Keeping Limber as We Age

As we age, it is common to find that we are not as limber as we once were. Elbows and knees become prone to soreness and other problems. According to Ayurveda, this reflects the natural increase in Vata dosha as we age. As Vata increases, Vata disorders can make the joints drier and stiffer.

Daily Oil Massage

To counteract this tendency, Ayurveda recommends daily sesame oil massage. Before you bathe in the morning, massage the joints with warm sesame oil using a circular motion. Follow this by applying three to five minutes of moist heat to the joints.

Sesame oil is inherently heating and is the most penetrating of all the oils. If you have sensitive skin or are Pitta in nature, it may be that a more cooling oil, such as olive oil or coconut oil, is better for you. Try the sesame oil on a small patch of skin first, to see if you have any reaction.

In addition to daily oil massage, regular stretching of the joints through yoga helps keep the joints limber. Avoid straining when you exercise.

AMA

If you have significant join problems, be sure to get medical attention. Joint problems commonly reflect a build up of “ama” in the system. Ama is a sticky substance that results from poor digestion. Essentially, it is a form of un-metabolized waste that cannot be utilized by the body. Over time, ama tends to accumulate throughout the body and block the channels circulation, causing a variety of conditions and often leading to chronic disorders. Ayurveda considers ama to be the main underlying cause of many health issues.

Lowering Ama

The first stage in eliminating ama is to address what is causing ama to build up in the first place. Common causes are:

Overeating

Eating food that is not fresh and organic,

Eating too many raw foods

Eating before the previous meal is digested

Eating large meals in the evening

Eating without full attention on one’s meal

Not sitting down to a relaxed meal

A lack of exercise

Consulation with an Ayurvedic Expert

Specific recommendations regarding herbs, topical preparations, diet and seasonal and daily routines can be given by an Ayurvedic expert who is experienced in Ayurveda Pulse Assessment.

Panchakarma

The traditional purification and detoxification therapies of Ayurveda, known as Panchakarma, is designed to loosen ama, toxins, and excess Vata, Pitta, and Kapha from the deep tissues, moving them to the digestive tract, and from there, eliminating them from the body.

More more information on consultations and on Panchakarma programs, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com

Increased Digestive Power Equals Increased Health

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While many of us put great thought into choosing healthy foods to eat, consideration of our ability to digest our meals is less common. Ayurveda considers good digestion to be central to our health. The best way to maximize the health-promoting benefits of the food we eat is to increase our digestive power.

How do we know if our digestion is working well?

One of the easiest ways to judge the strength of our digestion is to notice how we feel after eating. If we feel light and comfortable after eating a full meal, the chances are good that we are processing our food well.

If we feel dull, heavy, fatigued, or have an uncomfortable feeling in the abdomen, this could mean that our agni, or digestive fire, is weak

Why does Ayurveda consider a strong digestion to be so important?

Our agni, or digestive power, must be strong in order to metabolize our food properly. When agni is strong, the body processes food efficiently, distributes the necessary nutrients to every cell, and burns off and eliminates waste products without leaving any toxins behind.

If our agni is weak, we don’t completely metabolize the food that we take in. The end product of partially digested food is a sticky, noxious residue that Ayurveda calls ama (impurities). When ama is absorbed into our body it blocks the channels of the body, inhibiting the normal functioning of Vata, Pitta and Kapha — the three governing principles of the physiology. One example of ama is the cellular debris that has been observed by Western medicine to build up over time in our body’s cells. This waste material impairs cellular functions and accelerates aging. It could even be a factor in causing the DNA to make mistakes, an etiological component in most cancers.

Because ama contributes to the early stages of many diseases, Ayurveda considers keeping our agni strong and our digestion healthy to be an essential component of prevention.

If you wake up in the morning with a white coating on your tongue, you need to start attending to your digestion. (And buy a tongue scraper to remove the build-up of toxins on your tongue.)

Other signs that your agni needs attention include bad breath and digestive complaints such as constipation or diarrhea.

Tips for Strengthening Agni

  1. Eat a “ginger pickle” before meals. Slice thin pieces of fresh ginger root, then sprinkle with lemon juice and salt. Eat a few pieces several minutes before your meal.
  2. Sip hot water throughout the day. Avoid cold or (worse) iced beverages.
  3. Get regular exercise. If you feel sleeping during the day, it is better to take a brisk, 30-minute walk rather than indulge in a daytime nap.
  4. Always eat sitting down and remain sitting for 10 minutes after you have finished your meal.

