How to Get More Energy from Your Food

Looking for more energy to keep up with the holiday season? Perhaps you should consider what fuel you are using to keep your body running. Let’s consider this from an Ayurvedic perspective: are you giving yourself enough prana?

Understanding Prana

Prana is the principle of energy responsible for giving life to and maintaining the body. Prana is the vital energy present in fresh vegetables and fruits, in the pure air that we breathe and the fresh water that we drink. According to Ayurveda, one of the reasons for eating is to take in prana. Therefore we always want to choose foods that are high in this lively energy.

What does it mean when we ask if a food has prana. We are basically asking, “Is it alive?” Does this food contain vitamins, minerals, enzymes and nutrients that can nourish my body? Or is this food the nutritional equivalent of eating cardboard? The fresher the food, the more nutrients it will provide to nourish your body and the more enzymes will be available to help break down the food in order to fully absorb those nutrients. Eating the freshest foods possible will give us the biggest energy boost.

Avoid Processed Food

Processed foods that can sit on a shelf for years are an obvious example of “dead food”. What Prana or “life force” means should be obvious to anyone who has watched vegetables wilt, lose their color and go bad. Processed food, overly refined flours and sugars, and frozen and canned foods (which are prepared long before the time of consumption) contain less vital qualities to nourish the body. They are also harder to digest. These foods simply can not give us the same level of nutrients as foods brimming with prana, This loss of prana is also why Ayurveda discourages eating leftovers or foods that have been sitting around for too long.

Buy Local

The time between a vegetable being picked and appearing on your plate determines the quality and quantity of prana that you will be receiving from your meal. An intuitive sense of this is one of the numerous forces behind the growth of the “buy local” and “farm to table” movements. Locate the local farmers market near to your home and indentify the sellers there who grow organically. Obviously many climates prohibit buying fresh, local foods all year round, but during the months when they are available, these foods will provide optimal nourishment and energy.

Go Organic

When looking for foods rich in prana and life energy, you’ll want to make sure you consume organic foods. Organic foods have more prana than foods grown with chemical fertilizers and sprayed with pesticides. In addition, taking in these powerful chemicals puts a stress on your physiology and blocks its proper functioning. If your body has to work hard to purify the chemicals every time you eat, you’ll feel fatigued. Because many of the chemicals are fat-soluble, the toxins will build up in your system despite your body’s attempts to eliminate them. While the traditional detoxification treatments of Ayurveda (Panchakarma) have been shown to eliminate fat-soluble toxins from the body tissues, it is best to do one’s best not accumulate them in the first place.

To Cook or Not to Cook?

Raw food advocates point to prana as one reason to not cook foods. Ayurveda recommends lightly cooking most vegetables in order to make them more easy to digest. Unless you have a very strong digestion, you will actually get fewer nutrients from your vegetables if you eat them raw.

(see blog Getting The Most Out of Our Food)

Pure Water

Drink pure, spring water instead of soda, coffee or tea. Water nourishes the body on a cellular level

We ingest all of life through our five senses: touch, taste, sight, sound, and smell. Good health is dependent on our ability to fully metabolize all aspects of life, assimilating what is nourishing and expelling or eliminating that which is not. Through bad choices or through environmental factors that are beyond our control, we can easily metabolize impurities that create imbalances or ama (toxins)—which can then lead to the formation of chronic disorders.

Ayurveda offers the knowledge of how to live in harmony with nature. Ayurveda also offers healing modalities and regular seasonal routines to help restore balance and vitality when it has become lost. For more information on the healing treatments of Ayurveda, visit The Raj, Ayurveda Health Spa website:

http://www.theraj.com

 

Ayurveda Tips for Holiday Eating

In the United States, the Thanksgiving holiday (the last Thursday of November) marks the beginning of six weeks holiday festivities, family feasts and seasonal treats. The ancient Indian health science of Ayurveda offers helpful tips on how to navigate holiday season without gaining weight or over-eating.

Winter cravings

The increasingly colder days of fall bring with them an increase in Vata dosha — the subtle energy in the body that governs movement. When Vata dosha predominates, there is an increase in dry, rough and cool qualities in the body. This dryness can disturb various tissues and organs. Many people notice dry skin and lips during the winter months. Dryness can also occur in the colon or large intestine, leading to constipation. Simultaneously you may find that you develop cravings for heavy, sweet and unctuous foods. This is simply your body’s attempt to balance the increase in Vata by increasing Kapha. Unfortunately, these heavier foods can also lead to poor digestion and to an accumulation of toxins over the winter, which could lead to allergies in the spring.

Holiday Eating Tips

The following tips can help you navigate the holiday festivities, pacifying Vata dosha while avoiding the weight-gain often brought on by Kapha-increasing foods.

