the mucous membranes and relieves congestion. This is because Elderberry contains chemicals which are flavonoids and anti-inflammatory agents. Several parents and paediatricians also believe that elderberry extract or syrup may help children stay healthy and lessen the symptoms when they get sick.
Elderberries are small black-blue berries with a delicate tangy taste. They grow in cluster and are much in demand across the globe, mainly due to their immense health value. They are packed with antioxidants and will surely be the favourite of all when taken into account the following medicinal values too.
- Viral and bacterial infections: Due to the antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties of berries, elderberry juice is used as treatment for viral infections or bacterial infections. The diverse range of vitamins and minerals present in the extracts offer relief from ailments that arise from bacterial or viral infections. Respiratory illnesses like bronchitis and asthma can be effectively treated with a three-week course of diluted elderberry administered twice a day.
- Urinary Tract Infections: Diluted elderberry can be administered for people with urinary tract infections. Elderberry juice has the ability to flush out toxins that accumulate around the urinary tract.
- Immunity: Elderberry juice is excellent for building up the immune system, and hence, highly recommended for individuals with suppressed immune system.
- Diabetes: Elderberry juice is used as treatment for diabetes. They have plenty of bioactive compounds and carb-degrading enzymes that help in absorption of carbohydrates, thereby controlling blood sugar levels. Hence, elderberry can even be considered as alternative treatment for blood sugar regulation.
- Cancer: As Elderberries are loaded with antioxidants they have the ability to fight free radicals by minimizing the risk of life threatening diseases. The bioflavonoids in elderberry juice prevent cell damage and minimize risk of cancer.
- Constipation: Elderberry juice has high fibre content, and hence is an excellent remedy for constipation. The ripe berries have diuretic properties, and the berry juice also acts as laxative.
- Cold and flu: This ancient herbal remedy is foremost in treating common cold/sore throat, inflammation, asthma, influenza, sinusitis and bronchitis.
- Kidney: When used in dried form, in tea, elderberry tea is also referred to as kidney tea as it increases urine output and helps eliminate excess water from the body.
- Inflamed intestines: The elderberry jam is mildly laxative and helps in treating rheumatism.
- Injuries/wounds: They are used in treating wounds, bruises and injuries. The leaves of Elderberry help in relieving pain and promote healing of injuries when applied as poultice
- Elderberry is also an excellent skin tonic.
How to use:
For infusion: Put 2gm to 5gm of dried flowers into a cup of boiling water and infuse for 5 to 10min. do not strain and drink thrice a day.
Tincture: Take 20 drops in a glass of water, and consume thrice a day after meals.
Mouthwash: Boil water and add 50g of flowers and boil for 5 minutes. Allow to cool. This can be used as gargle or mouthwash four to six times a day, and is good for sore throat, inflamed gums and other such issues.
Curcumin, present in turmeric, when combined with omega-3 fat, could potentially delay or prevent the onset of type2 diabetes, reveal researchers.
The scientists from University of Newcastle’s Nutraceuticals Research Group, led by Prof. Manohar Garg, revealed that they are conducting a clinical study to find out if the Indian spice, turmeric, when combined with an omega-3 fat can actually delay the onset of type 2 diabetes or prevent its onset altogether.
Speaking on this, Garg said, the root cause of Type 2 diabetes is systemic inflammation, which impacts insulin secretion and functioning. The aim is to nip this inflammation in the budy. The study will make use of two bioactive compounds commonly found in food, curcumin and omega-3 fat, and both are very vital anti-inflammatory agents.
Derived from turmeric, curcumin forms part of ginger family, and is used as a common spice in Indian kitchen and also used for food colouration. The healing properties of turmeric are well-known in India. For centuries, turmeric has been used in healing sprains, bruises, wounds and inflammation.
But even in India, the level of intake of curcumin has significantly reduced as Indians have switched over to westernised fast foods, and hence, there has also been considerable increase in cases of type 2 diabetes. In fact, diabetes is more like an epidemic in India now, and growing to be a major health burdern, Garg said.
The randomised control trial will test both compounds, with recruitment group being segregted into four – one group with just curcumin, second with omega-3 fat only, third with curcumin and omega 3, and fourth will be the control group.
Capsules containing 200mg of curcumin and 1g of omega-3 fat respectively will be given to people who are prone to develop diabetes due to impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose, in the age group 30 to 70 years.
