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Ayurveda Part 4/5 – Biological Rhythms

Written By: ruchi - Feb• 09•18
Ayurveda Doshas

Our biological rhythms are a mirror of cosmos rhythms. Body responds to medicines very differently at different times of the day. Body is very different I the morning and the evening. These cycles are the manifestations of cosmos cycles.

Circadian Rhythm, because of the earth spinning on its axis
This causes 24 hour day, which causes circadian rhythm in the body. For example, in the morning body has high cortisol levels as opposed to the evenings. In Ayurveda, the 24 hour cycle of the day can be divided in 6 distinct stages based on the 3 modalities – Vata, Kapha and Pitta.

6 am to 10 am is the Kapha phase irrespective of your prakriti. It is the hypo metabolic phase. If you are Vata, your metabolism will come down a bit. If you are real Kapha, metabolism slows down quite a bit. This is a good time to exercise, especially for Kapha. Kapha people should take their supplements at this time. This period is good for chemotherapy because good cells are slow at this time. Chemo kills rapidly multiplying cells like cancer cells, hair cells, skin cells etc. Good cells obey the cycle and slow down in the Kapha period but cancer cells don’t follow that. If you give chemo in Kapha period, the good cells are sre spared. Ayurveda does not believe in killing cells with chemo. It believes in bringing all the cells in harmony by following the cosmic rhythms.

10 am to 2 pm is the Pitta cycle. This is the transformative state. This is the period when metabolism and digestion are most effective. A big meal should be taken during this period.

2 pm to 6 pm is the Vata cycle. Body goes into hyper metabolism. It has maximum mental clarity and maximum physical dexterity during this period. This is the best time to do mental and creative work.

6 pm to 10 pm is the Kapha phase again. Metabolism starts to decline again, being lowest at 10 pm. This is the time to wind down and go to sleep to get the best rest.

10 pm to 2 am is the Pitta cycle again. If you are asleep, digestion goes up. Body renews and gets rid of toxins. If you are Pitta and awake at this time, you will binge on food and tend to get obese.

2 am to 6 am is Vata cycle again. This is the time, metabolic rate increases. It is time to rejuvenate the subtle body. Dreaming is most active during this time. Dreaming is necessary to detoxify the subtle body. Any disturbance at this time gives rise to psychological problems. Sedatives, sleeping pills, alcohol depress this cycle, which builds toxins in the body. All the hormones go up, heart rate goes up a bit, BP goes up at this time. 6 am is the peak of metabolic rate. If you get up at 6, you will feel really fresh.

When your biological rhythm is disturbed, the first sign will be fatigue. Second phase, is discomfort and then the diseases. Jet lag disturbs the circadian rhythm. To facilitate the process, meditate, hydrate and sleep in the flight. Continuous night shifts disrupt the circadian rhythm and sooner and later your body will protest in the form of some illness.

Seasonal Rhythm, because of earth going around the sun
You have a seasonal cycle in your body also. You fall in love in spring, you get depressed in winters. This is being orchestrated in nature. Seasons affect us. Winter is a Kapha season so if you are Kapha type, you will see Kapha problem including congestive heart failure, arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis etc. Summer being hot and moist, is the Pitta season, and causes more problems to Pitta prakarti, like inflammation, ulcers, skin rashes, inflammatory arthritis, and inflammatory emotions. Autumn is the Vata season and may cause migraine, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, palpitations etc. Kapha dominant people should take care of their diet more in winters, Pitta in summers and Vata types in autumn.

Lunar Rhythm, because of the earth, sun and moon movements
Lunar cycle is approximately 28 days cycle. There are lunar rhythms in the body like BP changes with lunar cycle. You should be aware of it and you might notice that your behavior changes with lunar cycle. Full moon is the Kapha period, no moon is the Vata period and somewhere in the middle is the Pitta period. If you are in balance, it does not matter. If there is imbalance then there is a problem. Imbalance is disruption of natural law that’s expressing itself thru you.

Gravitational Rhythm, ocean tides
We also get tides in our own physiology. At one point we were in ocean. In any case 80% of our body is water. The full tide is Kapha, low tide is Vata and Pitta somewhere in between.

So what do these rhythms mean? If we are in perfect balance, there is no entropy; there is perfect harmony hence no aging. But otherwise, follow a routine:

Get up at 6, brush, clean your tongue, drink warm water, eliminate, massage, bathe, meditate, yoga, exercise and eat by 8.
Eat a big meal between 12 non and 2 pm. Walk after lunch.
Meditate before sunset around 4.
Eat small early dinner.
This will result in most accomplishments with least effort.