  1. At the start of the holiday season, consult an Ayurvedic expert to see if you have any nutritional deficiencies or imbalances. If these are left untended, you may find yourself at the mercy of cravings and compulsive eating.
  2. When you first arrive at a gathering, request a cup of hot water. This will help to pacify Vata and also help you avoid mindless eating. In addition, people often mistake thirst for hunger. If you are well hydrated, you will feel less compulsion to eat. Drinking plain hot water throughout the day is a simple Ayurvedic secret for improved health.
  3. Always sit down at a table to eat. Don’t eat if you are standing or moving.
  4. Whenever you eat, give eating your full attention. Enjoy your food — even if you are eating something “naughty”. Eating mindlessly does not allow you to properly taste, experience, or digest your food. As a result, even if you are full, you will feel unsatisfied and want to eat more later. Don’t multli-task at meal times.
  5. Learn about the six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. Each taste satisfies a different need. Missing one or more of the tastes can result in cravings. Try to have all six tastes at each meal. If this sounds daunting, there are spice combinations (churnas) made specifically for this.
  6. Favor warm, cooked foods. If you want to indulge in heavier foods, do so at mid-day, when your digestive “fire” is stronger. Try to keep evening meals light, favoring soups and cooked vegetables.
  7. Try to take small portions. Ideally you should feel refreshed and energized after eating, not dull. Over-eating compromises digestion. When you overeat, even though you ingest more than you need, your body actually assimilates less. This can result in nutritional deficiencies, perpetuating cravings and the habit of overeating.

Eating with full attention and enjoyment improves digestion. It settles and strengthens your entire system. This can have far-reaching health benefits seemingly unrelated to nutrition.

If you find that you have over-indulged during the holidays, consider enjoying traditional Ayurvedic detoxification treatments, called Panchakarma in January or February. The soothing oils used in the treatments help detoxify body fat and the recommended diet before, during and after treatment is the perfect way to get back into healthy eating habits. Scheduling Panchakarma treatments in January can reset your physiology for the rest of the year and help eliminate the effects of holiday indulgences.

Learn more about Ayurveda treatments for weight loss and detoxification at The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa:

www.theraj.com

Holiday Travel Tips

Every year about this time we put up a post on travel tips. This is a time of year when many are beginning to make travel plans, whether it is for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s, or simply planning a January escape from snow and cold weather. Traveling during the late fall and winter has its challenges. When we travel at any time of the year, Vata dosha can get out of balance. But because this is the season when Vata is predominant in our environment, we need to be extra alert about maintaining balance. To stay in peak health while on long car or airplane trips, try these suggestions:

  1. Get plenty of rest. While Ayurveda usually cautions against day-time naps, you can indulge when you are traveling. One of the best ways to balance Vata is through rest. Practice the Transcendental Meditation technique to calm the mind and body. Meditation is a soothing option to watching movies if you are on a long flight.
  2. Try not to rush. Think ahead so that you are not frantically packing at the last minute. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the airport and check in. If you are driving to your destination, don’t speed. Your physiology doesn’t need any extra pressure. Don’t start out your trip feeling frazzled.
  3. Drink plenty of warm fluids—more than you usually drink. One of the qualities of Vata is dryness. Avoid caffeinated drinks, (which will promote additional stimulation, thus aggravating Vata), sodas and alcohol. Bring a thermos Vata Tea in your car or ask your flight attendant for hot water and then add your own tea bag. Avoid cold drinks and cold food.
  4. Avoid eating large quantities of food while you are in the air or traveling in the car. This is especially important when you are crossing time zones. It is better to eat your meal at the normal time after you arrive. If you are driving, bring a thermos of soup to enjoy along the way.
  5. Keep warm. Planes temperatures can be very chilly. Take a shawl with you so that you can protect your shoulders, neck and head if necessary.
  6. Adopt the local time as soon as you arrive. Resist the urge to nap. Reset your clock and then try to get up and go to bed at the same time as you would at home.
  7. Avoid Vata-aggravating foods such as salads, dried fruit and potato chips. Opt for warm, freshly cooked, soothing foods.
  8. Bring along some Ayurvedic massage oil so that you can give yourself an oil massage when you arrive at your destination. The warm oil (you can warm it by floating the bottle in hot water in your sink) and tactile stimulation will go a long way toward soothing Vata dosha. If you don’t have time for a full-body massage, try a quick foot massage. (Be sure to wrap the bottle of oil carefully so that it cannot leak into your luggage. Double bagging is recommended.)
  9. Bring some soothing aroma oils, such as lavender oil, geranium rose or jasmine. This can help settle your physiology along the way, as well as when you arrive at your destination. Plug-in aroma dispensers are great for hotel rooms. A bit of aroma oil on a cotton ball can produce calming effects in planes and automobiles.
  10. Schedule some Ayurveda spa treatments when you return home. Nasya can help with dryness in the nasal and sinus passages and can help address the Vata-aggravating influence of traveling, as well as protecting from airborne allergens and pollutants. Abhyanga (Ayurveda massage), Shirodhara (oil streamed across the forehead) and Swedana (herbalized steam therapy) are helpful treatments to help balance Vata after travel— and throughout the winter.
  11. Panchakarma treatment is the most significant Ayurvedic approach to both pacifying Vata and drawing out and eliminating impurities that have accumulated during your travels. If you indulge in foods you do not usually eat while you are away, the home-preparation diet and detoxification treatments of Panchakarma will get you back on a healthy routine for the rest of the winter.  Not only will this it will help you transition into spring with fewer allergies and colds, it can help you shed any extra pounds you’ve gained during the holidays.

