Natural Ayurveda Tips for Constipation

158185172Constipation is a common problem. It is related to an imbalance in Vata dosha, and its subdosha, Apana Vata. Apana is downward moving and governs elimination and menses. An imbalance in apana vata can cause dryness and sluggishness of bowel functioning.

If you are Vata in nature, you may be more susceptible to constipation. Because Vata increases in the body after the age of 60, constipation is more common among older people.

If you have a tendency towards constipation, you want to avoid the following factors, which aggravate Apana Vata:

AVOID

Lack of exercise

Not drinking enough fluids

Dry, rough foods

Stress (a major cause of vata imbalance)

Multi-tasking

Eating heavy meals at night

Here are some general recommendations to avoid constipation:

DO

Go to bed early (before 10:00 pm) and rise early (before 6:00)

Drink plenty of fluids. Warm fluids are ideal. The general rule is to drink half your body weight in ounces each day. Drinking two glasses of warm water when you wake up can help stimulate bowl functioning. Hot water with black salt is sometimes recommended.

Eat fresh fruit juices are also helpful.

Eat cooked apples for breakfast. Try soaking raisins over night. Enjoy both the “raisin water” and the plump raisins in the morning.

Be sure to sit for 10 minutes after finishing a meal to support the digestive process.

Eat your main meal at noon.

Try to get in at least a half hour walk every day. Taking a walk after lunch (after first sitting for 10 minutes when your meal is finished) is ideal.

Gentle stretching exercise such as Yoga asanas and Sun Salutations help pacify Vata dosha and the twisting motions can massage the digestive organs and increase oxygen delivery and blood flow. Regular yoga can be very helpful in having more regular bowel activity.

Look to your diet—are you getting plenty of fiber? Vegetables, fruits and whole grains are high in fiber. Cheese, eggs, meat, packaged foods and overly refined foods can lead to constipation. Cold foods and drinks will interfere with digestion, leading to the build up of ama and causing constipation. Get to know which foods are vata aggravating and avoid them.

Warm oil massages in the morning before your bath or shower can help pacify Vata dosha.

Traveling can aggravate Vata, causing constipation. Eating lightly, drinking plenty of water, a warm oil massage and taking Maharishi Ayurveda Products Digest Tone or triphala with warm water will help keep Vata in line when traveling.

If you have chronic constipation, you probably have compromised a digestion. If home remedies are not helping, consider that it is time for Panchakarma, the Ayurveda series of detoxification treatments.

While the body has its own brilliant systems for the elimination of impurities, with chronic constipation the body can’t keep pace with the rate in which toxins (ama) build up in the tissues, cells and joints. According to Ayurveda, toxins or ama clog the system and form a breeding ground for disease. A 3 to 7-day cleansing program can start to remove the build-up of ama and restart your digestive process.

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

www.theraj.com

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Cleaning Fat Cells of Harmful Toxins

You can eat right, exercise regularly, take vitamins and herbal supplements, even meditate to get rid of stress—but in our modern industrial age, this it is still not enough to stay healthy. More and more research suggests that reducing environmental toxins is necessary to stay healthy.

Hazardous industrial chemicals absorbed by the body have been linked to immune, reproductive, endocrine and nervous system disorders. Every year more than 84,000 chemicals are put into American food and products. The Environmental Working Group, an American environmental organization that specializes in research and advocacy, found an average of 200 industrial chemicals and pollutants in the umbilical cord blood of infants born in the US.

Tests detected a total of 287 chemicals from pesticides, consumer products, food packaging and environmental waste, including BPA, flame-retardants, PCBs, and even DDT.

The culprit: “Lipophilic toxicants”

Lipophilic toxicants are chemicals that are stored in lipids, or fats, in the body. This means that they are not water-soluble. They attach to, and can only be removed by, fat. These chemicals generally have a half-life ranging from 2.5 to 15 years. A half-life is the time required for the concentration of a substance to decrease by half.

Because they are fat-soluble, the human body is unable to efficiently process these man-made chemicals, so they accumulate in the body over time, cause a wide range of symptoms and disorders. These chemicals also put stress on the liver, as they must be converted by the liver to become water-soluble.

