Meditation and Yoga Change How Our DNA Is Expressed

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Meditation, Yoga and other “mind-body interventions” (MBIs) can reverse the damaging effects of stress and anxiety on the level of our DNA, according to a new study.

When our body becomes stressed, our sympathetic nervous system (SNS) goes into survival mode and tells our body to increase the production of a molecule called Nuclear Factor kappa B, or NF-kB. This molecule regulates how our genes are expressed.

NFkB tells our genes to produce proteins called cytokines, which cause inflammation at a cellular level. This reaction is useful for a short-lived “fight or flight” response, but if triggered continuously, can lead to serious health concerns such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, accelerated aging, and even psychiatric disorders such as depression.

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According to the new study, those who practice MBIs, actually exhibits the opposite effect: a decrease in the production of NFkB and cytokines. This means a reduction in the pattern of pro-inflammatory gene expression — and thus a reduction in the link of inflammation-related diseases and disorders.

Lead researcher, Iyana Buric, noted, “”These activities are leaving what we call a molecular signature in our cells, which reverses the effect that stress or anxiety would have on the body by changing how our genes are expressed. Put simply, the MBIs cause the brain to steer our DNA processes along a path which improves our wellbeing.”

The researchers looked at 18 studies featuring a total of 846 participants over 11 years. They were able to chart a distinct pattern in the molecular changes that happened within the participants’ physiologies as a result of regular practice of MBIs.

Ayurveda, which literally means “the science of life”, has long understood that the mind/body system must be considered as a whole. Ayurveda is a comprehensive system of medicine that places equal emphasis on the body, mind and spirit, and strives to restore the innate harmony of the individual.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of the Transcendental Meditation technique, was instrumental in restoring Ayurveda to its comprehensive and integrated form in a system known as Maharishi Ayurveda. He emphasized the inseparable, very intimate relationship between the unmanifest field of consciousness and all the manifest levels of the physiology. According to this view, the primary approach to health must be from the most basic foundation: the field of consciousness.

The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa offers an integrated approach of purification treatments (Panchakarma), the Transcendental Meditation program, Yoga, diet, lifestyle and herbs, emphasizing a unique, individualized, and a holistic approach to health that has seen remarkable results in the lessening and abatement of a wide range of disorders.

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

www.theraj.com

 

Ayurveda Summer Skin Tips

During the heat of the summer, most people can benefit from a skin care approach that pacifies Pitta dosha. The exception is for those who find themselves with excessively oily skin all year: they may benefit from a Kapha pacifying approach, even in the summer months.

KNOWING YOUR SKIN TYPE

Vata

Vata skin is generally dry, thin, is easily dehydrated and is vulnerable to the influence of dry, cold, windy weather.

Pitta

Pitta skin is generally ruddy and can be warm to the touch. It is prone to breakouts and rashes. Pitta types tend to have more moles and freckles than other skin types.

Kapha

Kapha skin is generally more oily, smooth and thick. Kapha skin is more tolerant of the sun than Pitta or Vata skin.

SUMMER SKIN CARE

For most people, skin care in the summer should be cooling and nurturing. Try spritzing the face with rosewater throughout the day for a cooling and refreshing treat. Avoid being out in the sun during the harshest hours of 10:00 am to 4:00 pm. Avoid hot and spicy food, which can immediately inflame Pitta dosha. If you are doing a daily oil massage (which is much recommended by Ayurveda) you may want to switch to a cooling oil, such as sweet almond oil, olive oil or coconut oil.

Swimming is a wonderful, cooling form of summertime exercise, but chlorine and chemicals used in pools can be hard on the skin. Be sure to rinse off after your swim and consider getting a filter for your home showerhead. Swimming in chlorinated water can strip off the protective layer of oil that naturally protects your skin from bacteria and viruses. A massage with coconut after your shower can help replace this. Otherwise, be sure to use a natural body moisturizer after your shower.

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DIET

A diet for healthier skin should include plenty of fluids—lots of plain, warm water (not iced) and also fresh (not canned or bottled) fruit juices. Eat lots of green leafy vegetables with a bitter taste, like kale, spinach and Chinese cabbage. Soups with fresh green vegetables are also recommended for the summer months. Remember that during the summer, as the external temperature rises, our internal “fire” decreases. Thus, our ability to digest foods can diminish in the summer. For this reason is it best not to eat an abundance of raw foods (or cold or iced foods). Ripe fruits are considered “cooked by the sun” and are fine to eat raw. In the summer it is best to favor sweet, juicy fruits as opposed to sour fruits. (Many fruits such as apples, berries and cherries can be either sweet or sour, so be sure to pick your fruits carefully.)

Avoid hot and spicy food, which can immediately inflame Pitta dosha.

Fennel and licorice are cooling spices that can be enjoyed during the hot months.

Caffeine and alcohol are heating and may increase Pitta.

Put “staying hydrated” high on your list of priorities in the summer.