For more information on scheduling Ayurveda massages and treatments, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com

 

 

Is Walking the Key to Health and Long Life?

By now most people have heard the saying, “Sitting is the new smoking”. In recent years an inactive lifestyle has been linked to many illnesses, including heart and artery disease and cancer. The good news is that recent research has shown that an hour of moderate physical activity per day is enough to cancel out the negative effects of prolonged inactivity. Researchers in the study also found that positive results were obtained if the hour was broken up into smaller time periods within the day. So a brisk morning walk, a walk before or after lunch and a walk after dinner, all adding up to one hour per day, was equally effective in eliminating the connection between sitting and ill-health. Even a five minute break every hour (again, adding up to an hour a day) saw the same positive results.

According to Ayurveda, walking is a healthy exercise for all body types. In addition to the research sited above, walking has been shown to lower bad cholesterol, increase cardiovascular fitness, stop bone loss, and lower the risk of dementia, colon cancer and diabetes.

For maximum benefits, your walking pace should be adjusted to your body’s individual needs. Ideally one should stay within your body’s range of comfort. Listen to what your body tells you. If you feel any strain or discomfort, ease up and get back into your comfort zone.

Ayurveda identifies ten body types, made up of different combinations of the three doshas, Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

If you are a mentally active, Vata type, be careful not to over-extend yourself.  A 15 – 20 minute walk is ideal. If you are trying to fit in 30 minutes of exercise a day, break it into two sessions so as not to aggravate your Vata.

If you are a Pitta type you will probably feel bored unless you can look at beautiful scenery along the way — or unless you feel a bit of a challenge. Pitta types need longer, more vigorous stretches of exercise. Try walking for 30 to 45 minutes at a fast pace, even doing race -walking if it is comfortable. But avoid exercising during the hotter hours of the day.

Kapha types need more fast-paced aerobic walking. Both Kapha and Pitta types can increase aerobic activity by swinging their arms as they walk. But beware of carrying weights, as that can cause ligament damage. If you want to build up your arm muscles, check into weight training.

No matter what your body type, you can gain much more from your walk if you stretch before and after you walk. Yoga exercise or 5 minutes of Surya Namaskara can be beneficial for neuromuscular integration. The more prepared your body is, the more effective your walk will be. It helps to warm up your muscles before making demands on them and the cool-down increases flexibility.

.The Raj Ayurveda Health Center

www.theraj.com

“Early To Bed..” Really Can Make You Healthy, Wealthy and Wise (and Happy!)

According to Ayurveda, our potential for good health depends largely on how we live our day-to-day life. It is our patterns of eating, sleeping, exercise and what we do daily to rejuvenate ourselves that help determine whether we maintain vibrant health throughout our lifetime.

Ayurveda recognizes the importance of our relationship with the universe around us. We are a part of nature: if we live in accord with the laws that structure the world we live in, we can keep our mind/body system functioning efficiently with the least amount of wear and tear.

One key to living in tune with nature is the time that we go to bed and get up in the morning. There is a saying, “The day begins the night before.” Only by going to be early in the evening can we start the next day fully rested, having synchronized our individual rhythms with the circadian rhythms of the earth.

Modern science is increasingly supporting the idea that sleep is the third pillar of health, along with good diet and exercise. It is a vital factor in increasing our wellbeing. A recent study showed that those who get less than 6 hours of sleep at night are 4 times more likely to catch a cold than those who get 7 or more. Researchers believe that sleep helps the immune system fight off infections. Sleep has been found to play an important part in regulating the levels of T-cells which fight off infection in our bodies.

When we go to bed is as important as how much sleep we get. Ayurveda recommends that we get to bed by 10 P.M. to gain the deepest level of healing and rejuvenation from our sleep. According to Ayurveda, during the four hours before 10 P.M., Kapha dosha is increasing in nature. This increase in Kapha enlivens the qualities of heaviness and dullness in our mind and body. If we head to bed during this time, we will fall asleep more quickly and experience deeper, less interrupted sleep.