The solution: Panchakarma

The traditional detoxification treatments of Ayurveda (Panchakarma) have been shown to be uniquely effective in ridding the body of these fat-soluble toxins. These treatments utilize non-toxic oils to loosen and remove lipid-soluble toxicants from their deposited sites in the body, allowing for their excretion.

No other detox treatment has been demonstrated to reduce these by sign cant amounts. Published research has shown a 50% reduction with a 5-day treatment.

Common Fat-Soluble Environmental Chemicals

PCBs

PCBs are only one of over 200 dangerous manmade chemicals that we are exposed to every day. Despite the fact that PCBs have been banned for over 30 years, 95 percent of Americans have light levels of PCBs and other toxic chemicals stored in their blood and organs.

Thousands of medical studies have linked PCBs to thyroid disease, diabetes, heart disease, liver damage, memory problems, etc. Breast milk may become contaminated, affecting infants.

BPA

A chemical used in plastics, BPA imitates the sex hormone estrogen in your body.

This synthetic hormone can trick the body into thinking it’s the real thing –has been linked to breast and others cancers to reproductive problems, obesity, early puberty and heart disease. According to government tests, 93 percent of Americans have BPA in their bodies!

Dioxins

Dioxins are by-products of a wide range of industrial processes such as paper manufacturing, mineral production, oil refining and chemical and municipal incineration. Dioxins affect our health by interfering with a cell’s ability to turn on and turn off genes. When dioxin in present in a cell, gene function can either be blocked or kept on continually.

How to Avoid Environmental Chemicals

  1. Avoid eating animal products. Fat-soluble chemicals build up in the fat cells throughout the food chain. When you eat fish and animal products, you are ingesting their life accumulation of toxins.
  2. Buy organically grown fruit and vegetables.
  3. Get a drinking water filter certified to remove atrazine.
  4. Go fresh instead of canned – many food cans are lined with BPA. – or research which companies don’t use BPA or similar chemicals in their products.
  5. Say no to receipts, since thermal paper is often coated with BPA.
  6. Avoid plastics marked with a “PC,” for polycarbonate, or recycling label #7. Not all of these plastics contain BPA, but many do – and it’s better safe than sorry when it comes to keeping synthetic hormones out of your body.
  7. Buy or create your own natural cleaning products. natural-cleaning-products-salt-vinegar
  8. Avoid products containing bleach.
  9. Do not use pesticides and herbicides in your garden and lawn.
  10. Enjoy regular yearly Panchakarma treatments. Sweating and other traditional forms of detox will not help with fat-soluble toxins. Even dieting alone (reducing fat cells) will not help, because remaining fat cells absorbs their toxic load. Ayurveda detox treatments reset digestion, and help eliminate fat-soluble toxins from the cells, brain and liver.

For more information on Panchakarma, the Ayurveda treatments for detoxification, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com

 

Kapha Detox Diet — Act Now to Avoid Springtime Allergies and Colds

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During late winter and early spring (when the weather is cool and wet) Kapha predominates in our environment. This is the time when all of us need to put attention on balancing Kapha dosha. Additionally, this is the key time of the year to put attention on creating a strong and balanced digestive capability. Why? Because springtime is when “ama” (toxins) that have accumulated in our bodies over winter start “melting” and being released throughout our physiology. A strong, healthy digestion will help us metabolize and eliminate these deposits of wastes and impurities. This, in turn, will help us to avoid allergies and spring colds. Try this diet for 2 to 3 weeks before winter transitions into spring. (Please note that this is specifically a detox diet that is not meant to be followed for  extended periods of time.)

Main Principles of Spring, Kapha-Reducing Diet

  • Food should be freshly prepared, preferably in your own home.
  • Do not use frozen or canned foods
  • Try to avoid leftovers (food that has been cooked and then refrigerated. This includes most deli foods, such as pasta salad, potato salad, etc.)
  • Use organically grown foods as much as possible

Items to Avoid: During the Kapha detox diet, avoid the following:

Red meat

Oily or heavy food preparations such as fried foods, cream sauces or heavy desserts.