Disclaimer: This article is based on Dr. Deepak Chopra’s book “Heal Your Body With Your Mind” as my personal study notes for future reference.

Ayurveda Part 3/5 – Seasons

Written By: ruchi - Feb• 09•18
Ayurveda Doshas

The 3 Doshas – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, govern not only our own constitution, but everything else in the cosmos as well. So as per Ayurveda instead of winter, spring, summer, and fall, the year breaks into Vata season, which goes from late fall into early winter; Kapha season, from the coldest part of winter into spring; and Pitta season, which includes the hottest, longest days of the year—from late spring into early fall.

Vata Season
Leaf-scuttling winds mark the start of the Vata season, which Ayurveda characterizes as light, dry, rough, hard, mobile, irregular, cool, the very qualities we associate with late fall and early winter. The weather turns cold, winds blow, and the earth becomes dry, hard, rough maybe even a bit icy. Vata is the queen of change, so you’ll need to watch out for dry skin, irregular digestion, and the frenetic, unpredictable energy, which can easily leave you depleted, overwhelmed, and distracted by all the excitement. Here’s what you can do:

Stay away from raw, cold foods. Take extra care to keep your internal fire (agni) kindled. Eat warm, moist foods—think stews, soups, and root veggies—and save the salads and cold snacks for summer. Warm up with hot drinks. Cozy up to a warm fire or snuggle up with a good book, a cup of chai or hot tea, and a warm blanket. Warm milk laced with ghee and honey is a perfect nighttime elixir.

Stick to a routine. Make sure you schedule some alone time, restorative yoga, and meditation practices. Other daily ayurvedic practices (dinacharya)—including abyhanga, oiling the body with warming sesame oil—will help you stay steady and feel comforted.

Kapha Season
Kapha season extends from frigid winter days, when the ground freezes solid, to mud-luscious early spring, when the snow melts, the sap rises, and the first tentative shoots break through the ground. These conditions disturb Kapha Dosha’s heavy, dense, wet, gooey, stable, cool qualities. To pacify Kapha during the early part of this season:

Switch up your diet. Turn to foods that are lighter, drier, pungent, and warming. As soon as they’re available, eat the first bounty of the season, like sprouts, berries, dandelion and other spring greens, which naturally support this time of cleansing and stick to three meals a day to avoid overindulging.

Get moving. Do things that get you up and out of the house early. Get up before Kapha time (6 a.m. to 10 a.m.), and do some exercise like bike riding, walking, or other light aerobic activity before 10 a.m. This schedule will help you fend off seasonal weight gain.

Commit to a routine. Daily use of your tongue scraper, neti pot, and nasya oil will help with seasonal allergies and keep Kapha from building.

Pitta Season
Nature builds heat all through Pitta season until, at the start of autumn, the leaves on the trees turn bright orange, yellow, and red as if they were living flames on each branch. These leaves are lighter in nature, only slightly moist, intense, hot, sharp, and focused on their goal of transformation, just like Pitta Dosha. We can enjoy the passion of the season without burning up by following this advice:

Cool down. A daily sip or two of aloe vera juice will douse your internal heat. Summer’s bounty offers plenty of ways to keep cool, like cucumbers, mint, summer squash, zucchini, coconut juice, and mangoes. Avoid the heat of the day. Staying out of the sun during Pitta time (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) helps keep your mental and emotional energy from overheating.
Make time to practice. Pitta types can become myopic and intense, so add a cooling breathing practice like sheetali pranayama to balance things out. Doing lateral yoga poses like janu shirshasana (head to knee pose) or utthita parshvakonasana (side angle pose) will dissipate the internal heat, and a rubdown with coconut oil will cool your skin.

Seasonal Detox
Did you know that your energy may be more easily disturbed during the weeks between the seasons? Consider doing a gentle detox to remove the buildup of elements from one season before moving into the next.
Disclaimer: All the information in this article has been researched from various sources as my personal study notes for future reference.