After 10 P.M., Pitta dosha starts to become enlivened. The evening Pitta-cycle is involved in metabolic cleaning. The body needs to be inactive at this time so that the physiology can focus its intelligence and energy on metabolic cleansing and rejuvenation. When a person stays up past 10 P.M., there is often the experience of a “second wind”. This is an indication that Pitta dosha is no longer being directed internally for self-repair activities. Instead, the transformational nature of Pitta is flowing in a more manifest way, creating an increase in energy, creativity and, often, hunger. (This accounts for the infamous scourge of midnight snacking.)

While many busy adults feel that they are grabbing valuable “me” time in the late hours of the night, they are actually robbing their body of its built-in mechanism to recover from the day’s wear and tear. In the long run, night owls may find themselves with deep-seated sleep imbalances and ill health.

Ayurveda recommends waking up before 6 A.M, while the quality of Vata is lively. Because it is ideal not to be startled awake by alarms, the best way to spontaneously get up early—and feel rested— is to go to bed early.

The hours before 6 A.M. are hours when all of nature is waking up. This is the time that Vata dosha is predominate in the environment. When we start our day during Vata time it means that our mind and body will experience more of the qualities of balanced Vata throughout the day— increased energy, clarity, intelligence and alertness.

The longer we sleep past 6 A.M. the more we are asleep while Kapha is dominating the environment. If we sleep in until 7:30, for example, we are lying dull and dormant for 1 and 1/2 hours of Kapha time and we will wake up imbibed with those same heavy, dull qualities.

Many people find that they can think faster and concentrate more in the morning. Students who get up early in the morning have been shown to get better grades, which then impacts where they go to college and what jobs they get after school. Apparently morning people are better at anticipating problems and trying to solve them. They have been found to be more proactive.

Other studies have demonstrated that if you wake up early you will feel more positive and confident. Published research linked rising early and synchronizing one’s circadian cycle with the time the sun rises and sets to feeling happier than those who wake up late.

This simple adjustment in bedtime and rising-time in routine can make a huge impact on our health. If you are in need of extra “me” time, it is much better to go to bed by 10:00 PM and wake up an hour earlier in the morning. Early morning may, in fact, be the best time to work effectively during the day. Your brain will be rested and your nervous system will have abundant energy after a good night’s sleep

For more information on Ayurveda programs for insomnia, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com

Staying Healthy During Vata Season

As we progress into the cool days of fall and winter, many people find themselves bothered by Vata disorders such as anxiety, tension, insomnia, constipation and aching joints. Vata dosha becomes aggravated during cold, dry, windy weather because the nature of Vata itself is dry, cold, light and active. To keep Vata in check, try these recommendations:

  1. Drink plenty of hot water. Sipping hot water frequently throughout the day will help you accomplish two things: 1) pacify Vata and 2) dissolve ama, the sticky waste-product of improper digestion that can build up in tissues and joints and clog the channels of your body.
  2. Favor hot drinks and meals. Opt for warm, heavy foods. Cold drinks and cold, light foods increase Vata. Be sure to avoid ice-cold beverages and foods. Accept that ice cream season is over.
  3. Try to get more rest than usual. Because Vata is active and restless by nature, one the best ways to balance Vata is to get extra sleep. With the sun rising later and setting earlier in the day, there are fewer hours of daylight. This is a signal from Nature to spend more time resting. Remember that according to Ayurveda we gain a better quality of rest if we fall asleep before 10:00 p.m. and rise before 6:00 a.m.If you need more than eight hours of sleep, try going to bed earlier rather than sleeping in. Sleeping late in the morning can lead to blockages of the shrotas, the channels of the body through which the natural intelligence of the body flows. This can aggravate both Vata and Kapha and can throw off the biological rhythms of your body.
  4. Maintain a regular routine. During Vata season is it important to mainain regular routines of rest and activity. Modern science is now in agreement with this ancient principle of Ayurveda. Research has shown that our bodies are designed to respond to an internal clock that typically follows a 24-hour repeating pattern (circadian rhythm), which tells us when we are ready to sleep and get up. If this internal clock is altered — due to inadequate sleep, poor quality sleep or not sleeping at the right time — it compromises the body’s optimal functioning. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day; try not to vary weekday and weekend sleep/ wake routines too much; avoid strenuous exercise close to bedtime, and avoid bright lights from TV or laptop/ mobile phone screens which stimulate the brain to remain active.
  5. It is also good to maintain regular meal times. Avoid fasting during Vata season.Vata requires regular nourishment. While Ayurveda encourages smaller meals in the evening, be sure to have something warm and nourishing like soup, light grains (such as quinoa) and/or steamed vegetables.
  6. Exercise daily. Exercise increases circulation, improves your appetite and raises your body temperature. If it is too cold to go outside, go to the gym, use indoor equipment or exercise DVDs—or just dance around your house. Be careful not to overdo it, though. You should adjust the amount and intensity of exercise to fit your individual needs. If your level of exercise is such that you cannot breath comfortably through your nose, you are taxing your physiology and actually increasing Vata.
  7. Keep your head and ears covered when outside. Ears are one of the main seats of Vata. Protecting your ears and head from the wind and cold will make being outside in winter a more healthful experience
  8. Do daily abhyanga (Ayurvedic oil massage). Abhyanga is especially soothing for Vata dosha because your skin is a primary seat of Vata.
  9. Start increasing your portions of foods that are sweet, sour and salty, as these pacify vata dosha. Spicy, astringent and bitter foods increase vata.
  10. Enjoy Panchakarma (Ayurvedic massage and detoxification therapies). Fall/winter is a good time to schedule a week of treatment at The Raj. While the cold wind blows outside, you can stay warm and cozy, enjoying soothing, warm herbalized oil and relaxing massages. In addition, undergoing Panchakarma before the holiday seasons can put in you the right frame of mind to enjoy the holidays without binge eating or straying from a healthful diet and routine.
  1. For more information on Panchakarma, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa site:www.theraj.com

