Relieve Joint Pain with Ayurvedic Massage

Joint pain can be debilitating, limiting activity and affecting many aspects of life. While there are medications that can help manage the pain, these often tend to have temporary effects and in many cases, severe side effects. Ayurveda offers a natural approach to pain relief without any harmful results.

Joint pain and arthritis are usually associated with Vata imbalance and often include a build-up of ama, or internal toxins. Following a Vata-pacifying diet, getting to sleep on time, and being regular with one’s daily oil massage can often help reduce symptoms of Vata imbalance.

Ayurveda also offers a number of helpful massages that can be enjoyed either as a part of Panchakarma treatments, or as day spa treatments. A consultation with an Ayurveda expert can help you to decide which approach could best help with your specific condition.

Abhyanga: This is a two-technician, synchronized, full body massage with herbalized oil that lasts about 45 minutes. The herbalized oil is selected according to your specific level of balance or imbalance. The massage is done in seven standard positions so that all the joints and large muscles are addressed.

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Benefits: Most Ayurvedic massage is done by two therapists working in synchrony on either side of the body. This is said to help balance the left and right sides of the brain. The oils lubricate joints and release toxins, while the gentle, rhythmic strokes stimulate the body’s lymphatic system and relax the muscles. After receiving this treatment for a number of consecutive days, the body begins to absorb the oils, which help lubricate the many channels of the physiology and remove deep-rooted toxins.

Abhyanga helps to relieve joints and muscles from stiffness and pain. The treatment increases blood circulation, which in turn encourages the removal of metabolic wastes and toxins. It is often recommended for anxiety, fatigue, circulatory disorders, rheumatism, arthritis, and backache. It helps in treatment of sleep disorders and induces a general sense of well-being.

Pizzichili: Pizzichiil literally means “squeezing”. During this treatment, warm oil is pumped through hoses that are held by technicians as they perform a synchronized massage. Guests have described this massage as “river of velvet” that both heats and relaxes the body.

Benefits: Relieves body pain and muscle spasms, helps preserve and promote optimum health, increases immunity, and promotes health of muscles. The massage also helps ensures improved blood circulation. A soothing and relaxing procedure, it is very useful for rheumatic disorders, arthritis and, diabetes. It can also be very effective in helping with symptoms of asthma.

Pinda Swedana: This massage involves massage of the body with boluses of cooked rice. The rice is first cooked with milk and an herbal decoction. This is a strengthening fomentation that can be helpful with a number of neurological disorders, rheumatism, arthritis, joint pain, and even injuries. This therapy is done in the seven standard positions.

Benefits: Strengthens the body, rejuvenates the tissues, improves muscle tone, improves blood supply by cleansing the channels of circulation, and is traditionally said to be effective with diseases of the nervous system and others such as chronic rheumatism, osteoarthritis, and gout. It is said to make the body strong and sturdy, nourish the body, and increase immunity. It also gives softness and luster to the skin.

External Basti: A well of dough is built around the affected area. Warm, herbalized oil is then poured into the well. Various bastis include:

Kati basti for back pain

Hridaya basti for heart problems, emotional or physical

Griva basti for neck pain

Merudanda basti for spine health

Janu basti to address knee pain

Shiro basti (on the top of the head) for emotional stability, insomnia

If you are looking for relief from particular symptom or disorder, schedule a consultation with an Ayurveda expert to see what massages can help. Often a mixture of two or three massages is recommended. For more information on Ayurvedic programs for joint pain, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

http://www.theraj.com

Pacifying Vata to Address Back Pain

Driving through my neighborhood this last week I kept seeing people preparing their houses and yards for winter. It occurred to me that this alertness to the change of seasons also needed to extend 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.

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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 types are predominantly Vata need to be especially alert to staying in balance. Today 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.

Ayurveda recognizes that back pain is often the result of Vata and Kapha imbalances, aggravated by a build-up of ama. This helps explain why lower back pain often appears in the fall and winter, and why the incidences of back pain often increase with age. According to Ayurveda, when we are 60 and over we are in the Vata time of life. 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 dryness further aggravates Vata, creating a vicious cycle leading to back pain, aches and stiffness in the joints, and constipation or difficulties with elimination.

Ama

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

Treatment

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

Diet

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

Daily Oil Massage

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

Relax

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

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

www.theraj.com

Preventing Back Pain with Ayurveda

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Have you ever preformed a simple activity like bending over to tie your shoe and suddenly felt stabbing pains in your back? Turns out 8 out of 10 people will suffer from lower back pain at some point in their lives.  While modern medicine pinpoints specific causes of lower back pain —poor posture, lack of muscle tone, strain, and stress — Ayurveda sees back pain as a symptom of vata and kapha imbalances, aggravated by a build-up of ama.

This helps explain why the incidence of lower back pain increases with age. Fifty percent of those over the age of 60 experience lower back pain. According to Ayurveda, when we are 60 and over we are considered to be in the vata time of life. So it makes sense that vata imbalances — and their resulting problems — appear more frequently in these years.

In the case of back pain, vata imbalances interfere with kapha’s ability to support and lubricate the spine. This dryness further aggravates vata and leads to stiffness and pain. Let’s look at this in more detail:

Vata and Kapha Imbalances

Each of the three doshas (vata, pitta and kapha) has five subdivisions called “subdoshas” which control particular functions of the body. One of the subdoshas of vata, apana vata, is related to lower back pain. Apana vata is situated in the lower pelvic area and is responsible for the downward moving aspect of vata relating to elimination and menstruation. Chronic problems such as constipation and painful periods may indicate an underlying imbalance that can end up resulting in lower back pain later in life.

When vata becomes aggravated by stress or fatigue, by traveling, by a cold, dry environment, or by too many cold, dry, rough foods, the increased vata influence in the body affects kapha.

One of the subdoshas of kapha, avalambaka kapha, is located in the lower back and heart. It lubricates and supports the spine and the sacrum. This subdosha can “dry out” when affected by apana vata.

When kapha does not lubricate properly the result is dryness in the joints. This can lead to pain, aches, stiffness, etc. This drying influence may also cause difficulties with elimination and constipation.

Ama

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

Treatment

Effective preventive treatment for chronic lower back pain should include regular stretching, such as yoga exercises.

The authentic, traditional Ayurveda treatments (Panchakarma) offered at The Raj specialize in removing ama and impurities that have accumulated in the joints and tissues.  They also help balance vata, allowing kapha to once again function normally.

Diet

If you are prone to lower back pain, try to 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.

Daily Oil Massage

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

Relax

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

Now we can understand that while back pain may appear to be caused by some specific activity, there has in fact been a long series of events leading up to that particular moment: an aggravation of vata, a disruption of kapha’s lubricating function and a build-up of ama. The good news is that it is not just an inevitable part of growing old.

For more information on programs at The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa and Treatment Center visit:

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

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