The traditional Ayurveda detoxification treatments, Panchakarma, offered at The Raj help dislodge toxins from the cells and flush out the ama that has been lodges in the system. The recommendations for diet and daily routine given by the Ayurveda experts will help prevent future accumulation of ama.

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

www.theraj.com

Increased Digestive Power Equals Increased Health

familydinnervnd

While many of us put great thought into choosing healthy foods to eat, consideration of our ability to digest our meals is less common. Ayurveda considers good digestion to be central to our health. The best way to maximize the health-promoting benefits of the food we eat is to increase our digestive power.

How do we know if our digestion is working well?

One of the easiest ways to judge the strength of our digestion is to notice how we feel after eating. If we feel light and comfortable after eating a full meal, the chances are good that we are processing our food well.

If we feel dull, heavy, fatigues or have an uncomfortable feeling in the abdomen, this could mean that our agni, or digestive fire, is weak

Why does Ayurveda consider a strong digestion to be so important?

Our agni, or digestive power, must be strong in order to metabolize our food properly. When agni is strong, the body processes food efficiently, distributes all the necessary nutrients to every cell, and burns off and eliminates waste products without leaving any toxins behind.

If our agni is weak, it doesn’t completely metabolize the food that we take in. The end product of partially digested food is a sticky, noxious residue that Ayurveda calls ama (impurities). When ama is absorbed into our body it blocks the channels of the body, inhibiting the normal functioning of Vata, Pitta and Kapha — the three governing principles of the physiology. One example of ama is the cellular debris that has been observed by Western medicine to build up over time in all our body’s cells. The waste material impairs cellular functions and accelerates aging. It could even be a factor in causing the DNA to make mistakes, an etiological component in most cancers.

Because ama contributes to the early stages of many diseases,Ayurveda considers keeping our agni strong and our digestion healthy to be an essential component of prevention.

If you wake up in the morning with a white coating on your tongue, you need to start attending to your digestion. (And buy a tongue scraper to remove the build-up of toxins on your tongue.)

Other signs that your agni needs attention include bad breath and digestive complaints such as constipation or diarrhea.

Tips for Strengthening Agni

  1. Eat a “ginger pickle” before meals. Slice thin pieces of fresh ginger root, then sprinkle with lemon juice and salt. Eat a few pieces several minutes before your meal.
  2. Sip hot water throughout the day. Avoid cold or (worse) iced beverages.
  3. Get regular exercise. If you feel sleeping during the day, it is better to take a brisk, 30-minute walk rather than indulge in a daytime nap.
  4. Always eat sitting down and remain sitting for 10 minutes after you have finished your meal.

The traditional Ayurveda detoxification treatments, Panchakarma, offered at The Raj help dislodge toxins from the cells and flush out the ama that has been lodges in the system. The recommendations for diet and daily routine given by the Ayurveda experts will help prevent future accumulation of ama.

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

www.theraj.com

Why Aging and Disease Aren’t Synonymous: the Value of Panchakarma in Maintaining Health

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It is a fact that the functioning of the body suffers as impurities and toxins accumulate in the cells and tissues. Such impurities can come from both inside and outside the body. From inside the body come internal metabolic and cellular waste products, such as free-radical-damaged cells and tissues. From outside come external impurities and toxins, such as herbicides, pesticides, and pollutants. In the history of mankind, never before have we been faced with such high levels of toxicity in our environment. A variety of man-made toxins often find their way into the deep tissues of our bodies and can wreak havoc on our immune systems. All these impurities (collectively referred to by Ayurveda as “ama”) block the free flow of our body’s inner intelligence. If left to accumulate, such impurities can lead to degenerative disorders and life-threatening disease. While the body has its own effective self-purifying mechanisms, these prove increasingly inadequate as we age, due to our ever-increasing toxic burden.

Western medicine has, for the most part, focused on putting substances (e.g. pharmaceuticals) into the body rather than taking unhealthful substances out. One of the specialties of the ancient science of Ayurveda is Panchakarma, a group of therapies that work together to purify the body of impurities, and thus avert or reduce the development of disease and aging. Panchakarma treatments are designed to first loosen impurities from bodily tissues, then eliminate them from the body altogether.

All Panchakarma treatments are individualized, depending on the doshic balance and specific imbalances of the person receiving the treatments. The treatments can result in a relief from a wide range of disorders, because the series of procedures free the bodies own self-repair mechanisms and remove blockages that are at the foundation of many symptoms and disorders.