Ayurveda Part 2/5 – Diet

Written By: ruchi - Feb• 08•18
Ayurveda Doshas

Ayurveda has a unique approach to break down tastes scientifically. Each taste has its own therapeutic effects and changing impact on the body, from taste to entering the body to being absorbed. The six tastes or Rasas as per Ayurvedic diet are Sweet, Salty, Sour, Pungent, Astringent and Bitter. For a balanced diet, Ayurveda recommends getting all of these flavors in every meal and adjust the amounts of each to your personal constitution. Apart from feeling satisfied, this practice also ensures that all major food groups and nutrients are present in every meal. These tastes originate from the basic five elements as shown in the following table:

Taste Originates From Increases
Sweet Earth and water Kapha
Sour Earth and fire Pitta and Kapha
Salt Water and fire Pitta and Kapha
Pungent Air and fire Vata and Pitta
Bitter Air and ether Vata
Astringent Air and earth Vata

Here are the effects of each of the tastes on body and mind along with their common sources:

Taste Physical Effect Mental Effect Source
Sweet Nourishes, builds and strengthens body tissues.
Too much of it produces obesity and diabetes.
Soothing, calming, satisfactory.
Too much of it brings lethargy and anxiety.
Carbohydrates, protein, fat.
Examples: Grains, pasta, rice, bread, starchy vegetables, dairy, meat, chicken, fish, sugar, honey etc.
Sour Stimulates appetite and digestion, strengthens heart, relieves thirst and satiates.
Too much of it brings loss of strength, fever and thirst.
Enhances intellectual activities.
Too much of it produces resentment, jealousy, anger, impatience and hot temper.
Organic acids, ascorbic acid, citric acid, acetic acid
Examples: citrus fruits, berries, tomatoes, pickled foods, salad dressing, yogurt, alcohol etc.
Salty Lubricates tissues, softens, maintains mineral balance and holds water.
Too much of it generates wrinkles, thirst, loss of strength and baldness.
Enhances appetite and other tastes, increases enthusiasm, calms nerves and stops anxiety.
Too much of it gives rise to cravings, anger, impatience and lethargy.
Mineral salts
Examples: Table salt, soy sauce, salted meats, fish, seaweed etc.
Pungent Warms body and promotes sweating, improves metabolism and relieves nerve pain.
Too much of it generates thirst, depletes reproductive fluid and strength, waist/back pain.
Opens mind and senses.
Too much of it creates irritability, anger and impatience.
Essential oils
Examples: Peppers, chilies, onions, garlic, cayenne, black pepper, cloves, ginger, mustard, salsa, radish, wasabi etc.
Bitter Cleanses and detoxifies, reduces fat and water excess, relieves thirst and fever, antibiotic.
Too much of it produces gas or upset stomach, tissue depletion
Helpful in managing food cravings, clears senses and emotions.
Too much of it creates anxiety, fear, insomnia etc.
Alkaloids or glycosides
Examples: Green leafy vegetables, green and yellow vegetables, kale, celery, broccoli, sprouts, beets etc.
Astringent Cleanses blood and helps maintain healthy blood sugar level, dries moisture and fat.
Too much of it generates gas or constipation, heart pain and thirst.
Cools fiery minds, clears senses and emotions, removes lethargy.
Too much of it generates anxiety, worry, fear, insomnia
Tannins
Examples: Lentils, dried beans, broccoli, green apples, pears, grape skins, cauliflower, cabbage, pomegranates, tea etc.
Vata Diet
Warm, cooked, moist (oil and ghee) and nourishing meals. Avoid light, cold and rough foods. Need to eat 3-4 times a day. Snacking in between meals is fine. They have delicate digestion so anything that needs overnight soaking is bad for them. Eat root vegetables because they are grounded, it brings structure and stability. Melons, dry roasted nuts, beans, canola oil, coffee, alcohol, cold drinks, peas, cauliflower, cabbage, corn, mushroom, potatoes, lettuce, cucumber are bad for them. Sweet, sour and salty food is better.
Pitta Diet
Hot chillies will make them imbalanced. Need to eat cooling thinks like yogurt, coconut water, coriander, green foods. Amla, chyawanprash and flaxseed oil capsule are good. Should not snack in between meals, eat breakfast within an hour of waking up, can eat cold and raw food, should not overindulge on food. Eat less oil and bland diet. Avoid caffeine and alcohol. If feel flushed after alcohol, avoid it. Avoid hot food, fried food, hot drinks, pungent spices, fermented food, garlic, onion, tomatoes, vinegar, pickle, yogurt. Fast once in 2 weeks. Suck on elaichi or long after food. Sweet, bitter and astringent foods are good.
Kapha Diet
Light foods, bread, wheat products, dairy is good. Spicy food will make the body more efficient. Need to eat bitter food. Need to eat detoxifying food like greens, brussels, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, super fibrous food. Need to stay away from sweet. Need to fast once a week. Pungent, bitter and astringent foods are better.
Disclaimer: All the information in this article has been researched from various sources as my personal study notes for future reference.