Raw vegetables and salads (! I know! But raw foods can be difficult to digest if you do not have a robust digestive capacity. Remember, this is a 2 or 3 week diet designed to boost and balance your digestion as well as reduce ama and balance Kapha.)

Hot spices such as chilies, hot peppers or jalepeno

Carbohydrates: this means cutting out pizza, bread, cookies, candy chocolate, cocoa, pastries and baked goods. Freshly made chapattis or flatbreads are the exception to this rule.

Be selective with diary: avoid curdled milk products such as yogurt (except if you are drinking lassi), cheese, cottage cheese, and sour cream. Do not ice cream, or any frozen desserts. Opt for ghee over butter.

Only eat fresh fruit. Avoid jam or dried fruits, except soaked figs and raisins. In this case, raw is fine. Ayurveda considers ripe fruit to be “cooked by the sun” and easy to digest. Cooked apples or pears is a perfect breakfast choice, recommended by Ayurvedic experts to “create bliss” in the body.

Cold anything: No cold water or iced drinks.

Other drinks to avoid: carbonated drinks, alcohol, caffeinated drinks, bottled or canned fruit or vegetable juices.

Sour foods: avoid vinegar or vinegar-containing condiments such as catsup, mustard, pickles, olives, relishes, etc.

Avoid processed soy products like tofu, tempeh, soy dogs, etc.

If you feel the need to follow a non-vegetarian diet, freshly cooked chicken is the best option during this Kapha-reducing diet.

What CAN You Eat?

Enjoy cooked vegetables, grains, legumes (beans, dals), most fresh fruits (better to eat sweet fruits rather than sour. Also, avoid heavy fruits such as bananas and avacodo), nuts and seeds.

Proportionately, eat more vegetables and less grains. Green, leafy greens are a great option at this time of year. Try to include one cup every day.

Barley is the ideal Kapha-reducing grain. Millet, oats, rye, and kashi are good grains at this time of the year. Couscous and quinoa can be enjoyed several times a week, but not every day. Rice and pasta should only be eaten once or twice a week and only at noon.

Low-fat milk is fine to eat if it is boiled with a pinch of ginger or turmeric. (Honey can be added when the milk is cool enough to sip. Honey has an astringent quality that makes it the ideal sweetener for Kaphas.)

A vegetarian diet is helpful in maintaining a healthy weight and good digestion.

Fresh soups are easy to digest and nourishing.

If you like deserts, cooked fruit or homemade fruit crisps are recommended.

Spice your food at every meal. This will help the boost your digestive process. Favor ginger, black pepper, mustard seeds, oregano, sage, thyme, mint, basil, turmeric, cinnamon and cloves.

 

Panchakarma Treatments

Spring is the ideal time to enjoy Panchakarma treatments, the traditional detoxification and rejuvenation therapies of Ayurveda. Panchakarma treatments will help to remove toxins and imbalances that have accumulated within the body’s tissues over the winter months. Late winter Panchakarma can help you to avoid allergies during the spring and early summer.

For more information, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Center website:

www.theraj.com

Ayurveda Tips for a Healthy Baby — 4 Important Steps Before You Conceive

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Good parenting begins before a child is even conceived. Ayurveda offers knowledge to help parents enhance the health of their offspring before conception occurs.

Food and Digestion

Sex cells are produced long before intercourse. According to the Ayurvedic texts, it takes six weeks for the entire process of digestion and then the formation of the tissues to take place. Ayurveda outlines seven steps of the digestive process through which all the tissues of the body are formed. The last, the seventh step, is responsible for the formation of the reproductive tissue. All six prior steps need to be balanced and complete in order for the final step to be balanced and complete. For parents to provide balanced, healthy genetic material, attention needs to be paid both to the quality of their digestion and to quality of the food they eat. Ayurveda recommends fresh, organic, cooked foods during this time.

Purification

More and more studies are finding that toxic chemicals are abundant in pregnant mothers – and subsequently in their newborns. Therefore it is essential to detoxify your body before you decide to get pregnant. Prevalent chemicals in pregnant women include pesticides, flame retardants, phthalates (found in many plastics and artificial fragrances), pollution from car exhaust, PFCs used in non-stick cookware, and PCBs, toxic industrial chemicals that were banned in 1979 yet still persist in the environment.