The efficacy of these traditional treatments was shown in a two-month longitudinal study on subjects undergoing five days of Panchakarma treatments at The Raj. Researchers Robert Herron, PhD, and John Fagan, Ph.D. compared to tests taken prior to treatment showing blood levels of the highly toxic PCBs and Beta-HCH. These substances, which are known to attach to the lipid layers that surround our cells, were reduced by 46 and 48 percent respectively. Without this detoxification program, the natural expected drop in PCB and Beta-HCH over a two-month period is only a fraction of one percent. No other method has been scientifically verified to reduce fat-soluble toxins in the human body without causing negative side effects. Normally these fat-soluble substances remain in the body for many years, but Panchakarma allows us a healthy alternative for coping with a toxic world.

Once toxins are loosened from the fatty tissue, they need to be safely eliminated from the bloodstream and the body. Panchakarma treatments include specific steps that take care to properly remove the toxicants from the blood stream without so that they are not reabsorbed or able to create more damage. At the end of each day, after impurities from different parts of the body have been loosened and drawn into the intestinal tracts, a gentle internal cleansing treatment, called a basti, is given. These treatments essentially warm herbalized oil enemas that lubricate, and nourish the colon, as well as induce eliminative action. According to the original Ayurvedic texts, “by basti alone, 50% of illness can be cured.”

Panchakarma can be taken for as few as three consecutive days, and as many as 30. It can be done in-residence, or you can visit an Ayurvedic center for a few hours each day and return to your home afterwards. These treatments are most effective when done regularly each year.

Our bodies are designed to maintain a balanced state in which everything functions properly. Both fasting and these drastic detox regimens can alter this homeostasis, often in a harmful way. Liver glycogen stores can become depleted, alterations can occur in the mineral and electrolyte balance in the blood, muscle and bone tissue can begin to break down, changes can occur in the acid-alkaline balance, and immune function may be impaired. Extreme detox can also overtax adrenals, which means that the body will hold on to the calories we ingest after the fast and store it as fat. In Ayurvedic terms, an extreme fast creates high pitta/low agni. This can start a whole new cycle of imbalances.

While Panchakarma can bring big results, the process itself is gentle and even luxurious. In essence, Panchakarma is an integrated sequence of procedures that, together, dislodge impurities from the cells and then flush them from the body. The doshas are brought into balance and the natural healing mechanisms of the body are “freed” to resume full functioning.

For more information of Panchakarma, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa web site:

www.theraj.com

The Ayurveda Approach to Cholesterol: Natural Ways to Keep Your Heart and Brain Healthy

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2015 saw a big shift in the official medical views on cholesterol. The US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee reversed their 30-year stand to say that “cholesterol is not considered a nutrient of concern for overconsumption.”

It turns out that 30 years’ worth of research failed to find a correlation between eating foods with high cholesterol and heart health. And some studies actually found a correlation between longer life and higher cholesterol. A Norwegian study showed that as cholesterol increased, so did life-span. A 2015 Japanese study came up with the same conclusion: the higher the cholesterol levels, the longer the longevity factor.

Cholesterol is an important fatty acid produced in the liver. It is essential to many bodily functions. Without cholesterol the body could not build cell membranes or synthesize vitamin D or hormones. Cholesterol is also vital for our brain, playing a key role in the formation of memories.

What does Western Medicine’s new take on cholesterol mean for those trying to improve their heart health and/or support healthy brain functioning? It means that the findings are now more in line with the 5000 year old science of Ayurveda. It is not that foods with a high cholesterol content are, in and of themselves, “bad”. The important consideration is how your body processes those foods.

Understanding Cholesterol

Western medicine teaches us that cholesterol is available in two forms: high-density cholesterol (HDL) (“good” cholesterol) and low-density cholesterol (LDL) (“bad” cholesterol).

HDL (Good) Cholesterol

HDL cholesterol is considered “good” cholesterol because it helps remove LDL cholesterol from the arteries. It is believed that HDL acts as a scavenger, carrying LDL cholesterol away from the arteries and back to the liver, where it is broken down and eliminated from the body. Low levels of HDL cholesterol have been linked to memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease. It has also been linked to higher risks of depression and stroke.

LDL (Bad) Cholesterol

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 brain deposits that cause Alzheimer’s Disease.

