Walking For Your Ayurvedic Body Type

According to Maharishi Ayurveda, walking is a healthy exercise for all body types.  In recent years researchers have found the old-fashioned stroll produces amazing results. It can lower your bad cholesterol, increase cardiovascular fitness and stop bone loss.

For maximum benefits, gear your walking 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.

Most experts today recommend 30 minutes of moderate-level physical activity  5 – 6  days of the week to see health benefits. Brisk walking is considered a type of moderate-level physical activity.

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 to find hilly terrain or try fast-paced aerobic walking for 45 – 60 minutes.

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.

Benefits of Walking

Regular moderate physical exercise has been shown to lower the risk of developing dementia.

Walking has been shown to reduce risks of heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, colon cancer and diabetes.

Walking is a weight-bearing exercise that helps to strengthen muscles and bones, thus decreasing your risk of developing osteoporosis and arthritis.

Walking may help protect against certain types of cancer, such as breast cancer.

Walking increases the number of calories your body uses, which helps to benefit weight loss .

Walking for 30 minutes three to five times per week for 12 weeks reduced symptoms of depression by 47% (as measured with a standard depression questionnaire).

Walking just three times a week for 30 minutes has been shown to significantly increase cardio-respiratory fitness.

A visit to an Ayurvedic expert in your area will help you to more precisely pinpoint your body type and current mind/body balance. To take a mind/body dosha quiz to find out your body type visit the website of The Raj Ayurveda Health Center.

www.theraj.com

Winter Skin Care: Ayurveda Tips for a Glowing Complexion

If you are familiar with Ayurveda, you are familiar with the concept that everything in life — including our bodies, the food that we eat, and the environment around us — is composed of the three “doshas”; vata, pitta and kapha.  These qualities, or principles of nature, each have their own fundamental traits. Vata, the principle of movement, is the ruling dosha for the late fall and winter seasons. These months are marked by the same qualities that characterize vata: coldness, dryness, lightness, and movement.

During the winter many notice a tendency toward dryness, constipation, anxiety and insomnia — all imbalances that can take their toll on our skin.  Luckily, through the understanding of Ayurvedic principles, we can take steps to pacify vata and keep our skin balanced and glowing throughout the winter months.

Washing the Face

At any time of the year it is important to be gentle when washing the face, as it is easy to aggravate vata, which can promote dryness and wrinkles. Favor body-temperature water over hot, hot water. Avoid using soaps with chemical additives. For most skin types, sweet almond oil is a good lubricant to use after washing to help protect the skin. Sweet almond oil is also healthy way to remove make-up before washing. A luxurious option for keeping skin lubricated in the winter is to bathe the face with milk. Whole, organic milk is ideal. The tiny, nutritious molecules of milk can be easily be absorbed by our skin without clogging the pores. Heat the milk to body temperature (not too hot) before applying.

Ten Vata-Reducing Tips to Promote Glowing Skin

1. Drink plenty of warm, pure water throughout the day to both purify the body and stay well hydrated.

2. Ideally, enjoy organic, freshly cooked meals, using healthy oils such as olive oil and ghee. Remember, you want to counter the influence of vata, which is characterized as light, dry and cold. Healthy oils in winter are our friends.

3. Eat your main meal at noon.

4. Avoid packaged, frozen, canned and processed foods, which are difficult to digest and often include harmful additives.

5. Favor vata-pacifying foods such as avocados, pumpkins, carrots, beets, asparagus, bananas, lemons, mangoes, peaches, quinoa, basmati rice, wheat, almonds, sesame seeds, boiled milk, and ghee. Nuts and seeds provide healthy oils that are good for skin and hair. Eat more foods with sweet, sour, and salty tastes and less of those with bitter, astringent, and pungent tastes.  Don’t forget that Ayurveda recommends having some amounts of all six tastes with every meal. Otherwise the body can develop food cravings. Ayurvedic spice mixes or “churnas” can help you make sure that you get all six tastes.

6. Avoid dry, raw foods, especially salads and raw vegetables.

7. Use a humidifier at night, especially if you have forced air heating.

8. Before your morning bath, give yourself a gentle self-massage with sesame oil. Those who tend toward pitta imbalances may prefer sweet almond oil or olive oil or coconut oil. The oil helps to pull out toxins from the skin and also leaves a protective layer between your skin and the harsh winter environment. Don’t feel like you have to remove the oil with soap. Soap is essentially oil and fat combined with salt. A good scrub with a luffa or body brush after your morning oil massage is really all you need.