Just recently testing has found high levels of glyphosate in the breast milk of American moms. Glyphosate-containing herbicides are the top-selling herbicides in the world and are sold under trademarks such as Monsanto’s ‘Roundup’. Monsanto’s sales of Roundup jumped 73 percent to $371 million in 2013 because of its increasing use on genetically engineered crops (GE Crops).

These toxicants pose a danger to the health and well being of the child. For example, BPA (an estrogen-like ingredient in plastic) was found in 96% of pregnant women. The Food and Drug Administration has expressed concern that BPA affects both the development of the brain and behavior in children exposed to these toxins both before and after birth.

In addition, many women in their 30’s and 40’s are having a difficult time conceiving because of low amounts of progesterone in their bodies. While this can be a natural result of perimenopause, this can also be due to presence of certain estrogen-mimicking environmental chemicals such as pesticides, plastics, and herbicides. When the body absorbs these, it gets tricked into thinking that estrogen levels are too high and compensates by lowering progesterone levels. Progesterone levels are very important for conception.

Ayurveda recommends undergoing traditional detoxification treatments, called Panchakarma, eight weeks prior to conception. These Ayurvedic purification treatments are available at Ayurveda Health Spas in the US and India. A published study in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, Sept/Oct. 2002 showed that a five-day program of Panchakarma resulted in a 50% reduction of blood levels of fat-soluble toxins such as PCBs, DDT and dioxins. Currently modern medicine offers no means of removing these fat-soluble environmental chemicals from the body. The half-life of these chemicals in the human body is thought to be 7 to 11 years. (A half life is the time required for a given substance to fall to half its initial value.)

Once the impurities are removed from the tissues, the body is more able to respond to the dietary and behavioral changes of the parents-to-be.

Behavior

For six weeks following Ayurvedic detoxification treatments it is recommended to follow a pure, organic, vegetarian diet, to abstain from negative influences (like alcohol and cigarettes), to go to bed early, and to practice celibacy. This allows the sperm to become strengthened during the six-week period.

The ideal sequence of steps is to purify the body and then to nourish and build up the tissues. This is the ultimate step in prevention. The best approach to creating a strong, healthy baby is by strengthening the basic material that creates the child.

The Raj, Ayurveda Health Center in Fairfield, IA offers a special 8-week program for couples wanting to conceive a child. The program includes one week of in-residence treatments and individualized diet and life-style recommendations.

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

www.theraj.com

Oil Up! Enjoying the Benefits of Ayurveda Oil Massage

One of our top recommendations to guests at The Raj as they head home is to continue with daily oil massage (abhyanga). The effects of daily Ayurveda oil massage (recommended before bathing in the morning) are multifold. Not only will a morning oil massage help pull toxins from the skin (the largest organ in the body and an important organ for the elimination of toxins), it also leaves a protective film that acts as a barrier between your skin and harmful environmental elements.

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While oil massage helps balance all doshas — especially when you use oil infused with herbs that specifically target Vata, Pitta or Kapha — it is especially good for balancing Vata. I know many people who never travel without a small container of sesame oil. After a long plane or car ride, there is nothing more grounding than an oil massage followed by a good soak in a hot bath. (Add in some Vata tea and aroma oil and you are well on your way to side-stepping the jangling effects of travel.)

But the beneficial effects of oil massage don’t stop there. Research also suggests that sesame oil (the oil most often used in abhyanaga) selectively stops malignant skin cancer cells from growing in laboratory tissue culture, and at the same time allows normal skin cells to proliferate.

According to the study, sesame and safflower oils selectively inhibited the grown of malignant melanoma cell cultures, but coconut, olive and mineral oils did not. The traditional Ayurveda texts specifically recommend sesame oil massage to promote health and longevity.

(One note of caution: sesame oil has a naturally heating property. Those with a Pitta body type or with Pitta imbalances may need to opt for another oil and may react to sesame oil with rashes or redness. If you are in this catagory, you will want to opt for a more cooling oil.)