What Western Medicine continues to consider important is 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 Approach to Cholersterol

Ayurveda has always taken the view 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.

Natural Ways to Lower “Bad” Cholesterol Through Diet and Improved Digestion

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

Diet

A Kapha-pacifying diet favors bitter, astringent and pungent foods. Astringent foods include dried beans such as lentils, split mung dhal, and garbanzo beans. Astringent tastes also include many vegetables, such as the cruciferous family (brussels’ sprouts,broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower) and fruits such as apples and pears. Bitter foods include greens such as spinach, chard, kale and mustard greens. The Kapha-pacifying grains include barely, quinoa, amaranth and oats (whole oats, not processed oats.) Avoid sweet tastes, including rice, wheat, pasta, breads, and sweet milk products. Avoid sour foods such as sour fruit (lemons), yogurt, cheese, tomatoes, vinegar, salad dressings, ketchup, mustard and pickles. Oddly enough, while it is recommended to avoid yogurt, digestive lassi, made of yogurt and water, turns out to be good for balancing cholesterol. Avoid sweet lassi and mango lassi and opt for the digestive lassi. Favor warm foods cooked with small amounts of ghee or olive oil.

Digestion

Ayurveda offers many tips on improving digestion:

Eat your main meal at noon and a smaller, freshly cooked meal (that is easy to digest) in the evening.

Allow 3 to 6 hours between meals. Do not eat before the previous meal is digested.

Sip hot water between meals. This enlivens digestion and helps the food to be better dissolved and absorbed.

Do not drink cold liquids or foods with a meal, as they suppress digestion.

Chew your food well.

Do not drink milk with vegetables, meat, fish, sour foods, salt or eggs. Milk should be taken alone (preferably having been boiled first) or with other sweet tastes (like cereal, bread or sweets). Do not drink cold milk.

Sit comfortably for 10 to 15 minutes after finishing your meal. This allows the digestive process to get well underway. If you immediately jump up from a meal, digestion will be disrupted and the food will be improperly processed.

Purification

Detoxification is a natural body process. Our natural ability to detoxify, however, can become compromised when our system becomes overloaded from stress, poor diet, a compromised digestion, and environmental toxins. What can we do to support the body’s natural process of detoxification? Panchakarma, the traditional purification treatments of Ayurveda, help remove ama from deep within the tissue beds and also from the innumerable shrotas, or circulatory channels. Cleansing and detoxifying the body also helps build up our natural digestive fire, which can then do its job of naturally burning up any ama that accumulates in the body.

For more information on Panchakarma, the traditional purification and detoxification treatments of Ayurveda, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa and Treatment Center:

www.theraj.com

Hot Water: the Simplest Ayurveda Tip for Balancing Vata and Removing Ama

Ayurveda considers removing toxins and impurities from the body and preventing their build-up in the tissues to be of prime importance. Ayurveda refers to these impurities as “ama”. Ama is considered to be a contributing factor in many diseases because it disrupts the delicate biochemistry in the tissues and blocks the channels of circulation and communication. This process often starts with poor digestion, which creates the toxins, and poor elimination, which allows the toxins to be absorbed into the circulatory system and transported throughout the body.

Removing ama is the primary target of Panchakarma, the traditional Ayurveda purification and detoxification therapies. Many of the recommendations that you receive during an Ayurveda consultation are aimed at preventing the accumulation of ama and removing ama that has build up in the body. Of the recommendations that can be done at home, drinking hot water frequently during the day is a simple and effective “anti-ama” approach.

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Hot water flowing through the digestive tract helps to dissolve impurities and cleanse the entire digestive and eliminative systems. The result is an improvement in digestion and assimilation of food, improved elimination, and prevention of the formation of ama.

Also, the hot water is absorbed into the circulatory system and travels throughout the body. The extra warmth and fluid aids in opening circulation, dissolving accumulated impurities and washing them out of the body.

Many people report that after just a few weeks of this program, digestion and elimination improve and they feel lighter and fresher.

The Vata season (the cold, windy days of fall and early winter) is a perfect time to start a regime of sipping hot water throughout the day. The extra warmth and fluid will help counter the cold, drying effects of Vata.

Intake

The usual recommendation is to sip hot water frequently throughout the day — up to every half hour if possible. Water should be boiled first and then cooled just to the temperature where it can be sipped comfortably. Even taking a few small sips fulfills the recommendation.