The anti-inflammatory mechanism of curcumin and omega-3 fats are different, and hence it should be tested if they complement each other, and have treatment synergies beyond their individual effects. It is however, presumed that the combination is safe and free of any associated side-effects, and will prove to be as effective as the drugs used for management of diabetes, he pointed out.
Numerous therapeutic activities have been assigned to turmerice for treatment of a great variety of disease and conditions, including skin, pulmonary and gastrointenstional systems like pains, wounds, sprains and liver disorders, since the time of Ayurveda.
Over the last half century, extensive researches have proven that most of the activities associated with turmeric are due to the presence of ‘curcumin’, which has shown to exhibit anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial and anticancer, and hence has a potential against various malignant diseases, allergies, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and other chronic illness.
Tumeric has been used for centuries in Ayurveda, and is believed to balance the three doshas vata, pitta and kapha. Ayurvedic practioners recommend turmeric as medicine internal in the form of fresh juice, tinctures, boiled tea, or in powdered form, and also topically used in the form of lotions, pastes, creams and ointments. Moreover, now science believes that ‘multitargeted’ therapy is better than ‘monotargeted’ therapy for most diseases, for which, curcumin is ideal. Hence curcumin is also considered to be an ideal ‘ Spice for Life’.
In our day-to-day life, hardly anything can be done to reduce the quantum of work we do, but, it is in our hands to decide how we can help our body to cope with it, and maintain our energy and vitality.
Ayurveda, the unique combination of science and values, implies that to lead a balanced and healthy life, there should be equilibrium and synchronization between our mental and physical energies, our constitutions and the five elements of nature. If we adapt and adopt these natural principles in our daily life, it is possible to realize the spiritual harmony and holistic wellness.
We divert ourselves from balanced state when we are over stressed and overworked, and tend overeating and thereby increasing our waistlines. Food and lifestyle play a huge role in maintaining our work-life balance. Getting back to basics and getting back to nature by living the Ayurveda lifestyle, may be the best way ahead.
Sleep well: Our body requires 6 to 8 hours of undisturbed sleep daily. More so, nothing can match a good night’s sleep. Half-an-hour before bedtime, ensure that you stay away from all electronic gadgets including television, mobiles or laptops, and instead read your favourite book, or listen to soothing music for relaxation. Reserve late-night parties only for the weekends.
Begin your day with the right note: Having tea or coffee is the wrong beginning to start your day, as it makes your system acidic. Instead, start your day with an alkaline note. Early morning our body is very receptive to what we eat or drink and absorbs very fast. Hence, start your day with a glass of fresh vegetable juice or plain lime water (lukewarm) with a dash of honey added to it. If not all this, simply have a cup of chamomile or jasmine tea.
Warm-up: Make sure you do at least 30 minutes of exercise every day, including stretches, mobility exercise, walking, followed by yoga. Exercising in open is the best, as it will fill your lungs with oxygen, and soothe your eyes and freshen your mind. Do ‘pranayam’ to relax tired body and nerves.
Meditation: Set aside a few minutes every day for meditation. You can also consider this as the quality ‘me’ time which gives you inner peace and strength to face daily life stress. Meditate either in the morning or in the evening, or if time permits, twice a day. But, ensure that you choose a calm and quite place and time for meditation.
Food & water intake: Watch for food, as food is the fuel that keeps your body running. Fibre-rich cereals like oats, corn, barley, whole wheat, brown rice are the best. Include plant proteins like grams, lentils, and beans, apart from animal proteins. Avoid egg yolk and red meat if you have high cholesterol. Limit your daily fat intake, opting for baking or sautéing instead of frying. Use low fat cheese and other dairy products, and avoid trans-fats. Have whole fruits rather than fruit juices. Nuts are good too. Healthy nuts like almonds and walnuts can be consumed in minimal quantities.
Work stress or any kind of stress can lead to production of free radicals in the body, which can lead to degeneration, and premature ageing. To fight them, include foods like citrus fruits, apple and amla, broccoli, wheat grass juice, sprout, pumpkin, carrots and soy.
Also, keep sugar and salt to minimum. To meet your sugar cravings, indulge in fruity delights or raisins and dates. Avoid spicy food, as they contain more salt than usual.