     

Avoiding Back Pain in the Fall and Winter

Driving through my neighborhood this week I noticed many people preparing their homes and yards for winter. This alertness to the change of seasons also needs to extend to our own physiologies. As we head into the fall season it is very important to start taking measures to pacify Vata dosha. Vata controls all movement in the body and, not surprisingly, it is the first dosha to move out of balance. Late fall and winter are known as Vata season because they are marked by the same qualities that characterize Vata: cold, dry, and moving. As Vata increases in the environment it increases in our bodies.

Vata imbalances include insomnia, aching joints, arthritis, back pain, constipation, high blood pressure and anxiety. All body types are vulnerable to Vata imbalance at this time of the year, but those whose body type is predominantly Vata need to be especially alert to staying in balance. Let’s look specifically at back and joint pain.

The Vata/Kapha Connection

One very common result of Vata imbalance is the sudden onset of back pain. Often it seems to come out of nowhere. You get out of bed in the morning or lean down to tie your shoe and suddenly find yourself immobilized.

In Ayurvedic terms, back pain is often the result of an initial imbalance of Vata dosha that goes on to create a Kapha imbalances. Lower back pain often appears in the fall and winter because this is the season when Vata predominates. This relationship of back pain to Vata also explains why Incidences of back and joint pain increase with age. According to Ayurveda, when we are 60 and over we enter the Vata time of life.  Thus it makes sense that Vata imbalances — and their resulting problems — appear more frequently during Vata season and during the Vata period of life.

In the case of back pain, the build up of Vata interferes with the ability of Kapha dosha to support and lubricate the spine. This increasing dryness further aggravates Vata, creating a vicious cycle leading to back pain, aches and stiffness in the joints, and constipation or difficulties with elimination.

Ama

Ama —toxins and impurities that accumulate in body—is another factor to be considered with back and joint pain. When Vata and Kapha are aggravated they “color” ama with their qualities, creating either a Vata-aggravated ama or a Kapha-aggravated ama. This ama can become lodged in the joints, blocking joint movement and interfering with the production of fluid lubricating the joints. This leads to cracking joints, stiffness, pain, loss of cartilage and overproduced bone growth at the joints resulting in osteoarthritis.

Treatment

Effective preventive treatment for chronic lower back pain should include regular stretching, such as yoga exercises. The traditional detoxification treatments of Ayurveda (Panchakarma) offered at The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa specialize in removing ama and impurities that have accumulated in the joints and tissues.  The treatments also help to balance Vata, allowing Kapha dosha to once again function normally.

Diet

If you are prone to lower back pain, avoid eating Vata-aggravating foods such as dry foods and raw vegetables. Also avoid root foods, which not only aggravate Vata but also have certain properties that can adversely affect joints. To reduce ama, avoid cheese, meat and heavy, fried, or processed foods. Eat your main meal at noon and take a lighter meal in the evening. Drink lots of warm or hot beverages, such as herbal teas (like licorice root and ginger teas) throughout the day. Avoid cold, iced drinks and food. This is the time of year to make sure you include ghee and olive oil in your foods, as the oil helps combat the dryness of the season.

Daily Oil Massage

Pacifying Vata is the key to keeping everything else in balance. A simple home oil massage each morning or evening can help soothe Vata and also help remove ama from the skin tissues.

Relax

Many people find that their back goes out when they are under stress. In a stressful situation the whole body can tighten, tense, and can easily go into muscle spasm, which can push vertebrae out of place. At The Raj, daily practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique is recommended to reduce stress, thereby reducing incidences of lower back problems.