Water Type

It is recommended that you use some kind of purified water for your daily hot water intake. Filtered tap water is best, followed by bottled spring water. Distilled water is not recommended. If you use a powerful reverse osmosis filter, it is recommended that you occasionally use water from another source so that you continue to get some of the natural mineral content of the water.

Heating

Ideally water should be boiled for about 10 minutes. Boiling the water allows excessive mineral deposits and impurities to precipitate out, and decreases the Kapha influence of the water: increasing the water’s lightness and cleansing influences.

Boiling water each morning and placing it in a thermos is an effective, timesaving approach.

Herbal Additions

A few slices of ginger root, a pinch of turmeric or a few fennel seeds may be added to the boiling water if desired. These herbs can increase the cleansing influence of the water. Lemon may also be added it if is not upsetting to the stomach.

www.theraj.com

 

 

Agni vs Ama; the Battle for Good Digestion

In the daily drama of digestion, the two main players are Agni and Ama. -2

Agni, the digestive fire, takes the role of hero in the story. When Agni is burning brightly and steadily, then digestion takes place normally.

When Agni s diminished for any reason, then the villain, Ama, starts to collect in the digestive tract. Ama has opposite qualities of the firey agni. Cold and sticky, a toxic waste product of incomplete digestion, Ama collects in the tissues and creates imbalance wherever it spreads.

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Two other factors are critical to the digestive process: the quality of the food and the way it is eaten. Even if a person had strong Agni, Ama could still be created if the person eats the wrong kind of food or eats in a hurried, unsettled manner.

Good digestion is central to health. Many diseases may arise from poor digestion. When Agni is low and the food is not prepared and eaten properly, then Ama collects in the digestive tract and travels to other areas of the body where it forms the basis for the disease process. Lowered immunity, aching muscles and joints, arthritis, and fatigue may indicate a build-up of Ama. When Agni is at a normal level, it tends to burns up Ama, creating a state of balance throughout the entire system.

And when digestion is functioning flawlessly, Ojas, the final product of digestion, gets created. Ojas is the finest material aspect of the body—the link between consciousness and matter. (We’ll talk more about Ojas next week.) Ojas is responsible for establishing and maintaining balance in the mind/body system. The more Ojas your body produces, the greater your health, immunity, and happiness.

How can you tell if your digestion is running smoothly? One of the main ways to tell is how you feel after eating. A feeling of dullness, heaviness, and fatigue after meals, or symptoms such as gas or bloating, usually indicate poor digestion.

On the other hand, if you feel lightness and bliss after eating, you’re probably producing Ojas.

Another way to tell if your digestion is in good shape is by how your tongue looks in the morning. Ama tends to collect on the tongue, and if the tongue is heavily coated, it is a sign that Ama is present elsewhere in the body. If the tongue is pink and clear, then digestion is probably functioning well.

Other signs of improper digestion are bad breath, body odor, constipation, or diarrhea.

Simple Tips for Strengthening Digestion

Eat your main meal at noon

Eat light at night

Try to maintain regular meal times

Don’t snack between meals

Go to bed by 10:00

The most accurate way to tell how your digestion is functioning is through pulse assessment. Experts trained in the sophisticated technique can detect irregularities in digestion even before they manifest into symptoms. They can also pinpoint where Ama has built up on the body and identify imbalances throughout the body. For more information on Ayurveda consultations, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com

Detox Tips for Spring

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Our bodies were not meant to be toxic dumps. Yet improper digestion, high levels of stress and pollutants such as chemicals in the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the foods we eat, continuously create toxins in the body. If not flushed out on a regular basis, this toxic buildup can eventually manifest as disorders. And as we grow older, the body’s built-in mechanisms for eliminating impurities tend to be less efficient, thus stressing the need for periodic internal cleansing therapy.

THREE KINDS OF TOXINS

Ayurveda describes three kinds of toxins. The most common is “ama”, which is the sticky waste-product of poor digestion. Ama builds up in the digestive tract when your digestion is either weak or overloaded with the wrong foods.

If ama is allowed to build up over time, eventually it can leave the digestive tract and start circulating through the body. Once it settles in a specific area, the ama begins to mix with the subdoshas and or the dhatus (body tissues). When it mixes with these parts of the physiology, it becomes “amavisha” — a more reactive and toxic type of ama. This is the kind of ama that underlies many chronic disorders and diseases.

Ama can also block the channels of circulation in the body, preventing the unrestricted flow of nutrients to the cells and organs. Or it can clog the channels that carry waste from the cells and tissues, resulting in a toxic build-up.