Researchers have known for years that linoleic acid, an essential polyunsaturated fatty acid that is present in small quantities in the body, inhibits many kinds of cancer growth. But because pure linoleic acid is highly unstable and can irritate a person’s skin and eyes, it cannot be used or ingested safely. In the above mentioned research study, scientists used the whole vegetable oil, rather than trying to isolate the active ingredient, thus avoiding unnatural side effects.

Research also shows that oil massage is an important component in removing synthetic chemicals from our physiology. In the US there are thousands of these kind of chemicals used in various types of industry or agriculture. These toxins are present everywhere in our environment and can be found in virtually every living organism around the world. Regardless of our lifestyle, profession, eating habits, or geographic location, by the time we are 40 years old, our toxin level is substantial.

A study on clients participating in the traditional Ayurveda detoxification and purification treatments (Panchakarma) at The Raj showed that blood levels of these chemicals were reduced by 50% after a 5-day course of treatment. Because these harmful chemicals are fat-soluble, they are able to be “washed” from our fat cells by the deeply penetrating sesame oil (as well as by other components of the treatment program.)

Integrating a 10-minute sesame oil massage into your morning routine can have a significant impact on reducing Vata imbalances, purifying the skin and maintaining balance throughout the body.

To learn more about the research on removing fat-soluble toxins through the detoxification treatments of Ayurveda (Panchakarma), visit The Raj website:

www.theraj.com/rajresults/index.php

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

Ayurveda: Bringing Healthy Babies into a Modern World

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Today I’m going to look at two crucial ways that Ayurveda can help to bring healthy children into the world. One involves improving fertility; the other involves promoting the healthy brain health of fetuses and babies.

Falling sperm count is a serious modern problem. Back in the 1990s, Danish researchers reported “a genuine decline in semen quality over the past 50 years”, with possible implications for male fertility.

Numerous studies have linked this phenomenon to BPA, a chemical found in many plastics used to make food containers, bottles and coatings in tin cans. It is also commonly used in thermal paper in cash register receipts. Researchers claim BPA can disrupt hormones, raising the risk of a wide number of health problems such as diabetes, obesity and cancer — and disrupted sperm production. A recent Washington State University study indicated that the chemical “disrupts the delicate DNA interactions needed to create sperm.” BPA also has the potential to harm infants and the fetus. The chemical has already been banned in baby bottles in Europe because of safety fears.

The second and equally disturbing concern is the high “body burden” of toxins carried by women of childbearing age: toxins that can harm the brain development of fetuses and babies.

While the commitment to organic food and natural materials is steadily increasing around the world, we are still faced with the legacy of industrialization: a level of toxic exposure that has serious implications for future generations. Studies have focused on the three pollutants (lead, mercury and PCBs) because they are especially pervasive and persistent in the environment. Scientists identified specific risk factors to fetal and infant brain development for children of women with higher blood levels of these chemicals.

And studies show that as women grow older, the blood levels of chemical toxins increase exponentially. Women aged 30 – 39 had a 12 times greater risk and women aged 40 to 49 had a risk 30 times great than women aged 16 – 19.

The reason that risk increases with age is because the toxins accumulate in body over time. PCBs and BPA are fat-soluble chemicals. They bind to the fatty lipid layer that surrounds every cell in the body. This is where the ancient detoxification treatments of Ayurveda provide unique benefits.

In a study published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine in its September/October 2002 issue have shown that Maharishi Ayurveda Panchakarma therapy offered at The Raj, Ayurveda Health Spa greatly reduces the levels of 14 important ˜lipophilic’ (i.e. fat-soluble) toxic and carcinogenic chemicals in the body, which would otherwise remain in the body for a very long time. Studies founded by the National Institute of Health and conducted by Maharishi University have shown that person’s receiving Panchakarma treatments had a 70% reduction of heavy metals, pesticides and other hazardous chemicals than the general population.

These are the only treatments that have been proven to reduce the levels of fat-soluble toxins in the body.

For both women and men considering parenthood, a serious commitment to reducing the levels of toxins would be considered at least three months before trying to conceive a child.