Keep a glass of water handy and sip at regular intervals while at work. Out body requires minimum of 6 to 10 glasses of fluid per day, and nothing can replace a glass of pure water. Instead of tea/coffee, have green tea/lemonade/vegetable or herbal juices.
It is important to maintain an ideal body weight.
At work: While at work, take a five-minute break every hour to stretch your body. Look away from the computer screen and do few rounds of deep breathing. Devote exclusive time to eating and do not have food in front of computer, or speaking over phone. Drink water only after an hour after your meals. Stroll a while after lunch and dinner.
Pamper your body: When back from work, soak your feet in hot water tub to which few drops of aroma oil like lavender is added, if time permits. Sprinkle your eyes with clean water while holding water in your mouth for a few seconds. Repeat three times, as this gets your eyes hydrated.
Early dinner: An early dinner complements the active body, and goes a long way in preventing weight gain and helps induce better sleep. Moreover, drinking a glass of lukewarm milk at bedtime can help in giving you a sound undisturbed sleep.
Plan an outing: Plan weekly getaways or outdoor excursions. If picnic is not possible, go cycling or do any such outdoor activity that you enjoy doing.
It has been said that while yoga is an ancient science devoted to balancing the mind for self-realization and awareness, Ayurveda is its inseparable sister science, devoted to balancing the mind in relation to the body.
Ayurveda has been practiced for centuries now, along with yoga, and is based on the vedas. Yoga has its origins in ‘Yajur veda’, while Ayurveda originates in ‘Atharva Veda and Rig Veda’. Ayurveda focuses on the individual balance and the balance between the individual and the laws of nature.
Ayurveda’s methods have been based on the principles of the five elements, and when they are balanced, the individual is healthy, and when one of them is out of order, it manifests as illness. Most yogis are aware of this concept of Ayurveda and doshas (vata, pitta and kapha). Both yoga and Ayurveda are based on the principles of trigunas (sattva, rajas and tamas), and the panchamahabhutas or the five elements (earth, fire, air, space and water). Yoga and Ayurveda encompass an understanding of how the body works, and the impact that food and medicines have on the body.
Balance, prevention and self-care is the key in Ayurveda, and for this, several simple practices that are particularly beneficial for our body can be incorporated into our daily routine easily. In fact, Ayurveda and yoga are inter-dependent on each other. For instance, Abhyanga (daily massage with warm oil) helps prepare the muscles and joints to do asana. Simple cleansing procedures like Nasya (nasal irrigation using neti pot) helps in breathing and meditation during yoga. Following a diet based on one’s dosha, can actually help improve digestion and increase energy.
Yoga ultimately focuses on self-realization, and Ayurveda helps in building a foundation for self-realization by rendering a practical means by helping us understand how our body works.
Both Ayurveda and yoga have eight branches, and hence the term ‘Ashtanga yoga’ and ‘Ashtanga ayurveda’. They share a common understanding of a healthy body being dependent on physical and mental balance. They share the same metaphysical anatomy and physiology.
Both Ayurveda and yoga promote sattvic diet (light and pure) in nature, i.e, foods that are in balance to one’s constitution (based on doshas) and categories of food – sour, salty, sweet, bitter, pungent and astringent. Yoga believes that we are what we eat.
Yoga postures can also be used as a form of therapy to resolve bodily complaints. This is why, when viewing from an Ayurvedic perspective, yogic postures are recommended for several bodily complaints, along with herbs and ayurvedic therapies. For instance, indigestion is considered to be due to excessive amount of pitta energy in Ayurveda, while a common cold is due to excessive amount of kapha, and constipation due to excessive amount of vata. Hence, for each such condition, along with managing diet and herbal remedies, the disease is resolved by practice of specific yoga postures.
Every imbalance of the doshas are related to certain postures, and the sequences of these postures help create better harmony in the body. For example, a pitta-based sequence will help cool off the excess heat in the body, when calming and restorative postures are practiced.
Both Yoga and Ayurveda recommend regular practice of pranayama, meditation, yoga poses, mantra chanting, and use of herbs.
On the whole, just as an ayurvedic doctor has put it, “Ayurveda is the science and yoga is the practice of science”. Hence, Ayurveda and Yoga are inseparable and continue to remain relevant in modern day, offering insights about inner human nature and our relationship with the natural world around us.