The third type of toxin is the category of environmental toxins — or “garavisha”. Environmental toxins come from outside the body and include pesticides and chemical fertilizers that make their way into our foods or get carried by the wind, as well as preservative, additives and genetically engineered foods. These toxins have been associated with hormone disruption, immune system suppression, reproductive disorders, several types of cancer and other disorders such as allergies.

SPRING IS THE IDEAL TIME FOR CLEANSING

The reason many people feel the signs of ama build-up in spring more than at other time of year is because that is when toxins that have built up in the body over the winter start to display their symptoms. If you don’t follow the proper seasonal diet and routine during the first two months of winter (November and December), the toxins you accumulate that time get stuck or “frozen” in the walls of the channels because of the cold weather. By the time spring comes and the temperatures rise, the “frozen” ama starts to melt.  As it flows the channels of the body become flooded with toxins. Because of this yearly phenomena, Spring is the best time to detoxify. By necessity the body goes into a mode of eliminating toxins at this time of the year, so it is the perfect time to support the body in that role.

If you experience a heavy feeling in your body, if your joints are stiff, if your tongue is coated when you wake up in the morning, if you have an unpleasant body odor, if you feel dull and sleepy after eating, and/or if your mind is foggy, you may have a build-up of ama. Diarrhea, constipation, joint pain, sadness, dullness, lowered immunity, and frequent bouts of colds and flu are all health problems that can be caused by ama.

Amavisha and garavisha types of toxins are best handled by an Ayurvedic expert and through the classic Ayurveda purification and detoxification treatments, Panchakarma. There are, however, are a number of things you can do on an ongoing basis to prevent ama from building up in your body. –

TIPS FOR REDUCING AMA

The most important thing is to eat your main meal at noon, when the sun is strongest and the digestive fire reflects that strength. If you eat too much at night, or eat heavy foods such as meat or cheese then, the food will sit in your stomach and create ama. Eat light at night and your food will be easily digested before you go to sleep.

Don’t snack between meals unless you are actually hungry, Wait until the food is digested before eating a meal. If your digestion is already occupied with digesting and you add new food on top of that, the result is ama, the sour, undigested waste product of undigested food.

Going to sleep before 10 p.m. is essential, because then during the Pitta time of night (10 p.m.-2 a.m.) your digestion has a chance to cleanse and rejuvenate itself. If you stay up, you’ll probably feel hungry about midnight and will want to eat, which will tax the digestion and create ama.

Waking up before 6 a.m. is recommended, because if you sleep late into the Kapha time of the morning (6-10 a.m.), the channels of your body will become clogged with ama and you’ll feel dull and tired.

Daily exercise that is suitable for your body type will stimulate digestion and help cleanse the body of toxins.

It’s also important to manage your stress. Everyone can benefit from spending time each day practicing the Transcendental Meditation program to remove mental, emotional and physical stress.

Spring is the ideal time to visit an Ayurvedic expert to determine if you are dealing with ama, and, if so, what type of ama it is. An Ayurvedic expert can then recommend an individualized approach to clearing your system of impurities. For more information on consultations and on the detoxifying programs of Panchakarma, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website.

www.theraj.com

Spring Ayurveda Health Tips

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Ayurveda cautions us to be especially alert during seasonal transitions because the body functions differently in each season. This is especially true in the transition from winter to spring—from Vata season to Kapha season. Late winter marks the transition time from Vata to Kapha. The frigid temperatures of January and February are behind us, the days are lengthening, giving more time for the sun to warm the earth, and nature is beginning to wake up.

As the temperatures rise, melting snow and ice, our environment and our physiology shift into a different mode of functioning. Moving from “hibernation mode” during which our bodies tend to store fat and crave heavier, Vata-pacifying foods, the body now begins to melt accumulated fat. If we have accumulated ama during the earlier months of winter, these toxins start getting released into the body’s micro-channels. This flood of toxins can compromise our immunity, opening the door to colds and flues. This excess of ama can also create joint problems and lead to sinus problems, asthma, bronchial infections, allergies and hay fever.