For more information on Panchakarma treatments or Transcendental Meditation, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa web site:

www.theraj.com

Reduce Top Risk Factors for Stroke with Ayurveda

Just recently an international research study looking at people from every continent in the world found ten modifiable risk factors that were associated with 90% of stroke cases. In other words, 90% of strokes are seen to be preventable with basic lifestyle changes. The study looked at men and women, young and old, in 32 countries across the globe. High blood pressure, lack of exercise, high lipids and diet were found to be the top four risk factors.

Let’s look at the top four risk factors from from both a modern and Ayurvedic perspective.

High blood pressure (hypertension) affects 47.9% of stroke cases

According to an international team of researchers led by the Population Health Research Institute at McMaster University in Ontario, “Hypertension is the most important modifiable risk factor in all regions, and the key target in reducing the burden of stroke globally.” The study looked at men and women, young and old, in 32 countries across the globe.

More than three million Americans are diagnosed with high blood pressure every year, with blood pressure above 140/90. This chronic condition forces blood against the artery walls in a way that produces crippling pressure. According to the study, eliminating hypertension in patients would practically cut their stroke risk in half (48 per cent).

Modern medicine recommends medications along with a diet low in salt, more exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, limiting alcohol and reducing stress to combat hypertension

According to Ayurveda, the causes and symptoms of high blood pressure can vary from individual to individual. People with Pitta and Vata predominant constitutions (and Pitta and Vata imbalances) are more prone to hypertension than Kapha types.

Vata – Anxiety and mental stress and strain can aggravate Vata and put pressure on the nervous system. Other contributors include not getting enough sleep, having an irregular lifestyle, and watching TV or working on computers at night and constantly rushing from activity to activity

Pitta – Because one of the main seats of Pitta is in the heart, emotional stress can create imbalances in Pitta dosha. Eating spicy, salty, or sour food can also aggravate Pitta. When Pitta is out of balance, our emotions can also get out of balance. The resulting anger or hostility can lead to high blood pressure.

Kapha – Sluggish digestion, sedentary habits, and a diet filled with fats, sweets and processed foods can lead to being overweight, feeling depressed, and having high blood pressure.

The Ayurvedic approach to pacifying these imbalances also includes dietary and lifestyle recommendations, yoga exercises, meditation, specialized Panchakarma treatments and herbal supplements.

Lack of exercise affects 38.5% of stroke cases

The cardiovascular benefits of exercise include making blood less likely to clot, controlling weight, lowering blood pressure, and increasing levels of protective high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol — the “bad” cholesterol.

According to Ayurveda, exercise also helps remove toxins and impurities (called ama) that have accumulated in the physiology. These deposits are a major factor in the breakdown of the body’s natural healing mechanism and cause blockages throughout the physiology. Exercise according to body type is a key recommendation for maintaining health.

Vata: Because Vata types have the quality of motion and changeability highly enlivened in their physiology, they need less exercise than other body types. Yoga, dance, aerobics, walking and light bicycling are good for them. A half hour of mild exercise is usually sufficient.

Pitta: Pitta types have good drive and endurance and can exercise in moderate quantity. Sports with a challenge and that bring a sense of accomplishment can be especially satisfying for Pittas. Water sports, because of their cooling influence, are highly recommended.

Kapha: Kapha types have a tendency toward heaviness and lethargy and need significant quantities of exercise. Kaphas have strong frames and joints and can easily withstands more vigorous and extended sports. Running, aerobics, rowing and other endurance sports are good Kapha types.

High Lipids (transport cholesterol) affects 26.8 % of stoke cases

A high lipid disorder means that you have high levels of either low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, or elevated levels of fats called triglycerides.

LDL cholesterol is considered the “bad” cholesterol because it contributes to plaque, a thick, hard deposit that can clog arteries and make them less flexible. High levels of “bad” cholesterol has been linked to may health problems, from heart disease (cardiovascular disease) and strokes to  brain deposits that cause Alzheimer’s Disease.

Modern medicine recently switched its focus from total cholesterol levels to the ratio of “good” to “bad” cholesterol. 3.5 to 1 is the standard. A healthy ratio of good vs. bad cholesterol is associated with lower levels of the plaque in the brain and heart health.

Ayurveda agrees that cholesterol is only “bad” when it is out of balance. It is “good” when it is balanced, supporting and lubricating the body’s numerous circulatory channels, known as the shrotas.

The health of the circulatory channels, or shrotas, is essential to a well-functioning physiology. There are micro-shrotas, which carry nutrients to the cells and waste from the cells. There are larger shrotas, such as the arteries and veins, which carry blood to and from the heart. And there are delicate shrotas that lead to our brain. All of these shrotas must be flexible and elastic if we are to remain healthy. And cholesterol, when it is balanced, plays a critical role in lubricating and maintaining all these channels of circulation. With this perspective, one can see why high amounts of good cholesterol would be associated with longer life-span.