SKIN CLEANSER

It is especially important to use gentle, natural skin care products in the summer. For an extremely effective, natural skin cleanser you can make at home, grind masala Dahl (a red lentil found in health food stores or Indian grocery stores) into a powder and soak overnight in natural whole milk. Make a thin mixture to wash with in the morning, or make a thick paste to use as a facial mask or scrub. Rinse off with warm water. Do not use hot water, as hot water is harmful to the skin. As with anything you use on your skin, test on a small patch of skin first to be sure you are not sensitive to it.

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Eliminating Mental and Physical Fatigue with Ayurveda

According to Ayurveda, there are two types of fatigue: mental fatigue and physical fatigue. Either one can affect the other: thus when the mind is out of balance, it can throw the body out of balance. And vice versa.

If digestion is weak and our food is not being property assimilated, physical fatigue can be the result. When our digestion is disturbed, the food we are eating can not properly fuel the body. On top of poor digestion, many people suffer from fatigue from simply not choosing the right fuel. Or as one Ayurvedic expert from India put it, “Westerns eat too many “P”s: pizza, peanut butter, pancakes, pastries, potatoes, preservatives and packaged foods.” Too often we are prompted by taste, ignoring nutrition and wholesomeness. The ideal way to approach diet is to go for nourishment, purity, variety and freshness in foods that covers all six tastes. (The six tastes, according to Ayurveda, are sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent and pungent.) Keeping this in mind will contribute to a strong digestion and immunity and help eliminate imbalances. The best way to approach physical fatigue is through proper diet and strengthening one’s digestion.

The traditional Ayurveda treatments for detoxification and purification offered at The Raj (known as Panchakarma) also help to strengthen the digestion and eliminate blockages and imbalances in the body, allowing the doshas to return to a healthy balance.

The root cause of most mental fatigue is stress. If you really want to remove mental fatigue you need to look for a means to eliminate stress.

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The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa offers instruction in the Transcendental Meditation technique as a means to address stress. Numerous peer-reviewed studies and scientific reviews have shown that during practice of the TM technique, the mind and body gain a unique state of deep rest—much deeper than ordinary relaxation, as indicated by reduced cortisol and plasma lactate (major indicators of stress). The healing rest gained through the practice of the TM technique allows for the release of emotional, mental and physical stress—improving overall health, well-being and behavior.

Using an integrated approach of balancing both the mind and the body, Ayurveda offers a means to eliminate fatigue and allow the mind and body to enjoy continued health and vitality.

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

www.theraj.com

Strengthening the Immune System with Ayurveda

The specialty of Ayurveda is determining what brings balance to each individual. The term Ayurveveda means “knowledge of life”. Ayurveda helps create balance by looking at every aspect of your life and how it affects you. Balance means balance in the biological factors of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. It means balance in the agni (digestive fire), balance in the tissues, balance in the functioning of elimination, and balance in one’s vitality and emotions.

Ayurveda was the first health science to recognize that different things can create balance or imbalance for different people. It also identifies an underlying framework that supports the ideal functioning of the basic human physiology. For instance, recommendations such as going to bed before 10 P.M. eating one’s main meal at noon and waking up early in the morning are recommendations that will enhance the health of everyone.Immunity_Green_Road_Sign_5038491.jpg

Having a balanced physiology results in a balanced immune system. You probably know people who have been healthy all their lives. These people probably had a strong immune system to begin with. According to Ayurveda there are three types of immunity:

Natural or inherited

Seasonal

Acquired

Natural immunity comes from birth. When both parents are healthy and in good balance and if the “family tree: has had a long line of healthy people, it is often the good fortune of the children to inherit that strong immune system. For this reason, Ayurveda recommends that parents-to-be undergo a three month period of purification prior to conception.

Seasonal immunity means immunity according to the seasons or time of life. For example, in winter, immunity can be affected by an aggravation of Vata dosha and in the spring, by an aggravation of Kapha dosha. During childhood, the body is more susceptible to certain types of imbalances such as coughs and earaches because this is a Kapha time of life.

In the middle years of life, people tend to be more active and more susceptible to Pitta types of imbalances, such as digestive problems. In old age, the body is more susceptible to Vata imbalances, such as stiffness in muscles and joints or memory problems.

Acquired immunity results from the choices you make every day. Examples are organic, fresh foods, enjoying exercise that does not deplete the body’s strength, following a regular daily routine, going to bed on time, eating at the right times and enjoying regular purification (Panchakarma) to eliminate impurities from the cells and tissues of the body.

According to Ayurveda, perfect health is not just the absence of disease, but rather, life in balance, life in wholeness, life in complete happiness. The goal of an Ayurvedic expert is to identify which factors in your life are causing your mind/body system to be out of balance and to help design a routine, diet and lifestyle that will support your continued health and vitality.

For more information on Panchakarma and programs to enhance immunity, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com