The Raj offers a pre-conception and infirtility program that includes individualized treatments, diet, life-style recommendations and herbal preparations. For more information, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com

Keep Balanced in Winter with Ayurveda

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By the beginning of February, those who live in northern climates have reached their peak of Vata aggravation. Months of cold, dry, windy weather results in an increase of those same qualities within our physiology: dryness, coolness, movement and quickness. Once our Vata becomes imbalanced we can start experiencing problems sleeping, aching joints, emotional instability, less mental clarity, dryness of the skin, increased sensitivity to the cold weather and a low frustration level.

With months of cold weather still ahead of us, this is the time to adopt a diet and daily routine that will help settle Vata. One key to balancing Vata is regular routine—eating and going to sleep at the same time, for example. Going to bed early on a regular basis is actually one of the most powerful tools available for balancing Vata.

You may find yourself thinking more about food than you did last summer. When the cold, dry weather of winter begins to aggravate Vata dosha, we naturally crave hotter, more unctuous foods that help counter this effect. An increase in appetite is also the natural result of the cold weather—it tends to cause our digestion fire to increase. As long as you don’t eat more than you can easily digest, large portions at meals can help keep Vata in balance.

One very important point is that the food we eat in the winter should always be warm. Never eat or drink ice-cold food or beverages. Oil is our friend in the winter. Using olive oil and ghee in our meals will help counter the drying effects of Vata.

Along this same line of thinking, daily oil massage with sesame oil is particularly helpful in the winter. The warm, unctuous quality of the oil is the perfect antidote to the cold, dry qualities of Vata. If you are Pitta by nature, you may prefer coconut oil or olive oil, as sesame oil is naturally heating. Ideally you should heat your oil before applying it. Letting your bottle of oil float in hot water for a few minutes will bring the oil to a nice, soothing temperature. Try to keep the oil on for a while before jumping into the shower or bath. 10 minutes letting the oil soak into your skin is ideal.

Vata imbalances often lead to constipation. Remember to drink plenty of warm fluids during the day. Drinking two glasses of warm water when you wake up can help stimulate bowel functioning. Hot water with black salt can also be helpful in this area.

It is easy to find oneself becoming sedentary during the colder months. Be sure that you incorporate Yoga or some kind of gentle stretching exercise into your routine, as well as other comfortable and easy exercise. Don’t strain or over-do in your winter exercise routine. Spring is a much better time for vigorous exercise, as that is the time when Kapha is increasing and we naturally have more strength and stamina.

If you find that diet, lifestyle and self-massage are not helping, it may be that your Vata imbalance has gone deep into the tissues. In this case Panchakarma, the traditional rejuvenation treatments of Ayurveda, are recommended. Panchakarma removes Vata from the tissues by using various herbal decoctions and oil preparations in combination with specialized treatments to treat the root of the Vata imbalance.

For more information on Ayurveda consultations and Panchakarma treatments, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa web site:

www.theraj.com

The Healing Powers of Hot Water

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Ayurveda considers removing toxins and impurities from the physiology, and preventing their build-up in the tissues, to be a key part of staying healthy. Ayurveda refers to these toxins and impurities as “ama”. Because ama disrupts the delicate biochemistry in the tissues and blocks the channels of circulation and communication within the physiology, it is a contributing factor in many physical disorders. The build-up of ama often starts with poor digestion. A sluggish digestion creates toxins and poor elimination, which allows the toxins to be absorbed into the circulation system and transported throughout the body.

Many of the recommendations given by Ayurveda experts during a consultation address the need for internal cleansing or detoxification. Of those that can be done at home, sipping hot water throughout the day is easy and effective.

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

In addition, the hot water is absorbed into the circulatory system and travels throughout the entire body. The extra warmth and fluid aids in opening all the various channels of circulation, dissolving accumulated impurities and washing them from the body.

Many people report that after just a few weeks of sipping hot water throughout the day, digestion and elimination has improved and they feel fresher, lighter and more energetic.

Drinking hot water (water which just cool enough to be sipped comfortably) is especially helpful during vata and kapha season. During the hot summer months, warm or room-temperature water may be preferred, especially for those with pitta body types or with pitta-related disorders.

Ideally, Ayurveda recommends that water be boiled for ten minutes. Boiling the water allows excessive minerals deposits and impurities to precipitate out and increases the water’s lightness and its cleansing influence.

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

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

www.theraj.com