“Good” cholesterol becomes “bad” cholesterol when we have large amounts of ama in our system. Ama is the sticky waste product of poor digestion, absorption and metabolism. It accumulates as a toxin in the fat tissues. When it continues to accumulate over time, ama  spreads into other parts of the body, including the important channels of circulation, nourishment and detoxification.

According to Ayurveda, the production of cholesterol does not necessarily need to be lessened, but instead needs to be balanced. Which comes down to maintaining a healthy and well-functioning power of digestion. In Ayurveda, digestion is king. When our digestion is balanced and healthy, the body will produce the right amount of cholesterol, in the right proportion to nourish the body.

To lower “bad” cholesterol Ayurveda recommends a two-pronged approach: Improve digestion and follow a Kapha-balancing diet to enhance fat metabolism.

Poor diet affects 23.2 % of stoke cases

According to the study, a better diet would cut the risk of a stroke by almost a fifth (19 per cent), the study says.

Health experts today recommend eating more fiber and legumes and to favor lean meat over red meat. In fact, earlier in the year the USDA came under fire for not advising Americans to reduce their red meat intake. Avoid fatty foods, and sugary foods to improve cardiovascular health.

Ayurveda takes into account the doshic balance of an individual before recommending a specific diet. For example, not everyone who is overweight has a Kapha imbalance. It could be that an underlying Vata imbalance is actually at the root of imbalances in the other doshas. If you are dealing with hypertension it would be best to find an Ayurveda expert who can accurately pinpoint the specific imbalances in your physiology.

At The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa, we consider Ayurveda to be an ideal complementary approach to good health. Check with your physician while you are integrating natural, preventive modalities.

For more information on Ayurvedic programs for hypertension or consultations with an Ayurvedic expert, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com

 

Keeping Kids Healthy with Ayurveda

From an Ayurvedic perspective, kids are inherently healthy. Then why do we think that colds, fevers, allergies, earaches and sore throats are a natural part of childhood?

The traditional medical view is that kids get sick with colds, flu and other common illness because their immune system is untested and they have not previously been exposed to viruses. When they do come in contact with viruses and upper respiratory infections, they easily succumb. Later in life, having developed a resistance to these diseases, they do not get sick as often.

Ayurveda takes the view that children tend to stay healthy if they eat the right foods, get proper rest and have a good routine. This helps the child maintain his or her own resistance and immunity. We know that some children are exposed to such things as upper respiratory viruses and do not get sick at all, where as other children seem to get sick all the time. To some extent this is due to the child’s body type and inherent resistance, but proper rest, diet and routine will maximize the possibility of remaining in good health.

UNDERSTANDING KAPHA

According to Ayurveda, each of the three doshas—Vata, Pitta, and Kapha—are responsible for the expression of various aspects of nature in the body. Vata is responsible for movement, quickness and change. Pitta is related to heat processes and energy production. In the body, Vata directs circulation and nervous system functioning. Pitta governs digestion and metabolism.

Kapha is more structural and is responsible for heaviness and solidity. And Kapha is responsible for maintaining the structural aspects of the body—muscles, joints, tissues, etc. as well as lubrication.

During the growing years, as the physical structure of the body is forming, Kapha dosha is more predominant than the other doshas. Kapha is slow, heavy, sticky, firm and strong. And its proper functioning is essential for the ever-strengthening physiology to grow. If Kapha becomes imbalanced, it can—because of its heavy and sticky qualities—slow digestion and produce excess mucus in the body. This will lead to colds, ear infections, etc.

DIET

What is a proper diet for your child? The recommendations from Ayurveda take into account the Kapha-dominated period of early childhood.

Excess of sweets and cold drinks and foods are more difficult for the slower digestion of early childhood to handle. It is better to avoid offering these kinds of foods to children. Unfortunately, many of these foods—especially candy, chocolates, pastries, ice cream, cold drinks, cheese, potato chips and highly processed foods—tend to be easily accessible and are often what children ask for. This is one reason that holiday times—between Halloween and Christmas—are times when it is common to see an increase in colds and sickness in children.

Ayurveda recommends a vegetarian diet as the ideal diet for a young child. It should include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables and can provide plenty of protein through a combination of grains, legumes, dairy and nuts.

Ayurveda recommends mild for most children. Boiling milk makes it easier to digest and it is best to drink it warm. Avoid serving milk with a meal containing tastes other than sweet as milk mixed with salty, sour, astringent, bitter and pungent tastes causes problems with digestion. Milk is best taken with grains (cereal) or by itself.

Children should take their main meal at noon, when digestion is stronger. Try to avoid serving heavy foods such as cheeses, yogurt or meat in the evening.

REST

The second essential in keeping kids healthy is making sure they get enough rest. According to Ayurveda, the great the rest (in both children and adults) the stronger the immune system.

child-sleeping.png

When children are tired from staying up too late they become more susceptible to colds and other respiratory illnesses. For greater strength and balance physiological functioning, children should go to bed earlier in the evening than is generally practiced. Children under five should go to bed between 7:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Children between the ages of eight and ten should go to bed by 8:30 p.m.