9. Go to bed early and try to get eight hours of sleep. As vata is the principle of movement, the most effective means of pacifying vata is to get enough sleep.

10. Learn to meditate.  The Raj Ayurveda Health Center recommends the Transcendental Meditation program (TM) to complement their in-residence Ayurvedic treatment packages. An imbalance of vata can lead to an overactive mind, worry, anxiety and insomnia. Over 350 published research studies on the TM technique have documented a wide range of benefits, including reduced stress and anxiety, improved health and brain function, and increased self-actualization.

For more information on vata-pacifying skin care products, herbal formulas to improve skin or digestion please contact the herb room at The Raj. Ideally a visit to an Ayurvedic expert in your area will help to more precisely determine which supplements, diet recommendations and life-style tips would benefit your individual mind/body make-up.

Learn more at:

www.theraj.com

Are Toxins Undermining Your Diet?

Environmental toxins are now being recognized as major contributors to obesity and removal of these toxins may be an effective treatment approach for treatment-resistant or chronic weight gain. Ayurveda offers a time-tested approach to removing toxins that is comfortable, safe, and, in fact, more effective than any other form of purification approach available today.

Many of the toxic chemicals that build up in our system over time (scientists estimate we have over 700 environmental chemicals in our bodies) are fat-soluble: this means they adhere to our fat tissues — and can stay there for up to 30 years. When we lose weight these chemicals get released back into our system, only to be reabsorbed by other fat cells.

A published research study (Sept./Oct. 2002 issue of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine) on the Ayurvedic panchakarma (purification) treatments offered at The Raj Ayurveda Health Center in Fairfield, IA showed that  50% of these dangerous toxins were removed with a 5-day program.  No other methods of detoxification have been shown to remove this class of fat-soluble toxins from the body.

Not all toxins come from our environment. It turns out that we create some toxins ourselves due to  poor digestion or poor food choices. Ayurveda refers to the toxins created by poor digestion as ama, a sticky residue that gradually clogs up the cells and channels of the body. This waste material can impair cellular functions and accelerate aging. It can also cause lethargy, fatigue, dullness, erratic eating habits and compulsive eating.

When ama blocks the channels of the body, vata, the principle of movement, no longer flows property and can become trapped in the abdomen. This can stimulate an abnormal digestive “fire”. As a result, a person feels hungry and begins to eat excessively, beyond their actual need.

The specialized Ayurveda detox treatments (panchakarma) can help “chisel away” impurities and toxins that have been slowly building up in the body over years. Removing these blockages and toxins allows the natural intelligence of the body to become more expressed. Cravings disappear and more natural eating habits are more easily established.

For more information on The Raj Ayurveda weight-loss programs, please visit The Raj website:

www.theraj.com

Ayurveda Weight Loss Tips

Most people who lose weight gain it back within a few years – with many regaining even more than they lost. What they do not know is that there are a number of factors that may be triggering the weight-gain that are beyond their ability to control.

Mind/Body Types

According to Ayurveda, different mind/body types have different body shapes and sizes that are natural  — and healthful – for that particular physiology. The goal of Ayurveda is simply to maintain or restore one’s natural balance. As one restores balance, weight will naturally shift back to what is normal for that particular physiology.

Of utmost importance in maintaining balance is keeping the channels of circulation in the body clear.  One specialty of Ayurveda is Panchkarma. These specialized Ayurveda detoxification treatments help “chisel away” impurities and toxins that have been slowly building up in the body over years.

Diet and Digestion

Crucial to maintaining balanced health is good digestion. Suppressing the appetite means suppressing the digestive “fire”. As a result, food does not get digested or metabolized property. When the body is not nourished properly it begins to send messages to the brain that it is starving. The dieter gets cravings that cannot be ignored. This can lead to binge eating, creating further imbalances and weight gain.

Five Weight Loss Tips

Ayurveda recommends five actions steps that are helpful for everyone – no matter what your body type. These tips are easy to implement and can bring about great changes in your over-all health and wellness.