Ayurveda Part 1/5 – Doshas

Written By: ruchi - Feb• 08•18
Ayurveda Doshas

Ayurveda is a personalized approach to health. Knowing your body type allows you to make optimal choices about diet, exercise, supplements, and all other aspects of your lifestyle. From Ayurveda perspective, the whole universe is an interplay of energies of the five basic elements – earth, water, fire, air and ether.

Earth is solid, heavy, dense, and foundational. It is present in the body as bones, nails, teeth, and the physical sheath of our being.
Water is liquid, flowing, and dissolving. It is present in the body as blood, water, lymph and the energy sheath, consisting of breath and energy.
Fire is energy, heat transformation, metabolism, and creation. It is present in the body in the digestive system and in regulation of the body temperature as well as the mental-emotional sheath, which consists of thoughts, emotions, and obsessions.
Air is oxygen, breath, motion, and lightness. It is present throughout the body’s respiration process, the movement of nerve impulses and the wisdom sheath.
Ether is space, all-pervasiveness, omniscience, expansiveness, and emptiness. It is present in the body as the space between cells, and the bliss sheath, consisting of universal intelligence and our true, innermost nature.

Ayurveda groups the five elements into three basic types of functioning principles called the three Doshas. A person’s constitution is defined in terms of the inherent balance of these three Doshas. It is the interplay of these Doshas that is responsible for both body type and personality. To know a person’s constitution is to know their tendencies. If a person knows their tendencies they can take the actions that keep their tendencies in check. A person, who knows that they have a tendency to feel cold, easily avoids becoming too cold by wearing more clothing or drinking warm beverages. To know your constitutional tendencies is to be empowered with the knowledge needed to create balance in your life.
Every living creature has all three Doshas within them. We cannot exist without a certain amount of each. Kapha provides each of us with tissues, Pitta provides metabolic action and Vata allows us to move and express ourselves. Our constitution is best defined in terms of the percentage of each energy. So truly speaking there are an infinite number of combinations and permutations with no two people being exactly the same.
Vata Dosha, governed by air and ether, is the kinetic energy of the body that controls bodily functions associated with motion, including blood circulation, breathing, blinking, and heartbeat.
Pitta Dosha, governed by fire, is the thermal energy of the body that controls the body’s metabolic systems, including digestion, absorption, nutrition, and body temperature.
Kapha Dosha, governed by water and earth, is the potential energy of the body that controls growth in the body. It supplies water to all body parts, moisturizes the skin, and maintains the immune system.
Vata Predominant Types
Attributes: Creative; Quick to learn and grasp new knowledge, but also quick to forget; Slender; Tall and fast-walker; Tendency towards cold hands and feet, discomfort in cold climates; Excitable, lively, fun personality; Changeable moods; Irregular daily routine; High energy in short bursts; Tendency to tire easily and to overexert; Tendency to act on impulse; Often have racing, disjointed thoughts; Generally have dry skin and dry hair and don’t perspire much; Talk and eat fast; Change their minds often; Restless.
In balance: Full of joy and enthusiasm, very intuitive, very spiritual, full of creativity and vitality.
Out of balance: Respond to stress with fear, worry, and anxiety. Feel lonely, ungrounded and get depressed easily.
Care: Should do things that bring peace, like yoga and meditation. Sesame oil massages are very soothing. Use mindfulness. Sleep more. They need a lot of love, pampering and care.
Typical physical problems: Body aches, arthritis, nervous system gets affected
Exercise: Need to reduce physical activities.
Aroma: Vata aroma is vanilla, warm, sweet and heavy, any floral.
Pitta Predominant Types
Attributes: Medium physique, strong, well-built; Sharp mind, good concentration powers; Competitive, enjoy challenges; Passionate and romantic; Strong digestion, strong appetite, get irritated if they have to miss or wait for a meal; When under stress, Pittas become irritated and angry; Skin fair or reddish, often with freckles; sunburns easily; Uncomfortable in sun or hot weather, heat makes them very tired; Perspire a lot; Good public speakers; Generally good management and leadership ability, but can become authoritarian; Subject to temper tantrums, impatience, and anger; Super organized; Judgemental; Get angry very quickly and get pacified just as quickly; Love cooling colors; Love to be around people; Have big hearts.
In balance: Orderly, focused, assertive, self-confident, and entrepreneurial at their best. They have clarity of mind and grasp things clearly. Lead to contentment and intelligence.
Out of balance: Aggressive, demanding, pushy and impatient
Typical physical problems: Rashes or inflammations of the skin, acne, boils, skin cancer, ulcers, heartburn, acid stomach, insomnia, dry or burning eyes.
Care: Need to stay away from firy situations. Need to stay cool and use umbrella in hot weather. Need to look inside and become meditative. Need coconut oil full body massage. Pitta thrive outdoors so they dhould go out for a walk. Avoid bright and sharp lights. Relenquish the need to be always right. Meet people and show compassion. Get some time out for yourself. Need to do creative things. Spend time in nature near water. Don’t need that much sleep.
Exercise: Need to do long breahting exercises, while holding the breath in. Need calm energy so hold every pose for 2-3 minutes.
Aroma: Pitta aroma is sweet, floral, sandalwood etc.