EXERCISE

Ideally, children should get enough exercise through their daily play. Try to avoid having them sit for hours in front of the television or playing on electronic devices. Kapha requires exercise to keep balance and healthy. Otherwise, dullness and lethargy can develop.

If your child has repeated health problems, a parent should ask, “Do I have a proper routine?” Children are very sensitive and impressionable. If a parent is stressed, fatigued, has a poor diet or does not have a good routine himself, the child can easily pick up these habits.

In fact, the diet and routine that Ayurveda recommends for adults is very similar to that for children: early to bed, early to rise, eat fresh, well-cooked foods, get proper exercise, and meditate regularly to relieve stress and promote well-being and happiness.

The close relationship between parents and children is reflected in the health of the entire family. As a parent it is important not only to give care and guidance to your children but to take care of yourself as well.

For more information on Ayurveda, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com

Avoiding Flair-ups of Psoriasis with Ayurveda

Psoriasis is a complex disorder involving both the skin and the joints, which are governed by Pitta and Vata, respectively. While only an Ayurvedic pulse assessment can reveal an individual’s exact needs, imbalances of both Pitta and Vata are usually at the root of this problem.

The end of summer and beginning of fall can be a time when psoriasis can flare up. This is because Pitta dosha has been building up all summer and is at its peak in the physiology. At the same time, increasingly cool fall weather and brisk winds can begin to aggravate Vata. If you have not been taking steps to pacify Pitta dosha throughout the summer, the combination of Pitta and Vata aggravation can trigger episodes of psoriasis.

The accumulations of toxins and impurities in the physiology (referred to as ama in Ayurveda) can also play a role in the outbreak of psoriasis. During the summer months, the physiology reacts to the extreme external heat by turning down its own internal heat. As metabolism decreases, so does the ability to digest food. When we do not properly digest food, a sticky substance (ama) is produced that is not able to be utilized by the body. Instead it builds up in tissues, joints and channels of circulation, blocking the healthy functioning of the body. Unless you adjust your summer diet accordingly, it is easy to create ama during the hot months of the year.

Moving from Pitta season to Vata season does not automatically improve our digestion. In the fall, when Vata becomes more predominant in our environment, the drying quality of Vata can adversely affect our digestion. This combination of accumulated Pitta, increasing Vata, poor digestion and accumulated ama can lead to all kinds of health problems, including psoriasis. Seasonal transitions are known to be especially can be hard on the phsyiology. This is why the ancient texts of Ayurveda encourage Panchakarma (traditional purification and detoxification treatments) at the end/beginning of each season. While quarterly Panchakarma treatments may not fit into our busy modern-day lives, an Ayurvedic expert can suggest to you which seasonal transition puts the most demands on your physiology. Even once a year Panchakarma can help keep the body balanced and functioning properly.

The Ayurveda approach to the treatment of psoriaisis is multi-dimentional, and includes recommendations for diet, daily routine, yoga and meditation to reduce stress, herbal formulas, Panchakarma and other purification procedures.

Home Purification

One purification procedure that you can try at home is castor oil. Castor oil has been used as a home laxative by mothers around the world for many generations. But in addition to being a natural laxative, castor oil can be used to gradually draw accumulated impurities and toxins from the cells and tissues into the eliminative organs. Small quantities of castor oil can be used for this purpose without creating a laxative effect. If a laxative effect occurs, simply reduce the quantity of castor oil.

product_castor_oil.jpg

Recommended Diet

(Please note that these are general recommendations ~ with severe psoriasis it is better to get individual recommendations from an Ayurvedic expert.)

Avoid Pitta aggravating foods—foods that are sour, pungent and salty. This includes yogurt (except in the form of lassi —and even with lassi, yogurt should be fresh), citrus fruits, fermented foods, junk food and processed foods, red meat, and alcohol.

Favor foods that are sweet, astringent and bitter.

Avoid iced or refrigerated foods and drinks.

Avoid whey.

Avoid sweets, sugary pastries, and chocolates.

Avoid fried foods.

Avoid common table salt.

Avoid all kinds of chiles or pungent spices.

Only take milk with foods with a sweet taste (such a grains). Never drink milk while eating fruit or with meals that contain salty, pungent, bitter, astringent or sour tastes.

Eat your mail meal at lunch. Dinner should be light. Soup and steamed vegetables is ideal.

Pacifying Vata

To pacify the rising influence of Vata, be sure to get to bed on time, wake with the rising sun, give yourself a daily oil massage, eat at regular times and be regular with your mediation practice.

For more information about Panchakarma or scheduling a consultation with an Ayurvedic expert, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com