1. Eat a light evening meal favoring easy-to-digest foods (fresh vegetables, soups, grains such as barley and couscous). According to Ayurveda, digestion is weaker in the evening.  Also, going to sleep just a few hours after eating slows digestion, metabolism and circulation. This leads to poor digestion and the accumulation of toxins, fat  and promotes excess weight gain.

2. Eat the largest meal of the day at lunch favoring a wide variety of warm, cooked, organic food. Digestion is strongest at noon and we have many active hours to metabolize the food before we sleep.

3. Drink warm or hot water frequently during the day. This helps flush the digestion tract of accumulated toxins.

4. Avoid eating heavy foods such as red meat, leftovers, packaged foods and deep-fried food. These are hard to digest or lack energy-giving freshness. “Eat fresh food, freshly prepared” sums up the essence of Ayurvedic food guidelines.

5. Move!  Exercise improves digestion, metabolism, elimination, body tone and strength and bone density.  It helps us normalize weight gain. Try to take time every day to get out and walk. It is good to walk 15 minutes or so after eating. Eating after the evening meal is especially encouraged.

The basis of successful weight-loss is a deep understanding of the most fundamental causes of weight gain: imbalance of the doshas, poor digestion and accumulated toxins. Ayurveda offers a time-tested approach that ensures that a comfortable, healthy weight can be both established and maintained.

For more information on Ayurvedic weight-loss programs, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health spa:

www.theraj.com

Natural Approaches to Reduce Symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis

Can Multiple Sclerosis respond to natural approaches? Ayurveda experts say, “Yes!” Many health experts, including well-known natural health care advocate Dr. Andrew Weil and Rogers Badgett, owner of the award-winning Ayurveda Health Center, The Raj, have observed that MS symptoms respond well to changes in diet and lifestyle, stress reduction, and mind/body techniques.

Modern medicine describes MS as a slow progression of patches of demyelization of the brain and spinal chord. However, pinpointing what triggers the disease still eludes Western medical experts.

Balancing Vata
According to Ayurveda, the original health science of India, vata is the aspect of biological intelligence that controls all movement in the body, including the overall level of balance and activation of the nervous system. MS is seen as a classic vata imbalance. Many of the conditions and symptoms of vata imbalance correspond with symptoms often associated with MS:  insomnia, headaches, pain, anxiety and fear, fatigue, poor digestion, dry or rough skin, constipation and heightened sensitivity.

Traditional Ayurvedic recommendations to help balance vata can aid in the natural healing process for those with MS.
1. Favor fresh, organic cooked foods, including lots of cooked vegetables
2. Drink warm liquids — but avoid caffeinated beverages. Sipping hot water throughout the day is highly recommended
3. Avoid cold drinks and raw foods.  Add ghee to your meals to counter-balance dryness.
4. Go to bed early, preferably by 10 pm. Get plenty of rest.
5. Avoid strenuous exercise. Walking and swimming and yoga are best for those with vata aggravation.
6. Avoid processed foods, eat your main meal at noon and eat lighter means at night to improve digestion.

Remove Toxins and Strengthen Immunity
The build up of plaque around affected nerves with accompanying inflammation that is seen in MS is a classic example of impurities building up in tissues and disrupting delicate tissue biochemistry. Cleansing Ayurvedic treatments that remove impurities from the tissues along with dietary changes that prevent impurities from being created in the first place is a fundamental approach of Ayurveda programs for MS.

Modern medicine postulates that infection by a latent virus may possibly cause MS. As a result immune function enhancing therapies are often used to combat the illness. The fundamental basis of traditional Ayurveda treatments, known as Panchakarma, is to strengthen the body’s natural healing mechanisms by removing toxins and impurities that block the free flow of intelligence in the body.

Under the guidance of trained Ayurveda experts, traditional Ayurveda treatments, the introduction of yoga and meditation, and individualized dietary and lifestyle changes can work together to create a natural approach to MS that can offer relief to symptoms of MS as well as support long-term remission.

For more information on Ayurvedic treatment programs for MS at The Raj Ayurveda Health Center and to read testimonials and case studies of those who have participated in this natural approach to MS relief, please visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa:

http://theraj.com/ms/index.php