In addition to the build-up of ama, as the cold, wet qualities of Kapha increase in our environment, they also increase in our body. Kapha is what our body is made out of — our bodily fluids and our muscles, fat and bone. The main seat of Kapha is located in the chest, but we also find Kapha in the throat, sinuses, nose, stomach, joints, plasma, and also in secretions of the body, like mucus. Mucus has its function in protecting important tissue in the body. But an excess of mucus can lead to colds and other disorders. Because childhood is the Kapha time of life, during this season children may be especially vulnerable to producing excess mucus and experiencing upper respiratory illnesses. You can see why spring in a traditional time for cleansing and detoxing. The body is already in a natural detox mode and often needs our support.

Tips for Kapha Season  Diet:

Generally try to favor Kapha-pacifying foods such as bitter greens, beans and dals, and fruits such as apples, pomegranates. Continue to eat warm foods, but opt for lighter foods such as soups. Switch to grains such as barely, quinoa, couscous and millet. Avoid cold drinks and food, processed foods, fried foods, and heavy foods such as red meat and dairy.

Spices:

Adding pungent spices to your food will help increase your agni, or digestive fire, and help eliminate mucus and phlegm. Enjoy black pepper, cayenne, cinnamon, clove, and ginger. Try drinking ginger tea to help enliven your digestive fires. Also a glass of lukewarm water with ½ tsp of unheated honey first thing in the morning is a good combination. It not only helps warm the body but also digests all the toxins.

Exercise: One of the best ways to balance Kapha is to get exercise. Breaking a sweat by going for a brisk walk, run, or even using Swedna, or steam bath, can help relieve congestion and increase circulation. It’s important to choose the right exercise for your body type. If you have not been exercising regularly throughout the winter, start gently so as not to strain the physiology. Brisk daily walks and yoga postures are good for Vata types. More vigorous daily exercise is helpful for Kapha. Working up a sweat is during Kapha season, because it helps to boost agni, increase circulation and relieve congestion.

Sleep: Ideally, try to be in bed by 10:00 p.m so that you can wake up around 6:00 a.m. Try not to sleep into Kapha time (6:00 a.m. – 10:00 p,m.)

Oil Massage: Start the morning with an oil-massage followed by a warm bath. This will help to open the pores, and regulate your body’s internal thermostat. This is helpful in both Vata and Kapha season.

Panchakarma: This is also a great time for Panchakarma — the traditional purification treatments of Ayurveda. Panchakarma includes a full program of Ayurvedic massage, steam and heat treatments, and intestinal cleansing treatments, to rid your body of ama accumulated during the previous season. Panchakarma also helps to strengthen your agni, or digestive fire, in order to help prevent a build-up of ama in the future.

For more information on Panchakarma or consultations with an Ayurveda expert, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa

web site: www.theraj.com

Is Your Honey Healthy?

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The special healing quality of honey has been acknowledged throughout history. From the Charaka Samhita, the original textbook of Ayurveda, to the Ebers Papyrus of ancient Egypt, to the writings of Hippocrates, honey has been recognized as having significant medicinal properties. Raw honey is anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal. It contains significant amounts of: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, C, magnesium, potassium, calcium, sodium chlorine, sulfur, and phosphate. Taken in its proper form, honey is one of nature’s most healing substances.

But honey can also have a toxic effect in the physiology. This happens when we eat honey that has been heated far above the normal temperatures of a beehive. Heating past the maximum hive temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit changes honey’s essential composition and degrades its quality. Many of the healthful organic compounds and enzymes in honey are destroyed or inhibited by heat.

The ancient Ayurvedic texts warn that during the heating (including baking or cooking) process, honey becomes hardened and difficult to digest. The toxin created by heated honey causes the shrotas, or fine channels of the physiology, to become clogged, blocking the flow of intelligence in the body. According to Ayurveda, this specific kind of ama is very difficult to remove by simple detox methods, such as sipping hot water, home oil massage or exercising. If you have a history of eating heated honey, you may want to consider Panchakarma treatments (Ayurveda detoxification treatments).

Given this knowledge, it is best to only buy raw honey (honey that is unheated and minimally processed) and to never use honey when cooking meals or baking. Check carefully breads, cereal or other other packaged foods to be sure they do not contain honey. Many health-conscious bakeries and companies now use honey, thinking it is better than sugar. Also, most commercial honey you see in supermarkets is not raw honey. Read your labels carefully to make sure the honey you purchase has not been heated or pasteurized.

If you like to add honey to tea or milk, don’t do so while it is boiling. Wait until your beverage has cooled to a temperature that is comfortable for sipping before adding honey as a sweetener.

A consultation using Ayurveda pulse assessment can help determine if you have problems with ama. For more information visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa:

www.theraj.com