Kapha Predominant Types
Attributes: They have the quality of earth, heaviness, inertia, so they don’t like to move around; Easygoing, relaxed, slow-paced; Affectionate and loving; Forgiving, compassionate, nonjudgmental nature; Stable and reliable; Faithful; Physically strong and with a sturdy, heavier build; Have the most energy of all constitutions, but it is steady and enduring; Slow speech, reflecting a deliberate thought process; Slower to learn, but outstanding long-term memory; Soft hair and skin; tendency to have large soft eyes and a low, soft voice; Tend toward being overweight; May also suffer from sluggish digestion; Prone to depression; More self-sufficient; Gentle, and essentially undemanding approach to life; Excellent health, good immune system; Very calm; Strive to maintain harmony and peace in their surroundings; Ca not easily be upset and can be a point of stability for others; Don’t like cold, damp weather; Have strongest stamina; Resistant to change; Tired in the morning; Crave sweets; Don’t use their energy; Stuck in the past.
In balance: Full of love and patience.
Out of balance: Tend to be possessive, hoarders and hold on to things. Too much heaviness gives rise to depression and lead to insecurity and envy.
Typical physical problems: Colds and congestion, sinus headaches, respiratory problems including asthma, allergies, and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). If you have sinus trouble, you have imbalanced Kapha. If your weight fluctuates a lot from morning to evening then you are Kapha.
Care: They need to add activity and inspirational stuff in their life. They need energetic yoga. Their meditation needs to be more dynamic like walking meditation. They need visuals for meditation. Cold weather increases Kapha.
Exercise: Need to exercise in the morning. Need to sweat.
Aroma: Kapha aroma is cinnamon, eucalyptus, basil etc.
Mantra: Please forgive me, I forgive you, I thank you, I love you. Repeat for each person you remember.
So the first step is to find your most dominant Dosha and may be second dominant Dosha and then follow the general guidelines for it. There are many other things that affect these Doshas and I will talk about them in my future articles.

Disclaimer: All the information in this article has been researched from various sources as my personal study notes for future reference.

Festivals Need Not Be Stressful

Written By: ruchi - Sep• 23•17
Festivals Are Stressful

When Lord Ram returned to Ayodhya after 14 years of exile and the kingdom started running smoothly again, the courtiers suggested to Ram that they should perform the famous Ashwamegh Yagya to bring some excitement back in the lives of the common people. The purpose of the Yagya was not to win over other kingdoms but to do something new, which will cheer up the people and give them something to look forward to. The moral of the story is that the celebrations are meant to break the monotony and bring some excitement back in our lives. But are they?

In the ancient times, the festivals, the vrats and the poojas gave women a break from their daily routine. Everyone at home helped in decorating the house, they prepared the best dishes from the purest ingredients, donned their best clothes and enjoyed the event with the whole family and even neighbors. All this participation, preparation and bonding filled the house with pure, happy, bubbly vibrations and created the ambience of real fun and frolic not only on the festival day but throughout the preparation period.
In today’s context, long working hours have left us no time to celebrate anything. Either we do it half-heartedly or we outsource all the arrangements. None of those give us the real happiness because in the first case we are too tired to spread any joy ourselves and in the second case the paid decorator, the paid caterer and the paid entertainer generate the vibrations of business rather than joy. So basically, the festivals have started to stress us out.
So what can we do? Well, the key is to remember that the process of planning and involving the whole family is more important than the actual celebration itself. Encourage kids to decorate and entertain creatively. Their contagious excitement will automatically generate the happy vibrations in your home. Second, keep it simple; don’t get into the comparison game. Third, celebrate only as many festivals as you comfortably can. No point in trying to celebrate each and every festival and feeling exhausted.
Let’s bring the magic of festivals back, the way it was meant to be.