“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:


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 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 —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.


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.


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.


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:


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:


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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: